Best Practices to Follow When Using Google Analytics

Google Analytics can be used as anything from a simple tool for tracking basic data to a means of gathering in-depth information. If you only use the default functions, you are wasting opportunities to optimize your online presence. It is relatively simple to activate and configure many of the features, and benefits are long-lasting.best-practices-to-follow-1

1. Track E-commerce

If you’re offering purchase opportunities on your site, it is useful to know where your most valuable customers come from. To set up e-commerce tracking, head to Google Analytics standard reports and click “Admin” in the top right of the screen. Under “Profile Settings,” find “E-Commerce Settings” and choose “Yes, an E-Commerce Site.” Click “Apply.”

Sending the e-commerce data from your site to Google Analytics requires complex code. If you are unable to handle the task yourself and have no expert coder in your business, a better way to go forward may be to use Shopify (which transfers all the data automatically to Google Analytics) or a WordPress plugin like Cart66.

2. Use Universal Analytics

Although the core reporting functions of Classic Analytics remain unchanged, it is still better to switch to Universal Analytics. You will have access to new features like Custom Dimensions to use in custom reports and Measurement Protocol (which allows you to track activity from different devices, online and offline) as well as any capabilities Google adds later. Furthermore, although Google plans to continue supporting Classic Analytics for the next two years, its future beyond that is uncertain.

Migration to Universal Analytics is easy, but you need to do it per property rather than per account. In the “Admin” screen, choose each property in turn and click “Universal Analytics Upgrade.”

It is also a good idea to update the tracking code on your website from ga.js to analytics.js. If you do this, you will also need to update your e-commerce, manually coded events, virtual pageviews, and social tracking to Universal syntax.

3. Utilize Google Tag Manager

Tag Manager provides you with a place to keep all your tracking code as well as much of your analytics and marketing code, which collectively are called tags. This is a better option than Google Analytics’ implementation, as Tag Manager supports other types of tags.

If you choose to use Tag Manager, you will need to add container code to every page on your website, preferably directly after the <body> tag and before the </head> tag. Use the interface whenever you want to add Google Analytics tags to the container and when you want to configure settings. Again, you will need to reconfigure your e-commerce, manually coded events, virtual pageviews, and social tracking.

4. Define Your Goals

Goals allow you to track conversions — the best way to measure the success of your efforts. To determine what should constitute as a goal, think about the purpose of your site. Are you trying to gather leads? Gain subscribers for your newsletters? Maybe you want users to download your premium content.

You will find “Goals” in your standard reports under “Admin.” To set a new goal, give the goal a name, select “Active,” and pick a “Goal Type.” There are four types to choose from:

  • URL Destination — counted whenever a user visits a certain page.
  • Visit Duration — specify the minimum amount of time you want a user to spend on your website.
  • Pages/Visit — the number of pages you want a user to access in a single visit.
  • Event — you will need to add code to your website that allows Google Analytics to track the event before you can set it as a goal.

You can also create goal funnels, a sequence of URLs that users must pass through to convert. You’ll find this option at the bottom of the “Goals” page.

5. Set Access Rights

Google Analytics allows you to set four levels of access rights, useful for involving others in managing and viewing your data while capping their capabilities. These access levels are:

  • Manage Users — add and delete users, assign permissions
  • Edit — carry out all administrative tasks except managing users, see report data, create and apply filters
  • Collaborate — create personal assets and share them, collaborate on shared assets
  • Read & Analyze — see report and configuration data, see shared assets, create advanced segments, dashboards, annotations, custom reports, and intelligence alerts for user view onlybest-practices-to-follow-2

6. Enable Multiple Views

Creating multiple views of the same website allows you to apply several filters and goals to the same data. This is useful for allowing various departments to access the account, each of which will have an interest in different data. Here are a few types of views to consider using:

  • Unfiltered view. Create a view completely free of filters, including the filter you use to hide internal traffic.
  • Target market view. Filter out traffic not coming from your target market locations to avoid skewed data.
  • Traffic views. Create views for different types of traffic, including organic traffic, search engine traffic, social media traffic, Facebook traffic, paid search traffic, Google AdWords traffic, mobile traffic, referral traffic, and direct traffic.
  • Test view. Create a view to test new configurations before applying them to other views.

Remember, you can create up to 50 views for each account.

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