There is a deep, deep well of information contained within Google Analytics that can help your PPC account. But if you’re new to the program, where do you begin? To kick off our series of “Give Us 5 Days, and We’ll Teach You How to Maximize Your PPC Results by Using Google Analytics” I thought we’d start with the basics. On your account Dashboard there 5 statics; here is what they mean and how you can use them to your advantage!

Your site needs to have clear objectives and goals such as conversions/sales/sign ups, but you can gauge the effectiveness of your PPC campaign with other measurements as well. Using some basic reports in Analytics can help you determine if your site is engaging your audience, how deep do users explore your site, and how often they return. Conversions and sales are the best way to gauge your campaign’s success, but here are other indicators you can track easily.
Visits vs. Clicks: First, lets tackle a basic, but slightly confusing stat. Within Google Analytics, clicks indicate how many times your advertisements were clicked by users. Visitors indicates the number of actual unique sessions that are initiated by your visitors. According to Google, there are a few reasons why these numbers will not be the same:

  • A visitor may click your ad multiple times. When one person clicks on one advertisement multiple times in the same session, AdWords will record multiple clicks while Analytics recognizes the separate pageviews as one visit. This is a common behavior among visitors engaging in comparison shopping.
  • A user may click on an ad, and then later, during a different session, return directly to the site through a bookmark. The referral information from the original visit will be retained in this case, so the one click will result in multiple visits.
  • A visitor may click on your advertisement, but prevent the page from fully loading by navigating to another page or by pressing their browser’s Stop button. In this case, the Analytics tracking code is unable to execute and send tracking data to the Google servers. However, AdWords will still register a click.
  • To ensure more accurate billing, Google AdWords automatically filters invalid clicks from your reports. However, Analytics reports these clicks as visits to your website in order to show the complete set of traffic data.

New vs. Returning Visitors: Depending on the goals of your PPC campaign, you can interpret these stats in a couple different ways. If your percent of new visitors is predominant within your account, this means that you are successfully driving new visitors/traffic to your site. If you have a high percentage of returning visitors this could indicate that your site’s content is engaging to your users, and they are returning multiple times. To delve further into your visitor’s behavior, you can explore the “Visitor Loyalty” reports.

Knowing this data can shed some light on your PPC campaign by allowing you to determine the percent of new visitors to your site. With a PPC campaign, you will want to have a higher percent of new visitors as you try to acquire sales & leads.

Average page views per visitor: Average page views is another metric that can indicate the quality of your traffic. A high average page views per visitor is a sign that you are generating the right kind of traffic and your content engages your audience. If this stat is low, then this means that something is not working properly with your site, or your traffic isn’t as targeted as it could be.

Your conversion rate can be tied to your average page views per visitor. If users are not engaged in your site, then they certainly aren’t going to purchase your product or request additional information (if you are sending your traffic directly to your website, not a one-page landing page).
Bounce rate: Actually, Google has a pretty good definition of this term so I’ll let them take if from here: Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page.

Use this metric to measure visitor quality – a high bounce rate generally indicates that your site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors. The more compelling your landing pages, the more visitors will stay on your site and convert. You can minimize bounce rates by tailoring landing pages to each keyword and advertisement that you run. Landing pages should provide the information and services that were promised in the ad copy.

Average time on site: This metric means exactly what it measures; the average time that users spend on your site. Again, this metric is also tied to the quality of your traffic. If visitors stay on your site for an extended period of time, then they are engaged and exploring what your site has to offer. Keep in mind, time on site can be misleading because visitors often leave browser windows open when they are not actually viewing or using your site.

One extra note: if you’re just getting started with Google Analytics, and you’re not even sure how your site should be performing, there is a way to make a comparison with your competitors. This tool is called “benchmarking.” Benchmarking is an optional tool that shows how your website’s statistics compare against other industry verticals. With this service you are able to compare your site’s Visits, Pageviews, Pages per Visit, Bounce Rate, Average Time on Site, and New Visits data against benchmark data from categories of other participating websites.

You may have noticed the theme here; these metrics help you determine the quality of your traffic, and it measures how well your site engages your audience. For example, you may be bidding on cheap keywords that drive a lot of traffic to your site but if these users don’t stay on your site, explore more than one page, and ultimately don’t convert, then you may not be driving the right traffic, or your site isn’t speaking directly to your audience, or both. Monitor these metrics in order to enhance your site and your overall PPC performance.