Fundamentals of Google Analytics | Jeff Sauer | Skillshare

Fundamentals of Google Analytics

Jeff Sauer, Google Analytics Strategist

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10 Lessons (1h 1m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:05
    • 2. Key Terms

      5:35
    • 3. Setting Goals

      12:59
    • 4. Segmenting Your Users

      5:54
    • 5. Tracking Campaigns

      8:44
    • 6. Using Social Reports

      7:25
    • 7. Analyzing Content Performance

      7:07
    • 8. Creating Dashboards

      6:03
    • 9. Final Thoughts

      4:41
    • 10. What's Next?

      0:35
213 students are watching this class

About This Class

Learn how to get the most out of your website data with Google Analytics expert Jeff Sauer in this new, straightforward class.

From understanding user demographics to creating the perfect dashboard, every lesson is packed with actionable tips and tricks to help you articulate your goals, increase conversions, and use your website to improve your business. Key lessons include:

  • Setting custom goals based on visitor behavior
  • Using segments and content groups to understand your users
  • Tracking campaigns and search terms for insight into traffic sources

After taking this class, you’ll be able to expertly navigate Google Analytics, ensuring you can understand your data, distill it into actionable insights, and vastly increase the effectiveness of your website.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hi, I'm Jeff Sauer, and I love Google Analytics. I've been using Google Analytics since 2005. So, I was one of the first beta testers of the Google analytics platform. Now, prior to 2005, things weren't pretty. I had the stats package that would basically be a table of how many hits came to my website and I really couldn't take faction off of it. Then Google Analytics came along, and introduced this free tool that was powerful as can be, and it gave me some much more insights into what I was able to do and measure on my website. It was basically the light in the darkness that was the Internet that point in time. So, I've made it a mission to teach people and to share in the love of analytics and to learn as much as they can about this awesome tool that's available for them. We're going to start by defining the terminology, so you're confident in the terminology you're going through. Then, we're going to talk about how do you set goals for your website. From there, we're going to get into cool things like segmentation. How do you look at specific pockets of users on your website? We're going to make sure you get clean data, by tagging your campaign. We're going to look at things like social and search data. We're going to analyze the performance of your content, who's viewing your content, and is it being effective or not. Then, we're going to build out dashboards, so you can look at all this stuff in one place every time you log into Google Analytics. Now, the reason why I love google analytics so much. First of all, it's because it's free. There's no barrier of entry. There's no limitations. There's no exclusion of people who can't use this. The next thing I love about Google Analytics, is that it's easy to understand. It tells you immediately who's on your website, and what did they do. So, it's easy to take action right away. The third thing that I love about Google Analytics, is that it's enterprise class. When you install Google Analytics on your website, you're getting the same tool that Fortune 500 marketers can use to measure their website. Everyday when I log into Google Analytics, I get excited by what I see, and I want you to feel that excitement too. Now, I'd love to hear from you and the project gallery. Take a screenshot of your setup. All the cool things you're doing in Google Analytics or maybe something you don't understand. Let's work together to make our experience with Google Analytics great. 2. Key Terms: In this section, we're going to define common web analytics terms. What is the definition of analytics? It's the information resulting from systematic analysis of data or statistics. That was pretty nerdy, right? So, let's put it in terms that we can all understand. First, I want to start off by saying what analytics is not. Analytics is not the data that you collect, analytics is not the reports that you deliver, analytics is not statistics, and analytics doesn't need to be scary. So, data is great. We want to collect all the data we can. We want to have clean data. But analytics is more than that. Analytics is making sense of it and forming a narrative that not only you, but also the people in your organization can understand. What happened on our website? Why did people do this? How do we get people to do more of it? Or how do we minimize our risk for the things that people are doing the wrong way? Now, here's why I love analytics, because we have data all around us. We have petabytes of data stored about people, all kinds of data all over the world that is being collected at every point in time. But the thing about data is that data is dumb. Data doesn't know what it is. It's basically just rows of ones and zeros sitting in a database somewhere. Data is not smart. It's not smart enough to know what it is. It doesn't have many connections between itself and other pieces of data. It's the analyst, it's you, it's the person who owns the website, it's the person who uses analytics, that can really piece this together and form some kind of story, some kind of narrative, some kind of information, that you can use to make your organization better. This is what it's all about. Analytics is basically the process of taking the data you collect and using it to make your organization better, to make you better at what you do, and to deliver more value to your organization, because if you can't learn from what happened in the past, you won't be able to make improvements for the future. So, if you don't use analytics, you're not going to be making progress. So, now that we've defined analytics, let's look at some other common terms you're going to be coming across when you install Google Analytics on your website. The first term that we are going to define is JavaScript. Now, JavaScript is the underlying technology that makes web analytics possible. It's a programming language that occurs in the browser or on the client side. When that code is executed, it sends data to Google's servers to let them know that somebody visited your website. Now, the reason why it's important to understand what JavaScript is is because that's the technology that sends data to Google. If you can't put JavaScript onto your website, then you can't use Google Analytics. Now, you probably won't have to be an expert in JavaScript yourself to get analytics working. Usually, you can work with a web developer or somebody who is your web host, and they can get it onto the site for you. But knowing what JavaScript is will be helpful for you if you want