When you add Google Analytics or any other analytics tracking code to your site, you’ve taken a major first step in understanding traffic and usages trends. But it’s just that--the first step. To truly be able to pull actionable insights from your data, you need go through a few more steps to ensure you’re working with clean data that will provide accurate information for the long haul.
If you sell products online, be sure that the ecommerce collection switch is set to “on” within your campaign settings. It’s super easy to do. Go to the “Admin” section of your Google Analytics account and look for “Ecommerce Settings” under the “View” column. Toggle the switch to “on.”
Excluding internal traffic, self-referrals and dev staging environments ensures that you are only evaluating data from actual visitors and customers. This is a bigger issue for large companies with loads of employees that may be viewing or accessing the site throughout their workdays. Even if your company isn’t big, it’s best to exclude this traffic for the most accurate data possible.
Setting and building well-aligned goals within Google Analytics will provide simplicity and clarity around the behavior and conversion activities of visitors and customer segments. You can choose from several pre-configured templates offered by Google, or set up custom goals to fit your site’s unique needs.
Goals aren’t just for filling out a lead form or placing orders (in fact, the ecommerce tracking will capture this last one in a separate reporting section). They can be used to track people looking for your store location, email a link to a friend or share your site’s content on social media. You can also customize the trigger for the goal--hitting a destination page, staying on the site for certain length of time, viewing a certain number of pages or taking a specific action (called an “event,” more on this below).
Google also recently started offering Smart Goals to eligible sites. Smart Goals use data from thousands of websites to determine key factors that correlate with the likelihood of converting, then apply these to your site to predict and log conversions.
Event Tracking Setup
Event tracking provides insights into on-page actions such as social shares, likes, review submissions, etc. It can fill in any gaps in goal tracking that are missed through the templates, and allows you to develop user segments based on visitor level of interaction and/or customer value.
AdWords & Google Search Console Linking
You can link other Google properties--AdWords and Search Console--to your Analytics account for more in-depth analysis and insights. AdWords links provides data on paid search campaigns and Search Console provides data on organic keyword and landing page performance. Note: Search Console only shows data from the most recent 90 days.
By enabling audience demographics, you get insights into the age, gender, interests and market segments of visitors. These insights can be used to better understand your audience and improve remarketing campaigns, enhance on-site content, create hypotheses for A/B testing of conversion paths and more.
Ghost spam is real. And it can really muck up your referral data if you aren’t filtering it out. Spammers are continually figuring out new ways to get around filters, but there are a few sure-fire things you can do to remove it, such as setting up source filters, country filters or hostname filters from known sources. Check out our blog from late last year, “The Ghost Spam of Christmas Present,” for more details.
Audience & Content Segmentation
Creating custom segments for your audience and content allows you to split and analyze behavior and engagement to understand relative value of each audience and content type. Example segments may include:
- Non-engaged Users - Those visiting the site for the first time with a high bounce rate.
- Interest Phase Users - First time visitors that make no purchases, and have low page depth and visit length.
- Research Phase Users - It may or may not be their first time on the site. They have a higher than average visit length or page depth, but make no purchases.
- Consideration Phase Users - These folks have visited the site multiple times but still have not purchases. Their visit includes views of product pages.Campaign-Specific Traffic -- These users’ visit is triggered from a specific email, paid media or social campaign source.
After you’ve implemented these foundational pieces, you can be more confident in your analytics data accuracy. You can also begin to do some fun and nerdy stuff with the audience and content segments to truly uncover valuable insights that can help improve your site performance and achieve broader business goals.