Google Analytics has changed the way marketing works. Since it began rolling out in 2005 – 2006 Google Analytics has become the go-to website tracking system for many businesses and websites.
Why is it so popular? For one thing, it is free or has a free platform that will work for most sites and businesses. They do offer an enterprise level system, Google Analytics 360. There are a few more bells and whistles, but the freemium version is pretty solid in its own right.
Google Analytics, like most products, isn’t perfect right out of the box. It takes some assembly or tweaking to get it running smoothly. I am going to run you through some of our go-to tweaks so you can get the most out of Google Analytics.
- Filters & Bot Filtering
- Event Tracking
- AdWords Linking
- Search Console Linking
- Customer Reports
Filters & Bot Filtering
First up we have Filters and Bot Filtering. The way Google Analytics and most site tracking systems are set up is to track the users visiting your site. This includes two types of users that will skew the data if they are not removed from your reports.
The first user type we want to filter are employees and vendors—people who will be visiting your site on a regular basis and who aren’t customers or potential customers (in other words, they frequent your site, but you don’t want to track them because they’ll skew the KPIs that you find most valuable).
LunaMetrics offers up some basic Google Analytic filters that every business should be using. This includes IP address, which is a great way to exclude traffic coming from your business, employees, and vendors.
The other type of “user” really isn’t a user, it is a bot or spider that crawls your site. This type of traffic can really mess with your data, affecting everything from sessions and page views to conversions and bounce rates. In 2014, Google added a feature aptly called Bot Filtering. When turned on, Bot Filtering will exclude this type of pesky traffic.
With the right filters, you can get a clear picture of your site’s users and how they interact with your site. So, please don’t forget to update your filters!
Another great thing about Google Analytics is it allows you to set up and track conversions and “goals.” Basically, this tracks “how well your site… fulfills your target objectives.”
There are four types of Goals that you can create:
- Destination Goals – Tracks when a specific page loads
- Duration Goals – These are what they sound like; goals based on a specific amount of time a user spends on your site.
- Pages Per Session – This is a specified number of pages viewed by a user.
- Events – These are specific actions a user takes on your site.
Events, in particular, allow you to dive a little deeper into how a user is interacting on your site. This includes things like specific links a user clicks on, playing a video, downloads, as well as Flash elements and AJAX embedded elements.
Tracking events is useful if you are trying to guide a user to perform a specific task on a given landing page, whether it be downloading the latest whitepaper or watching a demo video.
Events provide an excellent way to track your users apart from the pages they are visiting or the time they spend on site.
For those of you who are advertising on Google with AdWords, Google has given us the ability to combine data by linking your accounts. By linking these accounts, you will open both tools to a wealth of data to enhance your digital marketing efforts.
Here I will allow Google to explain some of the benefits:
Search Console Linking
Search Console linking is for everyone! If you haven’t claimed your site in Search Console, I will give you a minute to go and do that now … Ok, now let’s discuss the benefits of linking these Google tools.
Search Console’s integration into Google Analytics has been around since 2011/2012, but it wasn’t until 2016 that you could gain valuable insights with this connection. Thanks to this updated integration, you can view data from Search Console side-by-side with Google Analytics.
Why is this helpful? Well, a long time ago Google allowed its users to view the organic keywords that were driving traffic to our sites, but for privacy reasons they removed this aspect from Google Analytics. However, they still allowed it in Webmaster Tools (known today as Search Console) and while Search Console doesn’t give us a full picture of keyword data, it can provide us with some valuable insights into what keywords are driving your business’s organic traffic.
Another great thing about Google Analytics is the amount of reports that are easily at our fingertips. With the click of a few buttons, we can view your site’s top landing pages or your goals’ conversion rates—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
While this wealth of information can provide enormous amounts of value to a given business, Google Analytics doesn’t understand all the intricacies of your business. Thus, they’ve given us the ability to slice and dice the data to create customer reports to provide another level of value.
With Custom Reports, you can customize the data to provide you with additional insights into how well your site is meeting your individual goals. You get to pick the dimensions and metrics and decide how they are displayed.
Check out this video on how to create Custom Reports:
This is a small sample of what you can do to get more out of your Google Analytics account. To learn more, get started by getting Google Analytics Certified and let us know about some of your favorite ways to tweak Google Analytics.