Three Google Analytics metrics for measuring the usability of your website

Many people plug Google Analytics into their website and never glean any wisdom from the data that is collected. Here are three components of Google Analytics that should be driving the evolution of your site:


  • Internal Search - Analytics allows you to record the terms that people use in your site's search engine. This is a direct reflection of what people are looking for on your site. If you sell a product and notice that a lot of searches were done for a specific brand that you don't offer, then it might be time to start offering it. Another aspect of your site's search engine is that it serves as a navigation tool. Some studies have shown that when users visit a site, they are more inclined to find something by using search rather than the standard navigation. So you can analyze search terms to help you improve your navigation.
  • Funnels - In Analytics you can set up a funnel that represents a path that users take on a portion of your site. The common example is a shopping cart and checkout sequence. Funnels can tell you where people are dropping out of the sequence, and thus not completing the path. If many of your users are dropping off at the same place, then it may indicate a usuability problem. They might find a certain step confusing, which may compell them to give up.
  • Bounce Rate - Bounce rate is one of the key metrics in Google analytics. A bounce is a single page visit, meaning that a user enters your site by visiting a page, and then immediately leaves without visiting other pages. A common scenario is that a search engine (such as Google, or Yahoo) includes your website in a search result list. The user might choose to click the link to your site. When they reach your site they immediately realize that they did not find what they were looking for, so they decide to press the 'back' button to return to the search results to try another link (this is also known as 'pogo-sticking'). A high bounce rate indicates that the content on a page does not match the search terms that were entered in the search. You can work to decrease bounce rate by adjusting the keywords used in your content and meta tags.