Deep Analysis: Setting up (and Optimizing!) Google Analytics
In the digital age, information is gold. The more you have, the better you can adapt and grow. When it comes to running a website, information about how many people are visiting your page, where they’re coming from, and what they’re doing once they arrive is necessary for building a foundation of continued success. Behold, one of the best tools for garnering this information: Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a necessary function of determining how people are interacting with your brand. Its capabilities run deep, but some of the most important questions it can answer for you include:
- Who your audience is and when they’re visiting
- Whether your visitors are new to the site or returning
- How long visitors are staying on your site and what they’re doing when they’re there
- How visitors ended up on your site
The answers to these questions will help you focus efforts and resources on the specific areas that stand to increase your site’s audience and revenue. But using Google Analytics in the most effective way possible requires more than just dropping a tracking code and looking at some numbers. After you’ve completed the first step – setting up a Google account for your business and heading to the Google Analytics page to sign up – things get a little more nuanced. Here are 6 important things you need to know to set up Google Analytics and optimize it for your page.
1. Customize your Hierarchies
When you’re signing-up, Google Analytics gives you a number of options – called hierarchies – for organizing your account. It breaks down like this:
Your account is your access point – that’s how you sign in to your Analytics page.
Your property is the specific website property you are tracking. You can attach up to 50 web properties to each account.
Your view is your data report. Each website property can have up to 25 views, each of which reports on a different facet of data (for example: just referral traffic or just time spent on the site).
Users are those who have permission to access the above hierarchies. You can restrict a user to just one or more hierarchies, and you can assign specific permissions within those access points.
2. Configure your Data Sharing settings
Before you get your tracking code you have to designate your data sharing preferences. The data you collect with Analytics is aggregated by Google in order to better serve users. Before you decide what to turn on and off, familiarize yourself with the details and benefits of each data sharing category. You may find that some of the categories make sense for you to share with Google, but others don’t.
3. Apply your Tracking Code
After you finish signing up and agree to Google Analytics terms and conditions you will be provided with a Tracking ID. This is the key connection between a specific web property and Google Analytics, and as such, it needs to be included not just on the main page of your site, but on each separate page that you will be tracking. Methods for adding in your tracking code vary by platform. For a quick look at how to add your Google Analytics Tracking ID through Wordpress, HTML, Shopify, or Tumblr, visit Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics.
4. Define your Goals
Determining out how to optimize Google Analytics starts with your goals. Goals are how you measure just how effective your site is when it comes to fulfilling your target objectives. A specific goal is an activity that you want to take place on your web property, for example, downloading an e-book, clicking a specific link, or supplying contact information. Taking the time to define your goals from the get-go is crucial for accurately and efficiently tracking particular bits of information that are important to your brand’s success.
To set up your goals, head to your Google Analytics account page, click on “Admin,” and then under “Views” click on “Goals.” You can create up to 20 goals per view, each of which will fall under a specific “type,” detailed in the image below.
Here’s more information on setting up and configuring your Google Analytics goals.
5. Set up Site Search
To further optimize your Google Analytics page you’ll want to set up Site Search. This helps you track how your users are interacting with the search functions on your site, specifically which terms they’re entering and what the results of those searches are. Having this information will help you better guide users through your page, ensuring that they end up in locations that will offer you the biggest ROI. Here’s how to set up Site Search.
6. Getting the most out of Google Analytics
If you’ve followed the steps above and set up the main important functions of your Google Analytics account you’ve still barely reached the tip of the iceberg in terms of what Google Analytics can do for you. As you delve deeper into its capabilities, look for specific functions that will help your web property and your brand grow. Some of the most helpful capabilities include:
- Detailed tracking of when users are visiting your site so you can plan your content strategy accordingly
- Tracking and analyzing interactions between your page and various social media sites so you can see whether certain sites require more or less of your time and effort
- Setting up custom alerts that can tell you the moment a specific goal has been achieved on your site or when certain functions aren’t working correctly
- Filter out traffic from specific IP addresses (for example, your own) so you can make sure you’re getting the most accurate data reads
The more time you spend with Google Analytics, the more you’ll discover about new ways to optimize your data tracking and reporting. Getting the most out of your analytics is a skill that takes time and dedication, but there are major payoffs. Make Google Analytics a priority for your website and never stop exploring new ways that it can help you make your business better.
To track the Google Analytics that are important to your business, download the Brink Insights Marketing Performance Scorecard now!