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Understand Your Website’s Visitors Better with Google Analytics Tools


I recently took a deeper dive into Google Analytics (the service that Google offers to track and report on website and app traffic), and found some useful tools for understanding visitors who land on my site. Google website analytics is user-friendly enough to be helpful to a website manager without special training. To go beyond the basics, Google offers free online training for the Analytics platform. There are five courses, Fundamentals, Principals, eCommerce, App Analytics and Tag Manager. Google Partners offers a certification exam, and the analytics academy courses are good preparation. After training and certification, I can collect more detailed data on my client’s marketing and better understand website visitors. Below are some links to Google tools I’ve discovered that can up your analytics game.

Save Time with Templates

Google Analytics Solutions Gallery

Here Google Analytics users can swap dashboards, reports, segments, goals and more. This is a good way to get started if you've never made a custom report or set a goal before. Some of the solutions are made by savvy people, including people who work at Google. Since part of the Google Analytics Academy course recommended that you make and share a custom solutions, some of the solutions will be student projects. You can see the number of times a solution has been used and its community rating before you choose it. And if you chose one that’s not working for you, you can delete it without harming your analytics data.

I’m using "Emina's BASICs" dashboard, with some customizations.

Discover Details About Your Visitors’ Behavior

Google Tag Manager

Tag manager allows you to expand the information you get from your site by adding snippets of code. Tag manager’s genius is the “container.” It allows you to manage tags from the tag manager user interface without going into your site’s code, often without involving a developer. Tag Manager can be used on websites and apps, and works with Adwords and Analytics and can be extended to work with 3rd party tags.

How might this be used? For example, you ask Google to track when visitors play a video. Then in the analytics dashboard you can find out if visitors who came to your website from social media were likely to watch a demo video. You can track events such as followed links, button clicks, form submissions, or document downloads.

You’ll need to set up tag manager account and link it to your Google Analytics account.

Know Which Marketing Efforts Drive Traffic

Google Campaign URL Builder

To understand which marketing efforts are most effective at driving traffic to your site, you can add code to the destination URL that Google Analytics then tracks. If you develop a campaign consisting of an email newsletter and social media to invite visitors to a page on your site, you would generate two different URLs for the same destination page using this tool. The people who clicked on your link from the newsletter and the social media posts would both end up at your page when they click on the custom URL, but Google Analytics will separate the data, so you know if more visitors came from one channel of your campaign vs. the other.

The Google Campaign URL Builder walks you through creating the custom url and builds it for you. You can copy and paste the custom domain into your newsletter, online ad or social media post.

Be Sure Your Reports Are Meaningful

Google Dimensions and Metrics Explorer

Google Analytics counts things (metrics) and then tells you about what it has counted (dimensions). An example of a metric would be "newUsers" and a dimension of that metric would be "sessionCount" or how many sessions that new users has had on your website (or with your app) during the time frame you are using for your report. Dimensions typically show up on the right side of the table view, metrics on the left. However, not always. If you'd like to confirm which is which, this Google Developers reference is extremely helpful.

Not all dimensions apply to all metrics. Some combinations won’t produce valid results. For instance, if you’re looking at the dimension Days Since Last Session, you can't use the metric “7 Day Active Users.” To determine if a dimension/metric pair is valid, you check “Expand all” to expand each feature list. Then select the check box next to a dimension or metric, the invalid options are grayed out and unavailable.

Need Help with Google Analytics on Your Website?

I'd be happy to help with set up or ongoing reporting, give me a call at 908.322.7653 or fill out the information form.

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