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Google Analytics is a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. Used properly, it provides important information that can help you make valuable business decisions in your online marketing or SEO efforts.
On this week’s Whiteboard Friday, visiting host Alex Ratynski goes through five important steps local businesses can take to effectively set up Google Analytics. See it below!
Hey, Mozzers. My name is Alex, and I am the founder of Ratynski Digital. We are a local SEO consulting for small and medium businesses. Today I want to talk about how Google Analytics is configured for local businesses.
Now, Google Analytics is a very powerful and efficient tool when used correctly and precisely configured. This tells us important information about our website, our visitors, which pages work well, maybe even which search queries come in, especially when it’s connected to the Google Search Console. Lots of important information that can help us make valuable business decisions in our online marketing or SEO efforts.
1. Exclude robots and spiders
There are now five important steps we’re talking about today about how we can most effectively set up our Google Analytics account. The first is to rule out bots and spiders. Now this is important because according to some studies, more than 25% of all traffic is botanical traffic. For each of us who has really got great data into our Google Analytics account, I’m sure we’ve actually seen some of these examples of very obvious bot traffic.
So the way we can really do this is Google, which really makes a nice little tool from Google Analytics. Go to Administrator> View> View Options and there will be a nice little box that reads Bot Filtering. It does it from IAB, an interactive advertising agency, and it really makes sure it pulls from the list of known spiders and robots and makes sure we filter against it.
2. Filter out spam and personal traffic
The next step is to filter out spam and personal traffic. Now the reason for this is incorrect data is worthless information, right? If we don’t have accurate data, we really strive to make accurate business decisions about our SEO efforts or online marketing. I can’t tell you how often I run into business owners who have false inaccurate numbers and try to make decisions based on it.
So it is very important that we get the most accurate information possible. There is always some margin of error, but what we can do to minimize it is better. The way we can filter our own traffic is to go to Administrator> View> Show Filters and then Add Filters. We want to do that we filter out our own IP address, maybe our team’s IP address, our home office, the location of our physical Headquarters, and so on.
The way we can do that is to search Google for “What is my IP”. You can actually find your IP address and then from there you can exclude it.
3. Set goals
Number three, goal setting. Goals are very important because setting goals really helps us track our success, right? It is a track record of success. So we can set goals by going to Administrator> View> Goals and then New Goal.
We may be able to set several different types of goals, and it really depends on the company and what you’re looking for. But one of the most popular is a thank you page or destination based goal.
For example, imagine that you are a plumbing company trying to gain new customers and you want to see how your website works, which pages bring in traffic, and what kind of URL path or goal path you want.
So the way we can trace is to use a destination-based goal. We want to make sure that once someone fills out the form, they’re actually sent to this thank you page, and every time someone comes in contact with that thank you page, they land on it, it can actually be counted as a goal. This is really helpful to see some kind of success in what we are looking for, whatever it is, our business goals, what we are trying to achieve in that month or quarter, and which we can closely monitor.
There are now more than two types of goals, but we’re only talking about two today – goal-based goals vs. event-based goals. Event-based goals are a little more advanced, not too cumbersome, but a little more than destination-based goals. Event-based goals have nothing to do with a particular page or URL, but in fact, as you might guess, the actual event that happened.
So, for example, if a user fills out a form or clicks on a particular button, these are examples that can be tracked for an event-based goal. Now everyone has some pros and cons. A goal-based goal If your URL has certain parameters and doesn’t exactly match, you may not be able to calculate that goal.
You can work around this by changing it from “answer” to “start”. Another option, it’s probably a slightly better option, is to learn regular expressions. It can help us filter these options in a way and get more detailed information. With event-based goals, another little caveat we want to watch out for is making sure we have the right validation.
So, for example, if a user starts filling out a form but doesn’t actually fill it out when they click that button for the first time, it may have been tracked as a goal even though they didn’t actually complete it. So there are a few extra steps we want to make sure we can figure out before we publish it and leave it. This allows us to get accurate information.
4. Connect to GA General Secretariat
Number four, connect Google Analytics to the Google Search Console. Now we have these two effective sources of reporting and information, and we want to make sure they can talk to each other effectively. As we all know, the Google Search Console has a lot of valuable information about our organic search, from specific search queries, specific pages, their performance, average position, a lot of that kind of information.
We want to make sure it’s linked to our Google Analytics account. Now we can do it by going to Administrator> Property> Property Settings and then there is a small selection for the Search Console. Before we do this, always make sure that you actually have your Google Search Console account set up. It’s always step one. So if we can get it set up, combining the two is much easier.
In fact, you can’t do that unless you’ve set up the Google Search Console. So make sure it is configured and make sure you can connect them.
5. Use UTM tracking codes
Last but not least, use UTM tracking codes. UTM tracking codes are a really effective way to track the effectiveness of certain campaigns, where users have come from, visitors to our website have come from, and which specific sources, tools, or campaigns were effective in this regard.
An example of this is that you can add the UTM tracking code to your Google My Business link profile so that all users from Google My Business can accurately see the ranking of visitors to that website in your Google Analytics account. specifically from Google My Business. Now, this needs to be done on a regular basis, not with Google My Business in mind, but it needs to be done on a regular basis for every campaign.
So if you’re a smaller, local business that may have a limited amount of time or budget for anyone who might be working on this, it might be better to focus only on some of the larger campaigns, anything that’s a little more permanent, or any particular big campaign. Maybe you’re doing a local event or you have a special campaign a couple of times a year. These may be events where we really want to track the effectiveness of these campaigns and use UTM tracking codes.
We can set this ourselves, for anyone interested in setting up their UTM tracking code, you can use the Google Campaign URL Builder. We link to the exact page here in the notes below. But there are a couple of different components in UTM tracking code. Now, let’s focus on just the three today, which are the tool they came from, the source, and then the name of the campaign.
So an example of this could be the media, which is the source of the email, no matter what newsletter was sent, and then the name of the campaign would be what you want it to appear in Google Analytics, how you want that campaign to be ranked. So these are three different parts of what can be included in the UTM tracking code. You can enter everything in the Google Campaign URL Builder. There are also several other URL builders. But Google offers one that makes it comfortable and easy for us.
Pro Tip: Learn Google Tag Manager
One last professional tip. Learn Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager has a bit of a learning curve, but it’s definitely possible. I guarantee you can do it. When you learn Google Tag Manager, it makes a lot of these other things a lot easier, especially by setting event-based goals and linking some different accounts like Google Search Console and Google Analytics.
Google Tag Manager is a very powerful tool. That’s all we have today, this week’s Whiteboard Friday. Feel free to contact us, ask more questions on Twitter at @alexratynski. You can also reach me at ratynskidigital.com. Send me email. I’m more than happy to speak to the Moz community. I absolutely love everyone here.
You really value your friends’ time. That’s all for this week, and until next week when Whiteboard Friday is the second edition.