10 Things to master in Google Analytics 2018Nitin Karkara
In 2016, mobile traffic surpassed desktop traffic for the first time, according to StatCounter. The rising tide means it’s never been more important to track your mobile traffic, says Lora Kratchounova, principal of marketing firm Scratch Marketing + Media, especially since Google started emphasizing mobile sites over desktop sites in its search engine index. (Search Engine Land has an extensive FAQ on Google’s mobile-first index.)
“Monitoring the volume and engagement of mobile visits is critical,” Kratchounova says. “What portion of your site’s traffic is mobile? How much time are those visitors spending on your site? What percentage is bouncing off? How many of your goal completions come from mobile users?” The answers to these questions — not to mention having a mobile-friendly website — can help keep your site ranking well in Google results.
(In GA, go to Audience > Mobile to explore mobile traffic.)
Site speed has become an important ranking factor in recent years, with Google pushing down sluggish websites in its search result pages. As a result, Site Speed “is one of the most important metrics to track using Google Analytics,” says Lisa Hirst Carnes, co-founder and marketing director of design and marketing agency ArcStone. “The length of time your site takes to load not only affects user experience, it influences your site’s visibility in search. And how fast your site is, can make or break your success.”
GA’s Site Speed will also provide Page Speed suggestions and a Page Speed score for each of your site’s indexed pages. (Page Speed is a set of Google-designed tools to help optimize a site’s performance.)
(Go to Behavior > Site Speed.)
Setting up goals and/or eCommerce tracking in GA helps marketers show business value for their work, making GA’s many Conversions tracking tools essential, says Kevin Hill, web and search manager for voice and messaging API developer Bandwidth.
“I highly recommend syncing your Google products like AdWords and YouTube with your GA account and then setting up conversion tracking, as it can help make your paid and unpaid campaigns more effective,” adds Matt Solar, vice president of marketing for content creation platform nDash.co.
(In GA, go to Conversions and explore the various options.)
GA’s Search Console provides information about what users see in Google search results before they click to your site, among other things. “Being able to track which pages are ranking alongside your conversion rate metrics is highly valuable,” says Jonathan Taylor, senior marketing manager of Klipfolio, an analytics dashboard company. “I use this tool extensively to prospect for new opportunities and to prioritize which content on my site I update. A single update can net a 200 to 500 percent increase in visitors to a particular page.”
(Go to Acquisition > Search Console.)
By default, when a goal is met, the conversion will be attributed in GA to the last click related to that goal, notes Philippe Côté-Léger, online marketing director at web marketing agency Lab Urbain. “For example, if someone discovers your content from an organic search, then you do some Facebook re marketing, and if the user converts on his second visit, Facebook will have the conversion,” he explains. “You can see how it’s easy to underestimate your SEO efforts and overestimate the impact of your paid channel with this model.”
Because a customer journey often involves multiple touch points, takes time to set up goals and/or eCommerce tracking and use the Model Comparison Tool, Côté-Léger advises. You can compare up to three attribution models, to help you evaluate the effectiveness of different channels.
(Go to Conversions > Model Comparison Tool.)
GA’s Bench marking compares the performance of your site’s content to the content of other companies that share their data with Google. The basis of comparison is aggregated industry data, which provides some context. You can compare your site’s performance by channels (such as social and display ads), location, devices (mobile, desktop, and tablet), and user flow (by country, city, browser, and other criteria).
Bench marking “has been very valuable to my agency, to help us evaluate performance for clients in industries we aren’t so familiar with,” says Brooks Manley, project manager and SEO specialist at digital marketing agency called Engenius.
(Go to Audience > Bench marking.)
If you enable GA’s Advertising Reporting features, you can get demographics pertaining to your visitors’ age, gender, and interest category, based on their online travel and purchasing activities. (And if you enable Google’s Advertising features, you must notify website visitors.)
“I often share demographics data with clients, because GA users can get obsessed with measuring activity and forget that users are people,” says Rob Watson, digital marketing consultant (his U.K. firm is called Click to Sale). The data “can help with persona building and just about any aspect of crafting better digital marketing,” he adds. “Including this information in site audits that I do for new clients always goes down well, even if it only reaffirms what they already thought their typical user looks like.”
(Go to Audience > Demographics.)
FREQUENCY & RECENCY
The Frequency & Recency metric “allows you to see how many times users visit your site, and how many days there are between visits,” says Shaily Allison, Digital Marketing Specialist with seoplus+, an SEO and PPC company. “This is especially useful when applying the conversions segment in this metric, as it reveals data about how many visits it takes a user to convert over a set amount of time. If people aren’t converting during their first session on your site, why not? Are they returning after a single day? Or are they returning after nearly a month?”
(Go to Audience > Behavior > Frequency & Recency.)
NEW VS RETURNING VISITORS
The New vs Returning report “tells you how well your content is doing in terms of getting visitors to come back,” says Scott Bishop, owner of inbound marketing consultancy Up And Social. “After all, returning visitors are more likely to end up being customers or followers. This information will help you decide whether to tweak your content and by how much.”
(Go to Audience > Behavior > New vs Returning.)
With Real-Time, you can see what’s happening on your site right now. Where are you getting the most referrals? The most social traffic? Which pages on your site are most active? The Real-Time feature shows you this, and more.
“Actually watching what people are doing on your site now will give you a better idea of which pages lead to conversions and which pages need changing,” says Dan Kidd, owner of Linkjuiced, a link building and content marketing consultancy.
(Go to Real-Time.)