Where is my traffic coming from?
What are my users doing on my website?
These are two very important questions that every online business should be asking. Having the answers to these questions will help you drive more traffic to your website and know where to make improvements to increase conversions. Did you know you have the answers to these questions in your Google Analytics Source/Medium report?
The Google Analytics Source/Medium report contains a wealth of information and is a great place to start even if you are a beginner. The source/medium report is so comprehensive, it’s nearly a one-stop-shop. Not only does the source/medium report show you where your traffic is coming from, but it also shows you the behavior the user takes while they’re on the site. And (drumroll please) it shows any conversion activity that takes place. That is three very powerful pieces of data – traffic numbers, engagement, and results!
If you know where your traffic is coming from and how they are behaving you can do more of what is working and less of what isn’t working.
WHAT IS SOURCE MEDIUM?
The Source/Medium is found in the Acquisition reports. It’s helpful to understand what the name ‘source/medium’ refers to. This will be extremely useful when you start using UTM’s to tag your traffic. What do they mean by source and what do they mean by medium?
Google Analytics defines the term ‘source’ as the origin of your traffic, hence the name source. The source simply means where the traffic came from. This could be a search engine such as Google, or a social platform like Pinterest or Facebook, or your email platform Convertkit, ActiveCampaign, etc. You will also see direct as a source. Direct means someone typed your URL directly into their browser or had it bookmarked. They didn’t click a link to get to your site, they went directly to your site, hence the name direct. This may be common if you have a course on your website and your members access it directly with a bookmark or simply typing in your URL.
Google Analytics defines the term ‘medium’ as the general category of the source. The medium is how it got there. This could be organic if someone found you by doing a search, or cpc if someone clicked on a paid ad or referral which is a link from another site. You will often see a lot of your medium defined as none. None means that Google Analytics has no tracking of how it got there. This is where using UTM parameters on your links come in handy. By defining your own UTM parameters you can see exactly where your traffic is coming from and even attribute it to a marketing campaign. If you find yourself guessing what platforms are sending you traffic UTM’s will be your new best friend. Start tagging your traffic with UTM’s and eliminate the guessing.
Now, Let’s jump in. I will teach you how to navigate the source/medium report so you know where your traffic is coming from, the behavior your users are taking, and any conversion activity.
Navigating the Google Analytics Source/Medium Report
Google Analytics has recently brought out a new version, GA 4. While you do want to create a second property for the new version so it’s collecting information, you do want to still be using the “legacy” version you have been using all along.
In your Google Analytics account on the left-hand side menu click on Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.
Understanding Your Google Analytics Source/Medium Report
In your source/medium report you are going to see the majority of the key information that you need to understand which of your marketing activities are working and which are not. It’s divided into three sections Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions. It’s a huge competitive advantage to familiarize yourself and optimize this report by implementing UTMs and setting up goals. If you don’t have those set up yet, there is still a ton of useful information.
On the very left-hand side is where you will see your Source and Medium. Again the source is like the brand of traffic (where it came from) and the medium is the type (such as organic, social, paid, etc). Generally you will see direct/none or facebook.com/referral or google/organic amongst others but those are common to everyone.
There are a lot of terms that you may not be familiar with, receive my Google Analytics glossary in your inbox.
Follow across from any of your traffic sources and the first section is your acquisition data. You will see the number of users, that is how many people actually came to the site from that source of traffic. Then new users are the number of users who have visited your site for the first time, based on Google Analytics tracking codes and cookies. And lastly are the number of sessions. A session refers to a page visit. A session ends once they close the page, leave to another page or there are 30 minutes of inactivity.
Behavior data is in the center columns. This is where you will see bounce rates, pages/session, and avg session duration. The number of people who visit only one page of your website and then leave is a bounce. The bounce rate is the percentage of sessions that are bounces.
If your bounce rate is high it could mean your content isn’t resonating or you are attracting the wrong audience. The behavior section gives you a good sense of how certain traffic sources engage with your content. Do you have more return users from certain traffic sources or are some inclined to stay longer consuming more content. All of which is very helpful when planning your marketing strategy.
The last section of the table is your conversion data. If you do not have e-commerce set up or any goals you will see only goose eggs (0%). The conversion data is mighty powerful though when it is set up. By integrating your e-commerce store you can actually see revenue dollars attributed to the traffic source, the total number of transactions, and conversion rates. It’s interesting to see that sometimes your highest sources of traffic or users are not always bringing in the most revenue
If you have goals set up, you would have the option to toggle from conversion to goals allowing you to see conversions this way. A goal represents a completed activity and counts it as a conversion. A goal measures how your users are interacting with your site’s content. Some examples of goals would be submitting a form on your site, purchasing a product, a pageview for a specific page of your funnel, or time spent on a page. Setting up goals allows you to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts as it relates to your website or marketing campaigns.
Key Takeaways – Google Analytics Source/Medium Report
The source/medium report will show you exactly where your site traffic is coming from, the behavior that the user is taking, and any conversion activity. It helps you make crucial decisions like where you should devote your efforts and marketing dollars – so you don’t end up spending your resources on platforms that don’t drive traffic and business to your website.
The ability to see where your traffic is coming from, user engagement and conversion results is why the Source/Medium is my favorite report in Google Analytics. If you look at nothing else when you’re in Google Analytics you can understand where are my people coming from and how am I getting them, how are they behaving by source, and then how are they converting by source?
If you are not using UTM links yet, you need to be! Minimize the direct/none and know exactly what links your users are clicking to find you. To learn how to use them and how to build them check out Tag Your Traffic®. It is a super affordable mini-course with a UTM building tool that will make it easy for you to start implementing UTM tracking today. Know exactly where your traffic is coming from by tagging your links with UTM parameters.
Want to better understand your marketing efforts? Our dashboards get to the point, click below for a sneak peek.
Get more insights from your source/medium report by integrating your sales cart with Google Analytics. Learn How To Set Up Google Analytics Ecommerce Reporting.