Creating a Google Analytics account and adding the code to a site is easy. It will grant you access to a lot of very valuable data. However, the data provided by default is limited. Below are 9 tips (in no specific order) to improve the data and power of your Google Analytics account.

1) Create goals with proper funnels

This one is a no-brainer. Creating goals will allow for tracking of the ROI for your digital campaigns and give you insights to aid the decision making process. Creating a proper funnel will allow you to see flaws in the conversion path and opportunities to increase your conversion rate:
Do it!

Google Analytics funnel visualization

 

https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1032415?hl=en

2) Create events to track visitor behaviour more accurately

Events allow you to highlight different elements on your site that help which will help you understand user behaviour. For example, you can see how many people downloaded your white paper, clicked on your call to action button or viewed a video on your site. These are all examples of elements you can tag and track in Google Analytics as events. It allows you to measure the true value of visitors, sources, locations, campaigns and more. Check these guides to learn how to set up even tracking in Google Analytics:

An example of a more advanced implementation of event tracking is scroll depth tracking: This allows you to see how far down people scrolled on each page. This can be handy especially if you have important call to actions below the fold. Here is how to implement scroll tracking: http://cutroni.com/blog/2014/02/12/advanced-content-tracking-with-universal-analytics/

3) Create annotations to mark website milestones for future reference

Whether you updated your website design, started new advertising campaigns or made minor or major changes to your online strategy, creating annotations in Google Analytics will allow you to note specific dates and analyze trends of KPIs“before and after”.

Gogle Analytics annotations

4) Clean up your referral data

Referral data can easily be messed up on Google Analytics if the following couple of steps are not followed:

A) Self-referral

Do you see your own domain or subdomain(s) in your list of referrals? This is an issue because it inflates the number of sessions and skews conversion attribution. Self-referral data can be caused by multiple reasons. This article highlights a few reasons along with ways to fix those issues: http://online-metrics.com/self-referrals/
If you are in need of a more advanced cross domain tracking integration, this article covers it in more details: https://moz.com/blog/cross-domain-subdomain-tracking-in-google-analytics

B) Remove spam data from your site

Looking at our clients’ Google Analytics referral data, we quickly recognized a few websites in the referral list that did not seem genuine. The ones we saw most often are:

  • Semalt.com
  • Buttons-for-website.com
  • Ilovevitality.ca
  • success-seo.com

If you see any of those domains listed as referral, they are examples of spam data that is inflating the number of sessions and skewing your data for analysis. One way to remove those sites is through Analytics with the help of filters.

You can find more information here: https://moz.com/blog/how-to-stop-spam-bots-from-ruining-your-analytics-referral-data

5) Enable site search tracking

Is there content on your website that people are desperately looking for but have trouble locating? This information would be very valuable for any business owner. Simply add a search function to your site (if you don’t already have one) and track internal site search queries in Google Analytics.
Here is how:
http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2015/02/24/enable-site-search-reporting-google-analytics/

6) Add filters

Filters are a great way to exclude or include specific visitors on Google Analytics. The most common filter is excluding the company’s ip addresses so numbers are not skewed by employees browsing the site. There are many more uses of filters. For example, you might want to create different views for different countries to easily analyze performance in those locations. Below is an image of the different filters available with a link to a full guide on Google Analytics filters:
Custom filters Google Analyticshttp://online-metrics.com/google-analytics-filters/

7) Use custom reports

Google Analytics provides you with a lot of data by default. However, you may want to create dashboards and custom reports in order to gather all the data you need on a regular basis in one place. You can also find easy to access additional information from custom reports. There are many articles listing resources for custom reports so it is just a matter of spending the time to find the ones you need. However, here are a few of our favourite ones:

8) Set up Google Analytics custom alerts

Do any of those statements sound too familiar: “During a update, the Google Analytics tracking code was removed or broken and you have lost a few days worth of data.” “The credit card on your Adwords account expired and your campaigns have not been running for a few days.” “Your shopping cart was broken and it took you a few hours to realize it and you have lost a few thousand dollars in sales.”
If not, you have been lucky. But why rely on luck when you can set up Google Custom Alerts that warns you when something happens to your site. We highly recommend setting up some (or all) of the following alerts:
http://www.webanalyticsworld.net/2015/01/google-analytics-custom-alerts-which-you-must-always-use.html

9) Track 404 error pages through Google Analytics

A 404 page means that the visitor landed on a page that no longer exists. This can happen for several reasons and it is key to track those errors to ensure a proper user experience on your site. If a good chunk of your visitors are all ending up on the 404 page the same way, you should fix that “yesterday”.
Follow the steps highlighted in this article to enable 404 error tracking in Google Analytics:
http://www.lunametrics.com/blog/2014/08/19/404-errors-google-analytics-google-tag-manager/

If you implement all the tips in this article, your data will be cleaner, more complete and easier to analyze. Do you have any additional tips you want to add? Please comment below. We would love to hear from you.