Demystifying Three Common Google Tools

May 21, 2022  |  Written by Tarryn West   |   Business Analysis, Digital Analytics, Digital Marketing

Demystifying common google tools

We recently launched a stunning new website for a wonderful long term client of ours.

On completion of her project, I sent her a list of the digital accounts we had created for her to collect data and monitor the success of her website. Shortly after receiving my email, she called me and said

“what do I do with this stuff?!"

And it got me thinking about how easy it can be to feel overwhelmed by the volume of tools and metrics available to monitor your website. So this is for business owners, who want a very simple overview of the Google tools available to help you track and monitor the health of your website.

Free Google Tools

This list is not exhaustive, and will not help your website to perform any better than it currently is - but perhaps it helps to cut through the jargon and confidently look at some of the Google tools available for your website. Let’s dive in.

  • Google Search Console
  • Google Analytics
  • Google Tag Manager
Google Search Console dashboard

Google Search Console

The first Google tool we routinely set up on a new website is Google Search Console.

Here are some handy things you can look at on Google Search Console :

1. Sitemap

This tells Google how your website is structured. Check to see that you have a sitemap loaded here and that Google has successfully crawled it and that there are no errors.

Submitted sitemap example - Google Search Console

2. Coverage

Next take a look at  Coverage. The big ones to look out for here are errors and excluded pages. There are a number of different errors which can be picked up here, they should be fixed as soon as possible. Take a look at any excluded pages - this means that Google is blocked from crawling these pages. This is especially important for new websites which may have blocked search engines during development.

Google Search Console Coverage

3. Performance

The last one to take a look at is your Search Results. This tells you what terms your users are using to find your website, how many times your website is “seen” in the search results (impressions), how many times users clicked on your website and your average position in the search rankings for all keywords your website ranks for. CTR (Click Through Rate) calculates how many times your users click on your website when seen from the search results page. If this is low, it can mean that you aren’t ranking very well for some of your keywords as users rarely click on links after the first 2 pages of the search results. It can also mean that you need to strengthen your page titles and meta descriptions.

Total clicks and impressions example - Google Search Console

4. Experience

The Google Page Experience metrics are newly added and in our opinion still require refinement from Google. They measure the page speed and any onpage content shifts which could be challenging for users. You could have a look here to see if there are any poor URLs but most websites will fall into this category based on page speed.

Google Page Experience Island Media

Google Analytics

Now head on over to another Google Tool,your analytics account. If your account was set up by Island Media, you will see that your analytics property has three views (All Website Data, Master View & Test View). Go ahead and select the Master View. There are four main areas within Analytics worth reviewing.

Google Analytic Dashboard

1. Audience

This tells you who is visiting your website. Their demographics, the devices & operating systems they are using, their interests, languages etc. You can use this information to better understand your current users - note this doesn’t mean that this is your ideal target audience, it only reports on who is currently using your website.

Organic illustration - Organic Search for web traffic

2. Acquisition

This tells you how users are coming to your website - how are you acquiring users? This is a great report to take a look at your traffic sources and to see which channels are best converting.

Direct - this means that either Google couldn’t tell where the user came from, or that they directly typed in your website URL. High traffic from the Direct channel generally indicates strong brand awareness.

Organic Search - this shows all the traffic that came to your website from search engines. This could be from Google, Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine. High traffic here indicates strong search rankings. This channel generally has the highest conversion rates and can bring in significant long-term results for your business.

Referral - this shows you traffic that was referred to your website from another website - for example, if you have your website linked in a trade directory.

Social - shows your traffic from social media.

If you are running digital ads or an email campaign, you may also see additional channels here such as “Paid Search”.

3. Behavior

These reports can show you what your users are doing on the website. For example you can research the behavior flow of your website - what pages do users land on when they first visit the website, how many pages do they visit, which page do they leave the website from?

4. Conversions

This section is only as good as its set up. This is where you can view the goals you have set up for your website. The goals you set up will be unique for your business, but in general we like to track all points of contact, as well as any unique interactions on the site (for example if you have PDF downloads).

If you only look at one report, take a look at the acquisition report. Set the dates to “Last 30 days” and select “Compare to previous period” so that you have a reasonably broad set of data to review.

Date range picker in Google Analytics
Then select Acquisition, All Traffic, Channels:
Illustration on how to find traffic acquisition based on its channel on Google Analytics

Before you start looking at the data, make sure that your conversions are set to the goals you are most interested in seeing performance from (for example, if your business needs more leads, be sure that you have that goal set, if your business is e-commerce, then be sure that is what is set for the data view).

Here is a quick summary of the what the data means:

  • Users
    This tells you how many people have visited your website during this period. New users are users who haven’t previously visited your website. Keep in mind that with increased tracking and privacy regulations especially on ios devices, this information may not be completely accurate. Take a look at our article on the IOS Updates here.
  • Sessions
    A session is each time a user visits your site. Sessions timeout after 30min of inactivity, or at midnight. So if a user visits your website, scrolls for 2 min, leaves your website and comes back 2 hours later - this would be counted as two sessions. A session records all of the users interactions on your site during this period:
Session in Google Analytic
  • Bounce Rates
    A bounce is a single session on your website. For example, if a user comes to your website, and leaves without moving to a different page. A high bounce rate can mean that your content is not engaging - or, it can mean that your users find what they were looking for on the first page they landed on. If you are concerned about the bounce rate - you’ll want to head over to your behavior reports to look at which pages are generating a high bounce rate, or perhaps at your user behavior flow.
Bounce Rate illustration in Google Analytics
  • Pages / Session
    This tells us how many pages per session a user has scrolled. For example, if a user goes to the home page, then a product page and then to the contact page, that user would have had 3 pages per session.
  • Goal Conversion
    This one is pretty self-explanatory, it shows the number of conversions based on the goals which you have set to track in analytics. Use this data to track which channels are driving the most conversions for your business and evaluate whether there are areas that need to be improved.
Google Tag Manager illustration

Google Tag Manager

We use this to set up the event triggers which track the goals on your website. This isn’t a Google tool you need to use unless you plan to set up your own conversion tracking.

And that’s it - hopefully, this simple guide has given you a gentle introduction into looking at your website data. Analytics is a powerful Google tool - and the depth of understanding you can gain by drilling down into your user data is incredible, but, if you’re just wanting a quick overview of your website performance, this should be enough to keep an eye on things. I hope you found it useful! If you’d like us to set up your accounts to correctly track your data, get in touch with our team at Island Media today.

NOTE: Google Is Sunsetting Universal Analytics

It's important to note that this article is based on Google Universal Properties as that is what we are still using here at Island Media. However, in 2023 Google is sunsetting this product. If you haven't already set up the new Google Analytics 4 product, it's important to do that so that you will have historical comparison data. We'll be releasing an article on that next week so stay tuned.

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