25th May 2020 in Business

Google Analytics anonymously collects user data from visitors to your website, unless they have javascript or cookies disabled.

This user journey data – over 500 metrics and dimensions – is collated and displayed in the online interface or dashboard.

Joanne Kearney is the Managing Director of digital analytics consultancy firm, GlowMetrics. Established in 2013, the company is the only agency in Ireland to be certified by Google in their full suite of analytics products. With a base in Belfast and Dublin, GlowMetrics help companies to collect, evaluate, and visualise their website and app data to optimise their online performance.

Joanne delivered an insightful session on Google Analytics at a Lunchtime Learning session facilitated by the Cathedral Quarter BID (Business Improvement District) full of tips for small business owners.

Here are just some of Joanne’s key takeaways:

5 key changes to make in your settings

There are five changes you can make to your settings (in the admin panel, under View Settings) to make the data collected by Google Analytics as relevant and accurate as possible.

1. Filter out any known ‘bots’

Joanne explained: “Most websites will get bot traffic, which cannot be stopped. Exclude known bots in your settings to make your data more accurate.”

2. Filter out internal traffic 

In your settings, under ‘filters’, filter out your IP address so website visits from you and others in your company won’t be registered in the data set.

3. Filter out FBCLID

Joanne said: “When a user clicks on a Facebook link and is directed to your website, Facebook adds their own parameters to the URL. This can affect the data for the Top Viewed Pages report. FBCLID can be removed in View Settings in Exclude Query Parameters. Just enter FBCLID to remove it.”

4. Turn on Site Search

Google Analytics gathers lots of data on your website but one thing that is not automatically turned on is Site Search.

Joanne added: “This generates a report on the most used search terms within a search box on your website, which is an important report that will give you an indication of what people are looking for when they come to your site.”

5. Set up Goals

Goals are used to tell Google Analytics what Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you would like to track.

“Google Analytics has so much data that it can be difficult for you to see what is useful to you and your business. Goals can be applied to most reports to filter the data. There are four types of goals to pick from, with Destination URL being the most popular” said Joanne.

5 common Google Analytics problems

Joanne’s session was packed full of useful tips and insights, but here are just five of the common Google Analytics problems she gets asked about regularly, which she tackled during her talk.

1. My numbers don’t add up

You run weekly or monthly reports but at the end of a given time period, the numbers don’t add up. What’s going on? Joanne explained: “In your report, if the shield next to the report name is yellow, you are working with sample data, not the full data set. For example, demographics reports are always sampled. If the shield is green, you are viewing all the data available in your account. Ways around this include running reports that cover a shorter time frame or downloading the raw data.”

2. We want to track more than page views

Google Analytics has a bit of a one-track mind. It can only ‘see’ page views.

Joanne said: “Any actions that are completed that don’t generate a new URL, like a form that is filled out that doesn’t generate a new ‘thank you’ page when it is submitted? That can’t be tracked as it can’t be ‘seen’ by Google Analytics. For in-page actions, you need to set up Events, which are tracked in Google Tag Manager.”

3. Our bounce rate is too high

Bounce rates are often over 50%. It isn’t a very accurate metric and should not be reported on site wide. Interactions within a page that don’t generate a new URL will count as a bounce once the user leaves the page – if event tracking is not turned on.

“The bounce rate is also not associated to the amount of time a user spends on a page – so if a visitor stays on one page but reads a lengthy blog post, and then leaves your website without visiting any other pages – this will count as a bounce.

“When creating content, bounce rate is a poor indicator of website performance. An Event in Google Tag Manager to track scroll depth will generate an event ping in Google Analytics” said Joanne.

4. We have multiple types of customer, but we can’t tell the difference in them in Google Analytics

Joanne said: “Creating custom dimensions allows you to apply labels to visitors that make sense to you. Labels can be applied by page level or interaction, which allows you to see how different audience types use your site.”

5. There’s so much data in Google Analytics, I don’t know what’s useful and what’s not

Data Studio is a free Google product that allows you to create bespoke templates and reports to pull in the useful data from Google Analytics that you want to see and report on.

Joanne revealed: This gives a high level and user-friendly overview that is visualised. If you want to drill down further into any one metric or dimension, you would then use Google Analytics.”

Check out Joanne’s full Lunchtime Learning on the Cathedral Quarter website: https://www.cathedralquarterbelfast.com/whats-on/lunchtime-learning-intro-to-google-analytics/

To see more Lunchtime Learning sessions go to: https://www.cathedralquarterbelfast.com/lunchtime-learning

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