Webmaster Tips: How to Get The Most out of Google Analytics

Published April 17th, 2014 by Michael Farin

If you want to maximize your control over digital marketing, you’ve got to install Google Analytics. And then you’ve got to use it. There’s just no way around it.

Don’t panic, though. Google Analytics may look intimidating at first, but it offers tons of great features that give you valuable insight into how well your website is performing, and why. And that’s something you want...right?

Dive into the advanced features that we’ve listed below – and start making a measurable difference.

Check out the detailed analytics reports. When you log in to your account, you see the typical overview page that includes your basic website stats (percentage of new visits, average visit duration, bounce rate, page views, total site visits, etc.). And that’s all very helpful. But did you know there’s a whole list of other reports you can access, to get more insight into your info?

Content overview. You’ll find this button in the left navigation panel. It tells you which specific pages your website visitors go to, and ranks your pages by popularity.

Traffic sources overview. Where are all those visitors coming from? This analytics function tells you – it sorts all your traffic to show you who found your site via direct, referral, search or AdWords. Plus, the “Search Engine Optimization” button tells you which keywords sent viewers to your site, and where in the world those viewers live.

Advanced segmentation. If you want even more detailed information about your traffic sources, this is the place to go. View detailed cross-sections of your visitors – for example, who bounced from your website last month, or who made a purchase over the past six months – and compare them on handy charts. 

Intelligence events. Google Analytics is smart, and it wants to make you smarter. Use this tool to set alerts for specific milestones on your website: when you’ve reached a certain level of purchases or downloads, for instance. Then you can see the actual performance compared to the expected performance. Intelligence events are available for both AdWords and Google analytics.

Conversions. Set conversion goals for your site, and then continuously monitor them, with this feature. Eseentially, you specify the goal URL to track, and then build a ”sales funnel” consisting of all the pages that lead up to the goal. Check out the handy KISSMetrics guide for more details on this feature.

Flash tracking. Google’s handy Flash Tracking feature makes it simple to track Adobe Flash forms, buttons and other content – it translates your site’s tracking code into ActionScript 3 language and makes things simpler for everyone.

Custom reporting. Located under the customization tab, this feature lets you create reports based on your own criteria. Page views by browser? Bounce rate by city? Choose your own metrics and criteria – it’s up to you.

Custom email reports. Schedule custom reports to be mailed to you anytime – daily, weekly, once in a blue moon. That’s up to you, too.

Don’t panic – analytics really aren’t that hard! If you use these tips to get started, before long you’ll be making spreadsheets and crunching data with the best of them.

For a list of more analytics and other resources for your site, click here.

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