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Google Analytics is a web analytics program that tracks and reports on visitors to your website. The information it provides can be invaluable in helping you to decide how well your website is converting traffic into customers, where visitors are spending the most time, and where your web visitors are even coming from.  When you have a better understanding of your customers’ behaviors, you can use the insights you’ve gathered to improve your site so users will spend more time there and take the actions you actually want them to take like making a phone call, filling out a form, or purchasing your products.

 

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free service provided by Google and that makes it a tremendous bargain because most businesses would gladly pay for the information it delivers to you. Given that Google Analytics provides this wealth of information about your customers’ behaviors, it’s crucial for you to make the best use of it to help improve the online experience of your business. Continue reading below to learn how you can leverage this paw-esome tool. 

 

Make sure Google Analytics is installed correctly on your website

 

To start making use of Google Analytics, you’ll need to have a Google or Gmail account setup. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this so if you don’t have either of these, you’ll need to get one. While logged in to your account, navigate to this address: https://www.google.com/analytics/. In the top right corner, you’ll see a message which says “Access Google Analytics”.  Click on it, and after you get redirected to a new page, select the Sign Up message at the far right.

 

Now you’ll have the opportunity to set up Google Analytics for your website. After filling out all the information boxes on the form, click on the Get Tracking ID at the bottom of the page. From here you’ll need to read and agree to the Terms of Service, and you’ll get your Tracking ID. Now, just copy and paste that ID to either the header or footer of your website, and you’ll be able to start tracking visitor behaviors on your entire site. If you’re not sure how to add this ID to the headers or footers, ask a developer friend to help you.

 

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Reporting – or figure out what’s happening

 

When you’re evaluating the reports generated by Google Analytics, it’s important that you’re looking at a large enough sample size or data set. Analytics defaults to reporting on a 7-day period, but depending on your data set, that’s usually not a long enough time frame to provide you with accurate information. A 30-day window is a good place to start because it will be more representative of user behavior over a relatively long period of time. With a larger data set you’ll have statistically significant data giving you a better idea of user behavior.

 

One of the first things you should try and determine is where the majority of your user traffic is coming from. Are you getting mostly direct traffic? Is it organic traffic from search?  Is your social media referring traffic back to your website? What about local directories like Yelp, or Trip Advisor? For the most part, determining the type of traffic is relatively easy, however, direct traffic can be tricky to truly know where it’s coming from. It could mean that people are typing in your website URL and finding you by name or a variety of different places. Check out our post “How to tell where Direct/None traffic is coming from.”  


Next check out geography. Where geographically is your traffic coming from? Note that it’s pretty common to see what’s called “bot traffic” in here from places like Russia. Don’t worry, it’s not threatening to the safety of your website, but you also don’t really want to count it in your real numbers   If you’d like to learn how to set up custom filters and segments for localized traffic, feel free to get in touch and we’ll show you how.

 

If you have a seasonal business, keep in mind that your traffic won’t be consistent month to month.  Make sure to note when those periodic dips and inclines are on the calendar, so you interpret the statistics properly. Once you have been tracking long enough, being able to compare year over year will become more useful than month over month metrics.

 

Another key metric to monitor and evaluate is your bounce rate.  The bounce rate is important to monitor because it can help you determine the value of your content.  Defined by Google,  “A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In Analytics, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session..” 

Is a high bounce rate always a bad thing? Not necessarily. If you are driving traffic to a page for people to pick up the phone, or quickly find the information they need, they may not need to be there long or search out more information. However, for pages like blog posts, your services explained, or longer-form content, you’ll want people to be on those pages longer. Every industry is different in terms of what a good bounce rate is so it’ll be important for you to determine benchmarks of what’s acceptable for your business and customers.

 

Set up goals to track conversions and their sources in Google Analytics 

 

Setting up goals and tracking conversions is a key part to make sure your website is truly working for you and is one of our favorite things to measure here at Odd Dog to measure success for our customers. First, you’ll have to establish a goal before you can begin tracking conversions. Let’s say you’re a dentist. One of the easiest things to track if you’re a dentist is the number of people coming to your website and requesting an appointment. Typically, this is done via a contact form which usually directs to a thank you page after the form has been submitted. If your form doesn’t do this, you should talk to us or your developer to get this sorted. With a contact form that directs to a thank you page, you can set up what is known as a Custom Goal. To get this created is relatively easy – Head to your admin tab (located in the bottom left-hand corner of your analytics dashboard) and navigate to the “view” column. Under the view column, you’ll see “Goals”. Click on this and select the red button that says “+New Goal”. This will take you to your Goal setup. Below are the next steps:

 

  • Select the “Custom” bullet point and click continue
  • Name your goal something that you’ll remember like “Request An Appointment”
  • Given that we’re going to be tracking when a user hits a “Thank You” page, we’re going to want to select the goal type as “Destination”. Once you’ve done this, click continue.
  • From there, you’ll be taken to the Goal Details page where you’ll need to input the destination URL. This is usually something like odd.dog/thank-you. Now, in this case, you’ll only need to include /thank-you with the parameter of “begins with”. We typically like to use “begins with ” rather than “equals to” because it allows for any slight variations in the URL that you may miss when inputting the URL.
  • Once you’ve got this all set up, you can “Verify this Goal.” Here Google Analytics will tell you the percentage of website visitors that have submitted this during a given period. If you receive “0”, you may not have set it up correctly or you haven’t received any new leads during that 7 day period.
  • Once you’re all done setting up and testing, save the goal and you’re good to go! You can now see this goal in your analytics and assign it to different sources of traffic 🙂 Yay data!

 

Test and optimize Google Analytics

 

Now you can begin testing changes you want to make to your website. These changes should come directly from Insights and information you’ve gained through evaluating your Google Analytics reports and statistics. Knowing the source of your site traffic, which pages they spend more time on, and where any possible hang-ups are in your checkout, can provide you with valuable data on how to improve and optimize your site.

 

Low-converting pages can be beefed up with content you know to be appealing to your users, and you can continue making adjustments as needed until you achieve the level of conversions you have been looking for. By getting the most out of Google Analytics, you’ll also be able to get the most out of your website, and you’ll maximize the number of conversions you have as a result.

As a full-service digital marketing agency and Seattle based website design company, we’re happy to be here as a resource for you. If you have questions, just ask!