Google Analytics is a great platform for tracking what is actually happening on a website (providing there is enough enablement of the advanced features of Google Analytics to track everything you might want to capture). Most of the time people fail to properly set up Google Analytics and there are a few things you can do to make it easier to get the more out of your analytics implementation without too much extra effort.
Hack 1: – Install Google Analytics Tracking Script
I have been using a tracking script for several of my clients that I found is very useful and fairly easy to install. Immertia has a great script that tracks all downloads, all email links and all outgoing links automatically for you as events – that is very helpful and very cool and something I think everyone should install. The complete instructions are at Google Analytics: script to track outbound links and downloads on Stephane Hamel’s blog in a post titled: Google Analytics: script to track outbound links and downloads::immeria::web analytics blog::Stephane Hamel
One thing you’ll have to keep in mind is all of the events tracked can not be made into Goals within Google Analytics – I understand this is a functionality Google Analytics may enable at some future time – but today you can do all the same tracking as virtual pageviews (which an be made into a Goal) but without the Goal tracking.
Hack 2: Build Advanced Segments so you can use them across site profiles
I have a couple of Advanced Segments I often use in all my profiles, regardless of the client – one of them is the Social Media Advanced Segment which is a regular expression that is easy to update – here’s what I have for my Social Media Segment – if more that should be in there, it’s easy enough to update the segment.
What this is great for is giving a client a quick and dirty assessment of their social media traffic – here’s a link to my advanced segment in case you want to start off right away – I hope you enjoy using Advanced Segments and if any of you know of many more social media sites that ought to be included, let me know.
Hack 3: Use Advanced Segmentation to track conversion pages or events
In many cases a website has multiple goals, just like the businesses it’s connected to, and there may be multiple places on a website that are considered evidence of a successful visit or transaction. Normally, Google Analytics would look at all of the urls or pages where a conversion took place individually, but through Advanced Segmentation, you can put all to the “success urls” together into once segment and then look at behavior of successful visits vs. non-successful (where product or services wasn’t sold or is developing but didn’t take place yet) visits.
Hack 4: Use Reverse Goal Path to figure out how people reach your success pages.
I have several goals set up on my blog and one of my favorite reports is Reverse Goal Path – one of my goals is on based on those who read my ebooks and another on those who view my CV. Reverse Goal Path allows me to easily see how people got to my content successfully – and did what I wanted them to (succeed at the goal). With the newer features of Goals which allow you to set up more criteria – the pathing view looks more and more enticing.
There are more hacks I could share with you on Google Analytics – many of them you’ll find me posting on at my blog, Webmetricsguru.com – by subscribing to my RSS feed you’ll get constant updates including more Google Analytics hacks.
With any luck at all, and very little effort, you can vastly improve your analytics capabilities using a few simple hacks like the ones I have shared with you today.
Some Comments: I have more hacks than what I listed in this article and I’ll be publishing them shortly in a few other places besides WebMetricsGuru. One thing to keep in mind – much of the “social” activity we’re most interested in measuring these days is going to be invisible to Google Analytics unless the activities involve the website and you have provided a unique landing page / url parameters, etc, to mark the activities.