Jason Call

Jason Call

Founder of Placer Digital

If I asked you to tell me about your web traffic, would you have a response?

It’s okay if you don’t – most business owners don’t have the slightest clue how their website is performing. 

That being said, no matter what kind of business you work in, understanding fundamental website traffic data is critical to assessing your online marketing efforts.

Let me give you an example: You typically receive one lead through your website every month. If your website gets 100 visitors in a month, that’s acceptable. If your website gets 1,000 visitors a month, that’s terrible. You wouldn’t be able to make this simple assessment without basic knowledge of your website traffic.

In this article, I’ll walk you through some basics of Google Analytics. After, you’ll be able to understand foundational data that is critical for assessing the effectiveness of, not only your website, but your online marketing as a whole.

Note: Google Analytics is regarded as the best web analytics platform. What is Google Analytics?

Implement Google Analytics On Your Website

First things first – there is a code snippet that needs to be placed on the back-end of your website so data can be collected.

Most DIY website builders have an easy-to-use implementation. If you’re rocking WordPress, I like this Google Analytics plugin because it’s lightweight and simple.

Website Traffic Data

How much traffic did your website get last month? Let me show you how to access this data.

Go to analytics.google.com to login to your dashboard. It will look like this:

google analytics dashboard

Click “Audience” > “Overview” > Adjust dates in the upper-right of the screen to the desired month

audience website traffic for business website

Voila! Here you can see A TON of useful data.

Note: Marketing analytics is where my love for digital marketing started, but I promise to contain myself and stick to the objectives of this article.

We set out to answer this question: How much traffic did your website get last month? 

“Users” and “Sessions” is where you’ll find the answer to this question.

The difference between a “User” and “Session” is best explained in an example: I visit your website two times throughout the month – that equals One User and Two Sessions

You choose which metric works best for you. I prefer sessions.

Acquisition Website Data

Where did your website traffic come from? 

How many visitors arrived at your website through social media? Which social media profiles generate the most traffic? How about search engines?

All this data is readily available! Here’s how you find it:

Click “Acquisition” > “Overview” > Adjust dates in the upper-right of the screen to the desired month (dates carry-over between screens if previously set)

acquisition website traffic for business website

Here you can see the breakdown of where your website traffic is coming from. There are four main buckets: organic, direct, referral, and social.

Organic traffic is from search engines. SEO works to grow this acquisition channel.

Direct traffic is from directly typing in the URL (or a referral from an http:// site, but that’s a whole other article). 

Referral is traffic from other websites through “backlinks.” For instance: if the local newspaper wrote an article about your business and linked your website within the article, that is a backlink. Any traffic from that source is categorized as Referral Traffic.

Social is traffic from social media profiles (includes YouTube, Yelp, Pinterest, and others that might not instantly be recognized as “Social Media”).

Clicking on a section will open up a more detailed report of that specific acquisition channel.

Try clicking your “Social” channel and seeing traffic from your various social media channels – you might be surprised at what you find. We have a client who has a major following on Pinterest and YouTube. These facts, derived from Google Analytics web data, directly influences the marketing strategy we employ.

Act On Your Website Data

If you don’t know these foundational data points for your website, I encourage you to take steps to find out. The potential insights gleaned from even the most basic traffic data can create massive revelations. Or, at the very least, give you a benchmark to grow on.

That’s it for part 1 of the DIY Google Analytics series. Going forward, I’ll be covering different sections within Google Analytics and diving deeper into certain topics. 

Feel free to comment below or send a message if you have any questions!

Quick tip: grow your website traffic and increase your online visibility by optimizing your Google Business Page (Officially known as your Google My Business). Download our easy-to-follow GMB checklist.

Curious why your GMB is so important? Here’s a quick read on that: Why Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing Needs Attention