Google Analytics


Knowing which metrics and how to measure them in Google Analytics can be quite daunting. The Google Analytics – Beginners Guide – 18 Must Know Metrics – The Complete List discusses some key metrics google analytics beginners must learn, understand and interpret.

Google Analytics is a free Analytics tool powered by Google. It provides insight into the different activities on your website by site visitors/users such as page views, traffic sources, bounce rate, audience, site speed, etc.

Also, the tool helps you to better understand where your audience is coming from, top keywords, and also your best-performing pages. It gives you a comprehensive overview of happenings on your website, simply put.

Although there are many metrics to look at, however, I will share with you the top 18 metrics every google analytics beginner should learn how to use.

Understanding your website visitors, location, average time on page, on which page they spend most of their time, and where they visit next after leaving your website can be very useful in improving your subscription, reducing bounce rate, and figuring out how to make your visitors stay longer on your website.

This information can be very valuable for all kinds of websites in audience targeting and revenue increase.

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You might also like to read:

1. Acquisition – Overview

Acquisition Overview - Digital Markets Journal

The acquisition overview gives you a pictorial representation of where your audience is from. For example, you are able to see if your audience is from Social Media, Direct Search, Organic Search, etc.

Also, you are about to see your bounce rate.

Understanding the acquisition overview page in your Google analytics is key to making important on-page optimization and off-page optimization decision. For example, if you see that your bounce rate is on the high side, then you must figure out how to reduce it.

Also, you are able to determine where to invest more in terms of ads or optimization.

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2. Acquisition – Behaviour

Acquisition Behavior - Digital Markets Journal

The acquisition behavior gives you an overview of the behavior of your website audience and a basic understanding of the overall performance of your website. For example, you are able to immediately see three key metrics – bounce rate, page/session and the average session duration which is a measure of the average time each website visitors stay on your site per session.

The three above metrics are always key to measuring your website performance. For example, a high bounce rate is never good for your website.

Websites with high bounce rate get lower ranking – this is because website traffic would stay longer on your website if they found it interesting.

High bounce rate is an indicator that your traffic is either not targetted or that your content isn’t awesome.

3. Acquisition – Channel

Acquisition Channel - Digital Markets Journal

The understanding of google analytics channel metric is important to any Google Analytics beginner and almost all biggers guide to google analytics discusses the google analytics channel metric.

Google analytics channel gives you an overview of where your traffic is coming from, more detailed analysis of your website bounce rate, the percentage of users referred to your website by each traffic source, etc.

The Google analytics channels help you make some important decisions as to where to invest more of your marketing efforts.

4. Acquisition – Source/Medium

Acquisition Source or Medium - Digital Markets Journal

The difference between a google analytics expert and a newbie is their ability to identify and interpret little details.

The Google analytics source/medium gives you a better understanding of each traffic source. For example, google analytics acquisition overview give shallow details about where your traffic is from but the google analytics source/medium gives you a very detailed report of your traffic. That is, you get to see how much traffic is coming from Facebook, Linkedin, or some very specific website/URL.

Also, you are able to see the performance of traffic coming from those sources.

The source/medium is one of the most important tools you will continue to learn for a very long time in your career as a website analytic specialist.

I personally consider the Google analytics source/medium as one of the first metrics any google analytics beginner must understand.

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5. Acquisition – Referrals

Acquisition Referrals - Digital Markets Journal

Acquisition-referrals is very close to source/medium but also vary in that the acquisition referrals only shows traffic from your referring domains. i.e. websites where your homepage or other internal pages are listed.

Furthermore, you are able to see the on-the-spot analysis of traffic performance from those sources.

Understanding the referrals tools in google analytics allow you to know what your referring domains are and how to leverage.

6. Acquisition – Social – Referral

Acquisition Social Referrals - Digital Markets Journal

Like your domain referrals, the social referrals page shows which social platform gives you bot only most traffic but also the best audience.

An easy way to analyze how good a traffic source is to measure bounce rate, average time on the website and also user interaction on the site from that very source.

For example, if you are faced with a scenario where 70% of your website traffic from Facebook bounces but only 7% from Linkedin does the same, then this means that you need to revise your facebook targetting because you are not getting the right type of audience to your website.

You can apply the same logic to any of your other social platforms.

7. Acquisition – Social – Landing Pages

Acquisition Social Landing Pages - Digital Markets Journal

The landing pages tool gives a clear report of how your social traffic is interacting with your website. For example, the social – landing pages tool shows the first page your social media user lands on your website.

