If you are one of the nearly two-thirds (64%) of small business owners who have a website, then chances are that you have heard about or are already actively using Google Analytics to measure and track visitors on your site. Google Analytics is a free tool that helps you, as the business owner, gain a deeper and more informed understanding of your customers so you can then in turn deliver better experiences and drive results. Analytics makes it easy to understand how your website and, if applicable, mobile app users are engaging with your content so you know what’s working and what’s not.
Examining and interpreting web analytics data is critical for SEO strategy in today’s competitive business environment. Before you can work on increasing search engine traffic, you need to know data on which keywords are already driving traffic to your website and how much traffic those keywords bring. Tools such as Google Analytics are critical to helping businesses learn about their customers and their habits.
According to data from BuiltWith.com, almost 30 million websites are currently using Google Analytics – so that means it has to be making an impact, right? Let’s take a look at a few key benefits Google Analytics offers its users as well as a few best practices and overlooked actions of this wonderful suite of tools.
4 Key Benefits of Google Analytics
Tracking Traffic to Your Website
Google Analytics has an entire section that is devoted to providing you with information on how visitors find your website. There are two types of data that you can collect in Google Analytics:
- User Acquisition Data: data about your users before they visit your website
- User Behavior Data: data about your users when they visit your website
Google tracks how many people land on your website after clicking on a link in search results (organic results), how many people come from links shared on social media, from other websites, from paid ads, and by typing your website directly into search. Data is recorded on how many times each page is viewed, the paths that visitors take to get to a given page, and where they go after visiting that page.
Additionally, Google Analytics provides information on who the people visiting your website are in terms of demographics, geography, and their general interests online. You can see what browsers they use and what devices they’re coming from.
Google Analytics provides insight into what visitors do on your website, how many of them are converting, and what is the time duration of conversion. On the flip side, Google Analytics also finds out why some of your visitors are not converting and what all you can do to reverse this action.
As with many other Google services, Google Analytics offers clients a clear and simple interface. It works great on the desktop but is also just as user friendly on smartphones and tablets through its affiliated app on the Google Play Store.
Users can monitor metrics in relation to marketing campaigns and use the data gathered by Google Analytics to determine what factors to take into consideration to optimize your Google AdWords campaign. The integration of Google Analytics with your AdWords account enables you to analyze customer activity on your website.
Targeting Social Media
Social media is playing a huge role in how organizations attract potential customers and drive traffic to their website. Google Analytics gives you the ability to access and view what catches the attention of your potential customers on social media and then place the ads on the appropriate platforms accordingly. You can check how much conversion value each of the social platforms is bringing, analyze traffic entering from social referrals, and how many users are talking about you.
Free and Easy to Use
Not all of us have an unlimited marketing and advertising budget, unfortunately. There’s no need to worry about where you are going to find extra funds to track your customers thanks to Google Analytics because it is 100% FREE! All of the relevant data about your customers necessary to maximize your website’s performance can be gathered at no cost to you.
And if being free wasn’t incentive enough, unlike other data mining and reporting tools, Google Analytics is actually quite easy to use. Even if you aren’t the most tech-savvy, Google Analytics has proven itself to be quite intuitive for novice website owners with limited tech skills - they even provide free tutorials and training.
What Else Is Google Analytics Capable Of?
Google Analytics goes way beyond the basics of tracking activity on your website. While this is the primary use for many business owners, thanks to its ease of use, there are actually quite a few other tactics and actions that make it such a valuable tool to have in your marketing and reporting arsenal.
For instance, did you know you can track valuable actions in Google Analytics by creating a goal funnel for your visitors to follow? Goal funnels (or conversion funnels) are a sequence of action steps that your leads must go through in order to “convert” or buy one of your products, sign up for a mailing list, etc. While goal funnels are especially useful for e-commerce sites, all sorts of businesses can use goals and funnels to track actions that move leads closer to a purchase such as submitting a contact form or visiting certain pages that indicate interest.
Most actionable pages are preceded by several other pages designed to drive towards the goal. Funnel tracking allows you to begin isolating problems at any point in your visitors’ conversion paths so you can take meaningful steps towards optimization.
Tracking a goal funnel can help you quickly identify “problem pages,” or exit pages, where potential customers drop off or abandon their cart. The problems could be technical or design-related. Thanks to Google Analytics, you can fix these problems because you are able to track how your funnels are performing.
Google Analytics Reporting “Views”
There are dozens of tutorials on how to implement Google Analytics into your website. One overlooked practice is understanding the various reporting “views” where you can access reports and analysis tools. Every Google Analytics property should have the following views:
Master View - Used for the analysis of your data. Here you will configure the filters, goals, segments, etc. The Master View is your working view. It means that you usually apply many different filters in addition to some other modifications to get the most accurate and actionable data in your view.
Unfiltered View - This is your backup (or raw) data. The Unfiltered View is an untouched view where you don’t apply any modifications (like filters) that alter the data collection process. This view allows you to always go back if anything goes wrong in your working view(s). You can also use it to check the progress of the filters.
Test View - If you want to be extra cautious you can create this optional view for checking the filters before applying them to your Master View. The Test View is very important and serves as a testing environment. This is where you test all of your filters first.
Setting Up Macro and Micro Goals
Every website has a purpose – to inform, to sell a product or service, or to connect people to one another. We are most familiar with Macro goals, the “big actions” which include lead generation, downloads, opening accounts, and e-commerce transactions. There are also Micro goals, or secondary goals, that are smaller steps that help lead visitors to your big Macro goals. Micro goals can include actions like downloading a brochure, watching a video, or requesting more information.
Most businesses should define at least two or three main goals, though it is wise to define many more in order to get more detailed insights into the performance of your website. Whether Macro or Micro, Google Analytics helps to track these goals, which represent completed conversions that contribute to the success of your business.
Excluding IP Addresses
You may not be aware of this fact, but the heaviest users of a website tend to be people from within the organization itself. If you think about it, it makes sense to remove this group from your Google Analytics traffic, otherwise your visitor figures could be skewed by internal use. These visitors can also affect data on conversion rates.
Google Analytics collects and stores information about each visit to your website, recording visitors’ public (internet accessible) IP address. In order to get the most accurate data on the true visitors to your website, it’s suggested that you exclude individual IP addresses, or a sequential block of IP addresses via the filtering function. The removal of the IP addresses isn’t 100% foolproof, but it should eliminate the majority of your internal traffic and keep your data more accurate.
Tools like Google Analytics are helping businesses of all size target their marketing efforts more effectively, dramatically improving their ROI. If you aren’t getting the desired traffic, maybe it’s time to talk to the team at Code Authority on how they can help you improve your overall digital marketing efforts. From pay-per-click campaigns to Google Ad management and search engine optimization, Code Authority’s in-house team of dedicated professionals will get you back on track.