A Beginner’s Guide To Google Analytics: How To Improve Your Website & Content Using Key Metrics About Visitors

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Ready to learn key metrics in Google Analytics so you can improve your website?

We’ll install the tracking code, setup your Admin menu (filters, goals, Search Console and link your other Google profiles), segment traffic sources, identify low performing content using low average time on page + high bounce rates, learn visitor demographics like age/gender/location – and use these to make data-driven improvements to your site, content, SEO and conversions.

I will show you real life examples

Like how I know most of my visitors are 25-40 year old males using Google Chrome on their desktop who initially got here through Google and is either from the US, India, UK or Canada.

…was I close?

Ideally you should have Google Analytics installed for several months (and have a decent amount visitors) so your data is large enough to draw conclusions. Google Analytics has video tutorials on Digital Analytics and Platform Fundamentals which is used in their free Analytics IQ exam. I would definitely check those out, and maybe even get your certification.

Good luck! Drop me a line if you have questions :)

Table Of Contents

 

1. Key Metrics

  • How many users are visiting my site?
  • How many organic searches do I get from SEO?
  • What pages get the most organic searches?
  • What pages get the LEAST organic searches (so I can improve them)?
  • What pages have the worst CTR, average time on page, load time, and bounce rate?
  • What cities are they from?
  • What % of them are mobile?
  • What languages do they speak?
  • What’s their typical gender and age?
  • What websites refer traffic to me?
  • What social networks send traffic to me?
  • Which pages have the best conversions (eg. contact form fill-outs)?
  • Which pages have the worst load time and why?
  • Which links are people engaging with on each page?
  • How can I tweak my website/content based on these metrics (the big question)?

 

2. Tracking Code Installation

Once signed up, Google Analytics will give you a tracking code. The best way to do this is to host your tracking code locally (through WP Disable). This should fix the “leverage browser caching” item for Google Analytics often seen in GTmetrix, Pingdom, and PageSpeed Insights.

Offload-Google-Analytics-To-Local-Sever

You can also copy/paste it into your footer but this usually adds more requests and makes your site slower. Some WordPress themes have a specific field to paste your tracking or UA code…

Google-Analytics-Tracking-Code-Installation

 

3. Configuring The Admin Menu

In your Google Analytics dashboard, navigate to the Admin menu

Google-Analytics-Admin-Tab

Google-Analytics-Admin-Menu

ACCOUNT STRUCTURE

There are 3 levels of hierarchy in your Google Analytic account: account, property, view. Google Analytics recommends creating multiple views under the View tab (View → Create New View). I created a master view (leave untouched so you don’t lose data in case something goes wrong) and a filtered view (the data I see based on my configurations). You can also create views for tablet traffic, smartphone traffic, or testing data in GA. See this video tutorial.

ACCOUNT TAB

Most of this is self-explanatory. User management lets you grant access to your account with different levels of permissions. Filters are mostly used to exclude your (and other employee) IP addresses so your views don’t pollute data. I’ll cover filters more when we get to the ‘view’ tab.

PROPERTY TAB

Property Settings

Property-Settings-Google-Analytics

User Management

Grant others permission to manage users or edit, collaborate, and read data. All of these are different levels of permissions so make sure you know! If it’s your developer or marketing manager you probably want to grant them access to everything except for “manage users.”

Tracking Info

Find your tracking code + UA number plus enable advertising reporting features so you can get demographic data (gender, age, interests).

Product Linking

Link your Google Analytics data to Search Console, AdSense, AdWords, Google Play, and other Google products. This allows some data to be shared across different accounts. Select “all products” in your admin menu to see the full list, or you can learn more about product linking.

Google-Anaytics-Product-Linking

VIEW TAB

View Settings – set your time zone, enable bot filtering to exclude hits from spammy spiders, and setup site search to learn what queries people type in your website’s search bar. To do this, enable site search tracking then type something into your search bar. Since mine shows ?s=example I would simply enter the letter ‘s’ as the query parameter. You can also use site search categories if your site lets users refine searches. Otherwise you should be good to go.

Google-Analytics-View-Settings

Goals

Goals measure how many people fill out your contact form, sign up for your newsletter, place an order, register an account, download a PDF, and other target objectives shown below…

Google-Analytics-Goals

Setting up a custom goal is the easiest way to do many of these. Add a destination URL (a thank you page or another confirmation page users see once they’ve completed the goal). Now verify the goal to see how often it would convert based on your data from the past 7 days.

Custom-Goal-Google-Analytics

You will now be able to see goals in your data…

Google-Analytics-Goal-Conversions

Content Grouping

Group content so you can see analytics on specific topics (like blog post topics or specific products/services). In this case I segmented all pages whose titles contain the words “WordPress SEO.” There are 3 methods but creating a rule set is definitely the easiest method.

Content-Grouping-Google-Analytics

Now you can go to the “Behavior” reports and see the data…

Content-Grouping-Behavior-Report

Filters

Filters are mainly used to exclude your (and employee) IP addresses so they’re not polluting your data. Create a pre-defined filter, then exclude IPs “that are equal to” then Google “what’s my IP” to find out yours. Exclude all IPs including your home, office, smartphones, tablets, etc.

Google-Analytics-IP-Filter

Channel Settings

Channel Settings → Manage Brand Terms – simply add your brand name here which will help separate branded terms and generic terms (any term other than your brand name).

