Even if you have other tracking systems in place to see how well your website is achieving its goals, there’s every chance that Google Analytics also has something to offer. Packed full of useful tools, it’s free to use and since it’s aligned with the world’s largest search engine, there’s a lot to be gained by making full use of it. In this blog post we cover some of its most useful features.
Setting up and tracking goals through Google Analytics should be a key part of measuring the success of your website strategy. Typical goals are a visitor landing on a particular page (your ‘thank you for signing up to our newsletter’ page, for example), a visitor staying on your site for a minimum length of time or a visitor viewing a certain number of pages.
Think carefully about what your goals will be and ensure that they are results-driven and form part of your longer-term business strategy.
Once you are able to see whether your goals are being achieved or not, you can make adjustments to improve your statistics. If more people are signing up to Membership A than Membership B, for example, then you can look at why this might be the case and trial different options.
Setting up goals within Google Analytics is very straightforward. All you need to do is click ‘Admin’, select an account, a property and a view. Click ‘Goals’, ‘Create a Goal’, and then follow the steps as prompted. Remember to review your goals regularly and change when appropriate.
Another underused but very powerful tool is event tracking. An ‘event’ takes place when a visitor interacts with your content, which can be independently tracked. Examples include PDF downloads, video watches and pauses, social sharing, sign-ups and logins.
Using the event tracking tool means that you can collect data on lots of different activities that occur on your site which aren’t tracked with the regular Google Analytics code.
If you want to find out whether people are clicking on your website ad banners, how many seconds of your video they are watching or which question they stop on when filling in your forms, event tracking is the tool to use.
To set up event tracking, you don’t need to make any changes in Google analytics, but will need to add the following code into the section of your site:
onClick=”gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘category’, ‘action’, ‘opt_label’, ‘opt_value’]);”
You will need to replace the words ‘category’ and ‘action’ in the code above with whatever you are wishing to track, e.g. you might replace ‘category’ with ‘video’ or ‘signup form’, and you might replace ‘action’ with ‘play’, ‘pause’ or ‘click’. Similarly, you can include labels and values, although these are optional.
A nifty little tool on Google Analytics is real-time reporting, where you can see – in real time – how many people are on your site, who they are, how they arrived there and what they’re doing. This can be a useful tool to measure the success of a newly-launched campaign, although comes with something of a health warning, since it can become very addictive!
To access it, simply click on ‘Real-Time’ in the left-hand panel.
Although not strictly part of analytics, Webmaster Tools is a great way of finding out – for free – which keywords have been used by visitors to land on your website. This is essential when you are researching and planning your SEO strategy, whether you are focusing on organic or on pay-per-click (PPC) routes.
With Webmaster Tools, you can find out what your average page position is with Google search for given keywords and your click-through rate (CTR) via organic search on Google.
If you’re not already using Webmaster Tools, you will need to set up a Webmaster account (google.com/webmasters/tools).
By clicking ‘Add a Site’ and entering your url, you will then be able to verify your ownership of the site. To associate Webmaster Tools with Google Analytics, you will need to go to the Webmaster Tools homepage, click ‘Manage’ next to the site you want, and then click ‘Google Analytics profile’. Select the right profile and click ‘Save’.
Using the above four tools is a great basis on which to build your Google Analytics monitoring so that you can not only measure, but modify and re-monitor your website practice. This cycle of ongoing review is an essential part of best website practice and will help keep your visitors happy and ensure that your business objectives are met.