A fundamental principle of information gathering is to ask the five “W’s”: who, what, when, where, and why.

When it comes to market research, local businesses can use five reports contained in Google Analytics to address those questions and make better, more informed decisions about where to spend their time and marketing dollars.

Who: Demographics

Demographics estimates the age and gender of your site visitors.

The Demographics report — accessed under the Audience menu — provides gender and age estimates for website visitors. Knowing the audience that your site attracts can help you determine the appropriate marketing channels in which to participate.

Use site Demographics reports to determine marketing channels.

What: Queries

Queries list the SEO search terms that visitors use to find your site.

The Queries report found under Acquisition > Search Engine Optimization lists search terms — queries — that appear when users click on organic search results and find your site.

The report also presents the number of impressions for a given term, along with the number of clicks, the click-thru rate, and the term’s Average Position (the average ranking of your website URLs for the query or queries). The average position changes over time, so running this report during successive periods shows whether it has increased or decreased.

Use the Queries report to ensure your marketing employs the terms consumers use.

Queries reports can help you determine the verbiage to use with your marketing efforts. For instance, if you’re trying to decide on optimizing content for two similar terms, the report will display the number of impressions for each, letting you know which term searchers used more frequently.

Note: To access the SEO reports, including Queries, you’ll need to add your site to the Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools) to begin collecting search query data.

Once Search Console has verified the site, the search query data must also be linked to the Admin section for your web property in Google Analytics. Data will appear in your reports within 24 hours of site verification and linking.

When: Time Lag

Time Lag provides insights on the length of your website’s conversion period.

The Time Lag report tracks the number, value, and total percentage of conversions in relation to the time it takes for site visitors to convert. It covers a range from 0 to 12-30 days.

The Time Lag report can tell you how many days it takes for visitors to convert.

The report pinpoints whether your site visitors convert to customers on the first visit (day 0) or if the online buying cycle for your product or service requires multiple days, and at least one other visit for the customer make a purchase.

Inexpensive and impulse buying purchases often have a high number of conversions in short timeframes while high-dollar items may have a longer buying cycle.

Where: Landing Pages

Landing Pages displays where visitors first entered your site.

The Landing Page report answers the question of where visitors start their journey into your site and shows the number of sessions for each landing page (the page where the visitor first entered). The report also presents these metrics:

  • New Users. Identifies the number of first-time visitors during a particular time frame;
  • % New Sessions. Communicates what portion of the sessions came from New Users;
  • Bounce Rate. Displays the percentage of visitors who visited only one page on your website before leaving;
  • Pages/Session. Gives the average number of pages visited during the web visit;
  • Average Sessions Duration. Provides the average length of time that a visitor remained on your site in hours, minutes, and seconds.

Landing Page reports measure acquisition, behavior, and conversion metrics.

The Landing Page report also incorporates conversion information, including the number of Goal Completions, the Goal Value, and the Goal Conversion Rate.

The Goal Conversion Rate is calculated based on the number of goal completions divided by the number of sessions. If you are tracking more than one goal from a single landing page, you may have a Goal Conversion Rate that is higher than 100 percent.

For example, if you have an email signup goal and a time on page goal, and a single visitor from the same landing page completes both goals, then your Goal Conversion Rate would be 200 percent.

Your homepage — denoted by “/” in the Landing Page column of the report — may have the highest number of sessions, depending on the type of promotion your other landing pages receive.

Why: Source/Medium

Source/Medium reports explain why someone visited.

Why did a visitor come to your site? The Source report will tell you. It tracks the exact origin of your traffic, the Medium (general category) of the source, such as social media or referrals, and offers insights into why a visitor came to your site.

Source/Medium reports capture the origin of traffic to your site.

Examples of Source/Medium include “(direct)/(none),” “google/organic,” “sitename.com/referral,” and “social/post.”

Traffic classified as “(direct)/(none)” is created when a visitor types the site’s URL into the browser’s location bar or clicks through to the site from a bookmark. These visitors come directly to your site without a Source/Medium attribute.

A google/organic classification provides evidence that the visitor was searching Google for a query where your site showed as a result, and they clicked on an organic (non-paid) listing. If they originated from a cost-per-click (paid) search listing then the Source/Medium would be google/cpc.

A visitor who clicked on a link from another site that referred them to your landing page would be given the Source/Medium of sitename.com/referral.

The above examples are all Source/Medium values that can be automatically generated by Google Analytics. To have social/post appear, the URL must be tagged to represent the Source as “social” and the Medium as “post.”

There are several URL builders for Google Analytics tagging that can assist you in assigning the tracking code values based on your form entries, or you can manually add the values to the URL.

This post, 5 Google Analytics Metrics for Local Business Marketing, was first published on WebMarketingToday.