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Google Analytics Dashboard Features

Clicking the blue View Reports link in your Google Analytics Overview takes you to your site's dashboard, where you can drill down through your content, backlinks, visitor data, referring sites, and entry and exit page data, among other things. It also is the place where you'll set social media metrics goals and campaigns and work with real time stats.

When you first access your dashboard, assuming Analytics has been gathering data on your site for at least a week or so, you will see a wavy line graph. This graph represents your overall visits for the time period. Most days, you can ignore this graph — unless you see a significant dip or spike. When that happens, you should investigate so that you can find out how to adjust your site or blog to fix the issue (or to do more of whatever it was that piqued folks' interest).

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Bounce rate in social media metrics

Bounce rate is the percentage of visitors who left your site after arriving at your entrance (landing) page. A high bounce rate percentage isn't necessarily bad — it depends on your website and your intentions with that site. Say, for example, that you want people visiting your site to immediately perform a call to action, such as calling your toll-free telephone number. If most people are actually making that call, you'd end up with a high bounce number. However, because you're getting those calls, the bounce number is irrelevant — you're seeing a return on your call to action as you intended.

Bounce rate can also indicate how pages are performing for your sales funnel. If the page is designed to move people to a sales page or a sales process, a low bounce rate is an indicator that the page is doing its job. Check your sales figures to be sure. In fact, if the page is doing its job and you have low sales, your bounce rate tells you that your sales copy or some other aspect may need improvement.

Social media metrics Traffic Sources

This metric does two things:

  • It tells you where your biggest fans or biggest returns on content investment are — something key to know in social media.

  • It tells you how relevant your site is in search results.

The All Traffic metric in Traffic Sources gives a great snapshot of the best referrers. Frequent referrals from a site coupled with a low bounce rate means you have connected with the right influencer or influencing site for the goal you are trying to achieve with that page. Good job!

Traffic Sources also tells you what type of visitor the sources send over. If Facebook sends a lot of referrals but has a high bounce rate, perhaps you can either pull back on your Facebook efforts or adjust them to go to another page.

Use a different landing page for different visitors or traffic sources. The contacts you make on Twitter are very different than the contacts you make on Facebook or LinkedIn or even via Google Search. Don't overlook "snackable" content shared to discovery sites like StumbleUpon.com either — very easy to make share-worthy landing pages peppered with humor or interest items.

Social Media Metrics Keywords

Click Search / Organic in the Traffic Sources section, and you will find Keywords. Keywords are the meat and potatoes of good blogging. Writing keyword-rich content that sounds natural isn't easy, but the Keyword tracker in Google Analytics can help you get better at it. Even if you're not a blogger, the Keywords tracking feature in Google Analytics tells you which words are driving the most folks to your site.

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Segmentation in social media metrics

The Segmentation metric helps you answer the secondary questions that crop up as you get the basic questions answered through metrics. Analytics can tell you how many visitors came to your site, but segmentation answers the follow-up questions of "How many were from the United States?" or "How many of the visitors from the United States used a Macintosh running Safari to browse the site?"

Campaigns on Google Analytics

Click through to Traffic Sources / Incoming Sources / Campaigns to get to your Campaigns information. Campaigns are how the metrics gurus always know so precisely how folks are getting to the site. By attaching different campaign parameters to different banner ads or other calls to action on your site via links, you can create a trackable link (these are a mile long, by the way). If you then shrink down the link with your favorite URL shortener and share this link on sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn — sites that are normally hard to track — you can discover the smallest details of who gets to your site from where and to what content. Pretty cool for a free service, isn't it?

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