Web analytics is critical for your website. No matter the kind of website you run, the need to know your visitor’s behavior cannot be overstated. Google analytics helps get data on who is visiting your website, what they are doing, and the amount of time they spend on your site. Read along to learn more about how to use Google Analytics to track user behavior for your site.
Why use Google Analytics to track user behavior?
Generally, user behavior involves all the activities that users take on a website, including how they scroll down the page, what they click on, how long they stay on a page, and when they leave a page.
Like other analytics tools, Google Analytics helps you track visitors’ activities and understand user behavior, device functionality, user experience, and much more.
When you track user behavior, you are better positioned to define your success strategy for your business and users. The best part is that you can use Google Analytics to track user behavior in different types of applications, including web and SaaS applications, mobile apps (Android and iOS), and internet of things (IoT) devices.
That said, here is why you may prefer to use Google Analytics to track and understand user behavior:
Ease of use
Google Analytics’ basic structure has remained the same for many years. That means even new website owners with basic technology skills can figure out how to use Google Analytics on their sites. You only need to set up your account, and Google Analytics will start collecting the data automatically.
Real-time visitor tracking
Google Analytics allows for real-time user tracking, meaning it provides information on who is visiting your website in real-time. That way, you can know the number of visitors on your site, the pages they are scrolling, and the steps they are taking.
Google Analytics allows you to build customized reports or select from the many Google report templates when displaying different dimensions and metrics.
An entire section displaying visitor information
Google Analytics has an entire section that provides you with information on all visitors to your site. With Google Analytics, you can track the number of visitors who come to your website via search results, those who typed your website directly into search, and those who come to your site from shared links on other sites, social media, and paid ads.
Why does tracking user behavior matter?
Visitors' actions on your site, such as clicking and scrolling patterns, are viewed as events. Behavioral analytics involves looking at the exact actions that customers take on a website and organizing these events into timelines that can be viewed as the user journey.
By analyzing the user journey on your website, you can better understand user preferences and create products and services that match their needs.
However, you need to look at how your customers are using your products or services to do this. As such, tracking user behavior on your website is crucial if you want to stay up to date on how users interact with your website.
The most crucial thing to look at when analyzing user behavior with Google Analytics is what brings users to your website and removes distraction on their path. After all, the success of your digital marketing efforts depends on understanding the key factors that motivate users to take specific action on your website.
To better understand how you can use behavioral analytics to improve your digital marketing strategy, take a look at the below scenarios:
A business is monitoring customer events on its website to improve its marketing efforts. They find that one customer clicked on a particular product but abandoned the process before buying. In that case, the company may respond to this prospect by sending an email with more useful information about the product and an offer to inspire the visitor to make a purchase.
In another example, a business sends out an email campaign with a PDF attachment containing information about a range of digital marketing packages. Using Google Analytics, they can track user events to see who opened the PDF, how long they kept it open, and where they spent most of their time on the PDF. The sales team uses the processed data to start conversations with the prospects and send relevant information and offers to the interested prospects.
As you can see in the examples above, monitoring user activity helps understand user behavior in ways that you will otherwise not understand. These insights will help create a new strategy to improve user experience. More specifically, behavioral analytics provides crucial details such as:
- How well users receive your marketing messages
- How visitors respond to changes in website features
- How long do users stay on a product page
- Where, when, how do users become stuck on your website
- How different advertising campaigns are working
- How long does it take from when a user interacts with a page to conversion?
When you track user behavior on your website, it will help you know their interests, what motivates them to stay on your site, and what makes them leave without taking the appropriate actions. This way, you can derive new strategies and improve existing ones to get more traffic and conversions.
Things you can find in the Google Analytics dashboard
There are many reports available in Google Analytics to help understand user behavior, including how they navigate your WordPress website, the pages they spend much time on, and where they exit. The best part is that most of these reports do need any additional configuration.
Behavior flow visualizes a user’s journey from one page to another or from one event to another. In other words, it helps understand the user's path from when they land on your website to the point when they leave.
Such insights will help you understand how to use CTAs and interlink pages to motivate users to follow the buyer journey. More specifically, it allows you to discover the flow for traffic sources, landing pages, users, and events.
Great examples of what you can get from the behavior flow report include:
- Most engaging content on your website
- How a user journey from a particular campaign worked
- User journeys of people from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
- Confusing areas and potential content issues
- How different operating systems influence user behavior
To find behavior on Google Analytics, go to “Behavior” and then select “Behavior flow.”
Unlike behavior flow that provides aggregate user journeys, user explorer will allow you to see individual user behavior on your website. In other words, the user explorer feature provides a chronological timeline of a user's activity on your website. You can find it under Audience >User Explorer in Google Analytics.
User explorer involves individual journey analysis. It allows you to track individual visitor actions, including where it started, pages visited, and where they left your website.
