Do this Google Analytics health check to optimise your website! –

Do this Google Analytics health check to optimise your website!

It goes without saying that if you’re running a business, you need a website. However, a lot of small business owners don’t realise another thing: If you have a business website, you need to use Google Analytics to track its performance!

If you’re not sure what Google Analytics is, it’s basically a way for you to analyse your website traffic and audience behaviour, which can help inform future developments and changes you make to your site. If you want to learn more about the basics of this useful tool, we recommend you give this previous Learn Hub post about Google Analytics a read!

We’ve shared some best practice tips for using Google Analytics in the past, but we know that some small biz owners find these concepts easier to understand with practical action rather than just reading up on theory, so we’ve come up with a game to check on how well you’re using Google Analytics!

The rules are simple – add 1 point for every point you get right. And before you ask; yes, you can totally update your Google Analytics settings while playing the game in order to gain a point. In fact, we encourage it.

Note: If you are new to Google Analytics, you likely would have signed up to the new version called Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This post may include some items that are relevant to you. However, we will be adding a GA4 post soon to our Learn Hub with more specific tips and advice on the new evolution of the platform. Stay tuned.

Are you ready? Let’s get started!

Google Analytics Health Check - Are you using Google Analytics properly and tracking the right metrics?

1. Google Analytics is installed on my site

This seems like an obvious one, but you need to double check to make sure you actually have Google Analytics installed on your website! 

There are a few easy ways to do this:

  • Use a Google Analytics checker tool, like the one on SiteChecker.
  • Log into Google Analytics using your Google account, and check if your website is visible under that account. It is important to note that if you hired a website designer or developer, they may have signed up to a Google Analytics account on your behalf. So definitely ask them if that’s the case, and request that you are given full access including managing user permissions.
  • Install Google Tag Assistant on your Chrome browser. When installed and enabled, this handy extension can identify the Google Analytics code on any given website, including yours! The best part is that it’ll alert you to any issues with your code, and offer up solutions too.
  • Check the source code for your website. This is easier than it sounds, we promise! All you need to do is load your website on desktop, and hit right click, then ‘View Page Source’. At this point, a big old wall of code is going to open up, potentially causing flashbacks to The Matrix. What you’ll do next seems daunting but is actually really simply: Hit ‘CTRL+F’ (or Command+F) on your keyboard and search for each of the codes in bold below:
  • Google Analytics (ga.js): _gaq.push
  • Google Universal Analytics (analytics.js): i,s,o,g,r,a,m
  • Google Analytics Global Site Tag (gtag.js): gtag(‘js’
  • Google Tag Manager (gtm.js): gtm.start

If you’re unable to find any of the codes across several of your website pages, then it’s likely that Google Analytics is not installed on your website, or installed incorrectly. No worries, though – you can easily install it on your website with just a few clicks.

2. I made sure to exclude bots in my results 

Bots are a frustrating part of our reality in the digital realm, making up almost half of all online traffic

More than just annoying you on socials, or spamming random comments on your site, bots can lead to inaccurate reporting on Google Analytics too, potentially rendering the data completely meaningless in the process. If you want to access accurate reporting on your website performance, then you need to exclude bots from your Google Analytics results. 

First of all, you need to know that there are good bots (AKA the search engine crawlers that identify and index web pages from sites like yours) and bad bots (AKA bots that do malicious acts like stealing data or launching DDOS attacks which can overwhelm and shut down your website temporarily). 

It just so happens that Google Analytics automatically excludes good bot traffic from results anyway, so when you exclude bot traffic in your reporting, you’re really only blocking out bad bot traffic.

So how exactly do you remove bad bot traffic from your Google Analytics reporting?

  • Go to Admin Settings on Google Analytics and click on your website property.
  • Click on View Settings in the menu
  • Scroll down till you see a small heading for ‘Bot Filtering’ where there’s a checkbox option for ‘Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders’
  • Voila! You’ve automatically filtered all the known bots on Google’s naughty list!

We should also mention another thing here: just because you can’t see bot traffic, doesn’t mean they’re not there! Bot traffic can put you at risk of a cyber attack and even slow down your site, so you need to take steps to reduce access to bots on your website.

3. Demographics is enabled

We’ve said time and time again, but we’ll say it once more: Your website needs to be all about your audience! But how can you serve your audience if you don’t even know who they are? That’s where demographic reporting comes into play.

This is one of the most important metrics to track on Google Analytics because it can help you develop your website to cater to the needs of your specific audience. This could mean improving on the User Experience or even adjusting your sales and marketing funnel.

You can easily enable demographic reporting on Google Analytics by taking the following steps:

  • Go to Admin Settings on Google Analytics and click on your website property.
  • Click on Property, then click Property Settings.
  • Under Advertising Features, set Enable Demographics and Interests Reports to ON.

