In order to know how successful (or unsuccessful) your digital initiatives are, you should be properly tracking your efforts. The choice for most small businesses is Google Analytics.
What’s not to like about Google Analytics?
However, before you can really enjoy the benefits of Google Analytics, let’s take a look at some tips to help you get started off on the right foot so you can make smart business decisions using Google analytics.
Before we get into some more detailed items, I find it best to always create what I call a “Raw View Profile” for each domain. What I mean by this is to have a completely untouched analytics view for the web property.
The easiest way to do this is by creating a new property in Google Analytics and then creating a new view within it. Then leave it alone. This will allow you to refer back to it should any filter, modification, etc. corrupts your metrics.
Moving forward, I would create a new profile that you can apply filters, settings, etc. to moving forward. This is what you would want to look at for your Google Analytics data.
One thing you do not want to happen with your metrics is the artificial inflation of data. This can easily occur if you do not take steps to exclude yourself and your employees from appearing in the data. Depending on the size of your company, there are a few ways you can do this.
If you are a large company, you might be on your own ISP network. If so, in your profile filter, you can do a custom exclude using the filter field “ISP Organization” and then for the filter pattern enter your “Organization Name”. When saved, this will remove these users from appearing in your analytics data.
Another way to exclude users is if you share an IP address or block of IP addresses. Following similar steps above.
While Google Analytics no longer shows you the keyword data used to find your website through Google search, you can still get valuable keyword data into your analytics account. This can be accomplished by tracking your on site search functionality.
By enabling site search in Google Analytics, you can track the search terms visitors use on your site search.
This info can help you understand what visitors of your site are interested in, or perhaps are having a difficult time finding. Using this data, you can in turn improve your user experience to make this information easier to find, or even use it to craft content that speaks to the items they are searching for.
As I mentioned in the previous section, Google Analytics no longer will tell you what exactly what keywords were used on Google Search to access your site. However, by connecting your Google Webmaster Tools account to your Google Analytics account you can gain insight into what keywords your website is appearing for in Google Search.
With this connection, you will be able to view what queries your website has shown up for in searches, what the average ranking of your website is for these queries, impressions and clicks, and more.
With this information, you can look at ways to increase the rankings for specific keywords to drive even more organic traffic to your website.
At the end of the day, you will want to know if your website is accomplishing what you intended. The best way to do this is by setting up goals in Google Analytics.
With goals, you will be able to track key performance indicators specific to your business. Whether you are an ecommerce site tracking sales, or simply tracking newsletter signups, contact form submissions, or particular actions taken; goals will provide you with the data you need to understand successes and failures.
Once your website is setup with Google Analytics, there is some much more data you can dig into. Data like user paths (funnels), event tracking, geo data, content data, and more. In fact, I was able to use it to show how Google+ was able to drive additional traffic to one of my websites despite Google dropping authorship from search results.
If you are just getting started with Google Analytics, let me know how your small business plans to use it. Or, if you have been using Google Analytics for awhile, let me know how you typically use it in the comments below.