The SNO Report: Getting acquainted to Google Analytics

Step into most professional newsrooms and you’ll find someone with knowledge of web traffic. Maybe it’s the general manager or an editor, or maybe it’s someone hired specifically to track and find uses for that data.

In your newsroom, who’s that person going to be?

As a SNO customer, you have access to Google Analytics, the very system most use to gain insight into their readership base — how many people visited today, what did they read, and more. The quickest place to find info like this is the Insights tab on your site’s dashboard. The most in-depth version of this is right on the Google Analytics homepage, which if you need help accessing, please let us know. Hey, you can even receive weekly updates from Google recapping your site’s stats, too.

Whether you need to be convinced of what you’ll get from it or need help walking through it, let’s go over the important stuff you need to know…


This is the first of three main data areas you’ll find. It’s all about the general scope of your audience. Hint: these are your most directly helpful stats (i.e. how many readers today, what was read). It’s guaranteed to perk up your staff when you pass along this info. “Today’s top story was written by (insert name here). Congratulations!” (Have that one for free.)


Here’s an example of a situation that happens often: Random Adviser recently got access to Analytics and sees the Audience numbers and exclaims, “Wow! That many people read our site?” Now they want to know how they did so well? Check your Acquisition data.

Acquisition details how readers are getting to your site in one of four ways. There’s “Direct Traffic,” meaning word of your site has spread so well that people are going directly to your URL for their news. Next, there’s “Organic Search,” in which readers know about you but not enough about you to know your URL — so they Google you. There’s “Referral,” meaning some other website linked to yours. Finally, there’s “Social Media,” which is exactly what it sounds like.


There is some overlap between Audience and Behavior. Both will tell you what the audience is reading while on your site, for example.

Analyzing your readers’ behavior helps you understand them. What are they reading, or, rather, what are they looking for? (We shouldn’t have ignored the PTA.) Which of our sections is most popular? (We need to write more sports stories!) What time are readers coming to your site? (Let’s start scheduling stories to publish at 4 p.m.)

Is this making any more sense? Maybe it’s only one statistic you latch onto, that’s OK. Knowing your analytics help you know your audience, and knowing your audience helps you get even more of an audience. Use it and watch that traffic rise.