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Google Analytics for Mobile: How-to and Best Practices

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Google Analytics for mobile reports are incredibly useful for analyzing website trends and user behavior of people who visit with smartphones.

Mobile usage is skyrocketing and surpassing desktop. Any website publisher who wants to capture more mobile visitors and maximize their engagement should use mobile data in Google Analytics to see how to make website improvements and where to make them.

A good analysis starts with looking at the three key metrics:

  1. Sessions / visits
  2. Users / unique visitors
  3. Page views

GA emphasizes sessions, which used to be called visits, as the most important audience metric because they are easier to track than users.

Users, which used to be called unique visitors, can clear tracking cookies out of their browsers, which means they will be counted more than once when they return to a site. There is no such problem with the sessions number. It simply measures the number of times browser software accesses a site.

Page views are important for two reasons. One is that the average number of pages that people consume when they visit a site. It indicates their overall experience as well as the relevance of the information they find. High pages per visit usually means a good experience, while low PPVs often mean a bad one — or at least low visitor interest in what else the site has to offer.

The second reason is that page views generate advertising inventory. So the more page views people consume, the more ad inventory is produced and the potential for revenue goes up.

Mobile audience overview

The report under Audience / Mobile / Overview will show how mobile visitors compare to desktop and tablet for key metrics. Click to enlarge.

How to Find Mobile Audience Metrics

Google Analytics for mobile offers two quick ways to access the key mobile metrics that put them into context with overall site metrics.

One way is by clicking on Audience, Mobile and Overview on the left side of the software.

On the column under Sessions, look at the percentages next to each number of visits for Desktop, Mobile and Tablet.

Is the percentage for mobile higher or lower than the other two categories? Is the percentage higher than it was one, three or six months ago? If it is, the mobile audience is growing faster than the other categories, which it should be doing.

Now look under the column called Bounce Rate. Is the bounce rate, which is the percentage of visitors who come to one page and leave again, higher or lower again than the other categories? That number should be roughly the same. If it is higher, it is a signal that the site is not well optimized for mobile visitors compared to desktop visitors.

The next column is Pages / Sessions, which should give the same signals. The average pages per visit or session should be roughly the same as the others.

The second way to access the same information with a slightly different view is by using Segments.

On the left side, click on Overview under the main Audience heading. In the middle display area near the top right, click on + Add Segment, check the Mobile Traffic box and click on Apply.

The resulting report will show a graph with trend lines. Underneath, seven major metrics will display with the totals for both the overall site and mobile specifically.

Mobile audience metrics

This version of the report uses segments to display comparisons. Click to enlarge.

How to Find Mobile Acquisition Metrics

The Acquisition report is another useful view of mobile audience trends.

On the left column, scroll down and click on Overview to see the first version of the report. If the mobile segment is still present at the top, the report will again make comparisons between mobile and visitors from all three platforms.

Clicking on Source / Medium on the left will produce a more interesting view that shows the breakdown of mobile for major channels such as the various search engines, social media sites, emails, etc.

Most sources will probably not show an unusual spike in mobile traffic except for Facebook, which has placed a major emphasis on mobile.

How to Find Mobile Behavior Metrics

The third major report is available by scrolling down further and clicking on Behavior and Overview.

This report emphasizes page views and provides a few similar metrics from above but also a few that provide more insights.

The most important one is % Exit, which is the percentage of visitors to a page who left the site from that page after visiting another page on the site.

It is similar to the bounce rate except that bounce indicates a view of one page before leaving while Exit means they viewed more than one page before leaving.

Site managers armed with Google Analytics mobile information can focus their efforts on changing a popular page with a high exit rate to attract more clicks within the page and lower the exit rate.



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