5 Ways to Measure Engagement with Google Analytics

5 Ways to Measure Engagement With Google Analytics

Engagement is something you may associate with social media – the engagement you get on your posts when people like, comment, share, retweet and reply to your posts – it’s a great indication that your content is hitting the spot and resonating with your audience. But have you ever measured the engagement on your website?

Your website engagement is a great indicator as to whether:

  1. Your content strategy is working – just like social media posts, if your website content is engaging your audience, you’ll know you’re doing something right and you’re creating content that your audience wants to consume. This puts you at a competitive advantage, setting you apart from other suppliers of the same products and services.
  2. Your information architecture is sound – your content is more than just writing blog posts, it’s about every page on your website and how each page is interconnected to deliver the right information to the right audience when they need it. The flow of your website content, including your site’s navigation and calls-to-action should be logical, simple and obvious to the user, keeping them engaged and on your site for longer and able to find the information that they need.
  3. Your targeting is spot on – if you’re advertising or sharing content on multiple platforms, you want to make sure that it’s getting in front of the right audience. A good indicator of this is whether your audience hangs around once they visit the content on your website. If your content appears irrelevant and not what they’re looking for, you could see visitors leave straight away.

Measuring engagement on your website isn’t just a case of counting up the number of comments you receive on a blog or the number of visitors you have to certain pages of your site. Measuring engagement requires looking at several reports and metrics in order to identify how people are engaging with your website and build up a more in-depth picture of your website engagement. In order to do this, we can use our old friend, Google Analytics, to provide us with data on how users interact with our websites.

So, just how do you measure engagement with Google Analytics? Here’s 5 ways you can use the data found in your Google Analytics reports to shed light on user engagement:

5 Google Analytics Reports to Measure Engagement

There’s soooo much information in your Google Analytics account, it’s difficult to know where to start, so we’ve broken it down into 5 key areas that you should find useful in measuring the engagement on your website…

#1: Bounce rate

A high bounce rate (80%+) could indicate that people are leaving your site after only viewing a single page, implying they found the content irrelevant or they found it difficult to navigate. A low bounce rate would mean that more people are viewing 2+ pages on your site, indicating that they found your content engaging.

There’s a few issues with using bounce rate to measure engagement, as we’ve written about before, as a high bounce rate isn’t always a negative if they found the information they were looking for on the first page they viewed. A low bounce rate can also indicate issues with your tracking (if your bounce rate is below 20% or you see a sudden drop in bounce rate, you may want to investigate).

A typical bounce rate might be between 50 and 70%, depending on the type of content on your site. Blogs with high volumes of traffic from social media tend to have higher bounce rates compared to comparison sites that tend to have very low bounce rates. Where your traffic comes from can also have an effect with traffic from social media typically bouncing at a higher rate than Google search, for example.

#2: New vs. Returning

This report in Google Analytics will show you the percentage of returning visitors (within a month) versus the percentage of new visitors. There’s no real target to aim for here as it’s always good to attract new visitors as well as keep people coming back. However, from an engagement point of view, we’re looking at keeping our audience engaged and coming back to view content on a regular basis, so we may want to see an increase in returning traffic as an indicator that our audience are engaged with our content.

Our experience tells us that returning visitors tend to be more loyal fans of our content, viewing more pages and staying on the site longer than new visitors. A higher percentage of new visitors tends to decrease the average time someone spends on site, increases the bounce rate and reduces the number of pages that are viewed in each session.

You can find this report under Audience > Behaviour > New Vs. Returning

#3: Avg. Session Duration

How long people stay on your website is another indicator of engagement, but viewed in isolation could be misleading. It’s important to note that the average session duration is measured by taking the timestamp when someone requests the first page from your website and the timestamp from the last page they request from your website. Therefore, the average session duration does not take into account the amount of time spent on the last page they viewed as there’s no further data requested from the server. This means the average session duration shown in your Google Analytics reports will be on the conservative side and be lower than the actual time people spend on your website. There’s also the issue with single page visits to your website as there isn’t a second request to the server to generate the second timestamp, therefore every single page visit will be recorded as 0 seconds, regardless of how long the visitor viewed that one page.

So, whilst average session duration gives us an indication as to how engaging our content is, we need to view this metric alongside other data in order to gain a real insight into website engagement.

#4: Pageviews/Session

This metric shown on your Google Analytics Audience Overview report shows you the average number of pages people view each time they visit your website. If you have a single page website, you’re going to struggle to improve this metric as there simply aren’t any further pages to view, but if you have a smorgasbord of content and information on your website, the number of pages viewed during each session should be a good indicator as to how engaging your content is. The more pages people view, the more of your content they choose to consume.

There are some caveats to this. People viewing a high number of pages on your website could also indicate that the content on your site is difficult to find so people are requesting multiple pages in an attempt to locate information that you’ve hidden away. This would be a negative user experience and not something to celebrate, so it’s important to look at the actual pages people are viewing on your website, not just the number of pages.

#5: Event tracking

Google Analytics can give us a lot of information out of the box, but by setting up event tracking, we can gain even more insights into how people interact with our website. Event tracking is not just limited to tracking enquiries or sales; event tracking can be used to track clicks on any part of our website. For example, we can track people who click on our phone number (on a mobile device) to call us, we can track which buttons people click on to navigate through the website, we can track if people download certain documents from our website.

All this information gives us insights into how engaged people are with our content. If they viewed a page about your services, then clicked to download a PDF brochure, for example, they are showing a deeper interest in what you have to offer. If you find you have a high bounce rate, but also a high percentage of people clicking to call you, you could assume that although you have a lot of single page visits to your website, those who do visit find what they are looking for (your phone number).

To measure engagement with Google Analytics, we need to think about multiple factors. These will vary depending on your website, its purpose, your target audience and how people typically buy from you. Using the data you have freely available in your Analytics reports, you should be able to set benchmarks for your user’s engagement with your website and use these to monitor progress as you review, tweak and optimise your content strategy, your marketing activities and your website’s user experience. We’d recommend using Google Analytics’ dashboard feature, or creating specific engagement reports in Google Data Studio to pull these metrics and reports into one place where you can review them on a regular basis.

For more information about the key reports in your Google Analytics account, see our recent post: What to track & why in Google Analytics.

Found this useful? Leave a comment below and share with your network! We really appreciate it!

Heather Robinson
Heather Robinson has been working in digital marketing since 2005. Graduating with a degree in marketing from the University of Leeds and an MSc in Digital Marketing from Manchester Met, Heather puts her strategic knowledge into practice, working with businesses of all sizes on their digital marketing strategies. She is also a published author and conference speaker and provides consultancy and training to marketing teams in the public and private sector.

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2 thoughts on “5 Ways to Measure Engagement with Google Analytics

  1. Hi there I am a beginner and I was doing some self learning about the use of google search console and I must say that this article is very helpful for me and it really helped me in upgrading my skill. thanks for sharing it with us.😃

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