Google Analytics – 3 Reports Everyone Should Run

I was at an industry party recently joking with a friend about my obsession with analytics and strategy. I am a veritable mad scientist when it comes to approaching creative campaigns and you will find me happiest standing in a room full of white boards dissecting analytics data or discussing event tracking techniques or planning goal funnels to optimize campaigns. However, there are quite a few business owners and marketing directors out there that seem to get lost in the midst of it all and just need a little direction.

Google Analytics offers so many options and an almost infinite number of ways you can drill down, dissect and filter your data, but what reports provide the most insights? As the mad scientist I would say all of the reports provide great insights, but here are three reports that everyone can undersatnd and should run.

Direct Traffic
Referring Sites
Top Content

In this three part series I am going to show you some basic reports you should be running and how to look at the data. No matter what your business, if you have a website your goal should be that your site drive leads and increase revenue. Note: if you are looking at website design in the future make sure you install Google Analytics on your existing site now. The insights gained from the analytics will allow you to design a more effective website with better goal conversion. For today’s lesson I want to drill down into the Direct Traffic report.

Direct Traffic

Google defines direct traffic as: Visitors who visited the site by typing the URL directly into their browser. ‘Direct’ can also refer to the visitors who clicked on the links from their bookmarks/favorites, untagged links within emails, or links from documents that don’t include tracking variables (such as PDFs or Word documents).


1. Select a date range for your report – From the GA Dashboard you will select a date range with which to pull data from. I will typically run weekly reports and then monthly reports, but you will need to determine what makes the most sense for you.



2. Select Traffic Sources then Direct Traffic from the navigation to the left.




3. Select the “Table View” icon under views then click on source and filter by landing pages


Once you are there you will be able to see which pages visitors are bookmarking. What is it about these pages that are so important that the visitor would want to bookmark or favorite the page? One thing that I should mention here, if you remember, part of the definition of direct traffic is “untagged links within emails”. This is important to note if you have an existing email marketing campaign because these links may not be bookmarks and instead landing pages from your campaign. The proper way to direct traffic from your email campaign is through the use of campaign urls. This will limit the amount of contamination in the direct traffic report and help you better manage your email marketing campaign.

Take some time to look at the pages and content in your direct traffic report and see what conclusions you can draw. Maybe, there is information that should be more prominent on another page, maybe it will give you insights regarding a product or service that you didn’t have before. In my next report I will talk about referring sites and how this information can give you important insights about your brand, services or products.