I’ve been looking up a host of analytics questions this month – from APIs and integration to dashboards and segments. One minute I’ve just got a quick practical question to double check and the next I’m 2 hours immersed in a world of analytics tidbits that I hadn’t realised.
Then SEO Chick Anna posted some great new tricks and tips on using Google Analytics quickly and effectively - some great keyboard shortcuts in there! It occurred to me that we haven’t really had a roundup of useful analytics posts in some time. And boy are there are a lot out there. So here, to make your lives easier and save you the time I spent getting caught up in a Googling cycle, here are some of the top tips I thought should be shared more. NB. I’m not taking credit for these great posts, I just felt it was about time somebody pulled them together in once place.
1. Analytics PR Dashboard (or why making your own dashboards is a must)
This popped up in my Google Reader the other day and it’s a really great, simple tool that saves us just that little bit of time. I’m a big advocate of building dashboards for clients/bosses. I’ve found that allowing them that immediate access any time they like gets them off my back more and helps them to understand my tasks a lot more. The dashboards should never be in-depth but should provide an ‘at-a-glance’ insight into the site’s performance.
What I’d never really done was take that one step further and break down those dashboards to be targeted at individual needs within a given company. Justin Cutroni of Lunametrics and analytics halls of fame has done exactly that with his nifty little PR Dashboard for Google Analytics. It’s simple, there’s nothing fancy about it and it integrates everything PRs would be interested in at a glance. This includes: Traffic & Conversions from key social sources, Top referring website (exc. social), Number of social shares, etc. Working in a large media agency, that incorporates PR as part of its services, I can say that it is a huge benefit to be able to offer up simple and understandable data, quickly!
And this is just the beginning, the key now is take Justin’s simple and idea and feed that out across all of the key stakeholders. The theory is the same across clients, and for a small amount of effort, you get happy clients/bosses that feel that they have something bespoke and individual to them – that they can understand! I speak from current experience when I say it works.
2. Using Analytics to Track Your Link Building Traffic (or why traffic-generating links are the future)
Another great post from our very own Anna Lewis over at Search Engine Watch, with helpful tips on how to set up filters within GA to allow you to specifically track traffic generated from links you have built for an SEO purpose. I wanted to include this pointer as it’s a timely reminder of what it is we’re trying to do with our SEO.
Link building is no longer just about link building, it’s crucial to get those relevant, and traffic driving, links that actually mean something for your site. Gone are the days when referral traffic was ‘somebody else’s’ business!
Top tool tip here is SEO Tools for Excel, a nifty little tool that quickly and easily allows you to pivot your data and turn it into something meaningful. I’ve been using this tool a lot recently and am a big fan (NB. if you’re stuck behind a company proxy, it can take a bit of fiddling). Also, see image below, that I took from Anna’s post – a simple example of useful the tool is.
3. Tracking Google Image Search (or why GWT data needs questioning)
Next up is a nice post from Blind Five Year Old, on tracking image search using filters in GA. I really love the post as it’s:
a) a very simple and elegant solution based on image search referrers that fixes an issue in GA that really bugs me and
b) reinforces the point that we should be happy to use Webmaster Tools data just because it’s easily provided. It never matches up with GA and we should question this as much as possible.
c) allows us to then draw our own conclusions
The trick is simple to base filter (that also provide intact keyword data) to the image search referrer that is not lost from click to visit. So simple I can’t believe I didn’t think of it earlier.
Go forth and filter!
4. A Whole Bunch of Advanced Segments Set Up For Really Really Lazy People (or why sometimes time savers are good)
And lastly, just because I like to help those time-poor (read: LAZY) people among you out there, here’s a whole list of advanced segments set up and ready for you to use at will all packaged up for you nicely by Penguin Initiatives.
Included among these are basic but crucial daily segments such as filtering (not provided) traffic, new visitors that visited more than three pages aka. FANS, and a variety of mobile device segments broken down across all options.
Now none of these are difficult to set up and I’d always recommend you familiarise yourself with your options, setting up your own segments based on your unique business needs. Having said that, I love posts where someone has bothered to pull together a whole bunch of time-saving opportunities so it felt right that I should share.
It’s the lazy man’s cheat sheet: not to be relied on but a great backup to have!
5. GA Tip of the Day (or why you can never know too much)
Last but not least, I wanted to point you in the direction of a website I only recently discovered (am I really behind??), aptly named GA Tip of the Day.
It does exactly what it says on the tin, well not quite – it’s not quite a tip per day but still, it’s great to have an ongoing feed on actionable tips and tricks to keep your GA account in ship shape condition. Some tips are more technical than others, many you may already know, but any tip that you might pick up out of the ones that remind you that you already know them is a good thing right?
I saw a tip about seeing all of your GA annotations in a list rather than individually. May sound slightly ridiculous but I found this really useful and had no idea I could do it!
Sign up…. what’s the worst that can happen?!