Google analytics is a great tool, but the basic installation and metrics only provides so much value. You can extend the value and insights you receive from Google Analytics in a few simple ways and get more depth into how visitors are interacting with your brand. By just looking at page views and visitors you are missing out on seeing exactly how visitors are flowing through your funnel, your marketing measurement will be flat and you will likely miss key insights that could really help you see what your visitors want so you can deliver on expectations. Best of all these tips don’t require any special knowledge of programming, and also don’t take a lot of time.
Let’s jump right in and get you the insight you need.
1. Connect Google Webmaster tools
There are some great reasons to connect Google Webmaster Tools to your Google Analytics account, but at a high-level here are some of the key reasons:
- Top search terms / keywords. Finding out the top keywords visitors are using to find your site is crucial. As your content strategy continues to unfold in 2013 be sure to watch this list. Keep in mind that if you published a post yesterday this list could potentially be skewed – give your content some time to be found in search engines and read by visitors. More importantly if you notice a trend, let’s say for example that you published a blog post on sci-fi book sales, and it received an all time high visits, time on site, and a low bounce rate. If this matches your companies offering and fits with your strategy – then try to maximize this category and expand on it.
- URL / Crawl Errors. Is a page on your website has an error and cannot be indexed by search engines then you may be missing out on some traffic to your website. Check the health portion of Google Webmaster tools to find any errors and ensure that any errors are addressed appropriately.
- Content Keywords. What words do you use on your website? The specific terms that you use play a role in how your site ranks on search engines and the content keywords (found under optimization) can show you at a high level the specific words being used on your site.
2. Setup goals
Simply put, goals can help you measure individual components and actions on your website. For instance, if you have a whitepaper that you are trying to get prospects to download – instead of just measuring how many people viewed that page you want deeper information into how many people actually made it through filling out your registration form. Goals can help you get this information and show you conversion rates (i.e. the number of people who visited divided by the number who took the specific action), number of goal completions, and you can even assign a value to these goals.
Goals are the biggest improvement you can make to how you get insight from your web data. Even Justin Cutroni, Analytics Advocate at Google echoed this when I had a chance to talk with him about a month ago.
While we wont go into depth of what each of the goal types are in this post, check out the below posts for more information on different goal types and when to use them.
- Two web analytics goals to implement & start tracking today
- Event Goals – How to set up event goals and why you should be using them
3. Segment social traffic & sources
Under Traffic Sources -> Social you will find a gold mine of information on how your site is being visited from various social sources. But Google Analytics counts some sources in here that you may not consider social media, such as “Blogger”, “WordPress”, etc. Instead we can segment these sources out so we are getting the amount of traffic from social sources.
To define this custom segment do the following:
- Go to Traffic Sources -> Social -> Network Referrals
- Click on “Advanced Segments” (right under the title)
- Change the dimension to ‘Source’ (as seen in the picture below) and then enter the social network. You will have to continue to add dimensions for the number of social media sites that you wish to include and you can always come back and add to this list if you discover you are receiving traffic from a new site.
4. Segment ‘logged in’ traffic
If you have customers / users coming to your site to login to your platform it’s likely that you want to segment this traffic differently. This presents a number of advantages, but primarily from a high level standpoint it gives the ability to see what each of these groups prefers in terms of content and target them appropriately. For your information this uses the Google Analytics custom variables section – tuts plus has a good overview of custom variables that we recommend reading to get familiar.
Not logged in: _gaq.push(['._setCustomVar, 1, 'user-type', 'visitor', 2 ]);
Logged in: _gaq.push(['._setCustomVar, 2, 'user-type', 'registered', 2 ]);
Note: you can add other variations of this, for simplicity I chose to only list two but if for instance you wanted to track registered users that we’re paid, and non-paid you could do so.
5. Site search
What visitors are searching for on your site is also another potential gold mine of data that is often overlooked. If 5% of your monthly unique visitors are searching for an accessory that you carry then you could begin to highlight this item more prominently, or make recommendations for users who make a purchase. For example, if you sell stereo equipment and that 5% is searching for monster cables – then it’s worth testing the function of offering recommendations so the next time a visitor comes to get a receiver they also get a recommendation to also get the monster cables with it.
The generic site search report in Google Analytics is decent (found under Content -> Site Search -> Overview) but you can go beyond this and setup custom reports to determine the number of visits with a site search, and those without. Check out this site search custom report from Dan Shure which will help you get up and running right away.
Note: that if you do not have search capability on your website all visits will default to the ‘visit without search’ category.
6. Exclude internal traffic
If IT in your company sets everyone’s default homepage to your company website than (depending on the site of your company), it’s likely throwing off your web analytics numbers. There are a few ways of excluding internal personnel, but the one that I like best is excluding them by IP.
Have everyone go to http://www.whatismyip.com/ and send you their IP address that appears. With these, login to Google Analytics and go to the Admin panel. From there choose the profile and go to Filters, then select New Filter. The interface should look like this:
By filtering out internal IP’s you can begin to take a look at your real traffic and use this information to drive decisions and improvements not only to your website, but the business as a whole.
7. Ecommerce tracking
If you run an ecommerce store, within Google Analytics there is the ability to setup ecommerce tracking. It’s easy to do and only takes a few minutes of your (and possibly your webmasters) time. To get started, login to Google Analytics and go to your administration panel. Select the profile and then go to profile settings. Within this section you will see a drop down box like in the picture below.
After this is enabled you will have to insert a few snippets of code (pre-provided by Google) on your site that you can find in the Google Analytics Help section.
This adds tremendous value to the amount and type of information that you can get from your site. With ecommerce tracking you will be able to see conversion rates by product, top selling SKU’s, and much more. This information can help you make data-informed decisions which is good all around for your business.