I kind of love Google Analytics. I’m just beginning to plumb its depths and it only starts to be really helpful after you’ve built enough traffic to show patterns. 

But it’s interesting to see what it can tell you—and what it can’t. Here are a few things it’s shown me that are interesting and how it’s influencing the business decisions for my web company.

FamiliesGo! Is Global 

I’ve learned that 24% of my users come from outside the US. The largest segment of these visitors are from Canada.

I suspect that a chunk of these Canadians visit the website for information on the Caribbean and Florida (especially as we move toward winter). But I am going to make an effort to build out my Canadian hotel listings more quickly than I was planning to.

LinkedIn Is a Good Traffic Source

Posting FamiliesGo! updates to LinkedIn was an afterthought because of the site’s career and business focus. But it routinely sends more visitors than Twitter. Moreover, those visitors spend an average of four and half minutes on the site, look at nearly four pages, and have a bounce rate of 40%. All these metrics outpace the same ones for both Facebook and Twitter, and point to engaged users.

Part of what makes LinkedIn work well, I think, is that I can post updates to specific groups. For example, I might reach a fair number of parents who fit my demographic through my college and high school alumni networks.

The trouble is that the interface between LinkedIn and Analytics isn’t great. While I can tell that about one-third of these users do find FamiliesGo! via groups, it’s hard to tell which groups. Knowing that would help to me focus my efforts better.

Chance Users Are the Most Profitable

Over the past month people who found FamiliesGo! via search engines (mostly Google) clicked on more ads and generated more ad revenue than people who came to the site directly or from a referring website.

The only explanation I have for this is that people who come via search engine are actively researching vacations and see ads related to the trips they’re considering. I should learn more about search engine optimization and consider doing some search engine advertising.

I Can't Explain Everything

I had my first single day with more than 100 visitors on Oct. 16. It was part of several days in a row with more than 100 page views (another first). I rushed to Google Analytics to figure out what I was doing right. And I came up empty.

A whopping 65 percent of these visitors came to the site directly, not via a referring website or search engine. Typically fewer than half of my visitors arrive this way. I posted a blog on traversing Heathrow airport with kids and some new hotel listings during this time, but the biggest portion of these visitors—38%— looked at a list of tips for taking cruise vacations that’s been up since the site launched. And I made less than an $1 in additional ad revenue from this traffic surge, which dragged my average click through rate way down.

So I have no idea where all these visitors came from or, really, what drew them to the site, which is frustrating. Then again, since they didn’t click on any ads I guess I don’t have to worry too much about getting them to come back.