This is the final report of a five part series designed to help you understand Google Analytics, improve your site, and enhance your digital strategy.
If you’ve been keeping up with our previous posts about using Google Analytics, by now you should be able to briefly understand how each section of Google Analytics works and what it does. Although some of the modules are more advanced than others, most don’t require additional set up and (when read correctly) can provide you with a diverse amount of data about your users and their experiences on your site. Although getting comfortable with your Google Analytics reports can seem like a daunting and cumbersome task, leveraging your Analytics data helps you understand your audience so that you can determine the success of your site and digital strategy, and provides you a valuable return on your invested time.
Unfortunately, we’re at the end of this series but don’t fret because we never stop thinking about Analytics—so keep checking back for more! Just in case you missed any of the previous posts, here are the links:
- Part 1 – Audience
- Part 2 – Acquisition
- Part 3 – Behavior
- Part 4 – Conversions
- Part 5 – Leveraging Your Data
10 Tips for Leveraging Google Analytics
1. Paint the Full Picture
As a digital agency, we find data from Google Analytics very useful when optimizing any of the web projects that we are working with. We can analyze data to come up with better content, design, website flexibility (like mobile and tablet versions) and help create a more informed digital strategy that meets the needs and expectations of users. While looking at your Analytics reports, it’s integral that you cross-examine data and make informed conclusions about user behavior.
2. Filter Out Your Own Traffic
You may find that you access your website several times per day, and this traffic will contaminate your data. In order to have an accurate measurement of your website’s traffic, you’ll want to filter out your office IP address, or any IP address that you or your employees might be entering the website (like your home IP as well). You can do this by finding the Admin panel in the top nav, then selecting Filters. (Hint: if you don’t know your IP address, simply type, “What’s my IP?” in Google and voilá!)
3. Customize Your Dashboard
Despite all of the data you are tracking with Google Analytics, you have an option to setup multiple dashboards with snippets to data that interests you the most. Think of a Dashboard like a quick snapshot. By utilizing custom Dashboards, you can get a quick glimpse of data without having to dissect all the other reports. Dashboards are also nice for displaying a combination of measurements for comparison, and you can even share those via email or export as a PDF once, or setup a schedule to do it daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly.
4. Back Up Your Argument with Analytics Data
If you are part of a bigger website team, there is nothing more powerful in backing up your idea or argument than with Analytics data. Your Analytics data never lies! Take screen captures, generate reports—do whatever you have to do to provide a sound argument to…
5. (Re)Define Your Goals
Because of the nature of websites—as opposed to print communications—they can and should be always be evolving. Therefore, once you have implemented a change to your site, give Google Analytics enough time to measure the results of that change. If you find that your audience is behaving differently than expected, it may be time to reconsider your goals and optimize your site to cater to audience needs.
6. Always Look Back in Time
When you are checking your website performance for last month, it is very useful to compare this data with a month before or even look back at the same month in the previous year. We use this technique to see if website traffic is consistent or if we are losing any visitors during certain periods, like say, summer when kids are out of school and parents are busy shuffling them around.
7. Examine Your Visitor’s Machine
There is a lot of speculation on what browsers or screen resolutions are the most popular, but you should base that knowledge on your own website data to make sure that your visitors are happy and fully satisfied with the experience you are providing. If you find that your users general have small screen sizes, just adjust by designing with that in mind.
8. Flow Chart vs. Sitemap
These are two different things, but you can find them very useful to determine which pages are most popular and how your visitors are browsing and traveling throughout your website by comparing your sitemap with the flow chart. For example, you can quickly see if users are coming in through the “front door” of your site (the homepage) or perhaps are clicking on a link that brings them to a different page. Then you can track what they do from that point by using the Flow Chart report.
9. Find Your Weakest Spot
In website statistics, bounces and exits show the weakest spots because we lose interested parties. Always make sure to check which pages are the highest in those numbers to make changes or tweaks. Don’t let them go too easily!
10. Site Speed Performance
It doesn’t matter how big or nice your website is, if it loads slowly, chances are that you are losing a lot of traffic. This is especially a major consideration as we see more users access sites through their mobile devices. You should check this frequently and optimize your website for the best performance possible.
Conclusion: Inform your Strategy
We know they may be a lot for you to consider. Remember that Google Analytics is a valuable tool, but it is just that—a tool. If you feel you’re not getting the full picture or are having a hard time deciphering reports, it may be time to hire a professional analyst. Remember that tool + talent = success. Good luck!