Google Analytics for Beginners: Top 5 Metrics to Track

As one of the most popular tools used to track website/app visitors and performance, Google Analytics can help you spot trends to tailor your site to your audience’s needs and accelerate growth for your business online. The platform collects large amounts of data and generates easy-to-view Google Analytics reports so users can get a full picture of just how well a website is doing. And it’s free! With Google Analytics, you can determine what’s working for your business and audience, and what areas might need improving, all based on the data!

With so many metrics available in Google Analytics, sifting through them all can be fairly confusing, especially for beginners. That’s why our digital marketing experts developed this guide revealing the best metrics to track in Google Analytics for beginners to get the most out of this insightful tool.

What are metrics in Google Analytics?

A metric in Google Analytics is defined as “an individual element of a dimension that can be measured as a sum or a ratio.” In other words, they show how your site is performing in relation to a particular dimension or set of dimensions.

Okay, but what is a dimension? If your business offers international products or services, for example, and you want to see how many users from Canada are visiting your website, Canada would be your dimension and the number of website visitors would be your metric.

Some metrics are used more often than others and add more value to your site. For marketers especially, knowing the best Google Analytics metrics to track will save you valuable time when analyzing data. Which is why we’ve compiled a list of the five most valuable metrics in Google Analytics for beginners to help users review and boost rankings in search results, improve website usability, strengthen target audiences and much more.

What are the best Google Analytics metrics to track?

Marketers monitor metrics that signal specific actions taken by visitors on a website that directly correlate to and impact SEO. When we analyze data, create Google Analytics reports and make changes to websites, we prioritize these behavior metrics:

Average Session Duration

The average session duration metric in Google Analytics tells you how much time users spend on your website on average. A session is simply a visit to your site. It begins once the user arrives on your site and will end when they leave, or after 30 minutes of inactivity to ensure your average session duration accurately represents user behavior on your website. Multiple sessions over a period of time can come from the same user, known as a returning user.

A higher average session duration means users are more engaged on your website whether they’re on one page or visit multiple pages during their session. While the industry standard is two minutes, this can vary depending on the type of page or amount of content.

Average Pages Per Session

Though it sounds similar to the metric above, the average pages per session metric is quite different from average session duration. This metric measures how many pages users view on average in one session, instead of the amount of time users spend on your site.

Two or more pages per session is considered standard. However, like average session duration, more pages per session shows users are more engaged with the content on your website and finding it useful. It can also mean that users are easily navigating your website, indicating a positive user experience.

Bounce Rate

Bounce rate is one of the most important metrics in our list of the best Google Analytics metrics to track because, unlike the others, it isn’t necessarily a performance metric. Bounce rate can be an indicator of how relevant and helpful your content is for users

It measures the percentage of all users who visit your website and leave before viewing any other pages, and is calculated by taking all single-page sessions divided by the total number of sessions on your website. An optimal bounce rate would be in the range of 26% to 40%. However, this number significantly depends on the type of page and the acquisition source being tracked.

For example, your homepage and service pages will typically have lower bounce rates because there are more opportunities to explore more pages. Blogs might have higher bounce rates since they often provide a lot of information. A user might visit your blog, find the information they’re looking for, and then leave your website.

As for acquisition sources and examples of their potential impacts on your bounce rate, social media users typically have a higher bounce rate. Because you’re likely interrupting them from what they are doing, they might leave after reading the article you prompted them to. Direct and organic traffic are more likely seeking out the information on your website and therefore provide a lower bounce rate since they’re navigating to more pages. Regardless of who your audience is and the type of pages being tracked, you want this number to be as low as possible because it means users are finding your content useful, and are engaged on your website.

Goal Conversion Rate

A goal is a specific action you choose to track on your website and when a user takes that action, it becomes a conversion. Conversions are valuable because the more your website generates, the lower your acquisition costs are and the more value you’re getting from your website visitors.

The goal conversion rate metric for Google Analytics represents the percentage of website users who make a conversion. It’s calculated by dividing the number of goal conversions on your website by the number of sessions, and then multiplying that by 100. Anything above 10% is considered a good goal conversion rate for all industries and company sizes. A higher conversion rate means users are doing what you want them to on your website. Some examples of conversion goals include users adding an item to a cart, filling out a sign-up form, or calling your business from your website.

Returning Users

Users who return to your website are always a plus. Whether users are coming back to your site for more information, to read blogs and news articles or to make a purchase of your product or service, this is the type of interaction you want to see as a business.

If your returning users are high, users are finding value in what your business offers and the content provided on your website. Gaining new users to your site is the first step in gaining potential customers. The next goal is to keep those users coming back for more and turning them into loyal, paying customers. These returning users can help your business tremendously as they will likely share your product or service with others, bringing more new users to your business, starting the cycle over again.

Need help finding the right metrics for Google Analytics reports?

At Blue Compass, we are regularly in Google Analytics keeping track of a website’s performance, and building reports that clearly show our findings. By tracking the five best metrics Google Analytics that we covered in this guide, you can become an Analytics pro and take your site to the next level. For answers to any questions you might have about the platform, or if you’re looking for outside assistance from digital marketing experts in Des Moines, reach out to our team at Blue Compass. We’re happy to help!


Digital Marketing, SEO

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Kevin McMurray

Kevin McMurray is a Digital Marketing Specialist at Blue Compass. He enjoys spending time with his family, cheering on Cyclones sports and leisure sports.