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Evan Prokop

Google Analytics Guide: 4 Easy Tips For Getting Started With Analytics & Website Goal Setting

By Evan Prokop     Google, Online Marketing

So, you’ve taken the important step of setting up a Google Analytics on your company’s website.  Implementing Google Analytics is an essential part of gaining insight for improving the customer experience, and improving profitability for your organization.  As they say, what gets measured gets managed.

However, when you log in, you are met with a sea of data covering nearly every conceivable web metric, a lot of them which you’ve never even heard of.  You may be able to find the information you want, but it most likely involves a lot more time and frustration than it needs to.

The wealth of data available in Google Analytics can be a double edged sword.  On one hand it’s great to have access to the depth of information that is available, but the fact is that a lot of that data is simply not relevant to most businesses, and in fact complicates the analytics process by hiding the most important metrics.  Worst of all this data can be misinterpreted, which can result in drawing incorrect conclusions.

The four tips below will help you get the most out of your analytics program by cutting through the clutter, focusing on the metrics that matter, and saving you tons of time!

*Specific implementation instructions are in reference to Google Analytics, but the tips below are relevant to all analytics programs.

Filter Irrelevant Traffic

Make sure you are getting the most accurate data you can by filtering out as much irrelevant traffic as possible.  In order to get an accurate baseline, it’s a good idea to set up filters as soon as possible.

Some good filters to start with are:

  • Traffic from your company’s internal IP addresses.
  • Remote employee IP addresses.
  • External consultants or venders, such as outsourced web development or marketing teams.
  • Your home IP address if you plan on checking your website from home.

Keep in mind that filtered data cannot be recovered retroactively, so be careful.  A good safeguard is to set up two profiles and apply filters to only one of them. That way you can recover any lost data if you make a mistake.

Set Up Goal Tracking

Goal setting is a very important part of planning your website. Whether your website’s goals are to sell products, answer customer service inquiries, capture leads, or get visitors to view a certain number of pages, the goals for your website should reflect your overall business goals. Measuring your site’s performance in regards to goal completions is the most important application of web analytics, so it’s essential that you setup goals as early as possible.

Your website’s specific goals will probably vary, but the following five are a good place to start:

  • Sales
  • Feed subscriptions
  • Call back requests
  • Lead captures
  • Blog comments

Set Up Custom Alerts

Analytics are like your email inbox.  They both yield lots of important information, but constantly checking either one is a sure to cause you some serious stress.  Custom alerts allow you to rest easy between analytics sessions by alerting you to significant changes in important site metrics.

Some good custom alerts to start with are:

  • Big fluctuations in traffic (both positive and negative).
  • Large rises and drops in goal conversion rates.
  • High bounce rate.
  • Changes in Adwords spend (for linked accounts).

Create Custom Dashboards

Custom dashboards are great time savers because they put your most important analytics data front and center.  Unlike the previous tips, you may want to wait until you are comfortable using analytics before putting together your first set of custom dashboards.  You will have a better idea of which combinations of metrics will be most useful to have at a glance. The initial tendency is to put way too much information in your dashboards, which defeats the purpose.

You can create up to 20 custom dashboards per profile, so don’t limit yourself to just one.  You will find that certain combinations of data naturally make sense to be reviewed together – and deserve their own dashboards.  Some examples are:

  • Traffic: total, sources (organic, paid, referral), and top keywords.
  • Goal tracking: sales, subscriptions, downloads, comments, etc.
  • Visitor behavior: page views, bounce rate, new vs. returning, and time on site.

You can take it a step further by creating custom dashboards for specific roles within your organization, such as sales, marketing, and of course, your boss.  Not only will your co-workers appreciate the favor, it may even save you some work digging through analytics to answer their questions.

What are your essential Google Analytics tips and tricks?  Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Analytics Image provided via Shutterstock.


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