Why use Google Analytics vs other Analytics tools?
I think the best reason I would say to use GA over other tools is accuracy. A lot of statistics packages you get free with web hosting, things like AW stats and such like, they tend to give you very high numbers, but those figures invariably will include bots and spiders and other software as well as fake traffic basically or very questionable saw traffic coming from traffic farms and such like. Google is very good at detecting and recognising a real website visitor from a piece of software so the numbers you get in Google Analytics will tend to be quite a bit lower than other packages but they will tend to be much more genuine too.
What are some of the basics that many users forget to do in Google Analytics
Two areas here I think. People rarely set up a second view. The best practice here is to leave the original view of data in Analytics that is created when you create a profile, with no filters on it, and name it “Unfiltered data”. Then create a second view which is where you can put filters in place to either filter out certain types of traffic or use them to clean up data that comes into Google Analytics. So, by doing this you always have the raw data that comes into GA untouched by filters, but by creating filters on a second view, you can actually do things like exclude internal traffic. So, if you have a business employing several people and they are on your website a lot it is good to exclude their use of the site and concentrate reporting on use of the site by real website visitors. Another use for filters is that you can exclude traffic from certain countries, certain languages and even alter the data when it comes in to make it more readable or meaningful. The need to do this will depend partly on the state of your website, you may need to do this you may not, but the options and opportunities to get your data in a great shape by filters are huge. Always make sure you do any filtering on a second copy and leave that one original unfiltered view untouched.
What is your number one tip for getting the most useful data out of google analytics?
For me it is clear – more than the standard page and session tracking, the real insight it often around events. This is when site visitors interact with your website, with your content, with your pages in a number of different ways beyond simply clicking links from one page to the next. Your site visitors interact with forms, they scroll up and down, they click links that show and hide data on a page, all sorts of different things that are genuine activity but without event tracking in place in Google Analytics you can’t see this – so setting up event tracking is key.
The best way to achieve this is to use Google Tag Manager (GTM). I never used to be a fan of this tool in the past but since a new version was released a couple of years ago, it is now the bomb and I love it! It is the most excellent piece of marketing script management software around, in fact, it’s the only one I know really, but it just can do so much. So basically, instead of putting your Google Analytics code on the site like you would typically, instead you set up a free Google Tag Manager account. Then, generate a script for what is called the “container” and place this container script on the website you wish to track. From then on, any scripts you may want to use for Google Analytics, AdWords Remarketing, Facebook Pixels, Bing Ads, any type of script that you would normally place in your sites source code, you add into GTM instead. So no need to worry about updating your website everything is handled in the Tag Manager software. You can test things work, and only then ‘publish’ your updated container to the site. One other key thing you can do with Tag Manager is you can integrate all aspects of a page any user is on, and scrape the data (or the DOM).So you can see exactly what people are doing along the lines of the things I mentioned earlier. This mean scrolling, clicking links that don’t go to new pages, navigating through forms, interacting with navigation, all these kinds of things that are actual events rather than page views, you can set them up in Tag Manager.
GTM or Tag Manager is one those things that I could talk about all day, I’m probably going to release a new video on this in the near future on how to get set up with the basics, and then more on how to get into some advanced stuff too. I hope this is been of some help and I hope it’s been interesting let me know in the comments. Thank you!