What are the most important Google Analytics metrics you can measure, and what can you use that data for?
If you have a website, you’ve probably heard of Google Analytics. It’s a pretty standard tool that website owners use to see how many people are visiting their websites, and what they’re doing while they’re there.
If you’re not yet using Google Analytics or just getting started, you’re probably looking for some basics on what Analytics can track, and what it can tell you about your website and your visitors.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the top 11 most important Google Analytics metrics you should track to grow your traffic and your business. But first, we’ll go over a super easy way to set up Google Analytics on a WordPress site.
Connect Google Analytics and WordPress
If you have a WordPress website, the hands-down easiest way to install and connect Google Analytics is with the MonsterInsights plugin.
MonsterInsights is the best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress. MonsterInsights makes it incredibly easy to connect Google Analytics with your site, plus see straightforward, uncomplicated reports about your traffic.
Besides bringing the most important metrics from Google Analytics right into your WordPress dashboard, MonsterInsights makes it extremely easy to track eCommerce stats, form submissions, link clicks, and more.
To see all the features and plans, visit MonsterInsights’ Pricing page.
The Top 11 Google Analytics Metrics
Now, let’s get into our list of the top metrics you can track with Google Analytics. You’ll also see how to find many of these reports right inside the MonsterInsights dashboard in WordPress, saving you the trouble of opening Google Analytics.
1. Overall Traffic and Traffic Sources
How many people visited your site in the last week?
How many of those people came to your site by clicking a link on Facebook, or on another site?
Those are the kinds of questions you can answer with the Google Analytics traffic sources report. Not only will it give you the total traffic to your site, but it’ll also break it down by how those people found your site.
In MonsterInsights, find your overall traffic in the Overview report:
To access the traffic sources report in Google Analytics 4, go to Reports » Acquisition » Traffic Acquisition. Here, you’ll see an overview report about how your traffic came to your site:
Scroll down to the table to see more specifics and metrics for each channel. Hover over a heading (Engaged sessions, for instance) for a helpful tooltip about what the metric means.
To access the traffic sources report in Universal Analytics, go to Acquisition » All Traffic » Channels:
2. Audience Location
Whether you’ve got international traffic or your visitors are more hyper-local, the Demographics report can help you get a good idea of where your website visitors are located. This can help you decide which areas to target with your content or ads.
In MonsterInsights, find your top countries in the Overview report:
In Google Analytics 4, navigate to Reports » Demographics » Demographics overview. The card at the top displays users by country, and there’s a card underneath that one that shows users by city. Click the link to view countries or cities on the card – whichever one will help you the most.
To access the location report in Universal Analytics, go to Audience » Geo » Location:
To dive in further, click on a country to see Region (which is state here in the U.S.), then click on a Region to see City results.
3. Landing Pages
Which pages on your site are visitors landing on? Finding out which pages people are entering your site on can help you gain a lot of insights, such as:
- What keyword(s) you must have rankings for
- Which links people are clicking on from your social media profiles
- Which landing pages lead to the longest website visits
- What content resonates the most with your audience
In MonsterInsights, find your landing page report in the Publisher tab:
In Google Analytics 4, you’ll have to build your own landing pages report in the Explorations tab. This sounds intimidating, but once you get it set up, you won’t have to make it again and can tweak it to your needs!
For the full tutorial on setting up this report, check out Google Analytics 4 Landing Pages: Reporting Guide.
To find the Landing Pages report in Universal Analytics, go to Behavior » Content » Landing Pages:
Google Analytics tells you the gender and age of your visitors, as long as you activate their Demographics and Interests reports, or Google Signals if you’re using Google Analytics 4. Then, you can use that information to help tailor your message to your audience, or decide who to target with ads on Google or social media.
In MonsterInsights, find demographics data in the Publisher tab:
In Google Analytics 4, find your demographics reports, such as gender, interests, and age, under Reports » Demographics » Demographics overview:
To find the Demographics report in Universal Analytics, go to Audience » Demographics » Overview:
5. Social Media Traffic
This report is incredibly helpful if you’re doing any posting on social media sites, like Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, or Pinterest. Is your social media traffic engaging with your content? Are those users viewing more than one page? Are they completing any conversions? All of these data points can help you understand and improve your social traffic.
In MonsterInsights, you can see any social media referral traffic in your referral report in the Overview tab:
In Google Analytics 4, you’ll need to build a custom exploration report. If you haven’t done that yet, here’s a handy guide on how to create custom reports in GA4.
Follow these steps to create your social media report:
- Import the following Dimensions:
- Session source
- Session default channel grouping
- Landing page
2. Import the following Metrics:
- Engaged sessions
- User engagement
- Engagement rate
3. Click and drag Session source from your Dimensions into the Rows box.
4. Click and drag all five Metrics into the Values box.
5. Click and drag Session default channel grouping from your Dimensions into the Filters box.
6. Configure your filter to exactly matches and type/choose Organic Social.
Now, you should have a social media channels report that looks like this:
Want to view your social traffic by landing page instead of social network? Just swap out Session source for Landing page in the Rows box.
