Getting Started with Google Analytics
We’ve been sharing Google Analytics tips with you on social lately, and today we wanted to bring it all together in one post. So, here it is (including a special bonus if you stay with us to the end)!
Google Analytics is a seriously powerful tool for your website. It collects anonymous user data about your site’s visitors as they interact with pages and site content. Specifically, Google Analytics can tell you the exact visitor behavior on your site that leads a user to become a customer, completing what’s known as a conversion.
You can analyze your Google Analytics data on a regular basis to make informed business decisions to help grow revenue (and you should).
So, how does it work, you ask?
Here’s a breakdown.
Your Google Analytics account is structured into three tiers:
A property is a website, mobile app, or another digital asset for which you’re tracking and collecting usage data. You can create multiple properties within an account and up to 25 views per property.
Let’s say you’re tracking your website. Here’s how it works:
Data collection. Every time a user visits a page, Google Analytics collects anonymous data about how he/she interacts with the page. (It does this through the use of browser cookies.)
Data organization. Data collected about users include browser type, operating system, geographic location, how he/she got to your site, length of time spent there, and even whether he/she clicked on a certain link or played a specific video.
Data processing. Once Google Analytics processes the data from your site, it can’t be changed, ever. *Cue scary music*
OK, now what do you do with all that data?
Organize it into views you can use.
We suggest setting up these three views in your Google Analytics account to make analyzing your site data easier.
Raw data view. This view maintains the original data as collected directly from your site. Leave this view alone and don’t add filters or alter it in any way.
Master view. This is your main view and contains the original data with filters applied so you’re only analyzing “clean” data. Always analyze and run your reports from this view.
Test view. This view allows you to experiment with filters and goals to see what works best before applying it to your master view. You can’t mess things up here, so go to town, friend.
Now that we’re clear on views, I bet you’re wondering how exactly you “clean” the data.
Filter that stuff, baby.
Good data is “clean” data.
Before making business decisions based on data collected in Google Analytics, there are two filters you MUST set up within your master view to ensure you’re analyzing accurate data.
Internal employee website traffic filter. This filters all employee website traffic on your company website out of your final data set. When analyzing customer behavior on your website, you definitely don’t want to include your own employee’s website traffic as they do the day-to-day work of the company.
Bots and spiders filter. This filters all known bots and spiders so you’re not seeing junk data mixed in with the good stuff. Google uses the continuously updated Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Spiders & Bot list to identify spiders and bots, which are simply automated computer programs doing helpful things (like crawling your site to index it into a search engine) or not so helpful things (leaving spammy comments). Either way, it’s not real human traffic, so you don’t want to use it to make business decisions.
You can set up filters in the master view’s settings in the administration section of your Analytics account. Once these two filters are applied, you can be certain the data you’re analyzing is accurate and reliable.
Now that you’ve got your account, property, and views set up and you’ve filtered the results, what data is most valuable to your business? What, shall we say, is the MVD?
Blog Reader Bonus: Most Valuable Data (MVD)
The MVD depends on you and your business goals, but there are four useful data points we suggest checking on a regular basis to assess your site traffic and overall business vitality. They include:
Location. See what geographic region your site visitors are coming from which could present new opportunities you were not aware existed. (Audience > Geo > Location)
Source/Medium. Find out exactly which websites your visitors are hanging out on before coming to yours and discover sites that link back to yours (backlinks), opening up potential partnerships and advertising opportunities. (Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium)
Page Views. Learn which pages have the most views and highest exit rates leading you to narrow marketing efforts on a certain aspect of your business, or re-route traffic from a certain page to another more useful one. (Behavior > Site Content > All Pages)
Real-Time Use. Check in on current site activity to get a quick glimpse at traffic after directing users to your site via a social share or speaking engagement. (Real Time > Overview)
PRO TIP: Set up a dashboard with your favorite data points and compile them into a one-page report that automatically gets delivered to your inbox monthly.
To get started setting up your Google Analytics account, go here. When you work with P&P, we set up and maintain your Analytics account and will even send you monthly reports so you don’t have to lift a finger. Interested? Learn more about our services.
Editor’s note: All screenshots taken derive from the Google Merchandise Analytics Demo Account.