Your analytics are the key to growing your site. It’s the only way to really tell what’s working and what’s not, and to effectively see the progress of your site. Incorporating a new ad strategy or testing out a new ad partner can always be risky. So, how do you ensure you are doing what’s best for your site and your users? To really know if both your content and ads are bringing you the revenue you want, you have to understand your analytics.
To get the most out of your analytics we want to break down not only how to read the data collected from your site, but how to interpret it to help your site grow.
If you don’t already have access to your google analytics yet, it’s time. Log in to Google Analytics with your gmail account HERE. Google will then walk you through the process to get signed up. This includes placing a tracking code into your site code. BE CAREFUL not to place this twice on your site or your analytics will double count your data. Give it a few hours and log back in to see the magic happen. Oh, and it’s super easy and FREE.
There are a lot of helpful features built into Google Analytics, but we address the analytics that matter especially when testing your ad strategy.
The first key tool to remember is your date bar located in the upper right-hand corner. This tool will help you track trends and observe reactions to changes with your traffic.
When you try a new piece of content, run a new ad unit, or change a page layout it’s critical to track those changes. You want every move you make on your site to be effective in keeping your followers and maintaining your revenue. A key to getting the most out of your analytics is documenting and recording where you are now and what happens with every change. Pay attention to the dates as you access your analytics later.
Sessions: the number of times a person is on, and actively browsing/engaging with your site. This is not specific to users. Whether it’s your first or hundredth time coming to the site each time you are on a page and interacting with it Google will count this as a session. After 30 minutes of inactivity on the site, the session ends. If the activity is picked back up again after 30 minutes, a new session is counted.
This metric is crucial in understanding how much revenue you can generate for each time someone is engaged with your site (RPS, revenue per session). The more sessions you have, and the longer they last, the more your ads will make you.
Users: The number of amount of actual people who have been to your site. Each unique individual user is counted as one user even if they have come to your site more than once. This is simply the number of actual people who come to your site at some point. Their frequent visits will add to your session count, but not your user count. On your main Overview page, you can see how many of your visitors are returning and how many are new.
If you want to see how many different users are on your page per day, per week, per two weeks, or per month, you can find these numbers under the Audience> Active User section. You can use your User Explorer to get to know these users interaction with your site individually. See how many sessions each user brings in, how long they are active on your site, and even if they brought any revenue in.
Want to get a better idea of WHO exactly these users are? Check out under Audience>Demographics what gender your users are, their age, interests, where they are, their behavior, and how they are viewing your site. This helps you when targeting traffic acquisition campaigns or working on user retention. The better you know your users, the better you can tailor your content to their needs.
Page Views: Adds up the total number of pages that are viewed on your site during the time selected. Instead of counting the individual users, Google counts their actions i.e., how many pages they saw during their session. This metric does repeat regardless of if the same user comes back to the same page.
Pages/Session: Now here is where a little math comes in. To determine the page views per session, take the number of sessions and divide it by your page views so you can see how many pages people are clicking through during their browsing session. When considering monetization through ads, it’s helpful to know how many pages, and which pages are being seen to know where your ads have the greatest chance of being viewed by the most people. You can see the average number of pages viewed per session.
Time on Site/ Average Session Duration: Average duration shows you how long people are staying on your website for or how long each session usually lasts on your site. This metric will let you know how engaging your content is and what pages keep people on them longer.
Bounce Rate: Session duration decreases due to bounce rate. This percentage shows the number of people who visit one page and leave to go elsewhere. Pages that link to other websites or locations will have a higher bounce rate as you are competing with having users stay on your page or to follow the links you’ve provided. A healthy bounce rate is between 40%%-60. Under 60% is fantastic.
Percent of New Sessions: Here you can see your growth by measuring the percent of new sessions acquired during your time frame. New sessions are generated from new users and can show when a site’s audience is expanding or reaching a wider group of readers.
Now that we understand the very basics of your analytics and what’s being measured let’s figure out HOW to use these metrics to grow your site and how to boost monetization. There are two parts to growing your revenue- 1. Growing your Traffic and 2. Optimizing your Ad Strategy
1. Growing your Traffic
Before you can ever hope that an advertiser will pay big bucks to run an ad on your site, you have to have enough traffic. So how can your analytics transform your traffic acquisition efforts?
To make sure your site is optimized to have people view it, you need to find out what’s working and what’s not. If you have an exceptionally high bounce rate chances are there is something you could change to get people to stay on your site. Check your session time. If it’s just a few seconds long, you more than likely are loosing potential viewers. There should be enough intriguing material on your site with enough value to keep people there. If those who are already visiting your site leave almost immediately, you’re not ready to drive more traffic to your site. See what you can do to create more engaging content to keep people on your site longer.
Find out where your current traffic is coming from. You can do this under the ACQUISITION section under Traffic and Source/Medium. Here you can find how much of your traffic is organic (Google/Facebook etc.) and how much of it is paid (from Ads). You can see which specific sites are driving your readers. Are there other places they could potentially find your site? Could you boost your current referral sites with an ad or sponsored content? Here you can see what is and what is not working for your site’s marketing.
Who are your users? Who already reads your site and who else like them SHOULD be reading it. Here you can gain valuable information on how to target your future readers. Understand them in every way you can. Know their hobbies, interests, behaviors and focus your efforts in their direction.
Knowing where your site is and the direction you want it to go will help you target your advertising and social efforts while growing your audience and traffic.
2. Optimizing your Ad Strategy
To get the highest yield for your ads, they have to be seen. That doesn’t mean they have to overtake your content by any means. When you decide to launch ads on your site, you will want to use your analytics to see which pages are viewed the most, where people tend to stay on longer, and where you are at with your page views and sessions. Before any publisher monetizes with us, they are required to have a minimum of 10,000 page views a month and sufficient engagement.
As your site hopefully grows you may decide to start running ads on your site. If this is the case you will want to MAKE SURE each ad unit isn’t driving your traffic down the drain. To do that look no further than your analytics. You can see if your ads are playing a role in your load time and user experience. By carefully watching your session times, page views, bounce rate and time on site. You can determine whether your ads are a safe addition to your site. At the same time, you can also determine the best pages for ads so that the most amount of viewers can see them. The more people who see your ads increases the bid for each ad space. Your analytics will tell you if ads are working well on different devices as well.
Besides helping you grow your traffic, and increasing your site’s revenue, analytics serve as the perfect tool for measurable growth. Being able to see data can help you focus on your site goals and give you the starting point to make them happen.
We suggest all publishers pay close attention to their analytics as they serve as a diagnostic test to your sites health.
To learn more about Google Analytics try Google’s Analytics Academy to get even more out of your analytics.