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Google Analytics is a versatile tool used by marketers in all industries across the globe. The analytics platform provides in-depth data on website performance, the effectiveness of a content marketing strategy, and other online marketing insights.
In addition to shedding light on the effectiveness of a website or strategy, Google Analytics can also alert marketers to potential issues with a marketing campaign, website design, or site functionality.
When reviewing your Google Analytics information, be on the lookout for these six red flags.

1. Low Time Spent on Site

When driving qualified visitors or potential customers to your website, you want them to engage with your content. Ideally, you’d also like visitors to take an action, such as signing up for an email newsletter or making a purchase. All of these goals require visitors to spend significant time on your website.
To find out how much time users spend on your website on average, review the Average Time on Page and Average Session Duration metrics within Google Analytics. As you can imagine, when the average time on page and average session duration metrics are low, this is a red flag you must address.
The Average Time on Page metric can be found within Google Analytics by navigating to the Behavior menu on the left-hand side of the dashboard. Once in the Behavior menu, click Site Content followed by All Pages.
From here, you will see a list of all your website pages listed in order of decreasing pageviews. Along the horizontal top bar, you will see the metric Average Time on Page. To see which pages users spend the most and least amount of time on, click the column header to reorganize in ascending and descending order.
While the average time on page metric can tell you how long a visitor spends on a particular page, it cannot tell you why. That is up to you as a marketer to determine!
Examine the current state of content with the least amount of time spent on the page. What is causing users to leave or navigate away from the page? Can you make updates to your content to improve the time spent on a particular page?
As for Average Session Duration, this metric can be found in both the Audience and Acquisition areas of Google Analytics. Average session duration is the total duration of all sessions (in seconds) divided by the number of sessions, as defined by Google. This can help you understand how your website is doing as a whole at retaining visitors.

2. High Bounce Rate

A website’s bounce rate identifies the percentage of users who visited a website and exited immediately. According to Kissmetrics, the average website should have a target bounce rate of around 40%.
Of course, this metric will vary per industry and per marketing goal. For instance, landing pages will have a far higher bounce rate (70-90% bounce rate) than content focused on educating users such as an FAQ page (10-30% bounce rate).
If you notice your website’s bounce rate isn’t ideal, you must remedy this red flag as soon as possible. A number of factors could lead to a website or page’s high bounce rate, such as:

  • Misleading marketing copy
  • Slow load times
  • Non-mobile friendly website design
  • Pop-up ads, forms, and content
  • Auto-play video and audio
  • Incorrect audience targeting

When looking at your website’s overall bounce rate in Google Analytics, don’t forget to analyze the bounce rates for individual pages. Is there a particular piece of content that is driving the average up? Again, while Google can help you target problem pages and content, it is up to you to make the changes to improve your site.

3. Low Pageviews

When analyzing the effectiveness of a content marketing strategy, be sure to monitor the number of pageviews each piece of content receives. This can be found in the Behavior section of Google Analytics by following the same menu path used to find the Average Time on Page.
If you discover your content is not generating the number of desired pageviews, this indicates a problem with your content marketing efforts. Use the pageviews metric in Google Analytics to determine which content needs more traffic and how you can adjust your marketing strategy to accomplish this.

4. Website Visitors to Leads Ratio

One of the easiest data points to find within Google Analytics is how many people visited your website within a specific time period.
First, navigate to the Audience menu on the left-hand side of the dashboard. Next, click Overview. Once on the Overview page, change the time frame in the upper right-hand corner to the time period of your choice. Now, within the Overview dashboard, you will see the number of Users who visited your page during that specific period of time.
With this information in mind, compare it to the number of sales or leads (depending on your marketing goals) you received during that period. Is it a desirable ratio? If not, you must now figure out how to generate more leads/sales from your website.
Again, several factors could deter visitors from converting into leads and sales, including:

  • The customer’s position within the buying cycle
  • A customer’s initial intent upon visiting the site
  • The website’s appearance and functionality
  • The tone and context of your website content
  • An inconsistent brand message
  • The overall user experience of the website

When your visitors to leads/sales ratio is not appealing, it is time to look at your marketing and website strategy as a whole. Identify what is and is not working and respond accordingly.

5. Exit Pages

We hate to break it to you, but people will leave your website. At some point, they have to exit your site and continue browsing.
Leaving isn’t a bad thing… unless it occurs on content designed to convert or captivate!
Within Google Analytics, you can discover the pages visitors tend to exit from. Navigate to the Behavior menu once again and click on Site Content. Within this drop-down menu, select Exit Pages. Here you’ll find the pages where users leave your site coupled with information about their exit behavior including the exit percentage.
Ideally, the pages your visitors are leaving from include “Thank You” pages after submitting an inquiry or making a purchase. Although, if a great deal of visitors are exiting via your blog content or service pages, think about what you can do to keep them on site and complete the buying cycle.
Often, pages with low time spent on site and high exit rates are correlated. Look at everything from the website design to the content on those pages and ask yourself what you can do to engage visitors.

6. Incorrect Audiences

To improve your website visitors to leads ratio, time spent on site, and other metrics found in Google Analytics, you must target the right audience.
Within the Audience menu on Google Analytics, you can discover a wealth of information about your website visitors including their:

  • Interests
  • Geographic Location
  • Demographic Information
  • Technology/Devices

If upon reviewing this data you find that your website is not attracting the correct audience, you have found the biggest red flag of all! You cannot achieve your marketing and business goals if your website target audience isn’t visiting your website.
This red flag means your marketing strategy requires a more in-depth review to determine how to best attract your ideal audience. The change could be as simple as altering the targeting settings on your Facebook ads or as complex as revamping an entire campaign.
What red flags do you look for in Google Analytics? Let us know your thoughts by sharing below.

  • Machielle Thomas

    Machielle is a content enthusiast who has a passion for bridging the gap between audiences and brands through impactful storytelling. Machielle has also spoken at dozens of WordCamps throughout the years.

    Texas State University
    Previous Experience
    Brand Content, Content Marketing, Brand Lead, Operations Lead, Course Instructor
    Other publications
    Shopify, Contently
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