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The Best way to use Google Analytics

Google Analytics


Google Analytics – Improving an online presence and optimizing for search engines (SEO) is a daunting task. It requires a thorough analysis of the Google environment to ensure you are supporting your business objectives. One such tool is Google Analytics.

Ambitious entrepreneurs can get lost in Google Analytics (GA) as they spend time analyzing reports which don’t relate to their business. Most of these entrepreneurs focus on vanity metrics such as the number of visits their website had, rather than remembering to look at the data in a way that supports business objectives. Here is a list of some best practices to get you started.


Focus your attention on what you are measuring

It is essential that you focus on your Key Performance Indicators (KPIs are items which are important in achieving your website or business objectives) to understand your GA reports. With this accounted for, it is a good idea to spend the minimum amount of time reviewing unnecessary data. Devoting your time to only the necessary reports will ensure that you consider just the reports that are of significant importance thereby improving your website for search engine optimization. An Analytics Audit can help get you started down this path, and most digital agencies can provide this service.


Measure conversions with certain goals for your small business

Working with defined and set goals is crucial for measuring performance on pages, marketing campaigns and more. It’s also a great way to develop ways to increase high-quality traffic. By developing smart business objectives, your Google Analytics account should measure conversions by your goals. Measuring your conversions will ensure that you are on the path to achieving your business objectives. How you set up goals may vary based on your website structure, as well as the goals themselves.

The conversion rate can be the most crucial KPI, since it can often directly reflect the quality of the user experience on that page. Assess your goals and (if appropriate) attach an arbitrary monetary value to each of the goals. The value doesn’t have to relate to a practical purchase value. This measurement of your overall website performance will get you closer to your goals.


Properly configure Google Analytics

Google Analytics


It is essential to configure your GA account for optimal account setup and operation. You can configure your GA account in different ways depending on the accuracy of your data and the analysis of your traffic (in support of your business objectives, of course. If you haven’t developed a GA checklist, it is time you did.

The list will help you start and track events and campaigns. To set up analytics for E-commerce and set a track for search on your site, it will ensure that you have well-established interest and demographic reports and that you can track site speed and keywords.

It will also direct you in using experiments to measure the improvements, learn multi-channel funnels and accommodate attribution marketing. If you use Google Adwords, it is vital that you incorporate your keywords account to GA. If you are a user of Adsense, then link the account to GA.


Create custom dashboards and reports

Google Analytics


GA allows you to customize dashboards and access the most valuable data. As you develop your GA profile,  you may want to create a dashboard with an exclusive focus on the KPI’s pertinent to your business. Though you can create numerous dashboards, it is important to concentrate on the crucial metrics you have identified.

Properly structuring the dashboards will help you create a solutions gallery with templates that are ready to use. The dashboard templates submitted by users are a useful tool pertinent to your business goals. In addition to the dashboard templates, Google also allows you to customize reports which can be structured to meet your needs perfectly.


Compare to Past Performance

The best way to measure your progress is from the past results offered by GA. By default, it’s advisable to have the results of the last 30 days displayed. However, you can adjust the date range to your liking. Alternatively, the ‘compare to’ checkbox allows you to compare current results to any other days’ reports in the past.

The rule of thumb when analyzing data is to compare it to historical data. As your goal is to see positive improvement over time in the most significant areas, the KPI cannot achieve much without the historical data. The comparison is most important when implementing changes. After all the best way to realize what works and what doesn’t is to compare results, before and after effecting change. I prefer to measure year-over year traffic whenever available, starting at a full 12 months over 12 months to observe any notable trends or unexpected spikes/dips in activity. Year-over-year results (vs. prior period comparison) allows for seasonality of website activity to be effectively captured.


Use Primary and Secondary Dimensions

Another relatively simple Google Analytics tip is to adjust the primary dimensions of a report. Changing fundamental dimensions allows you to drill down to obtain detailed information. Additional dimensions should be used in conjunction with adding a source. While the primary dimensions give you increased information access, adding a reference to your secondary dimension allows a visual of the source in the traffics origin.

These dimensions should provide you with access to more information. Adding a source enables the customization of reports to an extent where you can comfortably cross-reference your data using different data points. It additionally gives you an option to save shortcuts to your customized reports.

When you want to access a report instantly, you can create a configuration of the report on the home tab. All the customizations made to a report including the secondary dimensions, advanced segments, and sorting will be automatically applied when you access the report via the shortcut. Essentially your small business will use these advanced search engine optimization tools.


Clean up your Reports using Filters for better SEO

As part of measuring progress using Google Analytics, you and your web developer need to visit your website. GA is useful when any traffic generated by your Internet Protocol (IP) address is eliminated. The IPs from your office, home connection and even web developers IP need to be developed, thus ensuring that only clean traffic gets recorded and preventing confusion.

To achieve this, you have to access the analytics administration section. Ensure that your analytics code is not registered in systems or other sections of your website that have been set apart for internal use. The only exception will be if you want to track traffic to such systems. Ultimately, almost every aspect of analytics discussed above could lead to better analysis of your website. Note- applying a filter at the administrative level in GA will actually block the reporting of that data, so I recommend creating a “master” view with no filters, for any needed reference points.


Create and Use Segment filters

I generally prefer applying a segment filter on a given report, to exclude spam traffic from robots and other undesirable items. Segment filters can also be helpful when trying to isolate or compare traffic from particular sources (i.e. Cost-per-click campaigns, display ads, etc.)


Remember to Use Annotations

As you are making updates to your content based on observations, I like to make annotations in Google Analytics. Particularly when I update something specific to page content based on an objective. This will help you learn what works, and what doesn’t. Also, if I dig in to find an anomaly spike or valley, putting in my findings as an annotation helps refresh my memory later.


In Conclusion

Applying the above know-how to the running of the website can entirely change the direction taken by the business owner. GA is a tool that will ensure that the progress made by your site is noted and the weaknesses in your site get resolved. It’s only through accurate interpretation of this data  that you can determine whether your online presence is bringing about negative or positive change.

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