In this post I´m going to show you 10 very handy tips and tricks for Google Analytics, that will help you have a more reliable log of your stats so you can correctly measure your online presence. Some of the tips in this post should be implemented RIGHT NOW, specially if you deal with your clients’ metrics and need to send them detailed reports. If you put these Google Analytics tips in practice, you’ll be saving a lot of time when you work on your reports, they will be more thorough, and you’ll start to get real data about the number of sessions in your accounts.
1.Don’t count your own page views in Google Analytics
If you want your Analytics data to be 100% reliable, you need to exclude your own visits. This is very important if you usually make many changes in your website, because each revision you make counts many visits that alter your real numbers. This setting is very important for a web master.
There are several approaches, but I’m going to show just a few, so the post doesn’t get too long.
With an extension to opt-out from Google Analytics:
This is the simplest approach. You just need to install this Chrome extension and you’ll be totally invisible for Analytics. Be careful, because you’ll be completely invisible for Analytics, so you’ll not only rule out your visits in your own websites, but also in any other website.
Exclude your IP:
This isn’t the best or easiest approach, but it’s also very simple. You need to login to Analytics, and click on the “Admin” tab. From there you need to navigate to “Filters”, and create a new preset filter, with the condition Exclude > IP address traffic. You’ll need to paste your IP, hit save, and you’re done. If you need to know your IP you can go to http://www.whatsmyip.org/.
And I say this isn’t the best method because it only works if you access the Internet with a static IP, i.e. if it’s always the same IP. The usual is that your IP changes, so this wouldn’t work in the long term.
With a Plugin:
If you installed a Google Analytics plugin in your site, it probably has a setting to exclude your own visits. For instance, with the plugin “Google Analytics by Yoast”, in “General Settings” you’ll be able to exclude visits from different user roles, such as admins or editors.
2.Remove fake visits in Google Analytics (Ghost Referrals)
If you haven’t solved this step, you are most likely registering quite a few fake visits. This kind of traffic is all spam, it’s called Ghost Referral Traffic and it doesn’t affect positively in the dwell time or bounce rate in your web site. It’s done by bots that add many fake visits in your site and making an accurate analysis of your stats will be more difficult.
Check by yourself if you have spam visits navigating to Audience > Technology > Network, and clicking on “Host name”. If you see visits from weird hosts, that’s probably spam and you should rule those out.
The best way to exclude these spam visits from your Google Analytics is through an inclusion filter. For this you’ll need to navigate to Admin / Filters, and add a new INCLUDE* custom filter and click on “Host name”.
In the pattern, insert the code below:
Select verify filter, and see if the fake visits are excluded. If it worked, you can save the filter.
3.Create custom alerts in Google Analytics
By creating custom alerts in Google Analytics you can automatically monitor any change in any variable in all the accounts you manage.
You can create alerts in Admin > Alerts > New alert. Here’s a list with a few very useful alerts:
- No web traffic alert: Its goal is to notify you when you are not getting visits. It’s a good indicator that your site is down.
- Visits alert: This alert lets you know when your visits increase or decrease. You can also set an alert for when your visits reach an exact number, 100 visits, for instance. This would be an example setting:
- Average visit duration: You can set this alert to notify when the average dwell time increase/decrease from the % you set, and in relation with the previous period.
With the same criteria, any of the alerts can be specifically set to let you know about variations in your accounts’ performance. For example, you’ll be able to set different standards to create alerts for variations regarding:
Adwords: If you want to measure variables related your Google Adwords campaigns, you can create alerts related to the CTR, impressions, CPC, and more.
For this you need to associate your Adwords and Analytics accounts. An example CTR alert setting would be like this:
All the traffic > CTR > + 15% > Compared to the previous period
Social networks: You can also set alerts to let you know about changes in traffic coming from social networks. You can set them like this:
Media > Matches with > Twitter > Visits > + 30% > Compared to the previous period
SEO: You can set alerts to be notified of changes in your organic traffic.
Media > Matches with > Organic > Visits > + 15% > Compared to the previous period
4.Behavior flow in Google Analytics
In Behavior > Behavior flow you can access a report showing the path your visitors traveled through. You can click on the green button to modify the criteria you want it to display. It’s very useful so you know the path a user takes when they visit your site. You can see for example, how many visits went to your Contact page, but going to your Blog first.
