What Google Analytics Doesn’t Tell You

Google Analytics is an undeniably helpful tool for businesses. Having the ability to track the activity and behavior of the users of your website can be a powerful measurement and decision-making tool. However, Google Analytics does have some limitations when it comes to getting the information you need. Here’s a roundup of some basic disadvantages of Google Analytics’ limited information and some suggestions for ways you can compensate.

Why Are We Seeing These Google Analytics Metrics?

One of the obvious disadvantages of Google Analytics is that it doesn’t point to why a trend is occurring. You can stare at your traffic report all day, but you won’t be able to see exactly why organic traffic plummeted last week. You’ll need other tools and skills to figure that out.

Acting on evidence of symptoms without discovering the source is an automatic reflex of many people, especially when conversions are taking a nosedive. Before slashing the budget for any campaigns, dig into what’s going on behind the scenes. Are important landing pages of your site malfunctioning and throwing 404 errors that are driving your bounce rates up? Or is something external driving your traffic down, like the entrance of a new competitor on the search page?

The Fix: Utilize free tools like Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools site to stay on top of technical site issues that you may not notice at first glance. Sidestep some of Google Analytics’ limitations by utilizing the annotation tool on reports. This will allow you to mark important event dates that may affect data, such as the launch of a new marketing campaign or the release of a new homepage design. Keeping track of key activities will add value to your reporting system and help you identify causes of change faster.

Google Analytics session graph

Your new best friend is at the lower right corner.

Who Is Visiting Your Site?

Google Analytics won’t tell you exactly who is using your website. As a user of the internet, you may see that as somewhat of a relief. However, much to the disappointment of many Google Analytics newbies, the platform has limitations when it comes to offering deep user insights such as contact info or names.

The Fix: If you’re looking for a way to get a little more information about who is using your site, you can set up unique IDs for users that will allow you to differentiate individual user patterns. This unique ID will connect a user’s sessions between devices, so you’ll be able to get a more accurate measurement of how many unique users are accessing your site and where they’re accessing it from. Learn more about this capability here.

What Are Site Visitors Looking For?

What do users want?  A disadvantage of Google Analytics is its lack of direct insight into what brought customers to your site and what they’re looking for there. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t find answers by yourself.

The Fix: Gather basic information about user behavior on your site. Find out what pages have high bounce and exit rates, and explore the differences that exist between organic, paid, referral, and direct users. Perhaps your highest bounce rate exists among organic visitors on your About Us page. What is it that organic search customers aren’t finding on this page? Making simple changes in the content, page layout, or call-to-action structure could be all it takes to bring your bounce rates down, or perhaps it will take a more extensive effort. While Google Analytics does have limitations, you can still learn a lot about user behavior simply by connecting the dots.

While Google Analytics can’t get into the minds of your users, you can. Finding out what your users need from your site can feel like guesswork sometimes – but it doesn’t have to be. If you’re stumped, hiring a digital marketing team can help. An external team of digital marketers is a powerful way to get a comprehensive picture of the success of existing digital efforts and to identify what can be improved. At Leverage Marketing, we’re experts at digging out the Why, Who, and What that Google Analytics doesn’t tell you. Get in touch with us today, and we’ll help see through the limitations of Google Analytics’ reporting interface and help you make real decisions that grow traffic.

Zoe James

Zoe James

SEO Analyst at Leverage Marketing
Zoe is an SEO Analyst at Leverage Marketing. An Austin native and University of North Texas alum, Zoe was a member of the UNT Swimming and Diving Team while earning her degree in Marketing. Her skills as a student-athlete leader led her to career experience as a Business Development Manager, after which she sought the creative and analytical challenges of search engine optimization at Leverage. She is an avid cat person, cheese enthusiast, and adventure-seeker, as well as an expert on the unique culture of Austin, TX.
Zoe James
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