Google Analytics – The 7 Reports That Matter For Small Businesses

OK – you have your Google Analytics code on your website – so now what? (If you don’t have your Google Analytics code – check out this 2-minute How-to video and get it set up now! How To Get Your Google Analytics Tracking Code)

The amount of data available through Google Analytics is incredible – especially for a free tool – but it can be overwhelming, especially for small business owners that just want to “get to the point”.

When you’re looking at Google Analytics – or any metrics for that matter – it’s important to make sure you have a “statistically relevant sample size”. What this means is that you want to make sure you have enough data to make an informed decision. So you need to look at percentages and the actual number itself. If you have an 80% conversion rate, but only 10 visitors, that’s simply not enough data to fall outside of the realm of chance, so you always want to make sure you’re basing your decisions on enough data. (If you want to geek out, go here to measure your statistical relevance:

Here are the 7 Google Analytics Reports That Matter Most For Small Business.

Google Analytics Report #1 – Acquisition -> Overview

Google Analytics Acquisition Overview Report


This reports gives you a bird’s eye view of where your traffic is coming from.


SOURCE: This is the general “bucket” (as defined by Google) for each source of traffic. For example, Social = all visits from social media sites including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, etc.

BOUNCE RATE: The Bounce Rate is the percent of visitors that come to your site and don’t go to a second page. You want the bounce rate to be low – this means that visitors are leaving the landing page and going to other pages on your website.

SESSIONS: A session = a visitor. However, you want to make sure you look at “Sessions” and “New Sessions”. Sessions can include one visitor that hits your site 10x. New Sessions are just what they say – 1 visit = 1 new session. Depending upon the data you’re looking for – you use “new sessions” for increased visitor counts, and overall sessions for repeat traffic, traffic “stability”, etc.

PAGES/SESSION: This is the number of pages a site visitor goes to each time they come to your site. For organic traffic, this is an indicator to Google that they sent their searcher to the right place.

AVG SESSION DURATION: This is an important number for SEO (although at this level of reporting, it should be taken with a grain of salt). When someone clicks on your link on Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) one of the indicators back to Google that they sent a searcher to the right page is the amount of time they spend there. You want to make sure you structure your pages so that it’s easy to read, engaging for the visitor, and brings the reader down the page so that they spend time after they’ve clicked from Google’s search page.

IN THE ABOVE EXAMPLE: In the screenshot above, most traffic is coming from social media (more on that later). The bounce rate for social is low (which is good, you want the bounce rate to the low), but there isn’t enough other data to indicate whether or not this channel is really the best one for us. We will dig in deeper using other reports. Display shows the highest bounce rate – although it’s not terrible. This could indicate that the ad targeting on AdWords should be modified to get better traffic, or modifications should be made to the ad itself. More research is needed.

So let’s dig in a little further…

To dig into any report in Google Analytics, just click on the link for that section. For example, let’s click on “Social”…

Google Analytics Report #2 – Acquisition -> Drill-Down

Google Analytics Acquisition Report


This report is a drill-down of your traffic sources from the previous Acquisition -> Overview page.


SOURCE: This shows you the name of the source that is sending the traffic, and then you look to the right to see how that source performs against the others.

BOUNCE RATE: As with the report above, bounce rate is important here as well.

PAGES/SESSION: This is your indicator of how engaged your audience is. In this case, visitors coming from Facebook look at an average of 2.02 pages per session. While there is data for the other social media traffic sources, it’s too small to allow you to make any decisions.

So that we can compare another drill-down, let’s go back to Acquisition -> Channels and choose “Direct” instead.

Google Analytics Direct Acquisition


Here, since this is tracking traffic coming “Direct” from a linked source, the page you land on is a report of your landing page performance for that traffic source.


LANDING PAGE: This is the page that your visitor lands on for the first time. If you click this:


The actual landing page will pop up.

Just as it is with the other reports, you will want to look at New Sessions, New Users, Bounce Rate, Pages/Session and Avg Session Duration in this report.

What you can learn here:

In this example, the landing page /wordpress-from-0-60 gets 56.53% of Direct Traffic. However, the Avg Session Duration is low (34 seconds). The best Avg Session Duration is 6 minutes 19 seconds from /store/yuZsoP6h. This could be due to the fact that it’s a sales page as opposed to a content page and visitors are reading the offer, the guarantee, etc. and that takes time. But in general, if that Avg Session Duration was for a content page, then that would indicate that there is a lot of interest in that topic, and you should work to get that link distributed around so that you can increase the amount of traffic that comes to that page.

Google Analytics Report #3 – Behavior -> Site Content -> Landing Pages

Google Analytics Landing Pages


Speaking of Landing Pages, this report shows you the overall response to your landing pages, regardless of the traffic source. This is helpful so that you can see opportunity that may be hidden when you just look at a Landing Page at one Source.

What you can learn here:

For example, in this report (which is different from the Landing Pages report above), we see that /yoursitein10ac gets the most traffic out of all landing pages – but this may be due to the fact that here we’re looking at all Traffic Sources while the report above only looks at Direct Traffic Sources.

Google Analytics Report #4 – Behavior -> Site Speed -> Speed Suggestions

Google Analytics - Speed


If you want free organic traffic to your site, for Google, speed matters. This report takes a look at each page on your site, gives you a score, and then provides suggestions to improve the speed.

Clicking the button next to PageSpeed Suggestions will bring you to a detailed report for that page that looks like this:

Google Analytics Page Speed

You may need to contact your hosting provider in order to execute some of Google’s suggestions (specifically server caching) – but if you send them screenshots of the report, they’ll know what to do.

Also, if your report is telling you that you should optimize images, utilize browser caching, etc. and you’re using WordPress, add my recommended plugins, W3 Total Cache and WPSmush.

Finally, make sure you look at both your Desktop and Mobile Reports.

Speaking of Mobile…

Google Analytics Report #5 – Audience -> Mobile

Google Analytics - Devices


If it’s been a while since you’ve updated your website and you’re not optimized for mobile, this report will go right to the heart of the customers you’re losing because of a poor mobile experience.

You can use Bounce Rate, Avg Session Duration and Pages/Sessions to help you analyse whether one device experience is better than another. In this example, desktop brings in the most engaged visitors, with tablet in second and mobile in 3rd. However, the overall Bounce Rate for all is still good, so a variety of factors may be involved for the differences in engagement. For example, if email marketing is sending mobile visitors to the site, it’s possible they’re quickly scanning content on their mobile device, and then moving to desktop for more in-depth reading.

Google Analytics Report #6 – Audience -> Users Flow

Google Analytics User Flow


This is a nice visual report that shows you the most popular page flows based on the country. To highlight certain paths, click on the country you would like to see and then select “Highlight traffic through here”.

This report shows you what pages result in drop-offs, where your site visitors go next, and what difference, if any, there is between countries.

Google Analytics Report #7 – Audience -> Demographics -> Age and Gender

Google Analytics Audience Age

Google Analytics Audience Gender


Want to know who is more engaged? What age group gives you the lowest Bounce Rates and highest Avg Session Duration? Then use Audience -> Demographics -> Age and Audience -> Demographics -> Gender.

Using the same stats – New Sessions, Bounce Rate, Pages/Session and Avg Session Duration, you will be able to see who finds the most value in your content, broken down by age and gender.

Overall, these are the top 7 Google Analytics reports that matter to small business. Once you’re comfortable with these, you can move on to creating Goals, and then using these same reports, but with the added “conversion dimension”. But I’ll talk about creating Goals in Google Analytics in a later post.

Are you using other Google Analytics Reports that you would recommend?