When it comes to the new Google Analytics features that have been introduced over the last year, there are several that are still underutilized by most marketers and small businesses.
Here are some highlights of the most useful features that you should be using right now to improve your productivity, insights, and conversions.
Dashboards for Easy Access
Do you find yourself drilling down to the same piece of information each time you go to your Google Analytics, and wish you could save yourself some time by getting their faster? You can by using Dashboards in Google Analytics. To find your Dashboards, log in to your Google Analytics account, select a website profile, and click the Home button in the top menu bar.
Google Analytics gives you a default dashboard with several example widgets. Most of these contain the same general information you would get in your Visitors Overview report, so you will want to customize these to meet your needs. For example, let’s say that you want to see your traffic from just the United States without having to go to your Audience > Demographics > Location and then drill down to the US.
You can either edit the default widgets or delete the default widgets on your dashboards screen and create new ones. You can also create a whole new dashboard for a specific information set. To edit or delete widgets, click on the settings wheel icon next to the widget and then click the Delete Widget link on the widget’s setting screen. To create a new dashboard, click on the +New Dashboard in the left sidebar menu.
For this example, we are going to edit the default widget of Visits and Avg. Visit Duration by Country. To get it to only show visitors from the United States, we will change the metric showing Country / Territory to Region, and then we will change the Filter this data to Only Show Country / Territory Exactly matching the United States. You will also want to change the Link to Report or URL to the specific information set you are referencing in your widget.
Now, this default widget is only showing the visits and average visit duration for visitors from the United States.
If you need more information, you can click on the link at the top of the widget and it will take you to the Audience > Demographics > Location section where you can click on the United States map to learn more about your visitors from the US.
So be sure to experiment with different dashboard widgets and data to create a dashboard that reduces the amount of time you spend navigating from one standard Google Analytics report to the next.
Integration with Webmaster Tools
Under Traffic Sources in the Standard Reporting view, there is a new section called Search Engine Optimization. This section will show you search queries for your website, popular landing pages, and a geographical summary of your visitors, but only if you connect your Google Analytics with your Google Webmaster Tools.
If you haven’t already, be sure to set up your website with Google Webmaster Tools by adding your site. There are several different verification methods you can use to verify ownership of your website – the recommended method is by signing in through your hosting provider. Under Alternative methods, you can also have it simply check for your Google Analytics code.
After your Google Webmaster Tools is set up, you can go back into Google Analytics and click on any option under Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization. Then click on the Set up Webmaster Tools data sharing button. This will take you to your website’s Property Settings. Under the Webmaster Tools Settings, click on the Edit link. This will take you to Webmaster Tools where you can link the appropriate website to your Google Analytics account. Click apply to finish.
After a few days, you will start seeing data under the Search Engine Optimization section which will include search queries, landing pages, and the geographical summary of the number of times your website shows up in search results (impressions) and receives clicks from those impressions.
Note that you might see a drop off on the last day or two – this is because it takes a while for Webmaster Tools to compile data and send it to your Google Analytics. It doesn’t mean anything is wrong.
Social Plugin Analytics Code
Under the Traffic Sources > Social reports, you can learn more about the social interactions that happen on your website through social plugins. Google Analytics automatically measures the data of clicks for the Google +1 button on your pages.
You can see a graphical display of these on-site social plugin interactions as well as a breakdown of the top pages that receive Google +1 clicks. But what about your Facebook like and Twitter retweet button? These are not automatically included in Google Analytics reporting. If you want to have them included, you will need to modify the tracking code on your website. To learn more about how to do this, visit the Google Analytics Help Center and review the section on Setting Up Social Analytics.
Last, but not least, if you are interested in doing a little A/B testing to improve your website’s conversions, then visit the Content > Experiments section. With Content Experiments, you can:
- Compare how different web pages perform using a random sampling of your visitors.
- Define what percentage of visitors should be included in your experiment.
- Choose what types of goals to test on your landing pages.
- Get updates by email about how your experiments are doing. This feature is still under development but will be available soon.
The following video explains how to use it:
You can learn more about setting up Content Experiments in the Google Analytics Help Center. There is even advice on how to make sure your experiments do not affect your SEO rankings using server redirects and the rel=”canonical” tag.
What new features in Google Analytics are you using to help improve your website and conversions?
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