You could also enable demographics reporting via your Reporting tab:

  • Go to Admin Settings on Google Analytics and click on your website property.
  • Click on Reports
  • Open the Audience > Demographics > Overview report
  • Click on Enable

Now you’ll be able to see demographic data for your website visitors, which will include their age, gender, and interests.

4. My time zone reflects my business

It’s important that the time zone on Google Analytics is accurate to where your business is located. This will make all your reporting much clearer and actionable, with an accurate view of your website traffic and audience behaviour.

Here’s how you can change your Google Analytics time zone:

  • Go to Admin Settings on Google Analytics and click on your website property.
  • Click on View Settings
  • Scroll down to Time Zone and adjust accordingly

It’s that simple! 

5. Cross-device Google Signals is enabled

This is a very nifty but under-utilised tool! Enabling Cross-device Signals is a fantastic way to track your audience behaviours on your website across all devices. This will give you way more insight and data about your users when enabled, which will enable you to create a better customer experience all around.

In the past, Google Analytics relied mostly on cookies (a script installed on browsers to remember the user and some basic information). However, as more people use multiple devices and demand better privacy controls, cookies are on the way out. 

Google uses its third-party and in-house signal tools to identify users who may be the same people. This allows them to better track your audience, and prevent duplication, which was often the case in the past whereby a user would be counted twice or more if they visited your site on desktop, then on mobile.

Please note, however, that you can only track aggregate data of your website users, and even then for a limited time frame of up to 26 months. You’ll also only have this information for users who have enabled Ad Personalisation.

Enabling Cross-Device Google Signals is easy. Just follow these simple steps!

  • Go to Admin Settings on Google Analytics and click on your website property.
  • Click on Traffic Info under the Property menu
  • Click on Data Collection
  • Click on the Get Started button at the very top
  • Follow the prompts that pop up
  • Click Activate!

6. Goals are set up for my site 

Setting up Goals in Google Analytics is the best way to track specific user interaction on your website that results in specific behaviours, like signing up to a newsletter to making a sale. When a user performs the specific action that you’ve defined as a goal, Google Analytics records that as a conversion

This is important for all websites, but particularly an Ecommerce site. Observing your customer’s journey through your site and learning the paths they take, are key to optimising your website for leads and sales conversions.

You can set up Goals on your website with a few quick steps:

  • Go to Admin Settings on Google Analytics and click on your website property.
  • Under the View tab, click on Goals.
  • Click on the New Goal button at the very top.

Now you’ll have an option between using a goal template, creating custom goals, and creating Smart Goals. You can learn the difference between them through this helpful article by Analytics Help, along with instructions on how to set up each type of goal and the impacts they can have on your Analytics reporting. 

Make Google Analytics work for you!

7. Goals are actually working

Sure, you’ve set up your Goals on Google Analytics. But are they actually working properly? Having incomplete or inaccurate data can be disastrous, impacting the quality of your website and landing pages. Worse still, it can have a negative impact on your finances if your goals are linked to Google Ads!

How can you find out if Google Analytics is tracking your goals as it should? Well, you’ll need to do some tests. The easiest way to check is to perform the specific interaction you’re trying to track as a Goal. So if you’re trying to track newsletter sign ups, try and test the whole process yourself. After a few hours, check Google Analytics to see if that action was tracked or use the real time dashboard.

If nothing turns up, then you will have to do a bit of troubleshooting to make sure your goals are actually being tracked by Google Analytics.

8. Ecommerce tracking is on. 

First of all, if you’re not a shop, give yourself this point!

Secondly, if you have an online store, you need to turn on Ecommerce tracking for Google Analytics. It’s the best way for you to track purchases and transactions on your website as well as all the user behaviours that lead to those sales.

Among other things, eCommerce tracking can show you which products were bought, average order value, ecommerce conversion rate, time to purchase, and checkout process funnels. 

Here’s how you can enable Ecommerce tracking for Google Analytics:

  • Go to Admin Settings on Google Analytics and click on your website property.
  • Under the View tab, click on Ecommerce Settings
  • Turn on Ecommerce

You’ll then have a few options to further set up your Ecommerce tracking, depending on how your website is set up.

9. In site search queries is enabled and correct 

No matter what type of business you run, you need to have a Search functionality on your website that works well. This is, of course, even more important if you run an ecommerce website!

Aside from making sure your website is more user-friendly, you can also gain a lot of insight on your customer behaviours by tracking the words and phrases that your website visitors are searching for.

You can enable Site Search on Google Analytics for exactly this reason. Once it’s all set up, make sure to check on the data in your Reports by clicking on Behavior > Site Search. 

