Getting More Out Of Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the de-facto standard for website and mobile app analytics. It is very simple to get started: just drop the provided Javascript into each page on your website, and Google will start counting and analysing your visitors.

However, this is a lot more you can get out of Google Analytics. Ensuing you are looking for and interpreting the correct data is essential.

Tracking Events and Conversions

One of the greatest features in Analytics in my opinion is the event tracking and conversions feature. This allows you to log every time someone “converts”. What is a “conversion”? It could be a purchase, email signup, contact form submission or ad click.

Conversion tracking is important, because it shows you how effective your website is at actually doing what you want it to do.

You can track conversions/events by adding Javascript events to links and buttons. You can also set a certain page to register a conversion on page load. This could be set on a purchase confirmation page, for example.

Viewing Long-term Trends

By default, you will only see 30 days of data. However, there is a lot of value in historic data. Try changing your date range to 6 months, a year, and several years to see how things have been trending. If you notice big jumps or dips, drill down on those and see what happened there.

Seeing that you have had 20,000 unique visitors this months could look great, but realising you had 56,200 unique visitors in the same period last year clearly means something has gone wrong.

Graphing More Than Just Visits

Looking at the total number of visits is good, but it only tells you part of the story. While your visitors could be skyrocketing, if your bounce rate is also skyrocketing it could mean those visitors are of little value to you. This could mean you need to improve your calls to action, or your traceability of those calls to action.

Link with Webmaster Tools

Now most search queries are done over HTTPS, we don’t have referrer data and can’t see which search terms are bringing in the visitors. If you link your Google Analytics account to your Google Webmaster Tools account you can now see keyword data from within your Analytics console.

Content Experiments

Now you can setup A/B Split Testing from within Analytics. This feature allows you to test variants of your content and see which ones perform better before making the changes permanent.

Universal Analytics

Universal Analytics is now here, and it means you are going to get more user demographic data and better cookie-less tracking. Unfortunately you will need to setup a new Property within Analytics to enable this tracking, so you will loose historic data. However, the added benefits could be worth it.

Link with AdSense

Finally, if you have AdSense make sure you are linking it to your Analytics account. This will allow you to see which pages and referrers are performing better and brining you more revenue.

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I'm Anthony Eden, and I'm a IT Professional, Broadcast Technician, Software Developer, and Solutions Engineer. I've been working in broadcast media since 2008, and developing software and websites for just as long. Right now, I provide freelance services through Media Realm - in particular, to the media and not-for-profit industries.

Follow Anthony on Twitter: @anthony_eden