The Best First Steps When You Start Using Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a powerful suite of tools, but can be overwhelming at first: Here’s how to begin.
Google Analytics can be a godsend to young companies trying to grow online traffic to their website. It’s a free service provided by Google itself to track detailed website data and find out just what’s going on. For businesses without much experience in building and managing a website, Analytics can be a complex and daunting set of tools to dive into. Let us help by recommending several important steps when you are first setting up and finding out how Google Analytics works!
Keep an Unmodified Version of Your Site View
Google Analytics allows you to create properties based on your site and then specific “views” or reports of activity on your site. One of the first things that you should do when setting up is to create a base level reporting view of your site, just to see what it is. Keep that view separate – don’t add any filters or customization to, don’t change your websites and then redo it, just keep there, with the original data. This will be very useful when making long-term comparisons 6 months or a year out, when you can say, “This is where we started and here is where we are now.” This is particularly handy for ROI but also helps you create more accurate goals and not get lost in a mess of view reports without real purpose.
Use WebMaster Tools
Google Webmaster provides a variety of tools for you to research SEO trends and manage your website. You can link a WebMaster profile and an Analytics profile for your business, and this should certainly be another one of your first steps. Webmaster offers a number of useful tools for web designers, but it also provides valuable extra analysis. This is important since Google removed access to its primary keyword research tools on Analytics – Google generally tries to discourage “gaming the system” when it comes to keywords and thought that tool was providing a little too much actionable information. Webmaster provides a keyword research alternative that still allows you to find out useful SEO info for your content.
Prepare and Set “Goals” for Your Funnel
Goals are a specific tool in Google Analytics that allows you to research a very specific metric that you are concerned about our want to improve. As you set up your Analytics strategy, make sure that you create the right goals for your web pages and screens. Consider carefully beforehand just what you want to measure, from bounce rates and load times to single conversions and time spent on page. Every metric has its uses, but it’s smart to only pick a few viewer actions to measure in the beginning and make sure those actions connect with your goals.
Enable Site Search
Site Search is a handy capability that allows you to track search data within your website. This tool is particularly useful if you have an online product catalog or any type of complex website with different offerings and purchase opportunities. Site search will track exactly what terms visitors type in your site search bar to help them find something specific connected with your brand. These searches can tell you what people are interested in, and what they are having trouble finding via other means. It’s very handy!
Create a Schedule for Analysis
In general, Google Analytics is only useful if you use and make changes based on the information. Too many companies start Google Analytics but never progress or really use it for anything. So schedule a time – say, one afternoon a week – where you or your team sits down with Google Analytics, studies the latest results, and creates an updated plan based on what everyone has learned. Don’t let this tool go to waste.
Choose Some Extra Goals
When you feel confident enough, try a few extra, farther-reaching goals to track specific metrics that can provide very interesting information. That includes geo data for location-based results and more complex user paths to judge multiple events at the same time. You shouldn’t try to create goals for everything, but it’s good to sample different data sets from time to time, so start the habit early.
Do you have more questions about how to use Google Analytics and other research tools to improve your Raleigh website? Let CSP, Inc know how we can help! Contact us at (919) 424-2000 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
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