Do you know how many people visit your website? How about how long they stay for, or whether they come back? Tracking information about your website traffic is one of the best ways to make business decisions content because you can actually see how and what people are interacting with when it comes to your website. We use Google Analytics (GA) to track all of our site data because it’s free and widely accepted as the most accurate and robust tool for the type of tracking we suggest.
If you don’t have GA set up in your account, we made instructions for it here.
Get Your Downloadable Tracking Template for Google Analytics
In this article, I’m going to walk you through what to track in google analytics and why – AND because I’m really dedicated to you having these numbers for your own business, I’m giving away our tracking template.
This is ACTUALLY the template for the data that we fill out every single week to watch what’s going on with our website.
Just enter in your email address here and you’ll get your link right away, along with a copy in your email
Make a copy of your spreadsheet and save it so that you can edit your own.
Now, here’s what we track, why, and how you can navigate to the right data in GA. You can read through it for your own interest, but I highly recommend downloading your spreadsheet and following right along!
What to Track in Google Analytics
Even if you’re only doing your reporting once a month, you’ll see that we have the sheet broken out roughly week by week. You can set the date you want in GA so this is really simple to collect historically. It will make it WAY easier for you to see your trends forming and know what to look for.
Pay attention to the dates we have listed on the spreadsheet. There isn’t always 7 days on the date range because we decided to forego perfect weeks to be able to also look at our numbers month over month.
Looking at things week over week and month over month will make it much easier to create your end of year marketing report.
Know Your Traffic
This information can be found in a couple of places in Google Analytics, the most convenient place for our methods to find this information is Acquisition > Overview.
This is how many people visited your website throughout the week. If someone showed up twice, they’ll only be counted once. It’s great to know
This is a collection of how many times your website was visited throughout the week. You want to be able to see both because ideally you have a good amount of returning visitors to your website. It’s a better representation of how much actual traffic you got.
Now you know why I had you go to the Acquisitions overview tab to get your traffic numbers. This is where people are coming to your website from. It’s important because knowing the source of your traffic lets you focus your attention on the specific platforms that are best for your growth.
You’ll notice that we have columns for each of the following acquisition methods:
If one of them isn’t listed on your GA, put a 0 in the column or leave it blank. You may also see email there, but we removed email from our template because it isn’t very accurate. It also shows up as a ‘direct’ visit.
The downloadable spreadsheet is set up with formulas so that it will calculate the total percentage of traffic from each type of visitor.
Once again, you will find this information in several places, but right now, you should still be at the Acquisition > Overview section of your Google Analytics page, and this info it right there for ya.
Knowing the amount of new visitors to your website is good because it lets you know if you’re pulling in new traffic – coupled with acquisition data and your landing pages, this allows you to understand a lot about what your current traffic is interested in seeing from your website.
This will automatically populate on the spreadsheet with a formula. You WANT to see return visitors to your website, but you don’t want ONLY return visitors. This is something you will mostly watch for trends. With a new website you want to see this number increasing, but as you grow, you want it to balance out to be less than 50% of your visitors – we like 30% of your visitors to be returning as a general rule, but it’s going to be different for every business.
If your returning visitors number is low, there’s a good chance that you need to step it up in the retention department – this is our specialty. Send us an email and we can schedule a call to talk about what you can do to boost this one.
You HAVE to know what device people are coming from. With GA, you can go deep into the type of phone, the browser, and even the operating system. At some point that may be interesting, but more isn’t better.
You can find this information at Audience > Mobile > Overview.
Fill in your spreadsheet with these numbers:
Here’s a use-case for you: we have definitely had more than one client where their previous designer had spent a whole lot of time making it super pretty on desktop, but didn’t fully optimize from mobile.
When we started tracking this data, we realized that a ton of traffic comes from mobile. After tracking their behavior flows, we theorized that we could improve our overall retention if we optimized the website for mobile.
We were right. Traffic improved and retention went up. Cool.
Why You Should Track Your Top Landing Pages In Google Analytics
I broke this out to make it the second sheet of the downloadable spreadsheet because I wanted to know a little bit deeper level information about our top ten landers each month. It’s likely that you have a lot of pages on your site. If Search Engine Optimization is a regular part of your strategy, this will give you a feel for the specific pages pulling in traffic.
Knowing this information allows you to keep tabs on what your audience is interested in knowing from you so you can make more of that type of content.
To find this information you’ll head here: Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages > Sessions (note this is different in GA4. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like some help setting this up)
Here we only need to see two things: which landing page it is, and how many people landed there. There is a formula that will tell you what percentage of your traffic comes from each landing page.
Notes Sections on Spreadsheets
I always include a notes column on spreadsheets. You might think you’ll look at this data again and draw the same conclusion or that you’ll remember stuff – you won’t. Make notes in your spreadsheet about anything interesting in the data you saw, anything extra you looked at, or any changes that could be attributed to what you’re seeing.
Is this helpful? Let us know in the comments what questions you have that would make this information better for you!