This write-up is prepared as a guide for the webmasters who are comparatively new in web analytics field. Recently there was a Google Webinar which emphasized the same topic and here I am providing inputs on how best to turn the Analytics data into rich insights and their importance.
Understanding the Importance of Analyzing Google Analytics Data
Google Analytics through its rich insights gives you lot of information regarding the website traffic which can in turn give you a better understanding on how your brand is performing online. But before starting a through data analysis it’s very important to get to know on different metrics that the company needs to target which includes:
- The reason why you have a business/service oriented website
- Your business target (Leads, website engagement, spark sales etc.) &
- How this metrics can be mapped in Google Analytics
If you a blog it’s very important to understand the reason they came to your blog, how long they read your blog and the queries for your blog ranks for. For an E-Commerce website its essential to understand the product which was most sought after in the website, why users are not purchasing an item and the kind of product they are looking for. For a service oriented website its necessary to track the mediums that lead people into your website (paid traffic, referred by another blog, social mediums). Now if you have figured what your business needs are then you can go about tracking the metrics in Google Analytics.
I don’t sell any products in my Website so why should I use Google Analytics?
The main intention behind creating a website is to attract online visitors and to create a better online image for a brand. Even if you are not using an E-Commerce site or doesn’t sell any product you can still take advantage of Google analytics to help better understand the performance of the website online and also to know why users are nor attracted/influenced by your site. Example if you want to know if a user checked your physical location details or if they have downloaded any content from your website then you can set up Goals for that page followed up by flow Visualization which shows how users got to the content. Goals can be used to track and measure specific targets or metrics that can be achieved through the website.
What are the different types of Goals that can be used?
There are four different types of Goals that can be used in Google Analytics which are:
- URL Destination
- Time on Site
- Pages per Visit &
1. URL destination
The “URL destination” goal will enable you to set a goal according to the URL that is targeted. You can set this Goal by copying and pasting the URL that is required (the URL should be the path after the domain name) E.G – If it’s the thank you page (www.example.com/thank-you) then set the Goal URL as “/thank-you” and if a user reaches this page it will be considered as a Goal.
2. Time on Site
Time on Site helps you to measure the engagement factor of the particular page; E.G if you have a “Survey Section” in your website then creating Time on Site will enable you to measure the data according to the specified time a visitor stays in the page.
3. Pages per Visit
Pages per Visit help you analyse the Goal according to the dept of a user interaction within the website.
4. Event Tracking Goals
Event tracking helps a webmaster to track the website visitor action even it it doesn’t directly relate to a page view. It can be useful for tracking:
- Downloads (PDF or other files)
- Interaction with dynamic sites or AJAX based websites
- Interaction with Flash, embedded videos and other media
- Length of the video watched
- Checkout errors etc.
5. E-Commerce tracking
E-Commerce tracking lets you track the transactions that are made in the website.
A detailed blog on how to set up E-Commerce tracking and how to track the data has been already posted; please have a look into that before reading further.
How do I define a specific URL Destination Goal Match Type?
There are three different URL destination Goal match types that can help Google Analytics identify the URL, they are:
- Exact match
- Head Match
- Regular expression
Now let’s take a deeper look into what these goal match types define.
1. Exact match
Exact match is specially used to track the goal for a static page, enabling the exact match will match the goal URL exactly as specified. E.G. if you are using “/example” as goal URL and if you are using exact match then Google analytics will record a goal only if a unique page view on “/example” occurs.
They will not record goal for pages that are viewed on the following page:
2. Head match
Head match set as Google Analytics URL destination goals are most effective if the website has dynamic contents. Identical characters starting from beginning of the specified string to the last character of the URL will be considered through this type of destination set. E.G if you are setting “/example” as head match in Google Analytics then the following pages will the recorded as goals:
3. Regular Expression Match
Regular expression match as Google Analytics destination goals allows more flexibility to track your goal URL using regular expression. I will be writing up a detailed article how to utilize the the regular expressions for tracking goals and data, so stay tuned for more.
What are the best metrics to track using Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is not all about tracking the total number of sales that is coming into your website. It also enables a webmaster or a business person to track and measure the overall performance of the website and also to measure a visitor interest who can be a potential customer. Often companies ignore the fact that internet is fast becoming a competitive world and to stay afloat and to expand the business we need to analyse the industry trends, patterns, visitor actions and best practices.
Having a defined business goal and acting towards analysing the performance accordingly can be the best approach.