This is very important as you are able to determine your most engaging link in social media.

For instance, assuming you posted 10 links on all your social media platform and found out that one of them drives the most traffic to your website, then you must take another look at the article to see what you did differently and how you can use a similar tactic on your site content.

I find this tool very useful in that it helps me in making some very important content optimization decisions.

 8. Acquisition – Social – Users Flow

Acquisition Social User Flow Chart - Digital Markets Journal

I refer to user workflow as the brilliance of Google Analytics and I, as a matter of fact, consider this as the most advanced Google analytics tool.

The user flow gives you the graphical representation of how your user interaction walks through your website.

The user flow is awesome in that it shows the following:

  1. User flow – how your website traffic/users move through your website from one page to another.
  2. Exit pages.
  3. Measure the level of interaction of your user/traffic to your website.

9. Behavior – Overview

Behavior Overview - Digital Markets Journal

The behavior overview page shows simple graphs of your page views, unique page views, average time on page, bounce rate and percentage of exit.

The page overview also shows how much money your website is worth by using google adsense (if you have one).

Most importantly, you can sort this statistic either by day, week or month.

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10. Behavior – Behavior Flow

Acquisition User Flow - Digital Markets Journal

Just like the social flow, behavior flow also shows how your users move from one page to the other.

User flow can also make you to easily monitor the different interactions of your site users with your website.

Segmenting your behavior flow give you a clearer representation of user interaction. For example, you can segment your user flow to monitor traffic from different sources such as direct, mobile, social, and a number of other complex combinations for proper reporting.

11. Behavior – Site Content – Exit Pages

Exit Pages - Digital Markets Journal

The exit page is the last page accessed during a visit.

Google analytic reports the top exit pages URLs, the number of exits, unique pageviews and exit rate.

Exit rate is the number of exits from a page divided by the total number of pageviews of that page.

12. Behavior – Site Speed

Behavior Site Speed - Digital Markets Journal

The site speed metric gives you an overview of your average page load time, redirection time, server response time, and server connection time.

The most important thing is to have website pages that load very quickly.

Lastly, there are a number of other tools available to you under the site speed section of your google analytics page such as – speed suggestion, page timing, and user timing.

13. Behavior – Site Search

Search Site - Digital Markets Journal

Site search is a functionality provided by a website in the form of a search box through which website visitors search the website for information or products.

If your website provides site search functionality then you should set up ‘site search tracking’ in Google Analytics.

The site search tool shows search terms and pages of your website.

This tool sheds more light on your site user interaction.

14. Real-Time Overview

Real Time - Digital Markets Journal

The real-time google analytics and reporting tool show the real-time analytics of your website visitors. For example, the real-time tool shows you the number of visitor on your website at a given point in time.

Also, you are able to see the number of visitors accessing your website from different devices, including mobile and computer.

Furthermore, you can see a heatmap of your website visitors which shows location, referring social site, domain and/or keyword.

15. Real-Time – Location

Real Time Location - Digital Markets Journal

The real-time location tool shows the location of your website in real-time. It is key and important because you are able to see where your visitors are coming from at certain times of the day.

Furthermore, this is very useful when you are measuring the effectiveness of your paid campaign; to see if your website traffic is coming from the right sources, and how much traffic was delivered at a given time.

15. Real-Time – Traffic Sources

Real Time Traffic Sources - Digital Markets Journal

The real-time source shows the top-ten website sources where your website traffic comes from in real-time.

I particularly like this form of analytics because you’re able to drill down your traffic search analytics to per-second.

15. Real-Time – Content

Real Time Content - Digital Markets Journal

Just like every other real-time analytics and reporting. the real-time content shows you top 10 most visited contents of your website.

The tool represents this information in a dynamic graph and you are able to monitor your page performance in real-time.

18. Real-Time – Conversions

Real Time Conversion - Digital Markets Journal

What drives online success is conversions.

There’re different definitions of conversions. Your conversion could be sales of a product(s)/service(s), filling out forms or partaking in a pool.

The real-time conversion tool provides you with an overview of the real-time conversion of your website.

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Add Yours

The above is what I consider to be the top 18 metrics new beginners to Google Analytics should learn how to measure and interpret. Please feel free to add other metrics you think might be helpful for beginners on their SEO journey.

Let me know what you think by dropping a comment for me below.

Therefore, the reason many become very aggressive with their search engine techniques for Google cannot be farfetched.

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What are Google Penalties?

According to Wikipedia, a Google penalty is the negative impact on a website’s search rankings based on updates to Google’s search algorithms or manual review.

