You know that your website is important. You’ve done your research. You’ve targeted your keywords. And when you were confident that it couldn’t be any more perfect, you unleashed your small business site to your eagerly-awaiting customers.

Now what? Do you sit back, relax, and wait for customers to start flocking to your business? Oh no! You’re just getting started. It’s time to start tracking your site’s performance, to see what’s working, and what’s not.

It’s time to install Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a freemium service that you set up using your Google account. That means it’s completely free to use, although they do offer some more in-depth options for the truly data-orientated among us. But for most small businesses the standard (free) Google Analytics is more than enough.

It’s worth mentioning that even if you’re not 100% certain that you want to dive into Google Analytics right away, it’s in your best interest to create your account and start tracking your website data now. This will provide you with a baseline so even if you take some time to focus on other things, Google Analytics is happily working in the background and will give you a complete picture when you do begin to run reports on your site.

Reports? What reports?

Google Analytics collects an amazingly vast amount of information on your site’s performance, your visitor’s, and their usage. To make sense of the data, you can generate reports that are as high-level or granular as you need. It can be easy to get lost in the data, which is why we’ve identified 6 Google Analytics reports that every small business owner should know.

#1 The Source/Medium Report

This report gives you a great first look at where your website traffic is coming from. The source is the origin of the traffic, and could be anything from Google to Facebook, to a loyal customer who raves about you on their blog. The medium refers to the general category – a referral link, organic search traffic, or paid click-through ad link. You can access the Source/Medium Report by clicking Aquisition -> All Traffic -> Source/Medium.

#2 The Mobile Performance Report

The good ole days of desktop website surfing are quickly being overshadowed by mobility devices. Your customers are on the go, and they’re looking up your website on their phones and tablets more than ever. If you haven’t optimized your site for these smaller screens, you’re doing your customers and your business a huge disservice.

The Mobile Performance Report offers you a quick breakdown of your site’s performance on mobile devices while providing suggestions for things that might help improve it. You can even segment your mobile users further and look at the types of devices and browsers. You can access the Mobile Performance Report by clicking Audience -> Mobility -> Overview.

#3 The Behaviour Overview Report

While the first two reports give you an idea of where your traffic is coming from, and what their mobile experience is like, the Behaviour Overview Report highlights what your users are actually doing once they get to your site! It’s important to know what pages are popular with your customers, and look at the ones that are not, so you can determine the reason for these weaker pages and correct it. You can access the Behaviour Overview Report by clicking Bahaviour -> Overview.

#4 The New vs Returning Customer Report

Attracting new visitors to your site might be the hardest part, but you also want to know when you have repeat users. These are the people who will eventually become your super fans! If you are seeing a very low returning customer value, this might indicate a problem with the content on your site. Maybe you’re attracting the wrong audience, or maybe your site’s content quality doesn’t live up to their expectations. You can access the New vs Returning Customer Report by clicking Audience -> Bahaviour -> New vs Returning.

#5 The Age/Gender Report

Speaking of attracting the wrong audience to your website, this handy Google Analytics report will answer the question of who your audience is… and if it matches your business’ target demographic. If you sell services geared toward women aged 45-60 yet this report indicates most visitors are men 18-30, it doesn’t matter how many visitors are coming to your site. If they’re not the right audience, your conversion rate is going to be potentially low. This gives you the opportunity to tweak the content in a way that will improve your sales. You can also drill down into the data, even more, to see which groups have the higher engagement, showing bounce rates, time on site, pages visited, etc. You can access the Age/Gender Report by clicking Audience -> Demographics -> Overview.

#6 The Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate Report

As much as you want them to, your visitors can’t stay on your website forever. They have to leave at some point. The big question how they leave. That’s why this report is so critical. It measures your site’s Bounce Rate compared to its Exit Rate. A Bounce Rate is the percentage of visitors who leave your site without taking any action. They come, they don’t like what they see, and they immediately leave. Although it is extremely unlikely to never have any bounces from your website, you want to see as low a percentage as possible. On the other hand, the Exit Rate measures the percentage of users who visit at least one other page before exiting your site. You want this number to be much higher than the bounce rate. You can access the Bounce Rate vs Exit Rate Report by clicking Behaviour -> Site Content -> All Pages.

In Conclusion

Google has given webmasters access to an incredible amount of information. This free tool should be one of the pillars of any successful online marketing strategy, but like any tool, it is only useful if used effectively. With so much data available, it can be overwhelming, but by creating these 6 essential reports, you can quickly spot trends and make corrections.

Do you use Google Analytics? Do you have a favourite report that you don’t see on our list? Leave a comment below!