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How To Use Google Analytics Like A Pro

How to Use Google Analytic Like a Pro

 

Knowledge is Power and Google Analytics is the ultimate free tool to give you a monumental amount of knowledge about what happens on your website.

Think Google Analytics is just ‘nerd stuff’ for webmasters? Think again. This free tool has something for everyone. No matter your position or job responsibility, if you care about your web presence, Google Analytics can help you.
 

Why Should You Be Using Google Analytics?

First, it’s free.

Not many things in this world are truly free. However, Google Analytics is one of those rare exceptions. There is absolutely no cost to sign up for or use Google Analytics.

Second, it’s powerful. For the low cost of zero, you get the full version of Google Analytics with no restrictions. You’d need to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars to get some analytics tools with comparable functionality. Google also regularly adds new features and there’s never a charge.

Third, it’s widely used. Google Analytics is the industry standard for measuring web traffic and is used by over 70% of the top 10,000 websites. The user management capabilities in Google Analytics also makes it very easy to share an appropriate level of access with others. When we perform SEO audits for clients, Google Analytics provides critical data to help identify issues and opportunities.

What Can Google Analytics Do For You?

Business owners can learn which areas of their website are most popular, understand which marketing techniques are working better than others and spot areas for improvement. Use Google Analytics to learn:

  • who is visiting your site
  • what are they doing when they are on your site
  • which visitors are converting into buying customers

By taking this information and applying it to your marketing plan, you can see what resonates with your visitors and what does not. Identify areas for improvement so you can convert more visitors into buying customers and ultimately grow your business.

Webmasters, marketing and SEO professionals can learn where visitors are coming from, identify which sources are effective and see how to generate more traffic to your site. For example, was a post on Twitter effective in getting traffic to your site? Did visitors come to your site through a link on Facebook or LinkedIn? Did they arrive at your site through a link on another website or a blog?

We can also learn:

  • which pages are generating conversions?
  • did users fill out a form or purchase something?
  • where are people entering and exiting the site?
  • what pages did users visit on your site?
  • which pages do people stay on the longest?
  • where and why are visitors leaving your site?
  • which ad campaigns are effective?
  • what improvement could generate more web traffic to your site?

The answers to these questions can lead to bottom line results for your business. If you’re not able to analyze and act upon this type of data, you can either invest time in learning or invest in a qualified Digital Marketing partner. If you want to do it yourself, start your learning with the free Analytics Academy provided by Google.

A Word about Keywords

Keyword analysis of your stats used to be a important part of SEO. Over the last few years, Google has stopped supplying the keywords that visitors searched to find your website. There’s still an Organic Keywords section in Google Analytics but most websites see that “not provided” has replaced 80-99% of this valuable info.

In 2013, Google released their Hummingbird algorithm and accelerated their shift away from traditional SEO’d exact keyword usage. Keywords and keyword research are not going away but it’s important to understand topical intent of searches and not just the exact keywords.

Even though most professionals still call it “keyword research,” make sure that your SEO is including topic research and subject research as part of their offerings to you.

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports

Now that we know what we can do with Google Analytics, how does it apply in real life?

There are 3 major reports to monitor user behavior on your site (sometimes referred to as ABC):

  • Acquisition
  • Behavior
  • Conversions

 

Google Analyitcs Acquisition Behavior Conversion
Acquisition tells us where each visitor came from. Was it from direct traffic.

  • Did the user type your exact url into their address bar?
  • Did they come from a post in social media like Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or LinkedIn?
  • Did they click a link on another site or blog that led to your site?

 

This information is valuable because it lets us know which pages and posts are effective in generating traffic to your site. It also helps us understand what is not working so it can be improved.
Behavior tells us what users did on your site. What was the landing page on which they entered the site? How many pages did they visit? How long did they stay on the site? What else did they do on your site?

This lets us know which pages are are most engaging for visitors. What content do your visitors find useful or helpful? Can we produce more content like that? Should we revise some lesser quality pages on your site or delete them?

Conversions – This is the big one. It lets us know if the content on the site is effective in getting users to take some action. Did they fill out a form? Did they purchase something?

If the goal for your site to have users sign up for a newsletter, did they do that? You will need to set up goals in Google Analytics in order to track your goals.

Conversion rates are so important because it gives you an indication of how effective your website is. If the conversion rate is high, then users are accomplishing your goal. However, if rates are low, you may want to reevaluate your site and it’s content to see what improvements you can made to help achieve your goals.

 

Four Tips You Can Use In Google Analytics Right Now

google-webmaster-tools1. Get Connected. The first thing you should do is connect Google Webmaster Tools with your Google Analytics account. By doing this, you track your site rankings, learn how many visits you are getting from your listings, and learn about your click-thru rates.

In essence, Google Analytics tells us what is happening on your site.

Webmaster Tools tells us what Google thinks about the site. When combined, these two perspectives give us a more complete picture of our online visibility than one without the other.

2. Use Date Range Comparisons. You can change the date range to compare traffic to your website. Is this season’s site traffic up over this season last year? How does traffic to your site compare Monday through Friday vs Saturday and Sunday?

Google Analytics Date Range Comparison

3. Create An Alert To Monitor 404 Error Pages. We’ve all experienced it: the dreaded 404 error message. It can be extremely frustrating to click a link that doesn’t work. In Google Analytics you can set up an alert to let you know that a link is broken.

This allows you the opportunity to fix any broken links before your visitors encounter them. The last thing you want to do is spend a lot of time and money creating a great looking, SEO-friendly website, just to have sloppy broken links splattered throughout. It creates a bad user experience and dissolves any credibility you might have established.

Avoid costly mistakes by taking the following steps:

  1. Log into your Google Analytics account
  2. Click on ‘Admin’ (top/left navigation bar)
  3. Click the profile you want to create the alert
  4. Click ‘Custom Alerts’
  5. Click ‘New Alert’
  6. Change settings as listed below:

google analytics 404 alert

 

You can select to have the alert sent to you in email or even as a text to your phone! Learn more about setting up Google Alerts at the official Google support page.

4. Plot Multiple Rows On Your Charts
If you look at a chart on Google, it will show one row by default. However, you can easily have Google Analytics display more than one row on a chart at a time.

For example, if you want to compare where the traffic to your site is coming from, you can:

  1. Select Reporting at the top
  2. Scroll down to Acquisition
  3. Select All Traffic
  4. Select what information you would like displayed and click ‘Plot Rows’:

Plotting multiple rows in Google Analytics

After you select which traffic sources you would like to display, click ‘Plot Rows’ and the graph will display like this:

Plotting multiple rows in Google Analytics graph

Summary

The further you dig into Google Analytics, the more complicated it can be.

However, it is not necessary to be a jedi master of Google Analytics to benefit from this useful tool.There is valuable information on any level. You just need to know where to find it.

Even if you only use the basics of Google Analytics, you’re getting your money’s-worth. After all, it’s FREE! And a free tool to grow your business is $priceless.

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