No matter what kind of business you run, Google Analytics is an accurate and sophisticated way to record and measure a wide range of data concerning your website’s traffic, performance, and even user behavior over a certain period of time. Google Analytics automates the metrics, making it ideal for website owners who have a bunch of tasks to carry out and have very little time for collecting data.
Google Analytics is notoriously diverse. Measuring and monitoring website traffic is only the tip of the iceberg. The freemium web analytics service contains a myriad of functionalities and reports that can be intimidating in a number of ways.
Here, we delve into the basics of Google Analytics and show you how the tool works. You’ll learn how to collect your data and turn it into actionable insights that will have a profitable impact on your business.
Google Analytics Hierarchy
Make sure you understand the Google Analytics hierarchy so you can set up your account properly. In doing so, you can successfully track the data you need and make sense of it. An account has various layers. Each account may have multiple properties, while each property can contain multiple views.
Here are the different levels within the hierarchy:
The highest in the hierarchy, an organization represents a company. A single organization can encompass several product accounts such as Analytics, Optimize, and Tag manager. Although optional, organizations are recommended for large businesses.
An account doesn’t pertain to a user account, which you use to log into GA. To access Analytics, you need at least one account. From there, you can monitor and manage how data is collected from various properties. You can also set up user permission levels.
Each account can host multiple properties. Property refers to a website, an app, or a device, which you collect data from. When you add a property to an account, Analytics produces a tracking code, which you’ll need to gather data from that property.
Set up at least two views for each property: one unfiltered view that pools all the data from that property and one with filters that exclude all the data you don’t want to see from that property such as traffic from your own company.
Ensuring that Google Analytics is properly set up and accurately collecting data is crucial. This way, you can guarantee that you are collecting only the data you need and excluding data from people who are visiting your website on a daily basis but who aren’t potential customers.
Google Analytics for SME Business Owners
At first glance, Google Analytics appears like a daunting endeavor, especially when you’re given numerous methods to sort and see all your data. It’s often difficult to focus on what really matters.
Here are some key metrics that small and medium-sized enterprises can track:
The number of visitors your website sees won’t necessarily reflect sales. However, SMEs can still track this metric to oversee their website’s performance. They can use it to track trends over a particular period of time. Let’s say you’ve launched a new campaign. You can monitor the visitor metric to see if it’s increasing the number of visitors.
- Traffic sources
Determine where your traffic comes from. Traffic sources are organized into different categories: organic search, referrals, direct, social, paid search, and others. Knowing which channels drive the most traffic helps you understand where you should focus your marketing efforts.
- Device data
View the different browsers, operating systems, and devices that are used to view your website. If you run a mobile-friendly website, you can see how the performance varies between these devices. For instance, high bounce rates and low conversions on mobile might tell you that some web pages are spoiling their browsing experience.
- Bounce rate
Under the Audience and Traffic Source tab, you can check out the bounce rate metric. It tells you how many visitors left without exploring other parts of the website. Comparing the bounce rates of particular web pages against the website’s average, you will eventually figure out usual patterns and issues.
- Site content
From the Behavior tab, you will see the most popular pages on your website. There, you can also check out the stats of each page, including bounce rate, time on page, and more. The metric will be useful for your content marketing endeavors. For example, you can use it to determine what kind of content users like.
- Landing pages
There are two ways to view this metric: the Site Content and the Search Console sections. In both reports, you will find out which pages users use to enter your website. By identifying the top landing pages, you will know which ones to prioritize when you’re optimizing your site. Also, you can consider promoting products in popular landing pages.
Google Analytics can help businesses determine web pages that are performing well and pinpoint areas where users are dropping out. Whether it’s figuring out how many visitors access your site, or how long they linger, you can use that information to optimize your website and improve your online presence.
Google Analytics Annotations
Annotations are simple yet powerful features that help you keep track of important business activities. Think of them as digital post-its. They can help you make sense of trends, spikes in traffic, and other unusual changes.
Here are some of the occurrences that you need to annotate:
- Marketing campaigns
- Website outages
- Website design changes
- Content changes
- Industry developments
It’s best to annotate every single occurrence that affects activity on your website. Once you’ve created your annotation, a small icon will pop up right below the corresponding date. Click on that to view your note.
Google Analytics Dashboard
The default dashboard makes the web analytics tool more complicated than it already is. It displays a wide range of data that may or may not have anything to do with each other. It doesn’t paint a cohesive story about the activities on your website. For that reason, you need to customize your dashboard. You can put together specific types of data to make your dashboard appear less overwhelming. It will also be more valuable to your business over time.
Businesses can create custom dashboards for different purposes, including the following:
- Brand monitoring
- Search engine optimization
- Social media monitoring
- E-commerce activity
Using Google Analytics, you can come up with about 20 dashboards, each of which can have up to 20 widgets.
Google Analytics Custom Reports
There are five kinds of reports that will be available to you when you use Google Analytics: real time, audience, acquisition, behavior, and conversions. Each one can have about 5 to 10 subcategories. In other words, you have a lot of data at your fingertips. At times, that information can be overwhelming. Most businesses don’t know what to do with it. An excellent solution for this is to make custom reports.
Businesses can set up reports based on:
- Keyword analysis
- Daily e-commerce traffic
- Mobile performance
- Referring sites
For each report, you can set up filters. Having targeted reports will empower small and medium-sized businesses to make well-informed decisions.
Data is gold in the digital era. By using the information that Google Analytics can record about your visitors and their activities, you can turn your website into a powerful tool that will take your business forward. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed by data. Using a tool like Google Analytics, you can collect highly targeted data that will shape the future of your business.
Get In Touch
If you’d like to find out more, you can contact Danielle via the Pyramid Analytics Twitter profile.
About The Author
Danielle Canstello is part of the content marketing team at Pyramid Analytics. They provide enterprise level analytics and bi office. In her spare time, she writes around the web to spread her knowledge of the marketing, business intelligence and analytics industries.