July 19, 2022

Comparing Acquisition and Behavior Metrics in Google Analytics

Comparing Acquisition and Behavior Metrics in Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a complex collection of data that an inexperienced eye can easily get lost in. When looking at the Source/Medium of the traffic sources to your website, Google Analytics breaks the data up into three sections which are Acquisitions, Behavior, and Conversions. Most business owners and C levels care about the Conversions however, in this article we are going to dive into the 2 broader and perhaps harder to decipher categories.

Acquisition Metrics
are things like the number of users, number of new users, and number of sessions to start.

Behavior Metrics
are focused on the user once on the site, including things like bounce rate, page session, and average session duration.

Both of these groups of metrics are relevant for different types of SEO campaigns and are particularly important if you are trying to understand your own SEO. Keep reading and we will break them down piece by piece.

When Should You Care About Acquisition Metrics?

Users, New Users, and Sessions are the 3 standard metrics provided in this section.

  • Users are defined as...“Users who have initiated at least one session during the date range. Learn more about how Analytics calculates the number of users.”
  • New Users are defined as…”The number of first-time users during the selected date range. Learn more about how Analytics calculates the number of users.”
  • Sessions are defined as…”Total number of Sessions within the date range. A session is the period time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc. All usage data (Screen Views, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session.”

These are top of funnel metrics and should be looked at through a top of funnel lens. Particularly true in e-commerce business models, not every user is a customer but every customer is a user, and this is important to remember. Bringing more users, but seeing a decline in Behavior and Conversion metrics, could be an indication that you are bringing the wrong type of user to the site. Acquisition metrics are an area you want to see continuous growth in, but if Behavior and Conversions are not on similar upward trends you may need to revisit your content strategy.

Tip: Take a look at the Geo section in Google Analytics under “Audience”. You’ll want to monitor where your traffic is coming from and trends that relate to the searchers geographic region. If you are a local business and your content is attracting users from states or even countries away this could be a reason you see better Acquisition numbers than Behavior and Conversion.


When Should You Care About Behavior Metrics?

Bounce Rate, Page/Session, and Ave. Session Duration are the 3 standard metrics provided in this section.

  • Bounce Rate is defined as... “The percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. A bounced session has a duration of 0 seconds. Learn more”
  • Page/Session is defined as…”Pages/Session (Average Page Depth) is the average number of pages viewed during a session. Repeated views of a single page are counted.”
  • Ave. Session Duration is defined as…”The average length of a Session.”

These metrics are at the heart of good SEO and becoming more and more important ranking factors. And this is a fairly easy conclusion to draw. If users are showing quality behavior metrics like high time on page or pages visited per session, then the user must be receiving some sort of value from your site and Google will reward you by showing your site more frequently to qualified users.

Behavior metrics are clearly the next logical step in tracking Traffic Sources. First, you acquire the user, then you track that user as they move around your site, if you are able to attract enough eyes, and provide a quality experience worth staying, you should have some nice conversion metrics to show the decision makers.

Tip: Consider adding a tool to your site that tracks your users' cursors anonymously. You will be able to view a heatmap of where people click and this makes for very clear A/B testing. Try things like different contact form or call to action placements and see how your users interact with the page. After a few tests you should feel very confident in creating a template that others in your business can use to push out optimized content worry free with a page layout that works.


Scratching the Surface of Google Analytics

Traffic Sources is a fraction of the data offered by Google Analytics. It is a great place to simply make sure things aren’t on fire but finding the cause of poor SEO results requires much deeper digging. In my next two posts I will discuss How to Identify the Underlying Causes of Poor Acquisition and Behavior Metrics through other tabs on the Google Analytic Dashboard.


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