Exploring the Features of Google Analytics
Everyone who knows anything about the web knows about Google Analytics. However, not everyone knows how far the Analytics capabilities extend. For anyone not familiar with Google Analytics, here is the summary taken from the Analytics website that sums it up pretty well:
"Learn more about where your visitors come from and how they interact with your site. You'll get the information you need to write better ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives, and create higher-converting websites. Learn more about the benefits. Google Analytics is free to everyone, whether you are an advertiser, publisher, or site owner."
Today I have outlined some of the features Google Analytics provides including my personal favorite tools. To provide more extensive explanations, I have referenced one of my own Analytics accounts, my wedding website, www.brentandkaylee.com.
- Referring Site Visits. Referring websites are important to note for pretty much anyone, but especially for a company that advertises on an outside website, utilizes networking sites to gain traffic, or even those that utilize SEO or SEM.
- Search Engine Visits. Analytics also provides Search Engine information which can be an incredibly useful tool to figure out which keywords to capitalize on, which seem to maintain interested viewers, etc. This is one of the most important Analytics features for anyone doing Search Engine Marketing Campaigns. Of course for my wedding website, this was not all that big of a feature as everyone was given the exact URL via the wedding invitation RSVP card.
- Filter Yourself. Filtering your IP address out is a must do for any company or freelancer. To do so, find your IP address and set up a filter by clicking on the 'Add Filter' button in the Analytics Dashboard, so Google does not include traffic from your company or personal network. This allows you to analyze your statistics without worrying about your own impact on those statistics.
- Unique Visitors. The 'New vs. Returning' visitor information is important as it allows you to analyze if you are generating new leads or just maintaining the old leads. While they are both important, continuously generating new viewership is important for any type of website as it demonstrates growth.
- Page Views/Bounce Rate. This feature can really help you analyze your page content. Often times if a landing page does not generate enough interest, you will lose most of your viewers after their initial impression. A high number of page views and a low bounce rate is ideal for a successful website.
- Browser Capabilities & Connection Speeds. For anyone unsure of their websites compatibility with other browsers, operating systems, etc., this feature is a must. If you are somewhat apathetic about browser testing, and you monitor the browsers people have used thus far, then it eases the necessity of doing so as you know exactly which browsers you will need to ensure your website is fully functional with. You can also check for screen resolutions, and flash versions to make sure your website is seen the way it is supposed to be seen. In addition, you can analyze connection speeds of your viewers to be sure the website loads in a decent amount of time for your viewers. For more information about cross-browser testing, see my recent post Cross-Browser Testing Methods.
- Tracking links. Google Analytics also allows you to track the outgoing links on your website to further analyze your viewers behavior. Simply insert the following code (forgive my laziness, yes, it is an image):
- Tracking your visitor's actions. You can track the browsing and buying behavior of your website visitor also through Google Analytics, to see who subscribed, mad a purchase/download, etc. using the following script:
- Advanced Segments: Analytics allows you to analyze subsets of your viewership with the Advanced Segments Tool. You are able to select from predefined segments, which include: all visitors (default), new visitors, returning visitors, paid, non-paid, search traffic, direct traffic, referral traffic, visits with conversions, visits from iPhones and non-bounce visitors; or you can create your own custom segments with a flexible segment builder. See the video below to learn more about advanced segments.
- Dashboard Customization. You can customize the reports featured in your dashboard quite easily through Google Analytics. This allows you to see your most important reports immediately without digging through your reports to find them.
- Email Alerts. Analytics allows you to set-up emails alerts on a schedule for continuous updates on your stats. Go to Analytics settings -- View Reports -- Email -- Schedule to customize your alerts.
- Export to Excel. For Analytic virgins, the 'Export to Excel feature can be a true time saver. Each Analytics report can be exported to a file type compatible with Excel for personal documentation purposes or for more familiarity. XML, TSV, PDF, CSV
- Great Visualization Features: From the 'Site Overlay' feature, which provides information regarding the links being clicked on the page (see image below below for brentandkaylee.com's site overlay) to the 'Map Overlay' feature that provides visitors location information by color-coding maps (see image below for brentandkaylee.com's map overlay), to the plethora of graphs created to analyze data, Google Analytics data charts are an excellent supplement for visualizing large data.