10. I’ve created an alert for 404 errors (page not found)

A well-built site should never have any broken links and 404 errors, but it does happen sometimes, particularly for larger websites. However, you need to identify and remove these pages ASAP, because it can really put off your website visitors and impact your SEO!

Before you can track your website’s 404 errors on Google Analytics, you need to make sure that your 404 error page has a Page Title like ‘404’ or ‘page not found’ so that it will be easy to identify.

Here’s how you can track your 404 errors:

  • Open the Home section of your Google analytics Account
  • Click on Behavior > Site Content > All Pages report
  • You’ll now add a advanced filter to specifically track traffic that leads to your 404 error page
  • Click on Advanced, which should be right next to the Search bar at the top of the table
  • Then choose Include> Page, and under Containing, type in the title of your 404 error page

Now you can identify where those pesky 404 errors are coming from! However, in order to be alerted to these instances in real time, you’ll need to set up custom alerts.

In order to receive alerts about 404 errors, you need to first set up a Goal and then set up an alert for that:

  • Go to Admin Settings on Google Analytics and click on your website property.
  • Under the View tab, click on Goals.
  • Click on the New Goal button at the very top and create a new goal with your 404 error URL that you identified before
  • Next, set up a Custom Alert! Go to Admin Settings, and click on Custom Alerts under the View tab
  • Create your Alert Name (something like “404 Error” could work)
  • Under Alert Me When, choose the Goal you had set up earlier. Under Condition, click “is greater than” and for the value, type 1
  • Now you’ll receive an alert each time a 404 Error happens!

11. I’ve set up Google Search Console (GSC)

GSC (formerly Google Webmasters) is another free tool by Google which allows you to monitor how Google views your site. This can include data on your referring domains (traffic to your site from another website), mobile site performance, rich search results and highest-traffic queries and pages.

GSC is most popular for telling you the keywords people use to find your site. Often a large percentage of these are considered ‘not defined’ in Google Analytics.

As you can see, in many ways it’s functionality is complementary to Google Analytics. That’s why it’s important to set up both tools for your website so you can have a more detailed picture of your website’s performance through both Google and your web users’ experiences.

Here’s how you can set up GSC for your page:

Note: You need to choose the URL prefix option and not domain level if you want to sync the data with your Google Analytics. This is a limitation in Google updating one product, but forgetting to fix the other.

12. I have created a segment or two to help me find results quickly

When you build your website, there will be certain metrics that are extra important to you. 

For example, if you own a small bakery in your area, this might mean that you want to pay more attention to traffic from users within your town or suburb. 

Alternatively, you may be running a Facebook ads campaign and want to be sure of how much traffic is coming in from Facebook. 

A good way to track these specific traffic sources is to set up relevant and specific segments on Google Analytics. 

  • Open the Home section of your Google analytics Account
  • Click on the Report that is relevant to the data you want to track
  • Click on Add Segment at the top of the screen
  • Click on New Segment
  • Use the options in the different categories to configure the filters you want for your segment.

You can do this for a few different results that you want to track!

13. I use the Google UTM URL Builder when running campaigns

The Google UTM URL Builder is one of the niftiest tools to track traffic from all your off-site links! By using the UTM URL Builder, you’re adding on specific details to existing URLs. These added tags will signify the source, medium, name, and other elements for the destination where you are sharing your link.

It will usually end up looking something like this: www.example.com/ablogpost/?utm_source=Social&utm_medium=Instagram&utm_campaign=November2020

As you can see, the URL above identifies that traffic from this link is from a Social source (specifically Instagram), from a campaign that runs throughout November 2020. If you choose to capitalise your terms, do so consistently. Or opt to always use lowercase.

Here are LYF Solutions, we use the UTM Builder for a variety of external links that lead traffic to our website, including:

  • Links on guests posts
  • Links for our Linktree on Instagram
  • Links on our Facebook page and ads
  • Links on our monthly newsletters

All you’ll need to do is head to the Google UTM URL Builder website and key in all the relevant details! The software will automatically build a URL for you, which you can even shorten to a Bitly link if you’d rather not display the URL in full.

UTMs are also great for offline, such as generating a UTM for a URL that you shorten using a tool like bit.ly. You can track the traffic for a specific campaign for example different SMS, letterbox campaigns, business cards, car signage and billboards.

Use Google Analytics to your advantage

If you’ve scored really high on this Google Analytics health check, congratulations! If, however, you’ve found that you may have been under-utilising this powerful tool, then make sure to use this as a guide to maximise your use of it from now on.

We specialise in services that will help you create a website that performs well and makes your customers happy. Get in touch with us if you’d like to design a website that can rank well on Google and actually converts!

 

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