By hovering the cursor above the image you’ll see the transit traffic percentage, and the number of exit pages in each section.
5.Enable the “Search engine optimization” section in Analytics
If you want to see the organic search data in your site you need to navigate to Acquisition > Search engine optimization. You’ll see three important sections called “Queries”, “Landing Pages” and “Geographical Summary”.
You can see there the data of the keywords your visitors typed in the search to get to your website, the websites where your visitors have landed through organic searches, and the countries your organic visitors come from.
This data is very important for improving your SEO through Google Analytics data. You are not seeing that data? If you’re not seeing that data it’s because your Google Search Console account is not linked to your Analytics account. You’ll see something like this:
You need to associate your accounts so you can see that data, following the steps they explain. Here are some screenshots:
6.Solve the famous (Not provided) in Google Analytics
From Adquisición > Channels > Organic Search we usually see a high number of visitors without information, saying “(not provided)”. If you don’t settle for that and want to know more, you can click on “Secondary dimension” to see more information.
If within (not provided) you click on Secondary dimension > Behavior > Landing pages, for example, you will see which pages within your website your users land in, and if you select Users > City, you’ll see where they come from.
7.See your visits in real-time in Google Analytics
You probably already knew this feature, but I’ll include it anyway, just in case. It allows you to see visits in real time, but the interesting bit is that you can see where they come from (geographically), and what channels they are coming through.
It’s very useful if you just launched a campaign with plenty of social media presence and you want to monitor if it’s generating the expected impact.
8.Monitor your goals in Google Analytics
It’s advised to set goals in Google Analytics so you can track how your visitors move within your website. You can set goals like, how many people have filled out your contact form, how many have made a purchase, or how many users have visited more than two pages per session in your site.
To set this you need to navigate to Admin > Goals > New goal. There are templates with preset goals, or you can customize them yourself. In custom, there are four types:
- Destination: For example, /contact.
- Duration: For example, 3 minutes or more.
- Pages/Screens per session: For example, 3 pages.
- Events: For example, a video play.
Setting a Destination goal: As I was saying, this lets you know how many people have landed in a particular page. If you want information about how many people have purchased in your online store you should enter in the Destination field the url that your site directs to once the user places an order, or it won’t be counted. You can add a monetary value to each conversion. You can see how to do it in the image below:
9.See your daily visits, on the same day from Google Analytics
The audience overview shows a graphic with visits per day, hour, week or month, according to what you set. But it does NOT show the visits from the same day, so you’d have to wait until 00:00 hrs to see them.
However, there’s a way to see the visits you’ve got since the day started, until the time you made the query. For that, you’d simply have to modify the time period you want to analyze, you then click on the current day, and Apply the changes.
Then, you’ll select in the top of the graphic “Hourly”, and you can see the visits you’ve got in that day up to that moment, and the time when they visited.
10.See the percentage of clicks in your site’s elements
In Behavior> Page analytics you see a preview of your web site showing where your visitors click. It’s not a heatmap, it tells you the percentage of clicks you’ve got in each one of the links, tabs in the menu, or buttons in your site.
This Google Analytics tip may result very useful to choose a new placement for each one of the elements in your site according to the behavior you observe.. It can also be useful to check if your banners are getting you clicks, or where’s the best position to place them.
If this feature is not working correctly, you can install a Chrome extension called “Page Analytics (by Google)”, it’s a joy to use it. As you can see in the image below, this tool tells you where your visitors click more often, displaying a percentage. You need to keep in mind that if you have more than one button or link directing to the same page, it won’t display each one separately, because the destination is the same.
Why to use all the options and tricks in Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is an essential tool for any web project.
It won’t only be useful to see how many visits you get, but when you put all these tips and tricks in practice, you’ll be able to take full advantage of this analytics tool and get the most out of your web site.
I recommend you to study all these features and think about how to use them in your website to improve it.
Don’t just settle with knowing where your visits come from, but take advantage of that information to:
- Promote your weakest urls according to the information you got.
- Compare your information with other periods to contrast the effect of particular marketing actions and analyze their impact.
- Analyze what kind of content draws more attention in social networks.
- Find out what’s your conversion rate and try to improve it.
Do you know any other tip or trick for Google Analytics to improve our stats?
If you do, please share it in the comments and I’ll gladly add them to the post as an update.