Making Google Analytics Work for You

Making Google Analytics Work for You

If you're well-versed in Google Analytics, you may be familiar with the items mentioned within this article. For most marketers, reporting is a lengthy, daunting task we're faced with each month that gives us little time to poke around and fully explore the many features analytics has to offer. If you are looking for a better way to analyze and interpret data, check out some of the less well known features in Google Analytics that will make your job a little easier.

Custom Dashboards

Custom dashboards in Google Analytics may be one of the most valuable features offered. With the ability to create custom dashboards based on your needs, the time spent digging through the platform for the data you need, usually instantly, can be cut in half. It's easy to overlook the minor details that could be crucial to the success of a campaign. With custom dashboards, each "widget" can be tailored to show the exact metrics you need to analyze and report on and will update data with selected advanced segments and time frames.

social media dashboard

Customizable widgets allow you to analyze data ranging from top-performing content and real time metrics to mobile vs. non-mobile visits that convert. Creating these will give you the ability to track metrics unique to your client, whether you're managing a blog and reporting on social interaction, or an e-commerce site tracking revenue streams. While relying too heavily on custom dashboards can lead to overlooking other important metrics, when used in moderation custom dashboards can streamline an entire reporting process and make your life a whole lot simpler.

If you need help figuring out what kind of metrics you might need on your custom dashboard, check out 10 useful Google Analytics custom dashboards that have already been set-up to make this process easier!

Plot Rows

The plot rows feature in Analytics offers the ability to graph data in separate dimensions. This feature is most helpful when trying to find the reason for a spike in traffic on a given day. Below is an example of how the plot rows feature was used to identify a spike in traffic.

plot rows

During the reporting period of August 1-31st, we can see that there was a spike in referral traffic on August 6th, as listed above. Without digging through data, scratching your head and spending a ton of time trying to figure out which source caused the spike in traffic on that particular day, the plot rows feature in analytics allows you to review the rows you want to analyze by selecting the boxes in the data chart.

comparing plot rows

referral sources

Knowing your client well is definitely a plus, and for this specific client spikes in traffic are generally attributed to social. As you can see, I've narrowed down the referral sources to the top 5 referrers and have excluded "Google," so that I can look closer at the other modes of traffic such as Twitter and Facebook. Hovering the mouse pointer over the orange line shows us that 20 of the 32 visits on August 6th were referred to the site through Facebook.

In-Page Analytics

Wondering how visitors are navigating through your site? Check out the in-page analytics feature found within the content reports section. While paid tools like CrazyEgg are helpful for analyzing usability, in-page analytics offers similar features, for FREE!

Why Use In-Page Analytics?
Using in-page analytics is beneficial for a variety of reasons. Having the ability to see where your users are clicking on any given page of your site and quickly identifying the need for basic onsite optimizations or more in-depth web design edits is an extremely useful reporting advantage to have. This can be done as you browse through your site once in-page analytics is applied.

Below is an example of what in-page analytics looks like when operating through a browser. The bubbles show the percentage of clicks on the page that went to a specific link. As I have pointed out, the button bringing users to the kitchen remodeling page has garnered 19% of total clicks on the homepage, the highest percentage of total clicks. Being able to note this right on the page can be helpful in better understanding why a certain link might be getting more traffic from a specific page and replicating the button, link or image for other parts of a page that might be receiving lower levels of traffic but are equally or more important to get users to navigate to.

in page analytics

in page analytics zoom

As another example, once on the kitchen remodeling page, 21% of users are clicking to find more information about granite countertops. Of the services offered through Granite Transformations, we can now see that most users are coming to the homepage and navigating to the kitchen remodeling page with the intent of finding more information about granite countertops.

When using In-Page Analytics be sure to note that buttons that link to the same url will not each receive unique statistics about user interaction but instead an aggregate of all of them combined. For example, if you have two or three buttons spread throughout a single page that all link to the same URL, In-Page Analytics will show the percentage of users that navigate to that URL from all the links provided on the page as opposed to from each individual link.

in page analytics stats

in page analytics stats zoom

Track & Monitor Instances of a 404 Error Page

While Google Webmaster Tools can be useful for monitoring your websites performance, making sure your site is user-friendly should be something every SEO monitors daily. This includes keeping that forbidden 404 error page as far away from your users as possible. While you're likely checking on Google Analytics each day, setting up an alert for 404 error page requests can be extremely insightful and worth your time. Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable explains how with this 5-step process:

  1. Login to Google Analytics
  2. Click on "Admin" on the top-left navigation
  3. Click on the profile you want to create the alert for
  4. Create a Goal using the 404 URL
  5. Click on "Custom Alerts" and create a new alert

If you are using Google Analytics for reporting purposes, spending time to research the many features available could make your life and your job a lot easier!

Have any other tips or shortcuts for making Google Analytics a more streamlined process? Leave a comment below or tweet us @BFMweb.

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Comments on this post

  1. Hello!

    Nice information about analytics..Thank you for sharing this useful information.

  2. Nice info. explained very clearly. It will be very easy to use analytics after reading your article

  3. Excellent guide on GA. I just sent our students this link to read. Thank you!


  4. Keller Tiemann said:

    In Page Analytics are great, a lot of good insights come from this GA feature, I highly recommend using it.

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