In Universal Analytics, see at-a-glance how much traffic you’re getting from each network, or click the Shared URL report link to see which links you shared on social media got the most clicks.
To find the Social Overview report, go to Acquisition » Social » Overview:
6. Search Console
When you connect Google Analytics with Search Console, you get a powerful report about your organic traffic that can help you become the savvy marketer you want to be. Knowing which Queries your site ranks for and gets traffic with can really help you zero in your SEO efforts on certain keywords.
For instance, see a query that you have a lot of impressions for, but not many clicks? Search that keyword in Google to find out what everyone else is doing that maybe you’re missing on your page.
In MonsterInsights, find your report in the Search Console tab:
To find the report in Google Analytics 4, you’ll first need to follow the instructions for adding the report to your library.
Then, you’ll be able to find the report under Reports » Search Console » Queries:
To find the Queries report in Universal Analytics, go to Acquisition » Search Console » Queries:
What’s the goal, or goals, of your website? Is it to get prospects to contact you? Or for customers to buy a product? Or maybe it’s for users to read posts and click ads? Whatever your specific goals are, you can track them in Google Analytics.
For a tutorial on tracking conversions with MonsterInsights, check out A Complete Guide to GA4 Conversion Tracking for WordPress.
Since these are custom and vary by website, Google doesn’t come with conversions or goals already set up.
In Google Analytics 4, you can mark existing events as conversions by:
- In the left navigation, click Configure » Events.
- Locate the event in the Existing events table.
- In the event’s Mark as conversion column, click to turn the switch on.
Then, you’ll see conversions in many of your reports, including the Conversions report under Engagement:
For more on setting Conversions in GA4, check out their guide.
In Universal Analytics, you have to decide what counts as a goal for your website, then tell Google Analytics to count it as a goal.
This report helps you quickly see how your website is performing overall.
To find the Goals report, go to Conversions » Goals:
8. New vs. Returning Visitors
This is a simple but important metric that gives you more information about your visitors. Depending on the type of website you run and what your goals are, you can use this report to see if you’re attracting the right kind of visitors.
For instance, if you sell products, you probably want a mix of new and returning visitors. If you check this report and see that your visitors are mostly new, that’s a big clue that you need to do more to bring previous customers back in for another purchase.
In MonsterInsights, this report is located in your Overview tab next to your device breakdown:
In Google Analytics 4, find New Users and Returning users in the Retention report:
In Universal Analytics, find this report under Audience » Behavior » New vs Returning:
Engagement is one of the most important Google Analytics metrics. It indicates whether users are finding what they were looking for on your site, and engaging with your content.
There are several user engagement metrics you can find in Google Analytics 4, but we’ll focus on overall average engagement time and engagement time per page.
The Average Engagement Time for your site shows you how long, on average, users are spending on your site. In Google Analytics 4, you can find this metric under Engagement » Overview.
To find your average engagement time per page, navigate to Engagement » Pages and screens, then scroll to the table. Depending on the size of your screen, you might have to scroll the table to the right a little bit to find the Average engagement time column.
In Universal Analytics, pages per session is the average of how many pages your users are looking at during their visit. Average visit duration is how long that visit took on average. Both of these engagement metrics can be used to get a quick look at how engaged users are with your site. Think they should be sticking around longer? It’s time to figure out how to get them to click to more pages!
Find these two metrics under Audience » Overview:
Similar to the Landing Pages report, this report shows a listing of your pages and how many views they got. However, while Landing Pages shows which pages people landed on when they came to your site, the Pages report shows all pageviews.
So, however a person gets to your site, what are the top pages that person might visit next? What content are visitors finding once they get to your site?
In Google Analytics 4, find the pages report under Engagement » Pages and screens. Scroll down to find the table where all the pages are listed that your users visited in the timeframe you have selected.
In Universal Analytics, find the All Pages report under Behavior » Content » All Pages:
11. Mobile Devices
This report shows you which mobile devices were used to access your site. In a world where so much of all website traffic is via mobile, it’s important to make sure your website works and looks great on all devices.
With this report, you can see if there might be a problem with a certain device. Does one device have a much higher bounce rate than the rest, or a very low average time on page? You might need to do some testing on that type of device.
In Google Analytics 4, find mobile devices under Reports » Tech » Tech overview. Scroll all the way to the bottom to find the Users by Device model card. Click the link at the bottom to view the full report.
In the table on the next page, you’ll find information for each device model that visited your site (note that some devices are lumped by which browser was used):
In Universal Analytics, find this report under Audience » Mobile » Devices:
There you have it, 11 Google Analytics metrics that’ll help you grow your business.
Not using MonsterInsights yet? What are you waiting for?
For more on Google Analytics, check out MonsterInsights vs. Google Analytics – What’s the Real Difference?