At some point, most marketers have dabbled in Google Analytics, a tool used for tracking data across websites and social media. You can see where traffic is coming from, what device someone used to get to your website, most visited pages and more.
If you’re creating reports using Google Analytics, you may start to feel that they are getting a little stale and are no longer providing value if you’re not constantly adding new metrics. However, Google Analytics can offer incredibly valuable information, though it can be tough to know where to find the information that will not only spice up your reports but impress your readers.
At Blue Compass, we dig into Google Analytics every day, and we’re certified in the platform. That being said, we’re sharing some of our favorite hidden or less well-known tips for marketers who are looking to dive a little deeper into Google Analytics.
Setting up Google Analytics is easy. Or is it?
Having Google Analytics on your website is simply a matter of adding some code and then calling it good, right? Not so much. There’s quite a bit that goes into setting up an analytics account, but we are going to touch on something that’s commonly forgotten: Include Only Hostname.
Setting up an Include Only Hostname filter excludes traffic from spam that may appear like it’s from a legitimate website, such as Facebook or Google (example below). To see if you’re getting spam hostname traffic, go to Audience > Technology > Network, and switch to the “Hostname” tab. Once you’re here, you may see if people are using a translated version of your site, a subdomain, a staging site or spam websites. Once you’ve removed this traffic, you can ensure that you’re receiving actual web visitor data.
To know what “Hostnames” should look like in analytics, look at the example from the Blue Compass website:
Look at the Navigation Summary
Where are users coming from and where did they go next? This is a question marketers are always asking when they’re looking for information in Google Analytics reports. Fortunately, Google has a way for us to find this information, known as the Navigation Summary.
To find the Navigation Summary, go to Behavior > Site Content > and choose any single page URL. From here, you can click Navigation Summary, located above the graph. See the image below for an example:
In the above image, we can see how people got to the /default.aspx page (labeled as Previous Page Path) and where they went on the website once they left that page (Next Page Path). This information can help marketers determine how visitors use a website and potentially help create better calls-to-action on web pages.
Use Motion Charts for Data Visualization
Graphs are an excellent way to display information in a (usually) easy to understand way. But even graphs can get repetitive if you’re showing the same ones month after month. An unknown feature in Google Analytics is Motion Charts. Motion Charts are exactly what they sound like-a chart that moves and shows information over a particular time period. Here’s an example from Google below:
Motions charts are excellent for identifying trends over time. However, this feature is not found in all areas of Google Analytics. It will appear in any report that has a table displaying segmented data. To view a motion chart, there is a button with three small dots on it in the top right corner (see in example above), which indicates that a report can be visualized into a motion chart.
Monitor Highly Engaged Visitor Behavior in Google Analytics
Have you been wondering what your high-value users are doing or how they’re navigating your site? First things first, you must create an analytics segment that will focus on user behavior across all sessions within a particular date range. Highly engaged users are important as they show us how successful our marketing efforts are or if our website is encouraging them to take the actions we want them to take. Monitoring these behaviors can help marketers determine the content of updates or decide on next steps to take in their efforts.
Once you’ve created this segment, you’re now able to apply this segment to analytics data. If you want to look at the pages highly engaged users landed on when they visit your website, go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages. From here, add the secondary dimension “Landing Page.” Take a look at an example from the Blue Compass website below:
We are able to see upon which page our highly engaged users landed. If we want to know where they went from this page, we update the secondary dimension from “Landing Page” to “Next Page Path”.
Don’t Forget About Pagespeed
Did you know that Google recommends that your web page load within two seconds? Pagespeed may seem like a no-brainer, but it can answer quite a few questions that you may have about your website. To find pagespeed, look at Behavior > Site Speed > Page Timings. Pagespeed can identify which pages are affecting page load time.
For example, do you have a blog on your website that has several large images, and you’ve noticed the bounce rate is very high? This is likely due to the images slowing down the page when users are trying to access the blog. To help prevent the page load time from getting too high, compress the images to reduce their size.
Where is traffic coming from?
When creating a Google Analytics account, users often forget to exclude traffic that comes from bots and spiders crawling the web. This can really affect small businesses using analytics, as these hits can make it appear that traffic varies wildly. The box below needs to be checked to remove bots:
To find this check box, users can go to View>Admin>View Settings.
Use the Referral Exclusion List Properly
The Referral Exclusion List, found by going to Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Referral Exclusion List (see image below), is often used to exclude hits from sources that are spam. However, that is not the correct way to use this feature. Instead, it reclassifies a domain into “other.” So, how and when do you use Referral Exclusion Lists?
Users should use this filter when you have sister-sites that link to one another in multiple places. For example, if you have a career site and a main website that are on different domains, add them into each other’s referral exclusion list. Once you’ve done this, when you review the percentage of your traffic that is from a referral, it will accurately reflect sites that are linking to yours.
Dive Deeper Into Your Google Analytics with Blue Compass
No matter if it’s implementing Google Analytics on your website or monthly reporting, Blue Compass can help you understand what’s happening with your brand online. Our digital marketing team has multiple Google Analytics certified professionals that know the best information is in the nitty gritty details.
If you’re unsure if your Google Analytics is working properly or you want to know how well your digital marketing efforts are performing, contact the Blue Compass team today!