Google Analytics: Misunderstandings that hold marketers back

By Clark Boyd

Google Analytics (GA) has done more than any other platform to bring the practice of data analytics to the center of organizations.

By offering a free-to-use, intuitive solution to businesses of any size, it has offered the promise of full transparency into customer behavior.

Moreover, as part of the broader marketing analytics movement, it has helped shape the language we use daily. Our handy guide explains some of the most frequently heard, but at time confusing, terms GA has brought into everyday parlance in the marketing world.

Pitch decks and strategy sessions abound with references to “data-driven decisions” nowadays, which is a healthy trend for businesses overall. Beyond the buzzword status this phrase has attained, it is true that businesses that integrate analytics into the decision-making process simply get better results.

Google reports that business leaders are more than twice as likely to act on insights taken from analytics:

As Google continues to improve its offering, with Optimize and Data Studio available to everyone, and an ever more impressive list of paid products via the Analytics 360 suite, marketers need to understand the data in front of them.

Unfortunately, there are some common misunderstandings of how Google collects, configures, processes, and reports data.

The below are some of the commonly misunderstood metrics and features within the core Google Analytics interface.

By avoiding these pitfalls, you will enable better decisions based on data you can trust.

Bounce rate

What is it?

Bounce rate is a simple, useful metric that is triggered when a user has a single-page session on a website. That is to say, they entered on one URL and left the site from the same URL, without interacting with that page or visiting any others on the site.

It is calculated as a percentage, by dividing the aggregate number of single-page sessions by the total number of entries to that page. Bounce rate can also be shown on a site-wide level to give an overview of how well content is performing.

As such, it makes for a handy heuristic when we want to glean some quick insights into whether our customers like a page or not. The assumption is that a high bounce rate is reflective of a poorly performing page, as its contents have evidently not encouraged a reader to explore the site further.

Why is it misunderstood?

Bounce rate is at times both misunderstood and misinterpreted.

A ‘bounce’ occurs when a user views one page on a site and a single request is sent to the Analytics server. Therefore, we can say that Google uses the quantity of engagement hits to classify a bounced session. One request = bounced; more than one request to the server = not bounced.

This can be problematic, given that any interaction will preclude that session from counting as a bounce. Some pages contain auto-play videos, for example. If the start of a video is tracked as an event, this will trigger an engagement hit. Even if the user exits the page immediately, they will still Go to the full article.

Source:: Search Engine Watch

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