Revealing the Wealth of Information in Google Analytics

It’s no myth that the internet has had a significant impact on business. If you want proof, go to your favorite once-bustling mall and see how many stores have vanished. In the last two years alone, here’s a list that shows a fraction of the retailers who have filed for bankruptcy in the last three years and have either gone out of business or have closed a majority of their stores:

  • Sears – Filed for bankruptcy in October 2018
  • Mattress Firm – Filed for bankruptcy in October 2018
  • Brookstone – Filed for bankruptcy, for the second time in four years, in August 2018
  • Rockport – Filed for bankruptcy in May 2018
  • Nine West – Filed for bankruptcy in April 2018
  • Claire’s – Filed for bankruptcy in March 2018
  • Toys R Us – Filed for bankruptcy in September 2017
  • Payless Shoe Source – Filed for bankruptcy in April 2017
  • Radio Shack – Filed for bankruptcy in March 2017
  • The Limited – Filed for bankruptcy in February 2017
  • American Apparel – Filed for bankruptcy—for the second time in a year—in November 2016
  • Aéropostale – Filed for bankruptcy in May 2016
  • Sports Authority – Filed for bankruptcy in March 2016

Almost all of the above retailers were mall staples at one time and now they’ve all filed for bankruptcy, and many are gone. Consumers have decided they no longer want to drive to the mall, park the car, walk into the mall, locate a directory so they can find the store they’re seeking, walk around the store looking for the item they want, stand in line at the checkout, drag the item to their car, and drive home. Instead, they’ve chosen to sit on their couch, order from Amazon, and have the item they want delivered to their home in two days.

While ease of online shopping has been a major contributor to many retailers’ demise, another problem is that many brick-and-mortar stores stuck to old-school marketing strategies. What were once effective advertising tactics—print ads in the Sunday newspaper, direct mail, Yellow Page ads, billboards, telemarketing—became ineffective as the internet’s popularity increased. But more importantly, old-school ads can’t be accurately tracked.

Mass marketing presented ads to a large audience—for example, everyone who bought a Sunday newspaper—with advertisers hoping that a small percentage of that huge audience might respond to any given ad. However, the important question is, who is responding to a particular print ad? How old are they? What are their interests? What other products or services do they buy? It was impossible to tell.

Digital marketing plans brought the ability to target ads to very specific groups in very specific geographic areas and also gave advertisers the ability to glean intimate details about current and future customers. And what is the main engine driving this enormous influx of data? Google.

Google Analytics (GA) has been around since 2005, constantly improving and fine-tuning their ability to collect data and provide information. Today, companies are able to get an incredible amount of data about their customers, allowing businesses to better understand current customers and better target new ones.

What vital information can one learn from Google Analytics?

Bounce Rate

It’s important to know the percentage of visitors who navigate away from your site after viewing only one page. GA provides the bounce rate, giving you the opportunity to test new content.

Source of Traffic

How do visitors arrive at your website? Discover whether traffic is coming from an ad buy, from social media, or from paid or organic searches. This lets you know if money spent on ads or social networks is effective.

Behavior Flow

This feature provides a wealth of information that will help improve your website. Discover what pages visitors interacted with the most, and the last page viewed before leaving your site. Helps companies determine which pages are engaging visitors and which pages make them leave.

Mobile Traffic

It’s been a few years since mobile overtook desktop traffic, so it’s important to know what portion of your site’s traffic is mobile, how much time are mobile visitors spending on your site, and how many conversions are from mobile users? Would a mobile app bring more traffic?

Search Console

Get information about your organic search traffic with data such as user queries and the number of times your site’s URLs appear in search engine results. Combine this information with information about site engagement such as bounce rate and e-commerce conversion, and it’s an extremely valuable tool to discover how users are finding your site, and what they do once they get to your site.


Discover the age, gender, and interest category of visitors to your website, based on their online travel and purchasing activities. Demographics changes your users from raw data into human beings, which helps businesses better connect with visitors.


How does the overall performance of your website compare to that of your competitors? Compare your site’s performance to previous results and to your industries average by channels, location, and devices.

Real Time Reporting

What’s happening on your website right now? Real time reporting gives an overview, showing the number of active users on each page and the source for each user, referrals for active users, the pages through which they entered your site, and their geographic location.

Pages Per Session

Someone lands on your home page, but then what? Follow the path visitors take in exploring your website. Analyzing this data will help businesses effectively guide users to a call-to-action and conversion.

Session Duration

The average length of time a visitor spends in a session on your website, down to the second. If you see a visitor spends a long time on one page and then leaves, the content may be confusing; just a few seconds before leaving and the content isn’t grabbing their attention. The trick is finding that sweet spot where they spend adequate time on a page and are then interested enough to go farther into your site.

Site Speed

Since the internet started, there were two website categories: the quick and the dead. With attention spans becoming shorter every day, site speed is more important than ever. You’ll discover the page load time, the bounce rate for a page, and the percentage of views where a given page was the last page viewed in a session. And, in case you suspect it’s not the website that’s the problem, get server connection time, server response time, and page download time.

Now, all that is a lot to take in, especially if analyzing data isn’t something you do every day. Happily, we at McFadden/Gavender have an expert who is certified in Google Analytics. If you don’t have the time to sort through the sea of data that Google Analytics provides, contact us, and we can get your website working more efficiently, define your target audience, and get your business better placement in Google search results.