Paul Hanrahan
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In the second part of our series focused on explaining key terms used by Google Analytics, we help you get to grips with site traffic, social sources and web browsers.

Of course many of you are advanced users of Google Analytics but, as we noted in our previous piece, this is an introduction to basic terms for those that need a refresher or who are total beginners.

Site Traffic

Site traffic is the total number of visits to your website. Traffic can be divided into multiple categories including: direct, organic and paid.

Why it’s important? Unlike being stuck on the M8 (a negative experience of traffic!) in website terms site traffic is hugely positive. Getting to grips with whether traffic arrived at your site from users putting your full address into search bar or from marketing activity such as email, social posts or paid advertising is well worth knowing.

Pro Tip: Dashboards and custom reports are a good way of getting an overview of various sources of traffic to your site. Use these for internal or external reporting or to get a performance baseline for yourself.  The Google Analytics Solutions Gallery is a great source for finding dashboards and custom reports that other people have already created. You can save these and find them in customisation on the left hand side of the navigation panel in Google Analytics.

Social Sources

Social sources are the amount of traffic social networks (like Facebook, Twitter and the like) have referred to your website.

Why it’s important? Social sources of traffic to a website are becoming ever more important to drive brand awareness and traffic back to your website. Once you know this kind of information you can plan what you post on each channel far better.

screen grab of Google Analytics menu
Here’s what the Acquisition menu looks like

Step by step to find social traffic: In the main Google Analytics menu – found along the left side of the interface (illustrated at left here) FIRST click Acquisition. SECOND click All Traffic. THIRD click Channels. FOURTH, now in the main window you will have a list of options listed under the header of ‘Default Channel Grouping’, click Social in this list. This will generate a list of social media channels that have sent traffic to your website during the period you’re looking at.

Pro tip: Dig into this information by exploring which landing pages are working best for each social channel. This will show you if people are coming in at, for instance, a booking page, a blog post or your home page.

example of Google Analytics interface
Here’s what the the Secondary Dimension menu looks like

FIRST click the Other button next to Primary Dimension. SECOND in the open text box type “landing page”. As you type the system will prompt you with Landing Page as a option (see illustration at right). Click the green box and explore your results. They will tell you useful things like –  is Facebook driving more traffic to purchase tickets? Is Twitter driving more traffic to blog posts? Invaluable.

Web Browsers

These are the applications that visitors use to look at your website e.g. Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer or Microsoft Edge. Remember – people use browsers on desktop computers, tablets and phones.

Why it’s important? Don’t just assume that all of your traffic is coming from the browser you are used to using. Many workplaces have a default browser. The same is true for many mobile phone operating systems. This means there will be many different browsers driving traffic to your website. It’s really important to understand what the searches are on these browsers that lead to clicks to your website. This can help you to plan the text on your site to maximise the likelihood that your website will be high up the search rankings.

Pro Tip: An understanding of browsers will help to inform any paid advertising you might wish to do on a browser. Despite Google Ad Words having a big monopoly over the paid web market, search engines such as Bing can often offer more return at a lower bidding rate.

Main image credit: Round the Circle by Neil Williamson (CC BY-SA 2.0)