Are you one of those business owners who use web analytics tools but focus too much on simple metrics to draw information about your website’s visitors? In Google Analytics, these include figures like total number of sessions, number of pageviews, and average duration on site. While these metrics give you a basic idea regarding how your visitors are interacting with your website, they are not nearly enough to offer you a more meaningful understanding of their behavior.
The problem is that these metrics show only totals and averages. You’ll be missing out on a lot of insights if you don’t delve deeper than these superficial numbers. This is especially true if your website does not engage in ecommerce or lead generation.
Websites like online retailers can use measurements like conversion rates and revenues to assess visitor and customer behavior, but for websites that offer pure content — blogs, news websites, and the like — one can start with the metrics found in Google Analytics’ Behavior section. This section is divided into the following subcategories:
Frequency & Recency
- Count of Sessions
- Days Since Last Session
- Session Duration
- Page Depth
The beauty of these metrics is their ability to highlight distribution and not just averages and totals. In this article, we will briefly discuss what each of these metrics do and how you can use them to your advantage in order to gain a better understanding of how web users engage with your website.
Frequency and Recency – Count of Sessions
Previously called “Count of Visits,” the Count of Sessions metric reveals how many repeat visits there have been on your site. Instead of counting just the total number of sessions, the data is segmented to show how many visitors visited your site once, twice, thrice, and so on.
You can use this as a baseline to determine whether or not the frequency with which people are visiting your site is improving. For instance, say 95% of your visitors had only one session with your website within the first month of its establishment. If, on the twelfth month, the figure goes down to 50%, then you can probably learn from this data that the readers’ use of your website is improving. More people are now visiting your site more than once during a given period of time.
Frequency and Recency - Days Since Last Session
The data from this section reveals how long it has been since your visitors last visited your website. It breaks the data down, showing you how many visitors have visited your website zero days ago, one day ago, two days ago, and so on.
New users will fill the row for zero days since last visit. As you can imagine, this can skew the data considerably because these people have never been to your site, and therefore they won’t give you any appreciable insight regarding visit recency. One way to get around this is to apply a filter that excludes new users. Just click on the “Add Segment” button, and choose “Returning Users.”
Engagement - Session Duration
Session Duration is a very good metric that measures the quality of visitor engagement. Instead of showing average numbers, the data is distributed to show how many visits are lasting for how long. For instance, it might show you that 90% of your visitors had sessions of between 0 to 10 seconds only. If this is the case, then you can surmise that people are not reading your content thoroughly enough, giving you an opportunity to rethink and revise your content development strategy in order for your team to create content that people will be more willing to spend time on.
Engagement – Page Depth
Conversely, people could be spending a lot of time on your website, but exactly how many of them are visiting more than one page every session? This is what the Page Depth metric can answer for you. It shows you how many sessions produced visits to one, two, three, or more pages. If you have a lot of people visiting more than one page in your website, you can infer from the data that people are engaging positively with your site.
There are any many ways you can customize how the data is presented in Google Analytics’ Behavior section so that you can get more idea about what people are really doing in your website. Applying filters through the “Add Segment” button is one of these, allowing you to study different types of customers in detail and enabling you to pinpoint opportunities that can help improve your marketing strategies.