Google Analytics can be a very powerful tool if you know how to use it. Here’s the problem with the main Google Analytics dashboard: It’s all useless data. The useful features are ‘hidden’ and not that obvious.
The ultimate goal for any web analytics software is to help you get insights to improve your business and your bottom line. Google Analytics can help you do that if you know how to use it. These 3 important lessons will get you on the right track:
Lesson 1: Aggregate data is useless
Here is some data from a website I used to own:
Impressive numbers? I disagree. These numbers don’t mean anything. They’re just…numbers. I can’t take any lessons from this data and apply them to make better business decisions.
Aggregate data is useless. Yet, many people think otherwise. Aggregate data may be useful for telling yourself how great you are with having such a big number of visitors (hey, I used to do that :) ) but ultimately you won’t get much out of it for practical purposes. Instead, segment the data.
Lesson 2: Segmented data is useful
You may have seen this option in Google Analytics but didn’t know what does it mean exactly. Oh, boy...this is the most useful option in Google Analytics and yet not many people notice it.
What can you accomplish with segmenting data?
a) Measure loyalty
Let’s say I want to find out more about people who visited 3 or more pages on my website. I can do that by creating an advanced segment:
First, click on “Advanced Segments” (see the screenshot above to see where that button is located). On the left, under Dimensions, click on Visitors and then on “Page Depth.” Drag “Page Depth” to the “dimension or metric” box. After you do that, choose “greater than or equal to” under Condition and then enter 3 under Value.
Now, next to Name Segment, enter a name and click on “Create Segment“. You’re finished. Before you create a segment, though, you might want to test the segment by clicking on the “Test segment” button on the same screen.
Now the amazing part..after you create the segment (by clicking the “create segment” button), click on it and a custom dashboard will appear (the same dashboard like for your aggregate data, just more useful :) ).
You can now see where those people (who visited 3 or more pages) came from (Traffic Sources > Referring Sites), see the keywords they used to come from search engines (Traffic Sources > Keywords), find what content attracted those people (Content > Overview) and so on.
While observing this, you might notice that people coming from a specific traffic source (Yahoo, for example) view more pages or a certain type of content (more text, less pictures, for example) attracts more loyal visitors.
Segments can be used for other things as well:
b) Segment by content type & goals (let’s say you’ve set up a goal in Analytics for people to visit your ‘about us’ page, you want to see which traffic source attracts people who are most interested in reading about you.
If you were a bit confused by all this, don’t worry. Segmenting is not that easy concept to grasp. You might want to take a look at this video from a Google seminar that gives more examples on how websites use segments to get more insights (I highly recommend you watch this video, it’s the best way to get started in segmenting.)
Lesson 3: Set up GOALS
It’s extremely important to have some website goals. For example, one of my website goals is to have people click on an AdSense ad. So I have Adsense connected to my Analytics account. Google makes it very easy to segment AdSense so I know which people click most on the ads, what articles attract most AdSense clicks and so on.
That’s my goal (clicking on an Adsense ad.) If you have other goals for your site (like purchasing a product, you want to set up a goal on the “Thank you” page so you know more about the people who purchased your products.) Here’s the set-up page for goals:
Here’s how people use goals:
- Blogs use it for their Subscribe options
- E-Commerce sites use it for their Thank you pages (after someone purchased a product)
- Image upload sites use it for their Upload button (to find out which people are most likely to upload pictures)
I highly recommend you read this blog post from Google for more advice & practical examples on how people use Goals to improve their business.
Useful, huh? You can start using Analytics in useful ways even today. Start small. First, try creating a small segment. You might discover some things you never new about your visitors and, overall, the site content.
Guest author Darko is the owner of FinderMind.com, a website on finding people online. You can also write guest articles and share your Analytics tips.