Google Analytics is the most widely used platform for tracking and optimizing website performance. That’s because of the breadth of data it allows you to analyze. This series has touched on how Google Analytics can help you assess how visitors interact with your site. Now we need to start to understand Google Analytics device tracking.
In addition to analyzing how visitors interact with your site, it is important to consider what devices people use to access it. Device-specific data is vital to have, as people browse the internet on many varied smartphones, tablets, and more. A report from Statista revealed that 48% of people in the UK now rate a smartphone as their favored device for accessing the internet.
When people use their phones to access a website, the way they use the website is different. As such, sites and apps need to be optimized to work on mobile devices and tablets, as well as on desktop. The only way for you to know how best to optimize your site, and understand how people are using your site, is by finding out the devices your site visitors are using.
Read on below, and you’ll find out how to get that insight from Google Analytics. You’ll also learn the ins and outs of the diverse information the platform offers about user devices, and some of the implications this can have.
Previous articles in the Google Analytics Guide:
You should have some knowledge of the Analytics dashboard. The topic of navigating the interface was the focus of an earlier post in this series. That means you’ll be able to find device usage data on the platform. Once you’ve logged in, you need to click the ‘Audience’ tab on the dashboard and then ‘Mobile’.
You then have a choice of selecting either ‘Overview’ or ‘Devices’. When you select ‘Overview’, you’ll see the following report:
The report above provides a simple breakdown of device use as a proportion of your visitors. You can see the number of desktop, mobile, and tablet users you have. It also displays relevant data regarding how people are interacting with your website by device.
It is also possible to get a percentage breakdown of users by the device they use. To access this data just click on the pie chart button in the top right-hand corner of the report.
The initial Google Analytics device report provides you with a broad overview of device use. You could dig a little deeper though to see some more specifics. You can do this by selecting the ‘Devices’ option mentioned earlier. It’s on the left-hand side of the dashboard, under ‘Mobile’:
Rather than simply dividing users by type of device, this report splits them by device model. You can see the exact handset or tablet used by everyone who visits your site.
There are many levels to what you can learn from the Google Analytics Mobile report. The insights it offers will have significant implications for any site and the business behind it. Let’s take a look at some of the insights you might draw from the report and what they may mean for your business.
The overview report displays information on how many people are accessing your site and which device they are using. You may find that a higher percentage of site visitors than you thought is using a mobile device. You might also notice, however, that the time on site for a visitor using a mobile phone is lower than desktop.
This is an important insight to gain. It shows you that you may need to spend more time optimizing your site for mobile devices. You might have to build a mobile-specific site or de-clutter some pages to better suit smartphones and tablets. Certain site designs, for instance, work much better on smaller screens than others.
The overview report also reveals other important metrics as they relate to the type of device used. This information can help you draw more detailed conclusions. Some of the most useful metrics include ‘Bounce Rate’, ‘Pages/Session’ and ‘Avg. Session Duration’.
The three metrics mentioned above are grouped under the banner of ‘Behavior’. They reveal how users behave when they visit your site. A large variance between devices for these metrics can be informative. Let’s take the bounce rate as an example.
Bounce rate is the percentage of site users who abandon the site after viewing one page. The report might show that the bounce rate is higher for mobile users than desktop users. That’s a clear indication that your site isn’t working correctly for mobile users. It gives you an obvious area for improvement.
Insights offered by the report aren’t always indicative of problems. You might see that tablet users spend on average a lot longer on your site. That shows that user experience for those site visitors is good. You can then look into why that’s the case. This analysis helps you understand what makes your site work for tablet users, in order to improve the experience for visitors on other devices.
‘Goal Completions’ is another crucial metric to note. It helps you discover how many times a site visitor completes a goal which you’ve defined. That might mean making a purchase, visiting a certain page, or filling in a form. It’s the same idea as tracking conversions in a marketing or email campaign.
It’s easiest to check out Goal Completions via the pie chart view of the mobile overview report. Once on that view, simply select ‘Goal Completions’ from the drop-down menu in the central column. You can then compare goal completions with users, by the device used.
In the above example, mobile users are shown as representing 19.29% of goal completions.You might then check the main overview report and find that a far greater percentage of site visitors use mobile devices. For the goal in question, the mobile version of the site may seem to convert less well than on desktop. That could be an actionable insight.
However, when making this type of analysis, it’s important to consider other factors. Specifically, in regards to how people use a device. For example, people tend to browse the internet a lot more on mobile but then purchase on a desktop or laptop.
The Google Analytics ‘Devices’ report offers similar insights but for individual devices, rather than device types:
Knowing the exact devices visitors use can help you to tailor your site optimization. For instance, you may learn that most visitors using mobile devices are using iPhones. When you try to make your site more mobile-friendly, you should focus on features suited to iOS.
The above has shown the range of insights that Google Analytics device tracking can provide. The information available goes beyond a rundown of the types of devices site visitors use. It is worth taking a more in-depth look at what it means if your site isn’t sufficiently mobile-friendly.
In that area, things boil down to two critical acronyms; UX and AMP. UX stands for user experience. Your site needs to deliver a good user experience for mobile users. Particularly if they make up a high proportion of site visitors. If it doesn’t, those users will spend less time on your site.
A key element of mobile UX is how long it takes pages to load on mobile devices. Modern internet users are not a patient bunch. If a page doesn’t load immediately, they will likely leave the site. That’s where Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) come in.
AMPs are designed for almost instant loading on mobile devices. As such, they deliver a smooth and high-quality mobile UX for site visitors. If your site’s Google Analytics mobile report shows a high bounce rate for mobile users, AMP implementation is something to consider.
Google Analytics can offer you a lot of insights regarding how people interact with your site. One key way it can help you assess site performance is by providing detail on the type of devices site visitors use. Knowing how visitors split between mobile, tablet, and desktop users is critical. It helps you identify whether you need to focus more attention on mobile optimization.
The Analytics Mobile report can also provide you with more detailed insight. Through metrics such as ‘bounce rate’, ‘goal completions’, and more, you can learn if your site converts better on some devices than others. You can even discover if any mobile optimization needs to focus on specific devices.
This post should have shown you precisely where to go to get those invaluable insights. It should also have demonstrated how and why those insights matter to your business. It’s now up to you to explore your Analytics and start moving your site forward.