Optimize an Analytics Account

21 Nov
November 21, 2011

Correctly and productively setting up your tracking solution is crucial for a successful online marketing campaign, and in order to fully understand how users are interacting with your site. In this post I go through some of the top optimization recommendations for your Google Analytics account.

I like Google Analytics, its very simple to use and extend, its packed full of tracking and graphing features, and most of all, its free!. But if you reaches this post you’re probably already sold on Google Analytics.

I work with a very wide range of clients offering online marketing strategies and implementations in order to optimize their online traffic channels (SEO, PPC, Display, etc.), one critical foundation to any successful online marketing campaign is measurement and tracking; without properly analysing how users are interacting with a particular marketing channel, and cross analysing between different channels, there is no way you could make accurate decisions regarding how to better utilize a KPI focused online marketing campaign.

Here are some of the top recommendations to implement in your Google Analytics account, in order to improve tracking, and better understand your users and demographic.

Analytics Goal Setup

Setting up goals is crucial to understanding how well your website is performing, these goals could be anything from reaching a particular page, to the time a user spent on the site.

Goals should not be used to track e-commerce transactions (E-commerce tracking should be used instead). Goals are intended for targets such as “sign-ups” or “subscriptions”

Analytics Goal Funnels Setup

Goal Funnels will allow you to create steps required to reach a particular goal, this will expose metrics such as goal drop-off rates, which are crucial to optimizing the goal’s user journey path.

Analytics to AdSense Link

If you are running any AdSense adverts on your site, it is highly recommended to link your Analytics account with your AdSense one.

Tracking AdSense through Analytics will allow you to correlate money generating clicks to their on-site behavior, giving you the ability to take better on-site decisions to improve this rate.

Analytics to Webmaster Tools Link

Linking Google’s Webmaster Tools to Analytics will allow you to readily view SEO metrics such as Organic Impressions, Organic Clicks and Organic Positions.

Organic clicks and impressions will give us CTR (or Organic Click-Through-Rate), a very important metric in terms of on-page meta data and search engine snippet optimization.

Domain and Sub-Domain Canonicalization

If you have not setup your tracking code correctly, you could be tracking visits from your sub-domain as “referral“, if this is not the intended behavior, you will inflate your Visits metric through internal traffic, possibly leading to incorrect or inaccurate online marketing decisions.

A/B or Multivariant Testing

A/B (or MultiVariant) testing allows you (through Google Analytics) to test the performance of different page layouts against metrics such as:

  • Conversion (or Goal Conversion) Rates
  • Bounce Rates
  • Time-On-Site

Giving you the the ability to redesign the site for maximum benefit to both the user and bottom-line ROI.

This is a critical recommendation for any developing site, without proper layout testing we are unable to conclusively answer questions such as:

  • What is the best placement of AdSense adverts for maximum conversion
  • Which layout leads to lower bounce-rates.
  • Where to place the “Sign-Up” button in order to get the most sign-ups

Setup Traffic Alerts on Analytics

Analytics allows alerts to be setup on specific filters, these filters may include:

  • Keywords
  • Traffic Mediums

Although sounds very minimal, alerts setup on your campaign’s KPI keywords will allow you to easily identify and capitalize on rising trends in those keywords, and also recognize which of your organic keyword linkbuilding approaches is performing well, in order to increase focus on that approach, as well as jump on any rise of traffic, and better capitalize on the trend.

It is also important to setup alerts on referral traffic, which gives you insight onto both, your linkbuilding approach, and your social engagement strategy.

Referral Traffic Segmentation

Referral traffic can be segmented in Analytics in order to better traffic certain hubs under one umbrella category, such as Social Hubs or Article Hubs.

I found this approach very insightful when combined with a Social or Linkbuilding strategies, as it allows you to better understand performance in different referral segments, giving you the opportunity to make better investment decisions based on each segment’s ROI.

Filter Internal Traffic

Google Analytics allows multiple filters to be setup on each profile, these filters can be setup on IP addresses as well as many other Analytics dimensions or metrics.

Setting up filters to exclude internal traffic allows you to observe and analyse the true traffic, without distorting the picture with irrelevant oddities, and spending resources trying to figure out trends caused by internal traffic surges.

Tracking Site Search

Analytics can track search queries generated by the site’s internal search engine.

This data is correlated with the visits data, in order to give analysis over how the site search is being utilized, and if the user’s query is being satisfied effectively. This will give you further analysis on user’s on-site behaviour, which will allow us to ensure best user experience, and subsequently, lower user drop-off rate.

Analytics to Adwords Link

As well as GWT and AdSense links, Analytics allows your Adwords account’s data to be imported and married with the Analytics visit data.

Without patching Adwords data with a conversion analytical package, you will not be able to deduce the true ROI of their Adwords campaign, as well as formulate recommendations regarding improving the campaign’s performance.

Analytics offers easy and free integration with Adwords, as well as being a powerful analytical tool.

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