As of 2012, over 10 million websites use Google Analytics to monitor their site’s performance in the online world. If you’re reading this and you’re a site owner or administrator, odds are good you’re pretty familiar with Google Analytics. However, if you think the lone benefit of using Google Analytics starts and stops with visits and views, you’re missing out on valuable features the product has to offer.
Google Analytics should be an integral part of your marketing plan. While some of these 10 points might be obvious to more experienced users, here are 10 ways you should be using Google Analytics to grow and expand your site’s digital footprint.
1. Understand why you should monitor your traffic.
Consider this quote from Entrepreneur as your mission statement: “Once you understand your customers’ preferences and tastes, you are in a much better position to create a better experience for them. And a better website experience will inevitably lead to a happier customer.”
2. Create goals.
Set up goals for your company or site inside Google Analytics. By setting up goals for your website, you can see if your marketing efforts are succeeding or falling short. You can set targets and deadlines and follow your company’s progress. Google Analytics makes setting and following goals relatively easy. Here’s a handy tutorial which should help new users create goals inside the Google Analytics platform.
3. Find out what your users want.
Use Google Analytics to see what sort of content your users want and are searching for. Find out which pages are performing and which are being ignored. Tracking your content can prevent you from wasting time creating pages your users aren’t interested in while maximizing the ideas your users are pursuing.
4. Gauge the success of AdWords campaigns.
You can track your AdWords campaigns through Google Analytics. Aside from being able to see how many users come in through your AdWords campaigns, you’ll be able to see if they stick around your site or if they leave in a hurry. If users are bouncing off your page as soon as they arrive, you may want to adjust your content, site navigation or even the ads you’re running through AdWords.
5. Find out where users are landing.
While this is similar to the “Find out what your users want” section, it’s extremely important to track the exact page your users are landing. Are they coming straight to your home page or are they landing on a different page of content? Once you figure out where your users are landing, you can create a plan to funnel them toward the content you’d like them to see.
6. Check your site’s speed.
If you’re accessing your site internally, you may not be familiar with how quickly your site loads for outside users. Inside Google Analytics (Reports > Content > Site speed) you can determine if particular pages are loading slowly for users or if your site’s overall speed isn’t up to par. The longer the user has to wait for a page to load, the more likely they are to abandon the page.
7. Why are your users leaving?
Wouldn’t it be nice if you knew why a user left your site? Unfortunately, it’s difficult to determine why a user abandoned your site without actually asking them, but Google Analytics will at least allow you to make an educated guess. By examining the Exit Pages section, you can try to determine why a user is abandoning the site. With this information, you can adjust your site so that the user reaches your desired destination.
8. Spot your weaknesses.
Track where your visitors are coming from. If you’re receiving a ton of visits from one source and not another, you can work on improving your site’s standing with the second source in an effort to boost your traffic. If your site is performing well on Google for one term but it isn’t for another term, tailor your SEO to hit on the second term. It’s easy to spot your successes in Google Analytics, but the real value comes in spotting areas you’re struggling in.
9. Location, Location, Location.
If your company is targeting consumers in Chicago and the bulk of your traffic is coming from a country overseas, you might be doing something wrong. Track where your users are coming from and adjust your strategies as necessary. Don’t waste your time running a promotion if it’s bringing in users who can’t or won’t produce conversions.
10. Are you ready for mobile?
Is your company optimized for mobile? If it’s not, you need to keep an extremely close eye on your site’s traffic from mobile devices. If you’re pulling in a ton of visits from mobile devices, you should strongly consider optimizing your site for mobile use or consider designing an app for a flawless mobile experience.
Got all that? If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed, Seafoam Media can walk you through the online analytics process. Whether you’re looking for help with Google Analytics or looking for custom data reporting with some pizazz (a service we provide), we’re ready to help you with your online tracking needs.