Demystifying Google Analytics

by Brandie Knox on May 18, 2013

Brandie Knox

Google Analytics is a service offered by Google that provides site statistics on traffic and traffic sources. The service is free but before tracking your analytics you must have an account established and the code installed on your site.

There are an endless number of aspects I could talk about, but I’ll keep it as simple as possible, addressing the areas I find most valuable. If you’re just starting out and not working with an expert in the field, these are the areas I recommend reviewing monthly or quarterly to get a sense of site traffic.

In addition to periodically tracking your site’s analytics for performance, this is an excellent tool to reference prior to undergoing a website redesign or refresh as it will give your team great insight into the most and least viewed pages on your firm’s site as well as how users are finding the site. Going forward, your team can make sitemap adjustments and changes in the firm’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy necessary to ensure a more positive user-experience.

Let’s focus on Standard Reports > Overview. Here’s a zoomed out shot of the Audience Overview screen:

Click on all graphics to enlarge.


Now, we’ll break down these individual areas and take a closer look:


  1. Visits: The line graph allows you to visually compare a specific period of time to see increases and drops in traffic. Shown here is the total number of daily visits.
  2. Visits: The average number of visits to the site within specified period of time.
  3. Unique Visits: The actual number of individuals that visited your site.
  4. Pages / Visit:  The average number of pages viewed during a single visit to your site. Repeat views of a single page are counted here.
  5. Bounce Rate:  The percentage of single-page visits. In other words, the number of visits in which the person left your site from the page they entered on and they did not dig deeper into the site. (40-60% is standard; 20% is well above average!)

A significant increase or decrease in traffic should be reviewed more carefully. An increase could be related to a recent campaign, email newsletter, press release, etc. You’ll also notice less visits on holidays and weekends.


 6. The above pie chart shows a comparison of new visitors vs. returning visitors. It’s useful to know how many new individuals have visited the firm’s site over a given period and how many repeat visitors the site has had.



7. Which browsers are most widely used in viewing your site? How does your site look in these browsers?



8. Which operating systems are most of your viewers using?

Another very useful tool is the compare feature. Although not show here, there is a dropdown in the upper, right-hand corner of this screen. There, you are given the option to select compare and a date range. You’ll then see something similar to the below. It’s very useful to compare previous periods. Are the changes substantial? What might be causing these increases or decreases in traffic?


Now let’s take a look at our visitor demographics from Audience > Demographics > Location:


 9.     Map View: The map indicates where the majority of your firm’s traffic is coming from geographically.
10.  Country / Territory: The areas are listed in order of highest number of visitors per location.

Check out which mobile devices are most widely used to view your site. Let’s take a look at the Audience > Mobile > Devices screen:



11. Mobile Devices Info: This table shows the number of visits by type.

Moving away from Audience, let’s review our sites traffic sources: Traffic Sources > Overview:



This pie chart shows us where the firm’s site traffic is coming from, typically through a comparison of the following areas:

12.   Search Traffic: This is traffic driven to your site through search engines. How well is your current SEO strategy performing?  On the           same screen, you’ll notice a Keyword table. These are the top ten keywords that individuals are searching for when pulling up your firm’s site. You may be surprised at the findings here and over time you may decide to revisit your firm’s SEO strategy.

13.   Referral Traffic: This number shows traffic that is referred via links from other sites such as directories, blog posts or other in-bound links.
14.   Direct Traffic: This is the number of visits to your firm’s site by the visitor directly typing the site’s url into the browser or via a bookmark, etc.

RSS feed (not shown above): You may see a fourth yellow block, labeled other, which includes RSS readers. If your firm has an RSS feature installed, this is a great tool to see how much traffic is being driven to your site.

 Resources and additional links:

Check my Links. Input a website to search for broken links.

SEO Browser. See a website like the search engines see it.

Brandie Knox is Creative Director & Principal at knox design strategy, As a strategic design studio, knox design strategy focuses on professional services firms, with expertise in the legal industry. She can be reached at / follow us on twitter @knoxdesignnyc





Previous post:

Next post: