More than selecting random metrics on Google analytics, I think that it is important to ask some questions before getting started. After understanding how metrics are so significant to the website, I think it is better to start with a profound understanding of the problem you would like to solve, this would be a good way to focus on the macro insight first.
Focusing on the Macro insight, it is easier than analysis, and it’s much easier than having all the things together without knowing what to do. To measure the success of my website it is important to ask some questions first and then pick up some metrics.
How many visitors are coming to my website? to answer this, I just need to understand the difference between Visits and my Unique Visits. This two metrics will answer me this question and it would be a good start to know what should I do with all this visitors that are interested in my product.
Where are Visitors coming from? here it is important to take a look at two reports, the referring URLs and the keywords. Referring URLs will help to understand which sites are sending me traffic and which are not. This is a good way to understand what you are doing (direct marketing, other campaigns, affiliates and so on) and what you are not doing. On the other hand, Keywords will help me to look for non branded words.
What do I want Visitors to do on the website?, Do I want them to spend more time? a good way to measure that, is by taking a look to my bounce rate, if my bounce rate is low, lets say 20 to 30 percent it is a fair rate for the website, it means that the visitors found what they were looking for and the average time spent in the website should be higher.
What are visitors actually doing? In this case I think it is important to know what pages my visitors are viewing. Some times the home page is not the most important place you’ll like that visitors spend most of the time, maybe products or the online store will give you better results in profits. Taking a look to which links do visitors are linking will give me a broad idea of my product and website.
Metrics are my horse of Troy when we talk about marketing tools, they should give me the base to start competing with others and what should I do in my next marketing move, should I go mobile? Should I use a video to promote the website or use direct marketing? Etc. Anything you try, Google analytics will give you a result, and the most important thing is to understand how the metrics work so I can implement the results in a better marketing strategy.