As many digital marketers know, Google Analytics can be a very helpful (and free!) tool to track your website’s performance. However, the endless number of information and options can be overwhelming to someone who uses Google Analytics to view only the standard reports.
Beyond the basics, you should be aware of some additional report features that can offer more in-depth insight into your website visitor. Taking the time to understand or set up these 5 Google Analytics features will help you better understand your target audience and their experience on your website, as well track how your website impacts their user behavior.
1. Advanced Segments
Upon logging in, Google Analytics defaults to show reports based on all site visitors. The Advanced Segments option offers opportunities to filter visitors into more granular details than you could get with existing, template reports.
Out of the box, Google Analytics offers default segments such as mobile traffic, visits with conversions, or non-paid search traffic. These segments can provide you with a deeper level of insight for that segment in all available reports versus just one or two, so, for example, you could see conversion data for paid traffic or the geographic location of your direct traffic.
Custom segments allow you the option to get extremely specific by filtering traffic based on almost any metric available through standard report, using the AND / OR and INCLUDE / EXCLUDE options. For example, you can view converting traffic that only reached your site using branded organic search terms, or visitors to a specific landing page from any traffic source except for paid traffic. While it takes some extra brain power to set up a custom segment initially, the additional time spent will be worth the deeper insight and analysis.
2. Site Search
Site search provides you with the opportunity to see your website through your visitors’ eyes. By tracking your on-site search queries and post-search behaviors, this report indirectly allows your website visitors to tell you what they are looking for, or in some instances cannot find, on your site.
One time a month, take the top search queries and insert them into your site search to see if the results make sense. Sometimes your Employment page doesn’t show up when users type in “Careers” or perhaps your visitors want to sign-up for a specific event but can’t figure out how to get to your registration page. Your website might make sense to you, but site search can help point out what doesn’t make sense to your visitors.
Note: While Site Search is a standard report in Google Analytics, you must enable site search tracking in your Profile Settings. See the Google documentation for more specific instructions: http://support.google.com/analytics/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=1012264.
3. Event Tracking
Event tracking allows you to view statistics for specific actions that users can take while on your site, removing the guessing from performance analysis. While it requires additional coding, event tracking provides you with information beyond what the standard Google Analytics reports track. You can add event tracking to each milestone of your conversion funnel, view clicks to download PDFs, or see which specific button on your homepage earns the most attention.
Event tracking statistics can also help you to justify performance on a page, such as a low time-on-site or pages-per-visit from a landing page that sends off-site. Or, it can indicate necessary changes to page sections that are under-utilized or not performing as-desired. In conjunction with Events Flow, you are also able to track user behavior through a series of events, seeing where people drop off so you can optimize accordingly.
Note: For information on how to set up event tracking, read “Google Analytics: Why You Should Be Using Event Tracking on Your Site: http://www.r2integrated.com/blog/index.php/google-analytics-why-you-should-be-using-event-tracking-on-your-site.
4. Campaign Tagging
The Campaigns report under Traffic Sources is where you are able to view performance of an audience segment that came from an off-site campaign. These audience members arrived on your site by clicking on a URL with tracking code specific to that campaign such as from a banner ad, an email blast, AdWords campaign, or even your business card’s QR code.
While using campaign tags requires an extra step to tag URLs, campaigns can help distinguish segments of traffic beyond direct, search, referral, or the dreaded “other”. This deeper traffic segmentation can help justify paid media spend or compare the success of the same sponsored email blast from two different publications. Utilizing all components of manually tagged URLs can differentiate the campaign down to the call-to-action or ad creative, allowing you to pinpoint what resonates with your audience.
Note: For information on setting up URLs with tags, read “Google Analytics: Understanding Traffic Sources: http://www.r2integrated.com/blog/index.php/google-analytics-understanding-traffic-sources.
5. Navigation Summary
The Content > Site Content > All Pages report offers insight into your top viewed pages. However, I find that the most useful section of this report is hidden behind a “Navigation Summary” tab at the top of the report. Switching to the Navigation Summary reveals the navigation paths for entrance/previous pages and exit/next pages for the selected page. The data will refresh accordingly as you click on new page URLs.
While the Visitor Flow report shows a high-level overview of visitor page paths, the Navigation Summary will gives you more granular insight into your user behavior by detailing specific top navigated pages. So for example, you can see if your custom thank you page directs visitors to where you offer as a next step. Or, if you notice that visitors keep returning to your homepage rather than moving along the conversion funnel, you may need to revise your on-page calls-to-action.
There are many more Google Analytics functions that can provide a deeper understanding about your website visitors, but these five are my favorite for ease of set-up vs. knowledge earned.
If you have any additional favorite Google Analytics reports or have questions about how to view/set-up the reports featured above, please feel free to email me at email@example.com or send a tweet to @MrsDebbieW.