12 Most Rewarding Tips for Google Analytics
Whether you’re a data geek or not, website metrics are something all site owners need to be keeping an eye on. They provide an insight into the behavior of your visitors — where they come from, their actions on your site and the benefits this provides you.
What this post offers is some tips, best practices and maybe even a few Analytics secrets that will help you set up and maintain an effective Google Analytics account for your website. It’s not a beginners guide nor an advanced handbook but hopefully something in between, useful for anyone and everyone.
1. Customize your dashboards
While the default dashboard is useful, it doesn’t do much more than scratch the surface. Avinash Kaushik offers a fantastic idea for the setup you should take with any dashboard, laying it out in three parts: acquisition (where your visitors are from/who they are), behavior (what they do on your site) and outcomes (goal conversions). By setting it up like this, you are providing yourself an end-to-end picture.
2. Advanced segmentation
Rather than merely looking at your data overall, it’s also important to delve a little deeper with advanced segmentation. You can use either the default segments that Google provide, or you can create your own. For example, I have segments set up for every social platform I use. This allows me to see which social sites provide the most valuable referral traffic, letting me focus my efforts where it really counts.
3. Are you a local business?
If you’re a local business, then you might want to consider checking out the location of your audience. You can use this information to create content relevant to those visitors.
4. Set up alerts
By leveraging the custom alerts feature in Google Analytics, you can keep a check on any anomalous data without having to log in every few hours. For example, if you get an unusually low level of newsletter conversions on a day you can be informed via an alert. This gives you the opportunity to find out what the cause is and rectify it immediately.
5. Create keyword lists
Use keyword data in your Analytics account, along with Google’s Adwords keyword tool, to create keyword lists to use for your site content. Finding long-tail keywords in particular can help a smaller site compete with bigger and more established sites in search engine optimization efforts.
6. Keep an eye on how engaged your visitors are
It’s great to get a lot of visitors, but it’s equally important to consider how long these visitors are staying on your site, and how regularly they return. The old adage of “quality, not quantity” rings true here.
7. Watch trends, not specifics
Data is not 100% accurate in any web analytics tool, and Google Analytics is no different. Amanda MacArthur suggests that Google Analytics is only about 90% accurate. Her advice? Look at trends over time, rather than specifics, in order to mitigate data issues.
8. Real-time tracking
Google Analytics Real-Time was launched in Q4 of 2011, and provides an exciting opportunity for site owners. It offers a set of new reports that show what’s happening on your site as it happens — particularly useful when you publish a blog post, or post a Facebook status or a tweet.
9. Set goals
What use is any of the data if you’re not using it to measure actual business success? Set up goals — these could be newsletter sign-ups, sales or leads — and find out how and from where your site is generating success.
10. Link Google Adwords to Google Analytics
When you link your accounts, Analytics will automatically tag your Adword links so you can see detailed campaign tracking data, and Analytics will begin importing cost data from your AdWords campaigns. By linking them, you’ll be able to identify which campaigns and keywords are working and which aren’t for both organic and paid search.
11. Track document downloads or specific links
12. Link tagging
In addition to tracking internal links, you can also tag external links. This means that you can find out information such as which banner ads, newsletter insertions or guest blog posts drive you the most conversions. Link tagging is a very useful tool for measuring and optimizing ROI for your web marketing efforts.
It’s a complex platform, and some of these tips are pretty tricky too. Nonetheless, if you are a site owner, it’s a tool you really ought to spend some time getting to grips with. The investment will be more than worth the result.
Are you an analytics expert? What would be your top tip for making the most of Google Analytics?
Featured image courtesy of Creative Commons via Stuck in Customs.