While many web site owners can tell you the basics such as how many sessions, users, or page views they get in a month, a large number leave their Google Analytics knowledge there. This is a big mistake. Google Analytics has a ton of useful information and some of the most important is grouped in the Acquisition section.
Google assigns all of your traffic to one of eight channels and the Acquisition reports will only show you active channels for your site:
- Organic Search: this is the traffic that comes in from Google and the other search engines. You need to have your Analytics linked with Search Console to get keyword information, but changes in the volume or percentage of traffic coming from Organic Search is a good indicator of how your SEO efforts are performing. This is likely the source of a large percentage of your new visits too.
- Direct: These are people who type your URL directly into their browser or use bookmarks. This is usually weighted towards repeat users, but if you do a lot of offline advertising, you will see the results here and in the Organic Search results.
- Paid Search: Please tell me you are doing paid search! This tracks visits generated by PPC ads and you should see a higher percentage of new visitors here than with Direct visitors.
- Display: Google separates out their Display ads from regular ads. You can also tag banners or other ads you place on 3rd party sites.
- Referral: This is from links to your site from other sites. This would be directory listings, media or blog posts, and membership lists.
- Social: All links coming in from Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media.
- Email: Links from email. Sometimes this needs to be manually setup to ensure correct attribution of traffic.
- Affiliates: This will appear if you are running affiliate programs
Knowing where your traffic is coming from is the starting point for any of your efforts to grow your site traffic and it also lets you track conversions and goals to measure the effectiveness and the return on your investment.
Understanding the various metrics also helps you target your efforts on where you are seeing the best returns. If you want to learn more, get in touch with us and schedule a Google Analytics Review.