An anonymized ID identifies every user in this era of data protection. That said, you cannot know the gender of a particular user, their location, and other such details. However, you can see the actions of the user, including:
- The number of sessions
- Average duration on the site
- How quickly they left (bounce rate)
- Goal conversion
- Revenue (if you accept payment in your store)
You will need to click on the client ID to get more information about the session, including the individual user profile, how they found your site, the first time they visited your site, and the little things that may suggest page views or other events on your website.
You can also break down the user journey to see more detailed session activity such as the source of traffic, the time they spend on your site, the device they use, etc., and event level to check details such as browsing the site, purchase, etc.
Knowing your audience is crucial. After all, they are the ones who promote you by visiting your website and are interested in your products or services. Understanding your audience as much as possible helps know the path that led visitors to take the desired action like signup, purchases, etc.
You can get audience reports in Google Analytics by going to Audience > Audiences. For instance, if you want to know how your website performs for new and returning visitors, you need to select Audience > Audiences > Behavior > New vs. Returning.
You can find where your best-converting audiences are located by navigating to Audience > Audiences > Geo > Location reports.
These reports will help identify users that matter most to your business and the necessary steps to take.
That said, here are the different types of audience report you can get on audience reports from Google Analytics:
- Demographics — Gather data by gender and age range. For example, males 25 to 34 or females 35 to 44.
- Interests — View people based on their lifestyles, habits, passions, etc., or Affinity Categories, In-Market Segments or product-purchase intent such as education, employment, business services, etc.
- Behavior — Separate users by browser’s behavior, for example, frequency and recency, new vs. returning, etc.
- Geo — Split data by language and location
- Mobile — Check user device types, including mobile, tablet, and desktop
- Technology — Segment audience by browser, operating system, etc.
- Benchmarking — View audience data in relation to aggregated industry data
Site search is among the most crucial elements on your website to help analyze user behavior. This is especially useful if you have a search option on your website and want to see what people are searching for.
Search reports from Google Analytics allow you to see what people are searching on your site and the terms that they use, where they start their search, and the pages they visit after landing on your website.
Knowing what people are searching for helps you understand which content is hard to find on your site and the type of content you need to create. It helps improve your strategy and conversion rates on ecommerce websites.
You can find site search by selecting Behavior > Site Search in Google Analytics.
However, you will need to enable site search in Google Analytics to get information on what people search on your website.
Traffic source data is probably the most important data stored in Google Analytics. Users don’t just show up on our website; they come from somewhere. This can be from typing your address into the browser, clicking your link on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, or from search results.
Knowing your traffic source helps you learn more about your audience and create a more effective marketing strategy.
That said, traffic sources involve a breakdown of where people find your website in Google Analytics. After all, every referral to your site originates from somewhere, and there are many potential sources. You can find traffic source reports in Google Analytics by navigating to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.
Organic traffic refers to traffic that comes from a search engine. For example, a person opens a browser, searches for something, and your site appears among the top result pages.
The traffic you get when a user clicks a link on another website that leads them to your website is often viewed as referral traffic. On the other hand, Google considers any traffic it doesn’t know its initial source as direct. Direct traffic can take different forms, including:
- Someone has bookmarked your page and uses that bookmark to visit your site
- A user types your domain name into the browser and press search
- When Google does not know where a visitor came from
Ideally, knowing your traffic sources helps:
- Identify which channels bring valuable traffic to your website
- Know which channels bring more traffic to your site. For example, if you are promoting your site content using Twitter and Facebook, you can see which brings in more users and focus more on it
- Identify how your content is performing on different platforms
Google Analytics provides an excellent way to discover how users are seeing and engaging with your website. The information you get will help you know which traffic channels are performing better and what you can do to improve them even more.
Average session duration, bounce rates, pages/session
In simple terms, bounce rate refers to a session when a user only viewed a single page of your site and triggered only one request to the Analytics server. A great example is when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits.
Average session duration in Google Analytics refers to the average amount of time a user spends on your website.
To find the average session in Google Analytics, navigate to Audience > Overview.
On the other hand, page views refer to the number of pages a user visits in a single session. For instance, if a user clicks reload after opening a page, Google Analytics will view this as an additional page view.
Landing pages and exit pages
A landing page refers to the first page people see when landing on your website. This can be a page they found via a search or a blog post you shared on social media.
On the other hand, exit pages refer to the last pages users visited before leaving your website. Analyzing these pages will help you understand user journeys and determine what you need to optimize to increase engagement.
Comparing metrics and dimensions
User behavioral analytics contain various metrics and dimensions. Dimensions refer to qualitative elements that describe data such as browser type, country, language, etc. On the other hand, metrics involve quantitative analysis used for measurements such as page views.
That said, here are the common Google Analytics metrics:
- Acquisition metrics — Provides information on traffic sources and how they found your website
- Behavioral metrics — These metrics show user activity from when they land on your website to the point they leave your site
- Conversion metrics — This metric provide information about users who converted and the amount of revenue obtained
As you can see, Google Analytics offers a perfect way to track user behavior on your website. The best part is that the process is easy and provides quick and actionable reports.
You can use the insights you get from these reports to care for your customer needs and develop effective marketing strategies for your business.