Since 2005, Google Analytics has provided marketers and website owners with in-depth data about a website’s traffic, users, and content. Using this tool, marketing professionals can make informed decisions with regards to their content, website structure, and promotional strategies.
When your website isn’t ranking in the search results or you’re not seeing the results you desire, turn to Google Analytics for insight. Often, the way your WordPress website has been optimized is the culprit keeping your website from accomplishing the goals you’ve outlined for your marketing objectives.
Here are a few ways the data found in Google Analytics can help you optimize your WordPress website:
1. Traffic Acquisition Data
The traffic acquisition report in Google Analytics helps you identify where your website traffic is coming from. By understanding how users are finding your website, you can determine which marketing efforts are working and which need assistance.
Within Google Analytics, you can narrow down your traffic by channels, source, and medium.
Channels are how Google Analytics categorizes where your website traffic came from. Examples of channels include:
- Social Media
- Organic Search
- Direct Traffic
- Email Marketing
- Paid Search
- Referral Traffic
- Display Advertising
- Affiliate Marketing
Think of channels as the different tactics for driving users to your website.
Each channel also has a source. The source indicates where users access your website. For instance, when reviewing the sources for your social media traffic, you may find facebook.com listed as a source.
The medium displays the category of traffic within your sources. An example of a Source/Medium listing would be “google / cpc.” This indicates that a user clicked on a cost-per-click (CPC) ad on Google to access your website.
All of this vital traffic information can help you make wise content and blogging decisions. For example, if you notice your social media traffic is excellent but your referral traffic is low, this means you need to build more quality backlinks for your website. Or, if you notice certain pages or content have low organic search traffic, you may need to reorganize the page for a relevant keyword to maximize rankings in search engines.
Knowing how you acquire website traffic is key to formulating a well-rounded marketing strategy and optimized WordPress website.
2. Bounce Rate
In Google Analytics, the bounce rate tells you the percentage of users that visited a single page on your site and exited immediately. As you can imagine, having a high bounce rate is not ideal. The goal is to have users interact with multiple pages on your website.
Website pages or blog content with a high bounce rate should raise a red flag. Pages with a high bounce rate could have any of the following issues:
- Irrelevant content
- Improperly formatted content
- Slow load times
- Technical WordPress errors
- An intrusive user experience
Pages with a low bounce rate have content and imagery that resonate with the target audience, serve a purpose, or answer a question. While a multitude of aspects can affect the bounce rate, the quality and relevance of the content is always a leading factor.
One method for determining which designs, copy, or elements of a page receive a low bounce rate is split testing. Split testing allows you to test various elements of a web page such as a headline, format, and design to see which does better with your target market.
While Google Analytics can tell you which pages are experiencing a high bounce rate, it’s up to you to determine why this is happening and optimize your WordPress website accordingly.
3. Discover What Content Produces the Most Website Traffic
Another benefit of Google Analytics is the ability to identify the content that drives the most traffic to your website.
To find this content, first, set your Google Analytics reports to pull data from a specific time period, such as the last three months. Then, head to the left-hand column of the tool and follow this path: Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. From here, you’ll sort your content by page views in descending order so the most visited content is on top.
This report enables you to see which website pages and blogs are generating the most traffic. You can use the “Secondary Dimension” tool to combine this information with the Source/Medium report and see where traffic for your top performing content is stemming from.
Understanding which content drives the most traffic is an essential part of every WordPress website optimization strategy. When analyzing your top pieces of content and pages, ask yourself:
- Why is this particular page driving traffic?
- What aspects of this content work well?
- Can I draw inspiration from this page for future content?
With this data, you can work to create and promote new content that drives traffic based on the structure and context of your best performing content.
4. Average Pages Per Session and Session Time
When working to optimize a WordPress website, it is imperative to know how many pages your users engage with on average. The average pages per session metric on Google Analytics tells you exactly that. When you log into Google Analytics, click on Audience followed by Overview to find this data.
Naturally, you want your audience to engage with multiple pages throughout their experience with your website. If your average pages per session seems low, study the structure of your WordPress website. Users must be able to navigate seamlessly through your website without confusion. Otherwise, they become frustrated or uninterested and leave, driving up your bounce rate. Optimize the content, flow, and design of your website to encourage users to engage with multiple pages when visiting your website.
Another Google Analytics metric to examine is the average session duration. Google defines average session duration as the total duration of all sessions (in seconds) divided by the number of sessions. Understanding the average length of all site visits combined gives insight into how your website is performing.
Again, optimizing the website to captivate and retain the user is vital for increasing the average pages per session and average session duration.
5. Identify Weak Pages and Blog Content
Using the Google Analytics reports and data discussed, you can determine which pages and blog content are not performing well. To review, the following information in Google Analytics will help you discover underperforming content:
- Pages with high bounce rates
- Content with little to no traffic
- Minimal time on site
- Low average pages per session
Once you find these weak pages, you can work to transform them into optimized, high-performing pages for your website. Optimizing your website pages requires more than adding a few related keywords. To rank on search engines, be shared on social media, and ultimately, drive traffic to your website, your pages and content must meet the following criteria:
- Boast informative and appealing content relevant to the user’s query or interests
- Have a user-friendly design, format, and overall experience
- Offer speedy load times
- Provide a secure experience for users
- Use appropriate keywords, titles, and other criteria for SEO
Using Google Analytics data to locate weak pages gives you the ability to remedy poor content and other factors leading to unsatisfactory marketing results.
Optimizing Your WordPress Website using Google Analytics Data
With the wealth of data provided by Google Analytics, you can ensure your WordPress website is fully optimized for maximum online performance.
What information found using Google Analytics do you find to be the most beneficial for your website? Share your experience in the comments below or browse our fully managed WordPress Pro hosting solutions.
Machielle Thomas is the Content Manager for Bluehost. She writes curates web and email content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.