to define what you need and you want to make improvements to your analytics tracking in the future. The next term we're going to define is tracking code or tags. Now, tracking code is any piece of JavaScript that you place onto your website in order to track something. There's a tracking code for Google Analytics, and there's tracking codes for other systems as well. Now, many times, this will be used interchangeably with the word tags. So, you might get a tag from Facebook if you want to do remarketing, or if you want to tag somebody in Facebook, or if you want to do a Google AdWords. There's a tag for Google AdWords that you put on your site. So, when you add these things all together, tracking codes and tags are basically things that we put on our website so that systems can track the behavior of people who come to our site. Now, the reason why we want to have several pieces of tracking and several tags, because one, there are several systems we will use to drive people to our website, and the second thing is that the more tags we have in place, the more data we have to make an effective change for our organization. The next term we're going to get into is cookies. Now, you've probably heard cookies before, clear your cookies from your browser. Maybe you think they're good, maybe you think they're bad, maybe it makes you hungry. But basically, cookies are how a website remembers you. So, whenever you visit any web page on pretty much every website, a cookie is set, so that website knows who you are. Now, this can be as innocent as personalizing the greeting to say, hello. Hello, Jeff. Welcome back to the website. It can be used in analytics as well. Now, the way that Google Analytics knows if somebody has gone to your website one time or 100 times is by using cookies. The next term we're going to define is sessions and visits. I call it a visit. You can call it a session. But it's basically any time that somebody comes to your website. So, if your visitors come to your website every single day, each day they come back will be a unique session. The final term that I want to define is users and visitors. Now, going back to our cookies, a cookie is set at a browser level. Now, every browser that somebody uses to visit your website, it could be their mobile device, it could be Chrome, Firefox, even Internet Explorer, those are different ways that we can cookie somebody and track them as a unique user. So, users are not tracked by things like your IP address. In fact, Google doesn't even store your IP address. Users are defined by each unique cookie on each browser that you use to visit a site. So, if you visit a site through four different browsers or five different browsers across mobile, tablet, you are considered to be a unique user for each of those. Now, here's my pro-tip for you. All this technology can be super confusing. That's why Google has created a help center. Basically, any report you look at, any question you have, any term that you don't understand, you can just hover over it and Google will give you a definition of what it means. So, we've gone through several of the basic terminology pieces here. But if you want more, you can look right in Google Analytics, and you can see what every term means and get a great definition. Next step, we're going to dive into Google Analytics, and we're going to start out by setting goals and establishing the purpose of your website. 3. Setting Goals: Okay, in this section, we're going to be talking about goals for your website. Specifically, we're going to answer the question, what is the purpose of your website? Why does your website exist? What are you hoping to do with it? It could be that you're trying to sell products or you might be generating leads. If you're are nonprofit, you might be trying to get more donations for your organization, could be customer service, could be any number of things. You can set up goals in Google Analytics to define several of them. Now generally, when you're setting up a goal for your website, I like to break it down into two categories. The first one is something that has a financial incentive tied to it. You might call it a macro goal, but basically anything that fuels the economic engine of your organization. So, the macro goals are the goals that are the most important, usually for your business are things that generate revenue. But that doesn't mean that all website activity isn't useful if you're not generating revenue. There's actually several other reasons why your website might exist and so we call these micro goals. Now, what a micro goal is is something that adds value to your organization, something that you worked hard on, but maybe isn't something that you get paid every time that somebody watches it or clicks on it. So, for example if you have lead generation campaigns and you get somebody's e-mail address, they're not paying you money for their e-mail address, but you are able to get them to opt in. That might be one of your goals. So, why do we set up goals on our website? Because if you can't track the outcome for your business, then what's the point? A business isn't looking at these reports just for fun. They're looking for insights on how to better run their business. So, it's all about tracking the outcomes so you can go out and get more of those, so you can expand your market share and you can get more people to do the actions that you want them to do on your website. Okay, so now it's time to get into Google Analytics and to configure goals for our website. Now, if you're looking at your Google Analytics account and it looks a little bit different, that's okay. Google makes changes constantly. On the screen that you're seeing right now is the administrator section. You can see that there's information about your entire Google Analytics account, the properties that you own. A property is basically every single unique domain name that you want to track and then the views. Views are ways of looking at the data that you collect. Under the view section, we see goals here. So, we can go into the goals section and we can either look at the existing goals we have or we can configure a new goal. So, in this case, we're going to create a new goal. Now, when you set up a goal in Google Analytics, they give you several options for how you can get started. These templates are just a naming convention template. I most of the time I will skip over these because even though we might be doing e-commerce, so we might be creating an account on a website or any of these things in here, I actually like to give it my own definition. So, what I'd like to do here is I'll create a custom goal name. Now, when you hit custom in the next section, what you'll do is you'll give a name to your goal. Now, going back to earlier in this lesson, if we wanted to track lead generation, we could create a goal called lead generated. When we look in there, there are several options for us. The first goal here that we see is destination. Now, I