If your business has a website with Google Analytics set up, congratulations! You are at least two steps ahead of many of your competitors.

Now comes the hard part: interpreting what the data means and how it applies to your business. We’ve heard time and time again how important it is to review Google Analytics to understand our audiences – but what we aren’t told is how confusing the information can be and how to make sense of the results.

There’s no set formula for what data to review or which stats indicate success. It’s up to each individual business to understand what it means to you and to determine the benchmarks that indicate success.

Here are some frequently asked questions that will help you better your Google Analytics:

What is a bounce rate and is it better to be high or low?

This is perhaps the most commonly asked question in Google Analytics, and with reason – it can be confusing! Simply stated, bounce rate measures the visits in which the consumer left your site from the entrance page.

This infographic from Kissmetrics explains the causes of bounces and how to improve your bounce rate.

A high bounce rate is often viewed negatively, but if your consumer gets all the information they need on the homepage of your website then a high bounce rate isn’t negative. If you have a website with links to other sites, you want a high bounce rate.

While reviewing your bounce rate, take the time to determine where you want customers to go on your website. If you’re fine with them only being on the home page, then a high bounce rate shouldn’t keep you up at night. For the most part, though, bounce rates are one score we like to see decrease over time.

What is an exit rate? Is it the same thing as a bounce rate?

According to Mavenec, a bounce rate only applies to the entrance page of your website, while the exit rate applies to any page the user’s visit ends on. If a user came to your homepage from an external link and left immediately before visiting another page, it would count toward both the bounce and exit rate. If the user interacted with multiple pages before leaving, that is solely an exit.

If you have a multi-page journey on your site, for instance, you want your customer to land on your homepage, then read about your brand, then go to the contact form and eventually hit submit to be taken to a thank you page – it’s important to see where in this journey people are exiting your site. If it’s on the thank you page, perfect! There was nowhere else you wanted them to go. If it’s on your homepage, then you may need to get people to land on a more specific page that leads them to take the action you want. If users leave on the page with the form you want them to fill out, you may need to consider making it simpler for a user to complete.

It’s also important to check both rates by device type. If your bounce rate on mobile is higher than other devices, you may need to optimize your site’s mobile experience. You can even see rates by the specific type of device. Going back to the earlier scenario, if the exit rate on your form submission page is abnormally high on mobile devices, you may need a shorter form for mobile users. If the bounce rate is unusually high on an iPhone but not on Android, there’s probably an issue with how your site is rendering in Safari.

It’s critical to check the small details to understand your audience’s website journey and how you can improve it. Getting targeted users to a website is only half the battle – the other half is giving them the best experience possible.

Check back soon for part two of our Google Analytics FAQs! What are some questions you have about the analytics for your site? We’d love to help you interpret your data and set benchmarks for success!

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