Google Analytics: Benchmarking

In your Google Analytics settings, you can choose whether to participate in benchmarking. If you agree, you’ll share your data — in the aggregate, with no identifying information — and allow Google to use it in benchmarking reports.

In return, you’ll get to see how your website compares with other websites like yours.

What’s a website like yours?

Google will show you how your website compares with other sites in your industry that get a similar amount of traffic.

For example, our lab site is an education-focused site that gets traffic from around the world, to the tune of 100-499 visits a day on average. We’re not comparing ourselves with National geographic here, nor with a classroom blog that gets 10 visits a day.

We’re also not having to rely on somebody’s claim that websites should get X number of visits, based on their limited experience. Almost 40,000 websites in our category have contributed data to this report.

What kind of information will we see?

We can see data about the traffic and traffic sources, the location, and the devices used to access our website.

The screenshot below shows standard channel groupings. We can see right away that our traffic for the past seven days has been 12.32% lower than the average for sites like ours. We see that we have more organic search traffic, more new sessions, and more new users.

Since the report follows the usual Google Analytics custom of showing good things in green and bad things in red, we can tell at a glance that we are missing a lot of opportunities with our lab site.

We have less social traffic than other sites like ours (since we don’t do social media for our lab site), less direct traffic, and no email or advertising (since we don’t do those things, either).

The Devices report shows that we have more desktop visitors than average, more tablet visitors, and fewer mobile visitors. We can also see that, while we have more new sessions and users than other sites like ours, our engagement is generally lower.

The locations report shows that we’re more popular in the Philippines and the United States than other sites like ours, but we’re still seeing lower levels of engagement.

What should you do with this information?

0ur lab site gets a good to-do list from the benchmarking data. We can see that we should be using more different methods to drive traffic. We can also see that other sites in our category do better on engagement.

It would make sense for us to check out other sites like ours and see what they’re doing to keep engagement high.

This is our lab site, where we test SEO strategies, and we’re all green when it comes to organic search. That’s success for this particular website. Our clients’ sites look a lot greener, but they also show some areas where we can improve.

Will this work for you?

Unfortunately, a lot of websites will find that they get little or no data in their reports. Some of our clients are compared with sites receiving less traffic, or with sites in similar but not really the same industries.

This is because benchmarking reports rely on people being willing to share their information. If you’re in an industry where people are less willing to share — or where there is simply less competition — there may not be enough data available.

You can in theory see benchmarking data for cosmetic procedures in Arkansas, but in reality there aren’t enough participants to create a report.

In that case, this is what you will see:

Check out the benchmarking reports. If you have access to the data, you may find it very useful.

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