Complete User's Guide to Google Analytics - Part 2
We are happy to present to you Part 2 of last week's blog post - Complete User’s Guide to Google Analytics – Part 1 where we discussed tracking codes, standard reports (real-time, audience, traffic sources, content, and coverage), IP filters, and goal setting and tracking. The follow-up posting below covers more advanced Google Analytics including, connecting analytics with SEO, tracking your site speed, site search data, enabling event tracking, multi-channel funnels, creating custom dashboards, and 10 metrics to get you started.
Connect Analytics With SEO: Webmaster Tools
You’ll also want to configure Google Webmaster Tools for your site, which lets you monitor how your site is indexing on Google, check for any broken links, and more. Once your Webmaster Tools account is connected to your Google Analytics profile, the webmaster data shows up in your Traffic Sources report under Search Engine Optimization. You’ll get these data sets:
- Queries: What searches are people conducting that lead them to your website?
- Landing Pages: What pages are people landing on when they arrive on your site, and what’s the click-through rate compared to your site average?
- Geographical Summary: Where are your visitors physically located when they click over to your site? This data is a great gauge for where you should be focusing your advertising and marketing efforts.
Track Your Site Speed
Optimizing your site’s load time is key both for visitor experience and your Google ranking. Happily, Google Analytics enables you to track your site speed. Click over to your Content report, then drill down to Site Speed. Here you can see your Average Page Load Time in seconds, even broken down by browser.
Leverage Site Search Data
A great source for SEO insights is your site search. If you have a search form on your site, enabling users to call up precisely what they’re looking for on your website, Google Analytics tracks those terms plus how the searchers behaved after plugging in each term. Here are the buckets of data the site search report tracks:
The beautiful thing about site search is that it lets you discover the exact keywords that people are using to search for your services or products, so you can leverage this information in your SEO strategy. The search terms may give you ideas for new blog posts, insights into metatags that need to be updated to reflect your visitors’ needs, or inspiration for new products to offer.
Enable Event Tracking
Similar to goals, events in Google Analytics are specific actions taken by visitors that you can track and measure. Examples of events you can track:
- Pausing, fast forwarding, or stopping a video
- Downloads of your white paper or eBook
- Signup form conversions
- Ad clicks
Event tracking is also a great way to quantify interactive activities that take place with Flash or Ajax, which aren’t captured as pageviews. You can even sync up any event as a goal, which is then trackable through your Conversions dashboard. How to set up event tracking: First, make sure tracking is enabled on your site (Google’s Developer forum has detailed information about how to do this). Then, add the code below next to the URL of the element you're tracking, replacing the default values (defined below): onclick="_gaq.push(['_trackEvent', 'category', 'action', 'opt_label', 'opt_value']);"
- Category: Identify what you want to track: eBook, video, signup form, ads, etc.
- Action: Define the interaction of your visitor: click, button, play, stop.
- Label: Name the type of event that is tracked.
- Value: Specify a value for your event that can be used when you set up a goal in Google Analytics for it.
Any events you’ve set up can be tracked in your Content report.
