Definitive guide to Google Analytics for real estate professionals: Part II – The Overview Reports

How to tell if your marketing efforts have paid off
Benjamin Hoffman

Benjamin Hoffman

This post by Benjamin Hoffman is the second on Google Analytics (GA) for real estate professionals. In this post you will learn how to read and interpret the Google Analytics reports, as well as understand which metrics are most important for helping you grow your online business.

In Part I of our Definitive Guide on Google Analytics, we reviewed how to set up your account and configure your settings. Now we’re going to take you through the Overview Reports so you can understand whether your website is working for your business and where the opportunities are for you to make it work better. This is where things get fun because you will get to review your traffic metrics and find areas of improvement.

Google Analytics reporting (1)

Keep in mind that this post is meant as a high-level overview of your account. Marketers spend their entire careers mastering Google Analytics (GA) and we can save the detailed reporting for later. If you have questions, simply tweet at me or leave a comment at the end of this article.

General metrics overview

The first report you will see when you log in to GA is your Audience Overview Report. This is one of the most important reports for you because it provides an overview of all your important metrics. For example, from this one screen you can see how many people visited your website, how many pages they viewed, and how much time they spent navigating your site.

1AudienceOverview

Let’s explore each of these metrics one by one because they are very important to understanding the other GA reports.

2SessionsSessions (visits) — This is the total number of times people have visited your website for the specified time period. In theory, one person can account for all your sessions if that person keeps returning to your website. It simply depends on how many new users visit your site and how frequently those users return. This number is unaffected by how many pages are viewed on your site because a session encompasses all pages during that individual visit, whether it’s merely one page or a dozen pages.

This metric is important for Realtors because:

  • It provides a general indication of how popular your website is.
  • It is a great high-level metric to understand your website growth.
  • When talking to other people about your traffic, they will usually ask you about this metric (i.e., “How many visits does your website get?”).

3UsersUsers (unique visitors) -- This is a rough estimate of the total number of people who have frequented your website. The reason why GA cannot provide an exact number is because many people will visit your site from their multitude of devices — first they’ll visit from their home desktop, then from their iPhone, and then later from their work laptop. GA will likely interpret this number as three different users (even though this is only one person). Thus, take this number with a grain of salt.

This metric is important for Realtors because:

  • It is a leading indicator of how many leads you could possibly generate from your website.
  • It gives you a rough indication of how many people have viewed your brand online.

4PageviewsPageviews – This is the total number of pages viewed by all your users. It is roughly equal to the total number of sessions multiplied by the pages per session. Each time a new page loads, this metrics increases.

This metric is important for Realtors because:

  • It is an indication of how much content your visitors are seeing when they frequent your website.
  • If you have property listings on your site, it indicates how many times your properties were viewed.

5PagesPerSessionPages / Session – This is simply a rough estimate of total Pageviews divided by total Sessions. This metric is the first of three engagement metrics we will review together — it indicates how many pages, on average, each user sees during their session before they leave your website.

This metric is important because:

  • It indicates how engaged your users are. For example, if this metric is 1 or 2, that means your users don’t view too many pages when they hit your website. But if this metric is higher (greater than 3), then your users are browsing multiple pages on your site before they exit.

6AverageSessionDurationAvg. Session Duration — This temporal metric is simply the average amount of time a user spends on your site during their session. This is an important engagement metric because you want your users on your website for as long as possible.

This metric is important for Realtors because:

  • The more time your users spend on your website, the more exposure your brand will receive. Your brand is very important to your success, and if your users are spending a lot of time on your site, you are benefiting from this additional exposure.

7BounceRateBounce Rate – This metric represents the percentage of your Sessions that resulted in only one Pageview. Said another way, it answers the question, “How many of my Sessions saw only one of my pages then bounced off my site?”

This metric is very important because:

  • It is an engagement metric that indicates what percentage of your visitors are diving deeper into your website. You want this metric to be as low as possible because your goal is to have your users visit many pages during their visit.
  • It indicates areas of improvement. If you segment your data to the pages with the highest bounce rate, you can then find ways to optimize that page to help keep visitors on your website.

General settings overview

Before continuing, I thought it would be a great idea to review a few of the key settings you will see on almost every GA page.

Date Selector — Always review your date range when you first open GA. You cannot build context or benchmark your data unless you know what time period you are working with. Simply click this box to edit the date range.

8DateSelector

Metric Selector — Use this selector to choose which metric you want to display on the graph. Each one of the metrics I reviewed (listed above) can be displayed on their own graph. Simply click this button, choose your metric and watch how GA plots the data across your chosen time period. I love this setting, as it really helps put my data in perspective.

9MetricSelector

Mode Selector — Use these buttons to display your data in terms of hours, days, weeks or months. You will notice that when you have long time periods (years), displaying your data by the day is too volatile. On the opposite end, if you see a spike in your traffic recently, you might want to display it by the hour to help find out when that spike occurred.

10ModeSelector


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