Google kicked off 2012 with some improvements to its free-to-use analytics platform. We’ve put together a list of tips that beginners and intermediate users could use to improve their website and ecommerce.  Here are new features to help you pick out the ‘actionable’ data from detailed metrics reports.  

It is important to let Google Analytics run for a couple of weeks to gather enough data before you start reacting to trends and amending your site.

The planning stage

What are you targets? Research your keyword queries using the Google Keywords tool.  Look at the competition and figure out how they are ranking for the keywords you want to bring people to your site.

Improve your organic rankings

The first thing you should do is use an overview of your organic traffic sources to see which keywords you are already ranking for. For low-ranking keyword positions  - creating a strategy to score higher with these keywords could be an easy rankings win.

Check up on visitor engagement

There are three key elements of your visitor’s behaviour that tell you how far you’re succeeding in engaging them. You can check up on this with three sub-tools:

Pages per visit

 

Averages the number of pages viewed by a visitor when browsing your website.  

Average Time on Site

This metric lets you measure how long visitors are spending on your pages.

Bounce Rate

You can see how many visitors left on the same page on which they entered. This will help you determine how best to utilise your entry page.

Analyse your social media engagement

How many people are coming to your site from Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and other social media platforms? You can track how mentions lead to hits and even how many are +1ing your content.

Use flow visualisation

Let’s say you have a multi-page process, like a checkout, for example. Flow visualisation provides you with an image of how traffic is following through or dropping off through this process. Check which ‘step’ is losing your customers and move quickly to fix the problem.

View multi-channel funnels

This attribution/visualisation tool shows which area of your campaign is responsible for a particular conversion. Every interaction a user has had with your website in the last 30 days is visible as a flow diagram. Older analytics platforms automatically attributed the credit to email (which is usually the step in the process that prompts a conversion.)

Tracking Adwords is key

Pay-per-click ads are those you see labelled “Sponsored” and listed around your natural Google search results.  They can also appear on Google’s content network as Adsense adverts. You can create Ad Groups, which are assigned a cost-per-click setting, as well as setting a cost-per-click for each keyword. CPC means that you are only charged when one of your ads is clicked on. Tip: a good Adwords campaign consists of tightly focused keyword groups. Ensure your Adwords tracking code is working 100% within Google analytics to ensure that the correct campaign, Ad Group and keyword data is being passed into the new platform. The easiest way to do this is to link your Analytics and Adwords accounts via the Adwords platform.

Build your own dashboards

Google Analytics will let you customise your dashboard so you can see the data that’s important to your SEO project. Customisation is recommended as the standard dashboard shows only ‘high level’ data that doesn’t express the many intricacies of your traffic. You can add metrics to your dashboard via widgets – like a pie chart – and even set the widget up to produce a report.

Create backup profiles

You can create all types of filters to get more specific information about who is doing what on your site. You can’t undo these however, so it’s recommended that you create one backup profile of your website that you don’t change.

Monitor cross domain tracking

You can modify your javascript code to more accurately record the traffic flow over two of your domains.

 

You might find the initial learning curve with Google Analytics a little steep. With a wealth of (probably) unfamiliar data on offer for the first time, it’s important to plan and be selective. Once you understand what each metric can tell you, you can start to successfully manipulate that data to your advantage.