In this series, we will be looking at what you'll need to know to optimise your website and what tools you’ll need to do so. We’ll be looking at:
- 3 Useful Features in Google Analytics
- How Search Engines Decide Your Page Ranking
- Utilising Keywords
- 3 Methods To Achieve Backlinks
In this post, we will be looking at 3 useful features when using Google Analytics, keeping the data collected ‘clean’ and how to set up custom dashboards and reports.
If you are unfamiliar with how Google Analytics works, I highly recommend the Google Analytics Academy, specifically the Digital Analytics Fundamentals course, as this will set you on the path to becoming a Google Analytics whizz. When you set up a Analytics account, have multiple ‘views’:
- The ‘Master View’ – this remains untouched by filters in order for it to collect all data.
- The ‘Working View’ – this is the view that collects the data you can trust. All of your reports and figures that you publish should come from this view.
- The ‘Test View’ – this is where you should test out new features that will interrogate the data before implementing said features on the ‘Working View’. This technique ensures that the data in ‘Working View’ remains accurate.
It’s important to set up filters to ensure the data Analytics collects is ‘clean’, this means no 'false' data is included and that you are only collecting data from genuine visitors. Filters that I always set up include:
- The IP address of the site owner and any other IP addresses that will provide unreliable data.
- Spam filters – this is done ad hoc, which is why I set up a custom alert (more on those later) to notify me when a ‘spam’ referral is making itself known. This saves me constantly looking at the data to look for abnormalities.
This is a very useful feature that allows you to be notified (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.) when pretty much anything that you want to keep track of happens on your website. These are a few alerts that I have set up;
- Referral Bounce Rates % – I track the ‘bounce rate’ of referrals to our websites, as a high bounce rate usually means that bots are going to my site providing false page views and unnecessarily increasing the bounce rate.
- Organic search increase/decrease – this is a useful alert that informs me of the progress of any SEO work I have done.
Custom dashboards are very useful for a quick in-depth overview of how certain areas of your website are performing. Data can be collected and interpreted to you in numerous ways – I prefer my custom dashboards to have both visual graphs and informative tables. Some of the areas I like to have set up dashboards for are:
- SEO – this dashboard show’s me everything I need to know about; the keywords used to find my site, the tally of organic searches, what search engine was used to find my site, which webpage users visit from search engines, etc.
- Pay per click – a particularly useful dashboard when you are running an AdWord campaign, it shows you the number of PPC visits, goal conversion rates by campaign/ad group/keywords, visits by country/territory and more.
- Site performance – an informative dashboard that provides information including average page load times, server response time and load time by browser.
In the next post in this series, we will be looking at how search engines decide your page ranking. This will provide details on how search engines collect data and monitor user behaviour.