Google penalties are of two types namely google manual penalty and algorithmic change.

The penalty can be a by-product of an algorithm update or an intentional penalization for various black-hat SEO techniques.

Good thing is that I’m going to show you how to determine if your website has been penalized by Google, identify the type of penalty that you’ve been hit with and ways to resolve google penalties.

First things first

If your SERPs rank and/or website traffic dropped abruptly, then it’s very likely you’re site has been penalized by Google.

Google Penalties

Lamentably, in the event of a Google penalty, many webmasters go into panic mode and start ‘fixing’ things that aren’t actually broken, often making things worse.  In order to form a recovery plan, it is important to first properly diagnose the source of the penalty.

Thus, the first step is to determine whether the traffic drop was as a result of a Google penalty and if so, figure out if it is due to algorithmic update or manual penalty cause by black-hat issues on your website.

Manual Penalty

manual penalty - digital markets journal

A website is hit by the manual penalty when a human (google engineer) manually reviewed a website and imposed a penalty for violating a Google search standard. Depending on the violation, this type of penalty can affect a particular page of a website or an entire website.

In cases like this, Google will give you an update on your Google webmaster tools console with the reason for the action and what needs to be done for the penalty to be lifted.

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Algorithmic Update

algorithmic update - digital markets journal

This is the most common type of Google penalty. It is as a result of algorithmic change or update. An algorithmic update is a continuous change/update in Google search algorithms for the purpose of ranking high-quality pages on SERP.

Understanding Google Search Algorithms can sometimes become overwhelming, especially for SEO newbie and wonder how not to run afoul of any of them (panda, penguin, pigeon, hummingbird).

One of the first few ways to identify if you have been slammed with a Google penalty is a sharp decline (or no traffic at all) in the number of visits to your website which can be tracked in your Google Analytics account.

When this is observed, then you might like to login to your Google webmaster tools for more insight.

Use Google Webmaster Tools

The webmaster tools help you find out if you are under a manual penalty.

Follow the below steps to find out:

  1. Login to webmaster tools
  2. Click on Search Traffic
  3. Select Manual Actions from the dropdown.

If you see the message “No manual webspam actions found” then you are clean and do not need to worry on taken further action.

However, in the event that there is a manual Google penalty, then you should read the message and correct the problems before requesting a review of your web pages.

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How to Recover from Google Penalty

The best way to recover from a Google penalty is not to get hit by it in the first place.

From my experience webmasters are always scheming for ways to maneuver their way to the top of Google SERP for relevant keywords without following a due process which usually gets them in the way of penalties.

The way to succeed online is to be committed to creating great content and be patient with it.

Being consistent with this will eventually make you get noticed by search engines and the much-needed success would follow.

Third-party Tools to Fix Google Penalty

Below are free third-party applications and tools you can also use to find out if your website has been penalized.


Fruition - Digital Markets Journal

Fruition is a great tool for doing a quick Google penalty check. Setup a free account on the platform and connect to your Google Analytics account for free insight into your website status. Fruition will give you an impact probability score. The higher the percentage of probability, the greater the likelihood that you’re site has been penalized by Google.

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algoroo - digital markets journal

Algoroo is another insightful tool that tracks Google algorithm changes by monitoring turbulence in rankings of thousands of keywords. Algoroo gives you immediate insight in your website performance.

Panguin Tool

Panguin Tool - Digital Markets Journal

Panguin combines data from the Moz Change History report with your Google Analytics graph.

Panguin checks to see if your traffic/rankings drop coincides with an algorithm update.

The red lines identify Panda updates, the blue lines are Penguin updates, and the orange lines are general algorithm updates.

Click on the line that corresponds with the algorithm update and you will get additional information about the update.

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Final Thoughts

Once you’ve narrowed it down to the cause of the penalty, you can begin to formulate an action (recovery) plan.

If you’ve been hit by Penguin penalties, analyze your backlink profile and anchor text distribution using Ahrefs.

If you think Panda is the culprit, do a full site audit looking for duplicate content and site structure problems.

Once you’ve completed your recovery plan file a reconsideration request with Google. It is not uncommon for these requests to be rejected several times before it is granted. Be patient.

As a word of advice, please consider your link building profile and your on-page optimization. Remove backlinks from spammy websites and be sure to be careful of duplicated content on your website. You also do not want to make sure that your website is secure by adding SSL to your current website if not yet secure.

By using the methods mentioned above, you will be able to determine the cause of your penalty and how to come out from it if you have been slammed by one.

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