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Google Analytics is a powerful tool for businesses of all sizes. When used correctly, it generates vital information that can help make valuable business decisions in online marketing or SEO efforts.
On this week’s Whiteboard Friday, guest host Alex Ratynski goes over five key steps local businesses can take to efficiently configure Google Analytics. Check it out below!
Click the whiteboard image above to open a larger version in a new tab!
Hello mozzers. My name is Alex and I am the founder of Ratynski Digital. We are a local SEO consultancy for small and medium-sized businesses. Today I want to talk about how to configure Google Analytics for local businesses.
Now, Google Analytics is a super powerful and efficient tool when used correctly and properly configured. This gives us important information about our website, our visitors, which pages are working well, maybe even which search queries we are coming from, especially if they are connected to the Google Search Console. Lots of important information that can help us make valuable business decisions for our online marketing or SEO efforts.
1. Eliminate bots and spiders
Well, there are five key steps we’re going to talk about today in order to configure our Google Analytics account in the most efficient way. The first is to exclude bots and spiders. This is important as some studies have found that more than 25% of all traffic is bot traffic. Anyone of us who really went into our Google Analytics account in great detail has certainly seen some of these examples of very obvious bot traffic.
The way we can actually do this is that Google is actually a nice little tool in Google Analytics. You go to Admin> View> Show Settings and there is a nice little box that says bot filtering. This is done from the IAB, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, and actually ensures that it comes from the list of known spiders and bots and ensures that we filter against it.
2. Filter spam and personal traffic
In the next step we want to filter spam traffic and personal traffic. The reason for this is that inaccurate data is worthless data, right? If we don’t have accurate information, we will really have a hard time making accurate business decisions regarding our SEO efforts or our online marketing. I can’t tell you how often I meet business owners who have very inaccurate numbers and are trying to make decisions based on those numbers.
So it is very important that we receive as accurate information as possible. There will always be some margin of error, but whatever we can do to minimize that, the better. To filter out our own traffic, go to Admin> View> Show Filters, then go to Add Filters. What we want to do is filter out our own IP address, maybe the IP address of our team, our home office, our physical head office, and the like.
We can do that by searching for “What’s my IP” in Google. They will actually be able to find your IP address and then from there you can actually rule it out.
3. Set goals
Number three, set goals. Goals are super important because setting goals actually helps us track our success, doesn’t it? It’s success tracking. So we can set up goals by going to Admin> View> Goals and then New Goal.
There are a myriad of different types of goals we can possibly set up and it really depends on the company what you’re looking for. But one of the most popular is a thank you page or goal-based goal.
For example, imagine you’re an HVAC company trying to get new customers and you want to see how your website is doing, which pages are driving the traffic, and what url path or destination path if you are want.
One way to track this is to use a goal based goal. We want to make sure that someone who has filled out a form is actually directed to that thank you page and every time someone interacts with that thank you page lands on this it can actually be counted as a goal. This is really helpful in tracking the success of what we are looking for, whatever it is, what our business goals are, what we want to achieve this month or this quarter.
Well, a different kind of goals, there are more than two, but we’re only going to talk about two today – goal-based goals versus event-based goals. Event-based goals are a little more advanced to set up, not too tricky, but a bit more than goal-based goals. Event-based goals have nothing to do with a specific page or URL, but, as you can imagine, with the actual event.
For example, when a user fills out a form or clicks a specific button, these are examples that can be traced towards an event-based goal. Well, there are some advantages and disadvantages to each. A goal-based goal: If the URL has certain parameters and they don’t match exactly, you may not be able to count for that goal.
To work around this, you can change it from “equal to” to “starts with”. Another option, which is probably a little better, is to learn regular expressions. This can help us filter out these different options and get more specific information. With event-based goals, another small caveat to watch out for is to make sure we have the correct validation in place.
For example, if a user starts filling out a form but doesn’t fill it out the first time they click this button, it may have been recorded as a goal even though they didn’t actually meet that goal. So there are a few extra steps we’d like to make sure before we post it and leave that. In this way we can get accurate information.
4. Connect the GA with the GSC
Number four, connect Google Analytics to the Google Search Console. Now we have these two powerful reporting and intelligence resources, and we want to make sure they can communicate efficiently with each other. As we all know, the Google Search Console has a lot of valuable data about our organic search, specific searches, specific pages, their performance, average position and a lot of information like this.
We want to make sure it’s linked to our Google Analytics account. Now we can do this by going to Admin> Property> Property Settings and there we have a small selection for the Search Console. Before we do that, always make sure that you’ve actually set up your Google Search Console account. This is always the first step. So if we can set that up, it’ll be a lot easier to link these two together.
In fact, you can’t do that unless you’ve set up your Google Search Console. So make sure that’s set up and then make sure you can connect these.
5. Use UTM tracking codes
Then, last but not least, use UTM tracking codes. UTM tracking codes are a really powerful way for us to keep track of the effectiveness of certain campaigns, where our users came from, our website visitors came from, and which particular sources or media or campaigns were effective in that regard.
An example of this is that you can add a UTM tracking code to your Google My Business link profile so that all users who come from Google My Business can see in your Google Analytics account the exact categorization of the website visitors who came specifically from Google My Business. This now has to be done regularly, not in the sense of Google My Business, but regularly for every campaign.
So if you’re a smaller, local business that may have limited time or budget for those working on it, it might be better to focus on some of the bigger campaigns, anything a bit more permanent, or anything specific great campaign. Maybe you’re attending a local event or have a special a few times a year. These can be events where we really want to track the effectiveness of these campaigns and using UTM tracking codes.
We can actually set this up. For anyone interested in setting up their UTM tracking code, you can use Google’s Campaign URL Builder. We’ll make sure we link to this exact page in the notes below. But there are a few different components of a UTM tracking code. Now for today we’re only going to focus on three, namely the medium they came from, the source, and then the campaign name.
An example of this could be the medium email, the source is the particular newsletter that was sent, and then the campaign name would be what you actually want to display in Google Analytics, how the campaign should be categorized. So these are the three different sections of what could be in your UTM tracking code. You can put all of this into Google’s Campaign URL Builder. There are a variety of other URL builders out there as well. But Google offers one that makes it nice and easy for us.
Pro tip: get to know the Google Tag Manager
One last professional tip. Get to know the Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager takes a bit of a learning curve, but it is definitely possible. I guarantee you can. As you learn Google Tag Manager, a lot of these other things get a lot easier, especially with setting up things like event-based goals and connecting some of our different accounts, like the Google Search Console and even Google Analytics.
Google Tag Manager is a super powerful tool. That’s all we have today for this week’s Whiteboard Friday. Please do not hesitate to contact us and ask further questions on Twitter @alexratynski. You can also reach me at ratynskidigital.com. Please write me an email. I look forward to speaking to the Moz community. I absolutely love everyone who is here.
Really value your boys’ time. That’s all for this week and see you next week when there’s another issue of Whiteboard Friday.
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