6 Google Analytics Tips for Online Marketers and Small Business Owners

Google Analytics lets organizations of all shapes and sizes measure the performance of their websites. There's a lot of data in there--and even more that you can do with that data once you've extracted it. These tips will help you get started with Google Analytics.

By James A. Martin
Thu, July 25, 2013

CIO — You've set up Google Analytics on your website or blog. You've checked out your overall pageviews and bounce rate. Maybe you've glanced at your mobile traffic.

And this is where it usually ends. It's easy to get overwhelmed by all the information—or even know exactly what to look for.

Though it can take some time to learn, Google Analytics is a rich information resource that can help you set and track business goals, create content that will speak to your target audiences and make more informed decisions about your Web presence.

Here are six tips, strategies and best practices from Google Analytics experts to help you get more from Google's free website analytics tools.

1. Know How Your Website Reflects What's Important to Your Organization

Google Analytics logo

Many people log into Google Analytics to see "the cool things they can find out," says Jim Gianoglio, digital analytics engineer for LunaMetrics, a digital marketing and analytics consultancy and Google Analytics certified partner. "But they don't have specific questions in mind they want Google Analytics to answer. Then they experience this deluge of information. They don't know where to start, and they get overwhelmed."

Start by knowing your organization's top goals and objectives and how its website reflects them, Gianoglio says. From there, develop questions for Google Analytics related to your goals and objectives.

How-to: Get Started With Google Analytics

For example, if you're an online publisher, your goal may be to increase pageviews because that will expose visitors to ads. That's where the money comes from. Your questions for Google Analytics should evolve from there: Where are your pageviews coming from? What are the top landing pages? Which pages are performing poorly? And so on.

2. Focus on Actionable Data

Pageviews and unique visits can validate what you're doing right (or wrong). That's important, says Jayson DeMers, founder and CEO of AudienceBloom, an SEO, social media and guest blogging service—but for most organizations, that information isn't usually actionable. "If you're spending your time looking at non-actionable data, you're wasting your time," DeMers says.

Instead, DeMers often focuses his time on three specific Google Analytics reports:

  • Referrals and All Traffic (found in Traffic Sources > Overview > Sources)
  • Organic Search (Traffic Sources > Overview > Search)
  • A referring page and destination URL custom report (more on that in tip No. 3)

"These metrics can tell you which referrers and traffic sources are driving the most conversions, along with which specific external assets or efforts are resulting in the highest ROI," DeMers explains. For example, "If one of your guest posts or infographics is resulting in the lion's share of traffic and conversions, then you'll have a perfect example of which sort of content is really working to achieve your goals. This will allow you to refine and optimize your marketing strategy going forward."

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