Advanced: Multi-Channel Funnels
Without the use of Google Analytics’ Multi-Channel Funnels functionality, conversions and ecommerce transactions are credited to the last campaign, search, or ad that referred the visitor when he or she converted. But, as you know, the process is much more complicated than that, with customers often taking a circuitous path from initial interaction to ultimate conversion -- and Google Analytics is now robust enough to provide in-depth data about the entire conversion process. For example, say Joe follows your business on Twitter, and lands on your site through a link in a tweet. Then he subscribes to your RSS feed. His next visit to your site is through his feed reader. He’s interested in insights about SEO, and one afternoon does a quick Google search and finds a link to your eBook in the search results, recognizing your domain name from his feed reader. Now that he’s familiar with you and your site, he buys your eBook. In the past, analytics would credit the search engine with the conversion -- but now, Multi-Channel Funnels lets you see the entire path that Joe took, from social network to referral to search engine, and then conversion. It even provides data on how much time passed between Joe’s initial interest and his purchase. To set up and browse your Multi-Channel Funnels cross-channel reports, click on the Conversions section of Google Analytics. Want more info on Multi-Channel Funnels? Check out this video from Google:
Advanced: Create a Custom Dashboard If you don’t want to navigate around Google Analytics each time you use it finding each specific report you’re interested in, drilling down by date range and specific combinations of metrics, you can create your own custom dashboards that will live in your analytics portal for easy access. How to create a custom dashboard: Click “Dashboards” under “My Stuff” and select “+ New Dashboard.” You can choose whether you want to start with a blank canvas, or get some pointers with Google’s Starter Dashboard. Give your dashboard a name, then drag and drop whichever widgets you want. Then, the next time you log into Google Analytics, you’ll have your personalized analytics palette accessible right in the sidebar. There is a wide variety of widgets you can populate your custom dashboard with:
Here are a few examples of custom dashboards in Google Analytics, to give you a sense of the possibilities for individualizing your metrics tracking:
Overwhelmed? 10 Metrics to Start With
The sheer amount of data that Google Analytics provides you can definitely be overwhelming. Keep in mind that the metrics you find valuable might differ greatly from those another website is concerned with. After freely exploring the Google Analytics wellspring, drilling down into various reports and dashboards, you’ll be more able to determine what measurables are most applicable to your particular site. Here are 10 basic metrics to get you started with regularly tracking your website’s performance:
- Visits: This is your website’s most basic KPI (key performance indicator). The important thing to monitor is the change in visits over time.
- Unique visitors: This metric, which tallies how many individual IP addresses visit your site, gives you a sense of the size of your audience.
- Bounce rate: Ideally, you want your unique visitors to increase and their bounce rate to decrease. It’s important to monitor bounce rate, or how many people come to the site and immediately leave, because the longer a visitor stays with you, the more opportunities for conversion.
- Pageviews: For the visitors who do stick around, the pageviews metric tells you how many pages they visited before clicking off your site. Your goal is to make your website as sticky as possible, leading visitors in and around your site as they rack up pageviews.
- Average visit duration: Attention spans are shorter than ever, so attracting visitors and keeping them interested long enough to read, watch or click something further can be a challenge. Monitoring the average visit duration helps you determine how long people are staying on your website, learnings about which you can apply to your content strategy and marketing tactics.
- % new visitors: If all is going well, your website will attract a combination of loyal returning visitors and brand new visitors. This metric is how you keep an eye on the makeup of your audience. The Audience report helpfully displays it as a pie chart.
- Traffic sources: Don’t you want to know where on the Internet all these visitors are coming from, so you can meet them where they are and further solidify your relationship with them? The Traffic Sources overview report breaks down your traffic into four categories: search, referral, direct, and campaign.
- Location: One way to drill down into your traffic sources is to examine where, geographically, your audience is located. The data might be instructive in decisions like where to advertise or where to target your Facebook promoted posts.
- Landing Pages: Visitors don’t always enter your site through its homepage. The Landing Pages data, found in your Content report, tells you the inroads visitors are taking into your website, so you know which pages are particularly important to optimize in addition to your homepage.
- Mobile visits: Mobile Internet usage is set to surpass desktop usage by 2015. So, it’s important to be aware of what device your visitors are using to access your site, be it a laptop, tablet, or smartphone. If a large percentage of your visitors are on mobile, you might want to devote more resources to developing and maintaining a robust mobile site.
As with any other area of your business, when it comes to Google Analytics you’ll want to first establish an initial baseline and then assess where you want to be. Once you have a portrait of your site’s current performance and your audience’s behavioral habits, you can turn to Google Analytics with regularity -- perhaps monitoring your key metrics once a week, or twice a month -- to measure your success in improving those stats. There’s a lot more where those insights came from, and Google is rich with resources for learning. Check out Google Analytics IQ for a series of how-to presentations, and Google Analytics’ YouTube channel for instructive webinars with analytics experts. Bonus: Google Analytics expert Jeff Sauer created a Google Analytics Periodic table that maps out the 60+ elements the product helps you explore. For a printable PDF of the Google Analytics Periodic Table, click here. More questions? Follow Intechnic on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ for daily intel on best web practices.