Ecommerce Settings – if you run an Ecommerce website you’ll want to enable this. There are additional steps to enable Ecommerce tracking…

Ecommerce Settings

Calculated Metrics

Segments

Segments allow you to view reports (the tabs on the left) while segmenting users by social media, mobile device type, or whatever filter you want to use in that segment. For example you can setup a “social media” segment then check any report to see it specifically for social media.

Create a new segment…

Google-Analytics-Segments

Choose the type of people (metrics) you want to segment…

Google-Analytics-Segment-Conditions

Now go to any report and choose the segment to filter the data…

Audience-Segmentation-Google-Analytics

Custom Alerts

Custom alerts send you notifications via email or text if a specific metric increases/decreases by a certain amount (sessions, transactions, goal conversions, etc). It’s pretty self-explanatory but I just like to know about traffic spikes and traffic flatlines. I don’t see need for much else.

Custom-Google-Analytics-Alert

Scheduled Emails

Send automatic reports to your clients, boss, or whoever. Just navigate to whatever report you want to be emailed, then click the email button to set your preferences. I like to get ongoing reports of my custom dashboards so I can see the most important metrics I want to measure.

Google-Analytics-Email-Report

Once your emails are setup, you can manage them in the admin menu…

Scheduled-Emails-Google-Analytics

 

4. Customization

Google-Analytics-Customization

Dashboards

Dashboards show your most important metrics in one place (I have mine bookmarked in my browser which makes checking my stuff SUPER easy). You can either create these yourself or use my pre-built  dashboards which segment your traffic into SEO, mobile, social, geography, technical stats, and more. The Google Analytics Solutions Gallery has even more – but it’s definitely nice being able to click a bookmark and go straight to your most important metrics.

Before importing my dashboards:

  • Use download links to add these to the “dashboards” section of your GA account
  • For widgets that say ‘non-branded,’ edit the filter to and use your site name (not mine)

At Glance - Google Analytics dashboard

Download My Custom Dashboards To Segment Traffic:

Custom Reports

Instead of checking your analytics everyday (or manually sending reports to clients), you can build custom reports which you can enable scheduled emails for. I would at least create a couple reports with key metrics like users, organic searches, top pages, and goal completions.

First build a report in the “custom reports” tab in your admin menu…

Google-Analytics-Custom-Reports

Then go to Customization > Custom Reports to see the data. As with pretty much anything in Google Analytics, you will see a share option (top left) where you can setup scheduled emails.

Google-Analytics-Custom-Report

Saved Reports

….

Custom Alerts

I already went over custom alerts during the ‘configuring the admin menu’ section and how to get alerts during traffic spikes or traffic drops… this is just another place to see those alerts.

 

5. Reports

Here’s what each one means…

Google Analytics Reporting

Real-Time

See people currently on your site, pages they’re viewing, location, traffic sources and more…

Real-Time-Google-Analytics

Audience

Audience → Demographics

Age / Gender

Google-Analytics-Demographics

  • Do I need to adjust photos / testimonials to reflect my demographic?
  • Are the first testimonials people see of my demographic?
  • Does my design (font type, size, color, CSS styling) speak to my demographic?
  • Does my writing style?
  • Who gives me the highest conversions? (we’ll setup goals to measure this)
  • Do they search certain keywords I can find in Autocomplete or Keyword Explorer?

 

Interests

Affinity Categories

Google-Analytics-Affinity-Category

In-Market Segments

In-Market-Segments

  • Am I using responsive design / theme?
  • Do I have mobile usability errors in Search Console?
  • Should I add a mobile click-to-call button if it makes sense for my business (a pizza delivery joint should definitely have this)?

 

Geography

Language

Language-Google-Analytics

Location

Location-Google-Analytics

Mobile

Mobile-Devices-Google-Analytics

Acquisition

Behavior

Conversions

 

 

Tracking Info → Referral Exclusion List – you may notice spammy websites sending you traffic when you look at ‘referral traffic’ data – this is a common issue. Adding spammy websites to this list excludes them from ‘referral traffic’ but adds them to ‘direct traffic.’ This doesn’t completely solve the issue, but getting accurate data about referral traffic (websites that link to you and send you traffic) can be more important than getting accurate data about direct traffic (people coming directly to your site). It’s a preference.

Referral-Exclusion-List

Channel Settings → Manage Brand Terms – simply add your brand name here which will help separate branded terms and generic terms (any term other than your brand name).

Ecommerce Settings – if you run an Ecommerce website you’ll want to enable this. There are additional steps to enable Ecommerce tracking…

  • View Settings → Enable Site Search
  • Goals
  • Ecommerce Settings

 

Acquisition

Channels

Email → Landing Pages (From Email Marketing)

Referral Traffic

Referral-Traffic-Google-Analytics

Questions To Ask For Each Section

 

  1. Measuring Rankings

Check Rankings (Use as a Benchmark)

  • Sign out of your Google Account
  • Hide private results (globe icon on right side of Google’s homepage)
  • Now search your keywords to get more unbiased results
  • Ranking checker tools are unreliable

Organic searches

Other traffic sources (content marketing)

Page analytics (google analytics dashboard)

Webmaster tools

https://moz.com/blog/death-of-keyword-ranking-reports-whiteboard-friday

 

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