Metric's Guide to Analytics and Reporting - Chapter 5

Chapter 5

Measuring Website Analytics

When it comes to determining where to start with your site’s analytics, always refer back to your measurement plan: what are the key performance indicators that are tied to specific goals that support your business objectives.

Once you know which KPIs you’re after, logging in to Google Analytics becomes much less daunting.

For more about which KPIs executives really care about, check out Hubspot’s resource. Below are common metrics that all marketers should know their way around.

Unique visitors

Definition: The total number of individual visitors to your site during a specific period of time, not counting repeat visits by the same individual.

Unique visitor data shows whether your content and campaigns are successfully driving visitors to your site. Look for a good upward trend over time, or in conjunction with specific marketing campaigns.

If your unique visitor count isn’t rising (and it’s one of your KPIs), you may need to reassess your marketing tactics.

New vs repeat visitors

Definition: A comparison of your unique visitors vs. the number of visitors who came back more than once.

The more repeat visitors you have to your site, the more “sticky” it is (i.e. prospects are finding valuable content that keeps them coming back for more).

Highest and lowest traffic pages

Definition: A comparison of the pages on your site that receive the most and least traffic.

Studying your most popular pages helps you understand what kind of content visitors and prospects find most interesting.

Index bloat

Definition: Having a high number of pages in Google’s index compared to pages actually receiving organic traffic.

Your site shows up in Google search results because a Googlebot crawls pages of your site and indexes them. When a Google user searches something, Google uses its index to display the most relevant sites for the user’s query.

In general, the more pages you have in Google’s index, the better. However, it doesn’t always mean that all of your pages in Google’s index are actually being seen by users.

When you have a high number pages in Google’s index, but only a fraction receiving any organic traffic, we call this index bloat.

You can determine how many of your pages are indexed by Google in Google Search Console under Google Index > Index Status. Then, in GA check out Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels and click on Organic Search in the report. Then change the primary dimension to Landing Page.

In the bottom right hand side of the report, it will show you how many landing pages are receiving organic traffic for that time period. Change your date range to the past year and check out how many landing pages are receiving organic traffic compared to how many pages are in Google’s index.

You might have 20,000 pages in Google’s index but only 5,000 receiving any traffic. This is index bloat, and you can combat it by increasing the number of pages that receive organic traffic - this is a strategy that goes beyond the scope of this resource.

Bounce rate

Definition: The percentage of visitors who leave your site after viewing only one page.

Be skeptical when reviewing bounce rate reports. There are many reasons that numbers may be the way they are.

A visitor could come to your site, see your phone number, call you and then close the page. The visitor technically only saw one page, but they ended up converting. In this case, a high bounce rate isn’t a bad thing.

It’s the same for contact forms that may be on the page they landed on. Users have only seen one page but they’ve converted, so technically they bounced but, they’re also a lead.

Dig deeper to bounce rate per page (Behaviour > All Pages) before making any data-based marketing decisions.

Traffic sources

Definition: A breakdown of the specific sources of traffic to your website, such as direct, organic, or referral.


Direct traffic comes from people who have typed your website’s URL directly into their browser, visited your web pages via a bookmark or clicked on an untagged link from an email or document you produced.


Organic traffic comes from a link found on a search engine results page.


Referral traffic comes from a link on another website. Monitoring this report will tell you if your site content is generating more inbound links from other sites.


Email traffic arrives at your site from links on other websites.


Social traffic comes from Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and other social networking sites.

Paid Search

Paid search traffic can arrive from a number of sources depending on what type of paid ads you’re running. In GA, the default search grouping, paid search may contain traffic from Google or Bing ads, for example.

Checking your traffic sources tells you how well your search engine optimization (SE0) efforts are performing.

For example, you’ll want to see your share of organic traffic rising until it reaches 40-50 per cent of total traffic. Likewise, you can gauge the effectiveness of your link-building efforts by tracking referral traffic.

Aim for referrals to deliver 20-30 per cent of overall traffic (Hubspot).

Website KPIs based on goal types

Focus on your website goal to determine your key performance indicators (KPIs). Remember to take advantage of the date range compare feature in Google Analytics to compare time periods and see if your results are improving.

When in the reporting view in GA, just look to the top right corner of your screen and click the the date range to tick the “compare to” box. Below are some key performance indicators to watch for based on common goals.

If your goal is an increase in brand awareness

  • An increase in branded traffic (find it in GA under Acquisition > Search Console > Queries - make sure your Search Console and GA account are linked)
  • An increase in new visits (find it in GA under Audience > Behavior > New vs Returning)
  • An increase in direct traffic from new users (find it in GA under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels). An increase could mean people are seeing your domain on a billboard or a commercial.
  • An increase in brand-related organic keyword searches (find it in GA under Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords). Just keep in mind that Google won’t show you the vast majority of organic keywords because of (not provided), but you can get insights from brand keywords that are shown.
  • A general increase in impressions for brand related keywords (find it in GAin any of the above reports).

If your goal is an increase in lead generation

  • An increase in lead-generation goal completions (find it under Conversions > Goals > Overview). You can read more about setting up goals in Google Analytics here. These goal completions could be phone calls (you can track phone calls with Google tracking if you’re using Adwords or a third party source such as Callrail for more in depth reporting and if you’re not using Adwords).
  • In addition to lead volume, a decrease in cost per lead if you’re using Adwords (find it under Acquisition > Adwords > Campaigns)
  • An increase in goal conversion rate (find it under Conversions > Goals > Overview).
  • An increase in goal completions from various sources (find it under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels). This will help you determine which sources are driving conversions.
  • An increase in goal completions by device (find it under Audience > Mobile > Overview). This will give you an idea if your conversions are happening on mobile, desktop or tablet, and help you focus your efforts accordingly.
  • Monitoring the multi-channel funnel and assisted conversions reports under Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Overview and > Assisted Conversions. These are great reports for seeing that conversions don’t always come from just one source, often times users do some research from one source, then convert via another source.

If your goal is increasing eCommerce sales

Remember to have eCommerce tracking enabled to see the following data & reports:

  • Increase in sales (find it under Conversion > Ecommerce > Overview)
  • Increase in eCommerce conversion rate (find it under Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview)
  • Increase in number of transactions (find it under Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview)
  • Decrease in shopping cart checkout abandonment rate (find it under Conversions > Goals > Funnel Visualization). You must have the steps of your checkout tracked as a funnel. Learn how to do that here,
  • Monitor new vs returning customer purchases (find it under Audience > Behavior > New vs Returning.
  • Average order value (find it under Conversions > Ecommerce > Overview). This figure is determined by dividing sum of revenue generated by number of orders.