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Thursday, Apr. 21, 2011 at 3:05 pm

Google Analytics Basics: The Content Report

By Whitney Wilding
April 21st, 2011

This post is a continuation from my blog post, “Google Analytics Basics: The Visitors Report” and intended to provide further insight into the basics of your Google Analytics reports. In addition to reviewing our clients’ Visitors Report, we also can extract valuable data from the content report. Here is a break down of the most common sub-reports we look at under this category.

Top Content

What it Means: The Top Content report breaks down the metrics for the most-viewed pages on your site. For each of the top pages, it shows pageviews, unique pageviews, average time on page, bounce rate, % exit and $ index. The Content Performance at the top of the report provides overall site-wide information for each of these metrics, as a frame of reference for this data. Although most of these metrics seem self-explanatory, let’s dive into each one anyway – you may learn something you didn’t know before.
Pageviews: Any view of any page on your site is being tracked by the Analytics tracking code. This metric reports on the total number of times a page is viewed during a particular time period, regardless of who the visitor is. Every time a visitor visits a particular page on the site, it is tracked as a separate pageview, even during the same session on the site.
Unique Pageviews: Counts one visit per visitor per session to a particular page on the site. In other words, if Jonny visited your site yesterday and looked at the About Us page three times during that session, and comes back today and looks at the About Us page twice during today’s session, that counts as two unique pageviews (one from yesterday’s session, and one from today’s session).
Average Time on Page: This metric IS pretty self-explanatory. This is essentially telling you, on average, how much time prospects spend on this page per visit.
Bounce Rate: This metric measures the percentage of visits in which a visitor left your site entirely from a landing page. The key word here is “landing page.”  That means the visitor came from an outside source (could be a natural search result, a referring site, a PPC ad, a banner ad), directly to this page, and immediately left your site and went somewhere else.
% Exit: The percentage of exit measures the rate of visitors that navigate away from a page on the site by exiting the site altogether vs. navigating to another page on the site. These visitors may have come to this page from another page within your site, or from an outside source… this is what distinguishes it from Bounce Rate.
$ Index: Dollar Index is a way of attributing a dollar value to a particular page on your site, by linking the number of unique views of the page to the value of a subsequent goal completion or purchase.  It calculates the average value for a page that user(s) visited before landing on a goal page or completing an ecommerce transaction (or both). To learn how dollar index is calculated, see this Google Help article.
What it Tells You: Pageviews and Unique Pageviews give you an understanding of what pages on your site are receiving the most traffic. These can be areas of the site where you may want to spend some time optimizing, particularly if the other metrics on the page are not where you would like them to be.

If the page you are looking at in GA is a landing page, then the bounce rate can provide you with an indicator on how well the page is performing at making a first impression on your visitors, and engaging them in your content. If there is a high bounce rate, then there could be a poor scent from the traffic source to the content featured on the page. Similarly the % Exit is telling you what percentage of prospects are leaving the site from that page. So if it’s high, especially in conjunction with a high Bounce Rate, it’s a pretty good indicator that there are some problems with the content featured on the page.

The dollar index is intended to help you determine which pages on your site contribute most to site revenue. Generally speaking, you are aiming for higher numbers here, meaning that viewing a particular page is linked to successful revenue generation. Naturally, we expect pages that are further along the conversion process (ie, closer to goal completion and purchase) to have higher dollar indices. If you are seeing a page on the site, pretty far down into your persuasive funnel with a low $ index, this could be an indication that this page needs some attention. But as you work toward making your website better, especially if you’re engaged in a program of continuous optimization like our OnTarget subscriptions, you will naturally turn your attention to earlier and earlier steps of the buying process. Then the goal is to start making pages further away from your goal purchase page have higher and higher values. Low numbers are an indicator that you may have some problems lurking in the steps between this page and your goal or a purchase. This is an especially big concern when you see a low dollar index for highly trafficked pages. Make sure that there are clear calls to actions and ways for prospects to move forward on high trafficked pages of your site.

Top Landing Pages

What it Means: The Top Landing Pages Report provides you with a list of all your landing pages, default sorted to show you pages by the highest number of entrances. This report will provide you with Entrance, Bounces, and Bounce Rate-determined by Entrances/Bounces metrics.
What it Tells You: This report can provide you with an overview of how well your landing pages are performing. If you are investing in any marketing efforts, no doubt you already are familiar with this report. You can drill down into a specific landing page and get more in-depth information on the performance of your marketing efforts/landing pages is to click on entrance sources. If you tag your marketing efforts properly, you will be able to see performance data for each of your marketing efforts.

Top Exit Pages

What it Means: Top Exit Pages simply provides you with a report of pages on your site that have the highest number of exits.
What it Tells You: This report could signal a content issue on a critical page in a persuasive funnel if you see a high number of exits from the page. That’s an indicator that you may want to revisit the persona at whom the content is aimed, the questions they are likely to have on the page, and the various pieces of the page aimed at addressing those questions for further testing. If you uncover a problem such as that, you will benefit from working backwards through each of those issues (content first, then questions, then the persona itself).

