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A Beginner’s Guide To Google Analytics: How To Improve Your Website & Content Using Key Metrics About Visitors BY TOM DUPUIS | LAST UPDATED JANUARY 30, 2018
2 COMMENTS What up! I'm Tom. I write tutorials on
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
WordPress SEO and speed optimization. I also donate a good chunk of my affiliate income to good causes - in 2017 $3,000 was donated to Red Cross At Hurricane Harvey.
link your other Google profiles), segment traffic sources, identify low performing content
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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.
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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.
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…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
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Analytics has video tutorials on Digital Analytics and Platform Fundamentals which
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is used in their free Analytics IQ exam. I would definitely check those out, and maybe
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even get your certification. Good luck! Drop me a line if you have questions :)
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Table Of Contents
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Tracking Code Installation Configuring The Admin Menu
Account Structure Account Tab
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Property Tab Property Settings User Management Tracking Info Product Linking View Tab
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Goals Content Grouping Filters Channel Settings Ecommerce Settings Calculated Metrics Segments Annotations Attribution Models Custom Channel Groupings Custom Alerts Scheduled Emails Shortcuts Shared Assets Customization Dashboards Custom Reports Saved Reports Custom Alerts Reports Real-Time Overview Locations Traffic Sources Content Events Conversions Audience Overview Active Users Lifetime Value Cohort Analysis User Explorer Demographics Overview Age Gender Interests Overview Affinity Categories In-Market Segments Other Categories Geo Language Location Behavior New vs Returning Frequency & Recency Engagement Technology Browser & OS Network Mobile Overview Devices Custom Custom Variables User Defined Benchmarking Channels Location Devices Users Flow Acquisition Overview All Traffic Channels Treemaps Source/Medium Referrals AdWords Campaigns Treemaps Sitelinks Bid Adjustments Keywords Search Queries Hour Of Day Final URLs Display Targeting Video Campaigns Shopping Campaigns Search Console Landing Pages Countries Devices Queries Social Overview Network Referrals Landing Pages Conversions Plugins Users Flow Campaigns All Campaigns Paid Keywords Organic Keywords Cost Analysis Behavior Overview Behavior Flow Site Content All Pages Content Drilldown Landing Pages Exit Pages Site Speed Overview Page Timings Speed Suggestions User Timings Site Search Overview Usage Search Terms Search Pages Events Overview Top Events Pages Events Flow Publisher Overview Publisher Pages Publisher Referrers Experiments Conversions Goals Overview Goal URLs Reverse Goal Path Funnel Visualization Goal Flow Ecommerce Overview Product Performance Sales Performance Transactions Time To Purchase Multi-Channel Funnels Overview Assisted Conversions Top Conversion Paths Time Lag Path Length Attribution Model Comparison Tool Campaign URL Builder Google Tag Manager Page Analytics Chrome Extension
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 Page Speed Insights.
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…
3. Configuring The Admin Menu In your Google Analytics dashboard, navigate to the 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 Õ 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 Enable demographics + interest reports to see visitor age, gender, etc Enable enhanced link attribution to use the Page Analytics Google Chrome extension which lets you see what links people click on for each of your pages (see screenshot) Connect Google Analytics with Search Console which grants you access to more data (ps. if you haven’t read my Google Search Console tutorial for WordPress it is LEGIT) Enable user metrics in reporting for more accurate calculation about what a “user” is
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.
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.
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…
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.
You will now be able to see goals in your data…
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.
Now you can go to the “Behavior” reports and see the data…
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.
Channel Settings Channel Settings Õ 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…
Choose the type of people (metrics) you want to segment…
Now go to any report and choose the segment to filter the data…
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.
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.
Once your emails are setup, you can manage them in the admin menu…
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)
Download My Custom Dashboards To Segment Traffic: Download The General Analytics Dashboard Download The SEO Analytics Dashboard Download The Social Media Analytics Dashboard Download The Mobile Analytics Dashboard Download The Geographic Analytics Dashboard Download The Technical Analytics Dashboard 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…
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.
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…
Real-Time See people currently on your site, pages they’re viewing, location, traffic sources and more…
Audience Audience Õ Demographics Age / Gender
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
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
Acquisition Behavior Conversions Tracking Info Õ 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.
Channel Settings Õ 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 Õ Enable Site Search Goals Ecommerce Settings Acquisition Channels Email Õ Landing Pages (From Email Marketing) Referral Traffic
Questions To Ask For Each Section Average Load Time In-Page Analytics Page Analytics Chrome Extension 6. 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
FILED UNDER: ANALYTICS
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3. Local SEO
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5. Google Search Console
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6. Rich Snippets
13. W3 Total Cache
7. Click-Through Rates
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8. Whitespark Citations
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9. Yoast Premium Review
16. WordPress Affiliate Programs 17. StudioPress Themes
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Comments Zinnat says October 25, 2017 at 11:56 am Hi Tom, I liked your google analytics beginners guide. This guide is super long and also super easy to absorb. I know readers will love this amazing article of yours. I get to know many things which I didn’t know earlier. Thanks for this valuable and informative post. Best regards for you. Reply
Tom Dupuis says October 25, 2017 at 1:27 pm Hey Zinnat, Thanks! Complete forgot I need to finish it – published before it was even done but glad it was helpful! Time to buckle down. Reply
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