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Insights from Google Analytics

The start of a new year is usually a good time to review what’s been and to plan for what’s to come, and so we’d like to contribute to this process with a review of best practice for search engine marketing.

From our regular client management as well as training courses we run, there are some key essentials required – what we’d suggest are the ‘3 pillars’ of any website marketing activity using search engines (and in particular, Google).

We’ve outlined below some of the key things that you should have in place, or be considering as part of your online marketing activity, and why they are important for your business.

An essential element for any search marketing campaign is to understand what’s happening, both with the quality of visitors coming to the site, but also how the website performs in converting these visitors to the required conversion objectives.

Any website analytics package would be good for this, but as most websites use Google Analytics these days (and it is an excellent free tool for this purpose) then we are covering the use of this here. Some of the main reports and tools to use would be:

  • Key metrics – tracking the trends with such key metrics such as sessions and users, as well as new v returning visitors, is a core focus. Also user engagement based on bounce rate trends, time on site, pages viewed and, ultimately, goal conversions all help to indicate the success or otherwise of your marketing activity.
  • Trends – this is an important way of looking at data, rather than just as a snapshot for one time period. Trends in data, such as month or month, or year on year, provide better insights into what’s working well – or not – and how recent changes or testing programmes are working.
  • Secondary dimensions – within most data tables in Google Analytics, there is the option to add a secondary dimension, or to break down the initial line of data into more detail by another set of criteria. This can be a great way of gaining more detail and insights about a report when looking for answers.
  • Segments – probably the best tool in Analytics is Advanced Segments, available above most report tables, which provides the ability to isolate data or compare two or more datasets for a particular group of visitors to the website. Also good for better insights and to delve into small, specific groups of users via the default or custom built segments.
  • Custom reports – to access more advanced data insights, custom reports provide the ability to build your own data tables and combine these with secondary dimensions or segments to view data tables not available through the standard menu options. Gaining insights by hour, or day of the week, for example, or monthly trends for the past 12 months, are just a few ways that custom reports can be used to understand more about your marketing and your website.