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Are you writing and managing a blog or website? Then say hello to your new best friend: Google Analytics Google Analytics: those two words sound shivers down most marketers spine. For many of you, it’s a maze, a web of complicated data, “tough beans!” some may say. Yes it can be a little bit of a head bend, BUT it needn’t be. Practice makes perfect and there are some simple things you can do to get more out of your data with our top 5 Google Analytics Tips. Analytics is a super cool tool that you can use to pull insights to improve the metrics that matter to you the most. You should be using it to answer questions about your site and blog, like; where are your readers from? Which post is engaging people for longer, are they returning, which marketing channels are doing better to drive traffic to your site? This is all key information that will help you to create better content, distribute it across the right channels and drive ROI through the roof. As everyone is at a different stage in their analytics journey, we’ve focused on 5 awesome Google Analytics tips that you can use today, without (much) additional tinkering.

1- Get to know more about your readers

When you log into analytics you will find the reports on the left hand side. Audience will have data about who is going to your website eg what age, gender, locations, do they return, are they on a mobile? Acquisition will let you know how they got to your website e.g do your visitors come from google organic, social media, or email campaigns? Behaviour is focused on what they do when they get to your website e.g what pages of your site are popular with your readers? Conversions will be about what you want them to do e.g sign up for blog alerts, share content on social media etc Start off with Audience> Overview at a high level it will tell you how many users you have, how many pages the average user’s session will be, and how long they stay on your site. overview google analytics pic If you want to get a little more granular, you can head to Demographics> Age or Demographics > Gender to see how old they are, and if they are male or female. If you want to get this data you have to enable this feature in your Admin settings. Head over to Admin> Property Settings and turn the toggle on enable demographics report pic What we really like about this report, when you have enabled this feature, is that you can drill down to see how old your readers are and if they are male or female. It always surprises me how these cohorts behave and there is the option (in all the reports) to see how well the age and genders do in regards to your conversions. If you found out that most of your readers where within in a certain age range and gender, would you change your tone and style of writing? demographics age google analytics pic You can also find out where they are coming from. Head over to Audience> Geo> Location will tell you where they are from, down to the City. This will give you a basic overview of who your customers are, a mini persona so to speak.

2- Get context with data ranges to understand if you are going in the right direction

If your reports just focus on last month’s data, you will struggle to understand if you’re moving in the right direction. We would recommend always comparing current performance to 2 out of these 3, time comparisons. % year on year Month on Month Today v Yesterday If you business is older than a 1 year (hurray!) , use sequential and last year comparisons. If your business is less than a year old use sequential and average comparisons. For example, instead of just reporting on what happened last month, you can say something like this…… “So our January 2017 traffic is down 25% compared to December, but we are up 30% compared to last January 2016”. To change the date ranges, head over to the top right of your reporting area and click on the little triangle at the end of the date range, now you just need to highlight the date range and to compare you just need to tick ‘Compare to” and select previous period or previous year. See this isn’t as hard as you thought right? These Google Analytics tips are a doddle when followed correctly. 

3- Compare to the site average

Averages suck. Yes it’s great to have a baseline number for your metrics, but it won’t help you see the good, bad and the ugly. In all of your reports there is a hidden trick to pull your data up by its socks. When you look at your reports they are typically pulled into a grid with average metrics pulled into the report. Hidden away, top right of table you will see 6 little boxes, the 4th one across is one of our favorites, this is the Comparison option. compare to the site average icon google analytics pic When you click it, you get a visual like this, just play around with the drop downs to change the report. This allows you to see (compared to the site average) how your marketing channels are doing in terms of getting you new users, which ones are better at getting you more revenue etc. 

4- Annotations: Sticky notes on your analytics

Have you ever looked at your analytics reports and seen the a spike in your traffic and you asked yourself “I wonder what happened there?”, or more recently a client of ours said “we’ve had a burst of organic traffic in 3 days!”. There’s an option to add little sticky notes onto your analytics to help you understand what those blue spark-lines are doing. To create an annotation you just click on the little triangle under the reports and select + create new annotation. You can then amend the date and write up to 160 characters. You have the option to make them private (only you see them) or public (anyone who has access to the account can see them). Use this to note when you launch a new blog, make changes to your website homepage, or launch a campaign. You can also view these under your personal tools and assets at View level. 

5- Site Search

This is one of our all-time-favs and Google Analytics trick that SO many business owners and marketers miss out on. Think of your site search like a little pot of gold at the end of rainbow. It’s full of surprises and such a great Google Analytics trick. If you have a little search bar on your website so that users can quite literally ‘search’ for something, then we have some good news. You can track and record your visitors that use this feature. But what’s even better, is that you can find out what they’ve been typing in!! Bingo! This for us is a little gold mine, it tells you exactly what people are looking for. If you don’t have the information people are searching for on your website, write about it! Create a landing page or blog post. Or if you thought it was obvious to people where to find it but they are getting stuck, improve the user experience to help people get what they need faster.

To get this you need to go to your View settings at admin level and turn the toggle for Site Search Tracking ON. One last step is to pop in what your query parameter is, you can find this by looking at the URL when you use your search facility, for this example for the website Book Machine https://bookmachine.org/?s=publishing+a+book+ the URL puts the letter s before the search term, so you would add the letter S. In other cases it is the letter Q. When you have done this, it will only start to pull in data the day that you turn it on, so get it turned on asap! When you want to see the results, head over to Behaviour> Site Search and you can drill down to Search Terms. 

As you can see, Google Analytics doesn’t have to be this super-duper complicated platform that you try to avoid using. By implementing a few simple Google Analytics tips like these, you can get to know your audience, look at year-on-year performance, site averages and really get to know more about what people are searching for on your website. Well done fellow marketer! You superhero you. If you’d like to find out more about The Colouring In Department’s cool stuff, you can download some of our free marketing templates here.