Google Analytics is one of the deceptively simple tools. With no knowledge you can set it up, look around and get some insight into your web stats. But, GA is also like an onion, with many, many layers.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a full day training session to learn more about GA. It was presented by LunaMetrics, LLC, www.lunametrics.com. The sessions were terrific and the handout/workbook is quite comprehensive. I highly recommend this as a great way to learn more about how to use GA.
I learned about many ways that GA can be used for meaningful web measurement. Here are some of my thoughts:
- Configure the home page
The default or home page addresses can be designated so all that traffic winds up as one parameter. Under the default settings this is not the case, so you will get several “pages” that are really home page data.
Profiles can be set up for subsets of a sites data (think buckets). Every site should have at least two profiles – one that tracks all pages (set up by default) and one that excludes all internal traffic. Profiles can also be set up just to track data for specific types of visitors (those coming from paid search, for example) or certain areas of the website.
- Onsite Search Analysis
GA can be configured to track the use of a site’s search, no matter what search is used. This requires some level of configuration. Once set up, it will track what keywords are typed into search, what links are selected for those keywords, time on site after a search and more.
If you are willing to share your metrics, you can track you site performance against other sites in the same category as your site. You can’t pick the sites to benchmark against and you do not know who’s data you are being compared with, but you can see your site’s performance against average performance for your industry.
- Tracking non page elements
With some coding, you can tag non-page elements so they are tracked in GA. An example would be a sidebar element that appears on one or more pages, but is not a page itself. So, if you had a call out to subscribe to a newsletter, you can track how often it is used.
GA can be set up to track specific goals, such as how many people go to a page and then fill out a form. Or, how many subscribe to something. As an option within goal tracking, “funnels” can be set up that visualize each step toward the goal and how many people progress along each step.
- Campaign Codes
GA can be used to generate campaign codes that connect email and other off-site campaigns with website traffic. So, a client would be able to track how many people clicked a link from an email and what they did at the site.