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Comments (30)

  1. A high bounce rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing, depending upon the site and its purpose. For example, if you just want people to find you and your contact info, they might get everything they need directly from the landing page.

  2. I still don’t understand what the $ Index is? Do you pay Google to do ad campaigns or something? I use Google Analytics for several of my websites but some of it I don’t know and this $ Index is one of them among a couple more that I don’t know. Any additional advice is appreciated. Thanks.

  3. @Sebastian – did you check out the link to the Google Analytics help on this subject? Look there and see if that helps.

  4. I only know some of the Google Analytics basics and much are like jargons. This is makes it a bit easier.

  5. I use the google analytics and frankly their UI is terrible. especially the filtering

  6. I have been using Google Analytics for my own business for quite a while. This post has helped me make sense of all the statistical data that had been a bit confusing. Thanks for the quality article Whitney.

  7. You really need to understand the power of the top content report. It tells you so many various things. It tells you what people want to know most on your website, thus, what you should be writing most about of you have a blog.
    Great post!

  8. I was reading somewhere that’s it’s not uncommon for blogs to have a high bounce rate like around 75%. Was wondering if any of you see this. It also seems hard to look at metrics without having another similar site to compare the numbers to.

  9. Its good to see others talking about bounce rate. I think the bounce rate is huge for online marketing and building effective websites.

  10. Google Analytics is not always easy to use, and to be honest, their new UI is not that great …

  11. @joel – perhaps…. but what do you want them to DO with your contact info? If you want them to pick up the phone and call you, you have to give them a reason to believe they should call you. If I’m looking for a mothers day cake for my mom, and I land on a page with your name and phone number, how do I even know you make cakes, or that you’re located near where I live so I can easily pick up the cake? The only time I can say that bounce rate doesn’t matter is if you are an PPC or SEO company being paid solely upon the basis of the number of people landing on a site… but even then, how long do you think you’ll keep your clients if you send 1000 people to their site and 1000 people bounce withing 2 seconds?

  12. Google analytics is nice tools to known about daily traffic and small size more than another tools.But it also can combine with adsense. very nice :)

  13. I’ve always had issues with google analytics in the past. It never seems that it picks everything up. Maybe I’m using it wrong, but IDK.

  14. Thanks for the great post! Had been used Google Analytics for some time but still not understand what some of the things mean. Hope to see more similar post, I think it will be another great posts for beginners :)

  15. Hi Whitney Wilding, your article is a very good guide for newbie web freelancers to understand the basics of Google Analytics. Mostly I use only the link for top content pages for a particular website in Google analytics.

  16. Thanks for the feedback. Now is there a way to use google analytics with google webmaster tools better? I know a little about both but not a lot about either. LOL. I’m a newbie so reading up about these kinds of posts is helping out a lot a little at a time.

  17. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
    The Google Analytics, has lots of information, knowledge and use them optimally is crucial to understand and better our blog or website.

  18. And is it possible to add my adsense account to google analytics? I saw someone did it and can’t find how. Thank you

  19. i usually using statcounter, i think it better… what do you think?

  20. I use Google Analytics to monitoring statistic my site, besides Google Analytics, I also use sitemeter and different statistical visitor

  21. I use the google analytics and frankly their UI is terrible. especially the filtering

  22. Currently i’m using google analytics… still on the old UI.
    The new one is nearly unusable.
    Biggest problem is that imo it takes alot of implement all the analytics features on your website say for example on a simpe html site. ( most CMS systems have plugins ).

  23. I replaced analytics with statcounter and saw graet improvent in ranking. The reason: it was a flash website and analytics gave me a 90% bounce rate

  24. I am never sure of just how accurate the data is. My sites built in visitor count and other analytical counters say something totally different to googles analytics, so which one is right?

  25. From my experience, Analytics is accurate and it’s giving you a comprehensive view and tools to understand your traffic.

  26. Typically the results that Google Analytics produces always differs from my independent third party product StatsJunkey, which I feel provides a better snapshot of my site’s activities overall.

  27. I noticed another commentor ask if it is possible to add my adsense account to google analytics? Im also interested to find out. Best

  28. @ Shaver Men. Yes, you can link your adsense account with your Google Analytics. There should be a link in your adsense account inviting you to integrate the two accounts. You can find the full tutorial on how to do this over at Google.

  29. This post has made using the data gathered from Google analytics make much more sense. Much of the information and data needs decoding for the specifics of your site. Eg. If your bounce rate is high, why is it high? Breaking down the data that you have been given can give you insight into the buying behavior of the visitors to your site, and what changes you can make to improve your site.

  30. Analytics is wonderful. I use it to determine how much users visit and return to my site and what they do while on it, but I haven’t compared individual pages yet. I’ll have to take another look. Thanks!

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