Conversion Rate Optimization, User Research

Using Google Analytics to Optimize Your Website for Conversions

Big or small, companies turned to digital. Their biggest challenge?

Tracking and reporting data!

You can not have one without another. You need to track the events on your website and also see the impact of your marketing on the website’s performance. Otherwise, you won’t be able to know where the big fish is and grab it before your competitors.

Even if you didn’t turn your attention unto constantly optimizing your website’s pages for conversions, I’m sure you have checked Google Analytics several times by now. In this article, I’m going to explain how to use Google Analytics to optimize your website for conversions. I have chosen this tool because it’s the most widely used web analytics solution on the internet since 2005.

Google Analytics provides two types of reports:

 1. Pre-formatted reports

The pre-formatted reports offer valuable insights into the website’s audience and the website’s performance as well. The tool uses dimensions and metrics to show you these reports.

First/Optimize your website for conversions

 2.  Custom reports

In 2011, Google launched a new version meant to help the Google Analytics users who crawled for more flexibility in tracking and reporting data. Thus, the marketers began to use custom reports to manage to get better results for their companies or clients.

Between these two types of reports, you should start with the pre-formatted ones because they offer a lot of insights into your audience behavior and its impact on the performance of your site. In this article, I’ll demonstrate how complex web analytics can get without even using the custom reports.

Let’s start now!

If you login into your Google Analytics account, you’ll see on the left bar at Audience many dimensions available such as Age, Gender, Language, Devices, etc. If you click on one of them, you’ll also see that Google Analytics allows adding secondary dimensions to make correlations between behavioral and results orientated criteria.

From the start, you’ll notice that you can think of dozens of possible combinations that could provide insights into your website’s audience. But you must understand that Google Analytics is just a tool, and it will provide data according to your selections.

[Tweet “Establish clear objectives every time you log into your GA account.”]

It may sound easy, but there is a lot of data available there. My advice is to start with analyzing the traffic segments to determine which actions lead to the desired results for your business. The next step is analyzing your most important website’s pages, determining their value and choosing the ones fitted for the optimization process. I’m explaining the process in the next lines of the article.

I. Identifying the most profitable segments of traffic

Even though Google Analytics allows you to create custom segments, as a beginner you should start with the basics. Firstly, you need to think about the most desired actions that you want your visitors to take on your website. For instance, if it’s an e-commerce site, you should be interested into how many pages the visitors need to see to make a transaction.

With the patterns in mind, you have to start analyzing how visitors behave on your site and what are the results of their specific actions. To understand how to do it, follow these steps:

> First step: Apply secondary dimension as in the image above


Second/optimize your website for conversions

In this example, I have used “Country” as a primary dimension and “Page Depth” as the secondary one, which is related to behavior.

You have to repeat this process for other segments of traffic as well. The most important five reports for conversion rate optimization offered by Google Analytics regarding the segments of traffic are:

  1. Technology > Browser & OS
  2. Behavior
  3. Geo > Location > Region (expand to City if your business isn’t international)
  4. Results (chose the 20% of actions, i.e.: visited more than 5 pages within a session, that generated 80% of results, i.e. transactions)
  5. Acquisition > All traffic > Source

> Second step: Export data in a spreadsheet

> Third step: Create a filter in the spreadsheet

third/optimize your website for conversions

> Fourth step: Select the segments that generate 80% of results

4th/optimize your website for conversions

> Fifth step: Create a new sheet that contains only the segments that generated 80% of results

5th/optimzie your website for conversions


The conclusion of this analysis is that people need to see an average of 20 pages to generate an average of 5 transactions per visitor. In this example, I used the correlation between Region, as a primary dimension from Geo > Location, and Page Depth, as the secondary dimension related to behavior.

Once you’ve got how to do the analysis of traffic, go on with analyzing the remained correlations between dimensions, Browser, Traffic Source correlated with behavioral dimensions such as Site Search.

II. Choosing pages for the optimization process

Not all the pages “deserve” your efforts into optimizing them. To determine which are the futile pages of your website, you have to start an analysis of the pages, very similar to the one of the segments.

As a beginner in Google Analytics, it’s possible to get lost inside the platform because there are many patterns to follow. One simple, surefire way to analyze pages is going to:
a. Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
b. Behvaior > Site Content > Landing Pages

The metric that shows you if a website’s page is suitable for the optimization process is the Page Value. Because not all of the website’s pages are landing pages, Google Analytics cannot measure their conversion rate. Instead, it measures their value.

“Page Value represents the average value of a page or a set of pages. Page Value = ((Transaction Revenue + Total Goal Value) divided by Unique Pageviews for the page or set of pages)).”

Justin Cutroni’s definition on the Google Analytics Blog

It isn’t enough to look at the overall Page Value. You must see how different segments of traffic perform on these pages. To do that, follow these steps:

> First step: Apply secondary dimensions as in the image above

Go to Behavior > Site Content > All pages.

6th/Optimize your website for conversions

> Second step: Export data in a spreadsheet

> Third step: Create a filter in the spreadsheet

7th/optimize your website for conversions

> Fourth step: Select the URL of the pages with the greatest value

Keep in mind that you must include in the analysis the most important pages on your website according to the funnel. If it’s a subscription-based website, see the Page Value for Home Page, Features Page, About Us Page and other pages with no Call-To-Action that could’ve led to a goal completion on your site.

Proceed the same with the Landing Pages Analysis. This time, go to Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages and analyze Conversion Rate. Landing pages are conversion orientated. Therefore, apply the 20/80 principle as explained in the first part of this article, “I. Identifying the most profitable segments of traffic.”

Wrapping it up:

– you have to identify which segments of traffic perform the best on your website;
– then, determine the most valuable pages that will be part of the optimization process;
– analyze the website’s landing pages that lead to 80% of conversions

Finally, I hope that I managed to cut through the clutter and helped you to understand Google Analytics better. Let me know if you have any questions regarding this process and if there’s anything that I can clarify for you.



2 Replies to Using Google Analytics to Optimize Your Website for Conversions

  1. Thank you, this was super helpful. I love the down to earth explanations as well as the graphics which helps me to understand it better. Now I can benefit more from Google Analytics, because I just used it for the basics.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *