This article is part two of our four part series on measuring your organization's intranet with the free tool, Google Analytics. For Part one, please see Setting up Google Analytics on your Intranet.

Once you've set up your account and are seeing data coming into your Google Analytics dashboard, you're ready to start digging into what the numbers are telling you about the various ways employees access content on your intranet.

While there are a ton of different views available to look at your data in Analytics, they're very well organized under just a handful of categories.

Download our guide to measuring your intranet here. 

In this article, we'll focus on the Audiences category and touch on the Acquisition category. Together, the reports outlined here summarize data on how and where employees in your organization are accessing the intranet.

Understanding the audiences on your Intranet

When you log in, the Audience Overview will be the first report that you see:

Google Analytics for SharePoint dashboard

Note: With most of the Google Analytics interface, you'll want to start by determining the date range your interested in reporting on. In most cases, the date range will stay consistent when changing reports. Looking at the last 30 days (as set by default) is a good starting point.

If you're reporting on last month's data, set your date range accordingly before doing anything else:

Google Analytics for Intranet Select Date Range

The Audience Overview is the default report for a reason -- it shows you some of the most important top-level data on how your intranet is being used by employees.

Let's take a minute to define what these statistics mean:

  • Sessions - Previously called visits, sessions are the individual sets of interactions a visitor has with your intranet within a set time frame.
  • Users - The number of people that visited the intranet (also known as unique visitors).
  • Page views - The total number of unique times all pages were viewed (not including multiple views of the same page in the same session).
  • Pages/Session - The number of pages that were viewed during an average visitor's session.
  • Avg. Session Duration - The average amount of time each employee spends on the intranet per visit.
  • Bounce Rate - This measures the percentage of site visitors that only viewed one page before leaving the intranet (without any other interaction).
  • % New Sessions - The percentage of first-time visitors to the intranet.

For organizations with large intranets, this information is invaluable. And just by accessing it, you now have the same type of data used by countless companies to optimize both their external and internal content.

Going further with Internal Audiences in Google Analytics

You can also see a wealth of information by scrolling down and clicking through the Demographics, System and Mobile options from the view we mentioned above.

Here you can see demographic information like how many of the sessions in a particular city your organization's employees accessed the intranet from:

Google Analytics for Intranets Device Type

You can also see the operating system and screen resolution for mobile visits under the System and Mobile tabs.

We'll go into the other more specific reports in the Audience section below, but this overview may be the only report that you need to look at on a regular basis to get a solid understanding of your intranet's audiences.

Seeing how and where employees access your intranet

By selecting the Geo tab under the Audience category and selecting Language or Location, you can see both the language setting and location for the sessions that occurred on your intranet during the date range you define. A sample of the location report is shown below:

Google Analytics audience location for intranet

You'll notice that this information matches the data in the overview tab, but is now displayed with additional details, such as the number of new users and average duration, calculated for each country.

This information can be used to compare how regions differ in terms of engagement with the intranet. From here you can find opportunities to localize content or translate it to another language, and measure the resulting changes.

Other useful reports in the Audiences category:

The Engagement Report

Where to find it: Audience > Behavior > Engagement

This will show you how long each user accessed the intranet for by batching sessions into duration ranges. This is useful for seeing how many sessions were very short, or mere glances, versus sessions which took several minutes or more, which is more indicative of a healthy and useful intranet.

Google Analytics session duration report

The Mobile Overview Report

Where to find it: Audience > Mobile > Overview

This report shows you how many sessions happened on a desktop computer (or laptop), mobile phone or tablet.

Google Analytics mobile traffic to intranet

The Mobile Devices

Where to find it: Audience > Mobile > Devices

Similar to the mobile overview report, this report lists specific device models that were most popular when accessing the intranet on a mobile device. This is useful organizations that issue multiple types of mobile devices, and BYOD (bring your own device) workplaces.

Using the User Acquisition reports in Google analytics

Below the audience tab, you'll see the Acquisition category. These reports work similarly to the Audience category, and the data here directly relates to the information we've seen about behavior and demographics above.

Under the acquisition tab, one of the most relevant reports for a SharePoint or other intranet site is the All Traffic > Channels report, which shows you the various channels that sessions on your intranet originated from:

Google Analytics Channels for SharePoint Intranet

This data is essential for seeing which channels are bringing the most traffic to your intranet. Here's how the most relevant channels for internal communicators are defined:

  • Direct - Sessions that originated from a bookmark on a user's computer or by a user typing in the intranet's address.
  • Referral - Sessions that opened from links on another website that was not a social networking site.
  • Email - Traffic which originated from a link in an email campaign or newsletter.
  • Social - Traffic from links to the intranet from social networking sites.

Note: All of the above mentioned channels will work and report correctly by default, except for email, which requires some very basic campaign tagging which we'll cover later this month.

Using Segments in Google Analytics on your Intranet

So far we've been exploring the reports in Google Analytics while looking at data from all of the sessions that occurred on the intranet within the specific date range. This is often the information most stakeholders are looking for, but there are may be cases where you may want to look at only part of your internal audience. This is where Segments become very useful.

A segment allows you to select users and sessions to answer more specific questions about how your intranet is being used. For example, common segments include All Sessions, New Users, Mobile Traffic or Referral Traffic.

You can add or remove segments from the bar above each report, and compare up to four segments at once:

Google Analytics segments for intranets

With these segments set up, you can view any of the reports in Google Analytics, and see only data that meets the criteria you've selected.

Some useful Google Analytics system segments

The examples below are part of the over 20 default segments that are pre-configured in Google Analytics:

  • Mobile, tablet, and, mobile and tablet traffic - These three segements allow you to compare traffic by device type on any report in Google Analytics.
  • New users - This segment shows you stats on how employees accessing the intranet for the first time are using it.
  • Non-bounce sessions - This segment removes all sessions that were bounces (only resulted in one page view) to see patterns on more engaged sessions.

Creating Custom Segments for your Intranet

The ability to segment traffic based on specific criteria is one of the features that makes Google Analytics so powerful. Of course, your organization is unique and there are times when the system default segments don't answer specific questions you may have. This is where custom segments come in.

From the Add Segment window, you can create a new custom segment:

Google Analytics create custom segment intranet

There are too many examples to cover here, but using only what we've learned so far, creating a new custom segment that shows you only traffic from a specific device type or browser is relatively straightforward. In the example above, the segment we're creating would filter any report to show only traffic from employees using a specific browser, Firefox.

Applying these ideas to your own SharePoint or Intranet site

So far we've seen that Google Analytics is capable of making sense of amazing amounts of data from all of the visits that occur on your intranet.

Perhaps most surprisingly, it's also easy to get answers to very specific questions using only the default reports, or by adding a new segement (as in the example above with traffic from employees using Firefox).

While looking at all of your data is interesting, segmenting all sessions and using specific reports will ultimately provide insight that will make your job easier. A good exercise once you've explored the type of information available through Google Analytics is to start thinking about the specific questions you'd like to answer about your intranet's use.

Visit other posts on the Intranet Measurement with Google Analytics series: