Making Sense of Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a tool that’s often spoken about in digital marketing, and worth being in the know about for any hotelier who wants to build a high-converting website. In this article we break it down for hoteliers interested in learning the basics of Google Analytics.
What Is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a freemium service provided by Google to allow website owners to track the performance of their website. The software includes metrics and graphs to visually represent the health of your website. Some metrics you can track include visitors, language of visitors, geographic location, system type (e.g. Mac vs PC vs Android) and device type (e.g. desktop vs. mobile).
For casual users, the most relevant data is available in your dashboard. This includes things such as number of new vs. returning visitors, bounce rate, and average session duration.
But what do all these really mean? And how can they be used to better understand the performance of your hotel website?
Let’s go through what each dashboard metric in more detail.
The Main Metrics
A session is a period of time where someone is actively engaged on your website on any given platform. A session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity, or at the end of the day. Sessions as a metric by itself, will not reveal much of how your business is doing, but it will tell you how well your website is reaching people (a higher number is always better, because it means your site is being found). Sessions is also a great number to compare against other numbers, like users for instance, where you can figure out how many times on average you users are accessing your site within a given time frame.
The sessions number can be segmented based on where visitors came from (e.g. a Facebook post, organic search, or direct traffic). This more detailed information can be found under the “Acquisition” tab.
By knowing where your customers are coming from, you can ascertain which platforms your digital marketing efforts are working best to drive traffic to your website.
Users are the number of people engaged on your website, both new and returning. As far as its utility is concerned, the “Users” metric is most helpful in tracking the long term growth of your website, since you can track it month-to-month in the main graph at the top of your dashboard (don’t forget to adjust the date range in the top right corner though).
Page Views are simply the number of pages loaded on your website. This metric can also show you the page views of a particular page on your website (e.g. a landing page you are promoting through PPC).
You can use this metric to calculate your website conversion rate (or rate of abandonment). Start by seeing how many times your bookings engine has been accessed, and compare that to one of your landing pages with a distinct call to action to “Book Now.” From here, you can calculate your conversion rate and see how successful that landing page really is in getting people to your booking engine.
You can also compare specific pages of your website, to see which ones generate the most clicks to your booking engine, and which ones might need optimizing.
This means the number of pages someone visits during their session. This is a tricky metric because a low number can mean that customers are finding what they’re looking for quickly and your website has great “usability.” A low number can also mean that customers aren’t finding what they need and are exiting your site. How do you tell the difference? You look at your bounce rate.
Bounce rate is the number of times visitors look at a single page on your website and leave without clicking to another page. For hotel websites, generally, you want your bounce rate as low as possible (the hotel industry average is 40%). A low bounce rate indicates that you are attracting the right visitors to your site, and they are engaging with your content and clicking through to more information (your SEO strategy is working).
Average Session Time:
Average Session Time is exactly as it sounds; it is how long, on average, people visit your website. If we want bounce rates to be low, then we want Average Session Times to be high. Generally, if a hotel website’s session time is high, it means visitors are engaged in your content. Good visual storytelling can help extend session time and drive customers to your “Book Now” button.
What Can’t Google Analytics Do?
While Google Analytics offers a great overview of your website’s health (and a lot of opportunity to get granular), its biggest drawback is that it isn’t very beginner friendly. It can give you a lot of information, and much of the data is customizable, but it’s hard for those without special training to understand how your website is performing, and in which places it is strongest and weakest.
As an hotelier, it can be hard to understand which aspects of your website are helping or hindering your overall bottom line. The good news is, there are other, more specialized, analytics tools available to help you develop a more holistic understanding of your website.
For example, the Vizlly dashboard, designed specifically to show hoteliers relevant data to their business. It can provide insights such as which pictures on your website are contributing the most clicks through to your “Book Now” button versus those that are contributing the least and if you have any questions regarding Vizlly’s analytics, our Customer Success team is happy to help!
For more useful tips on optimizing your hotel website to increase conversions, download our free eBook The Hotel Marketer’s Playbook for Creating, Managing and Measuring a High-Converting Website.