Thursday, January 29, 2015

Google Analytics Outreach Tips

By: Maya Vemuri, bilingual information specialist at JBS International and former communications intern for the Office of Communications and Public Liaison at the National Institute on Aging

When managing a blog, it’s important to keep track of visitor activity. Keeping an eye on your blog’s metrics can help you get an idea of current activity and public interest, as well as indicate how future outreach efforts should be carried out.

Here are five Google Analytics tools you can use to improve stakeholder engagement and outreach:

1. Pageviews

Pageviews are an excellent way to get an idea of how much traffic a page is getting, in terms of both single-visit guests and repeat-visit guests. With Google Analytics, you can look at pageview metrics in two forms. “Pageviews” account for total views, including multiple visits by individual guests. “Unique Pageviews” accounts for the number of visitors who visited the page, regardless of how many times they viewed the page in question. Together, both metrics can be used to see how large your audience is, and whether or not they are repeatedly coming back to view blog posts.

2. Heartbeat

The “heartbeat” is a great way to get a visual representation of a page’s traffic. The graph can be used to view one or two metrics different at once, including which pageviews, unique pageviews, average time on page, bounce rate, and percent of visitors who exited from the page (or site) after visiting the page in question. These metrics can be displayed by hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly averages, over a period of time, which you can adjust in order to get the numbers most relevant to your needs.

3. Time on Page

When looking at the metrics of specific pages, you can compare the amount of time visitors spend on, on average, on each page. The amount of time will vary based on post length (longer posts will often show longer visit time), but if you have an established post length, Time On Page can best be used to measure and compare visitor interest. Entries such as “Best of” highlights or summary posts that only link to other posts will likely have short times in comparison to other posts, due to their lack of content. However, you can compare posts to see which topics or authors are more popular among visitors.

4. Bounce Rates

Bounce rates are especially important when it comes to stakeholder engagement. By observing the bounce rate of a page and comparing it to that of different pages, you can get an idea of which information and posts promote visitor interest. Looking at both the topic and type of page while observing its bounce rate, you can get an idea if certain pages are encouraging users to stay on your site or if they lose interest after visiting that one page. A high bounce rate is not uncommon for blog sites, as many times guests will visit to read a single page, but placing links to related pages on your site when posting an entry can help lower the rate and promote further engagement.

5. Behavior Flow

A good way to monitor visitor engagement and pages of interest is through Behavior Flow. Through the “Behavior Flow” tool, you can see the order in which guests visit pages on your site, and on which pages they are leaving the site. There are a number of variables that can be included in the display to help add more information about the visitors to various pages on your site, including traffic type, medium, source, keyword, visitor’s city, and more.

These are just a few tips on how you can get a more complete idea of your visitor activity. By keeping an eye on metrics, you can see which topics attract more visitors, what times and days they’re more likely to visit, and which pages keep them on the site longer. You can then use the information you’ve acquired to hone aspects of your site and increase public interest!

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