Controlling the Data Hose. Start Making the Most of Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a tool with tremendous potential. The key term here is “potential.” My company adds the code to provide Google Analytics to every site we work on.  Unfortunately not all of of our clients take advantage of the this resource and the business intelligence it provides.  There are loads of reasons why… but “we are too busy”or “its too intimidating”  are probably the top two.  I understand that.  Adding the code to engage Google Analytics is a bit like hooking up a water hose. Making the connection is easy to make but you need turn the water on (e.g. look at the data) and manage the flow to get the benefits.

I was working on a client’s Google analytics setup and thought I would share a few things that I have found useful. This is not an exhaustive list but if you are looking for a way to start using Google Analytics more effectively it is a place to start.

  1. Don’t look at the data every day just because you can. Web analytics are a bit like you stock portfolio, if you look at them every day you can go crazy and be overloaded with data. I often think that what analytics does best is to show trends across time; This means looking at regular chunks of time (weeks or months) and seasons too to find patterns. Look at your traffic and see how your traffic, conversions, and site usages changes across time. , but it if you look at the data regularly will be able to see and interpret spikes and anomalies more easily. Start with basic questions such as….
    • Do you see folks hitting dead ends on your site?
    • Are users coming from a particular type of device?
    • Are there particular types of information which are really popular
    • Did you see any changes in regular patters around special events or offers?
  1. Make sure your link up Search Console (Webmaster Tools) and Google Analytics. This will let you pull in valuable information like which search queries bring users to your site, the position of terms in organic search, clicks, impressions, and click-through-rate (CTR).
  2. Create dashboards and saved reports.  Pulling together data that your find useful saves time when reviewing your statistics. There are also some reports that surprisingly aren’t part of Google’s basic reports. For example, one of the first reports that I create for customers is a report that shows what time of day and what days of the week users access the site.
  3. Make sure to clean out unwanted data. Junk referrals are the first type of unwanted data that springs to mind but you might want to remove or segment internal traffic to see how many actual customers use your site.
  4. Make sure key traffic from other sources is being recorded accurately. Add parameters to marketing campaign links, use Google Tag Manager, and learn tricks like the Facebook pixel to make sure you get the data you need to have a full picture of your website’s traffic.
  5. Take advantage of the tools other folks have created to help you understand and use Google more effectively. Here are three examples:
    • Videos and Blogs. There are loads of independent tutorials and guides that provide information about how to use Google.
    • Google Analytics Academy. The Academy offers free courses to help you understand how Google Analytics works. Courses are offered in bite-sized chunks so you can do a little bit each day instead of taking huge chunks of time.
    • Reports and Dashboards. Users in the Google community have created reports and dashboards that you can pull into your Google Analytics from the Admin View panels.  They are FREE.  Look for the  “Import from Gallery” option to find premade segments, attribution models, and goals. Just like apps on your phone these “imports” can be filtered and include descriptions, ratings, author information and more. Sometimes an example is the best teacher when learning how to use online tools.
  6. Track really important data by using email alerts. One of my clients has a goal for a certain number of users per day. An automatic email saves time by letting her know when the metric has been reached.

At Link to Visibility we try to make things even easier for our clients by creating dashboards that pull together data from a variety of analytics sources including Google Analytics, social media, CRM tools and more. Our third party tool allows us to making the most important data easily accessible so trends or problems are even easier to spot.   Strategic planning is easier when you know where you have been and where you want to go.

The bottom line is that Google Analytics is a tool with great potential to help your business and its web presence grow but you need to manage the flow of data.  Also remember that these numbers are not always hard and fast numbers but are best seen as guides.  This is particularly true when you think about how folks use the internet, how many times do people click a button, hit refresh, go back and forth between pages. How many of us use multiple windows or tabs to compare information?

Would you like someone to help you manage your flow of data and then use it to plan strategically?  Give us a call today!