What gets measured gets managed
So goes the legendary quote from Peter Drucker, which, as legendary quotes go, never said.
However, there is something to this. You certainly can’t measure everything meaningfully, and as another cunning saying goes, when you focus on a variable, it stops being a good variable.
The potential benefits of analytics, however, are immeasurable. There’s a lot to keep track of in the online world, and no one expects you to sit in data for days on end. However, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with a few basic variables, track those, and perhaps even deduce over time what changes to make based on them.
I do exactly that myself. I’m not an OG analyst, I’m not Marek Lecián. I enjoy many things in the online world far more than analytics. That’s why I keep an eye on a few variables and try to implement meaningful changes based on them.
I will share these 6 variables with you now.
1. Performance in Search Console
Most people track the number of visits in Google Analytics, however, for me this is mostly such a feel good metric – especially in real time! ❤️, however, reading anything useful out of it is quite difficult for me.
That’s why I much prefer to look in the Search Console, where you can not only see how many people click through to you from Google search, but you can also see how many people don’t click through, yet your site is displayed to them.
The obvious downside to this is that you won’t see traffic from other sources (direct visits, list searches, social networks, etc.). However, due to the practicality of the metrics from Search Console, I skip this and primarily use it anyway. And if, like me, you’re SEO focused, I believe you’ll love this method of data as well.The console is also much simpler and more intuitive compared to GA4.
Although I follow the console most often, I don’t shy away from Google Analytics and go there for some metrics as well.
2. Bounce rate
The bounce rate tells you what % of the total number of visits looked like people came to the page and didn’t click anywhere else.
Generally speaking, the lower the bounce rate, the better. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that, and I go into this more in the article directly about bounce rate.
You can more easily track this metric within Google Analytics if you are still using Universal Analytics – GA4 no longer displays bounce rate and instead uses what is called engagement rate.
How to get bounce rate in GA4?
Deduct the engagement rate from one hundred (100 – engagement rate = bounce rate).
If Engagement rate is 60 then: 100 – 60 = 40 -> Bounce rate in this case is 40.
You can then find the engagement rate under: Acquisition → User Acquisition → Summary Table
3. Main traffic sources
In the same table (see above) as you find the engagement rate, find the traffic sources. How many people find you from
- organic search
- writes your site address directly
- how many visits come from social networks
- how many from email campaigns
This is useful information that I don’t make any practical use of most of the time, but when I do notice an “anomaly” it’s a great starting point for further investigation.4. Devices used
I don’t use this statistic very often, but once in a while it’s definitely good to look at it to get an overview.
While mobile devices are ubiquitous (they do more than 50% of traffic on a lot of sites), some places are not (see my site in the image below). This is useful information because it helps you decide what to primarily focus on.
You can find traffic by device in User → Technology → Technology Overview.
Alternatively, you can use the path: configure → Audience → All users.
Tracking this metric can also give you original insight if you also link it to other metrics such as bounce rate, conversion and so on.
In the Universal Analytics framework, conversions were called goals. However, it meant conversions. GA4 now has this option named conversions, but creating them is not entirely intuitive.
You must first create an event and then tell GA4 that this event is also a conversion.
Let’s take a look at this in the context of the newsletter signup conversion we’re going to create.
Once you’re done, you’ll have to wait up to 24 hours for the conversion to show up in your events:
But if you don’t feel like waiting, just remember the name of the event you created and go on your way: Configure → Conversion → New Conversion Event and create a conversion that you name exactly the same as your event.
If conversions are important to you, you can check out this great guide in English by Julius Fedorovicius.6. Departure pages
The purpose of this metric is to show you what pages people are (most often) leaving your site from (logically).
Again, this is a metric that can give you interesting insight because there are pages where you expect high churn (contact page) and there are pages where you don’t (case studies).
But once you know how people behave realistically, you can compare that to your idea of the optimum and try to get the two states as close to each other as possible.
The metric itself is not yet available in GA4, but you can explore it, via the explore option:
- Select a free report
- After opening the report, you add the Site Route to Dimensions, Departures to Metrics, and then set:
Page route → as a line
Revenue → as one of the values
and you’re done. You can turn off all the other data that was in the report from the beginning.
If you can’t get the report, you can try to create it by watching this short video from Analytics Mania:
Word by Conclusion
Even if you’re not the analytical type, I believe that keeping track of at least some statistics can greatly help you succeed in the digital world.
And frankly, I don’t think we even have much choice anymore. What is not data-driven in the online world is in an ideal position to be replaced by something that is data-driven.
However, even by simply tracking basic metrics and taking subsequent optimization and remediation steps, you can avoid this fate. Many sites and people still don’t measure anything…
So there’s no need to be unduly worried, but paying attention to analytics strikes me as a no-brainer – of course.
Let me know in the comments how you guys are doing with tracking metrics on your site?