use destinations the majority of the time. Destinations simply means when somebody visits a key page on your website. Now, as you see in the example here, they're saying thanks.html. Basically, a thank you page on your website or some thank you message is a very common way of notifying your analytics package that your goal was accomplished. Thank you for becoming a lead for our website. Thank you for your order. So, when you thanking somebody for activity, it ends up being a great goal that you can set up because after you thank them, you can train Google Analytics to recognize that that page is a key view on your site. Next, we're going to talk about duration goals. Now, duration goal is basically a goal set up when somebody spends more than a certain amount of time on your website. As you can see in the example here, anybody who spends more than five minutes on your website becomes a goal. Now, this is probably not a macro goal, like we talked about earlier, but it could be a micro goal for you. But I would also give you caution because this can give you a false positive. Just because somebody spends a lot of time on your website does not mean that that's a positive thing. It doesn't mean that they're necessarily engaged. It could mean that they're having trouble finding what they're looking for or could mean that it's confusing or that they just stepped away from their computer for a certain amount of time. So, I recommend understanding that this goal exists but also only using it when you really know that this is what you want to measure. The next goal is the number of pages or screens per session. An example here is greater than three pages. So, you can basically say, if somebody views more than three pages, then we hit our goal. Now, this is a good goal if your website, if the only performance metric, if the reason why your website exists is solely to generate page views. So, if you're only out there to generate page views, then you'd want to get as many pages as possible. So, your goal might be five or more page views or three or more page views. But for most other websites, this runs into the same problem as somebody spending a long time on the site. Spending a long time on the site does not always mean that your visitor is finding what they're looking for or they're having a positive experience. So, I also recommend using caution here, but making sure this is aligned with your purpose of your website as well. The final one is an event goal. An event is simply an action that happens within your website. So, a page view, generally speaking, is the most common thing that happens in Google Analytics. Every time that our tracking code, the Javascript that we talked about earlier is executed, a page view is sent to Google. So, Google knows that a page was viewed. But if somebody clicks on something within your page and it doesn't send data to Google because the page view tag didn't happen, then that's called an event. You can use event tracking to track things that happen within a page. Now, depending on which one of these things you choose, you're going to have an option to configure it. I'm going to go in right now and I'm going to configure a destination url goal and I'm going to tell you how that works. So, We're going to click on destination. As you can see here, we can choose whether url is equal to, begins with or is a regular expression. Now, for those of you who are just getting started, I'd recommend one of the first two. Regular expression is quite advanced usage of Google analytics that you may not need right now. But essentially, you can say whether it equals exactly this url or if it begins with it. Now, the safest one to use is almost always going to be begins with. In so soon our thank you page is just our website.com/thankyou.html. Basically, hitting that page would be synonymous with somebody converting on your website. So, you would have a conversion and this would impact the conversion rate of your website as well. Now, when you look in here you might see that there's other options available. By default, they're turned off. But I would recommend considering using these to measure your website, especially the one called value. What is the value of this goal? Now, I've taught Google Analytics to thousands and thousands of people and one of the biggest debates that I see is whether you should put a value in for your goal or not. People argue, "Well, if we don't know the perfect amount of money that something's worth, then we shouldn't put anything in there at all." I'm going to tell you right now that you should put some value in for your goals. The value should be realistic, but it shouldn't be overthought. So, relatively speaking, you can either put the monetary value of your goal of something that happened in there or you can put in an arbitrary number that gives it some weight. When I say weight, it just says, okay, this is five times more valuable to have somebody do action one than it might be to do action two. So, if you want to say that this is five times more valuable than something else, I would just put it in the number like five. Now, you can ignore safely Jeff is saying this to you, you can safely ignore the dollar sign on there. This is not the same as saying how much money your website made. It's saying the value that each of these actions brought to your website. So, don't worry about the dollar sign, that's just how it is set up right now in Google Analytics. We're talking about the relative value of each of the goals of your website. Going back to earlier in this lesson, we talked about the purpose of your website. We talked about macro goals which are things that make you money and micro goals. Macro goals, since they're making you money, they should have a higher value than a micro goal. But it shouldn't be that one is worth everything and then one is worth nothing. Basically, you want to have a relative value in here. So, what I will often do is put a number like five in there or 10 in there for my macro goals and then put a smaller number like one or two in there for my micro goals. Now later on, we're going to see how putting in a value makes your other reports work even better. But for now I am just going to leave it at that and say, it's okay to put a value in there and don't worry about whether it's a dollar sign or your currency where you're taking this video from. The last thing you're going to see in here is the ability to create a funnel. This is a more intermediate or advanced usage of Google Analytics. Since we're just getting started, I'm not going to show you how to set up a funnel. But if you do have multiple steps that somebody must take before they convert, before the action is taken, then you can set this up for yourself and it uses a similar you url system to what you're used to seeing up here. Finally, you have the ability to verify each of the goals to make sure that there would be some activity on that goal url. Now, since I put in an arbitrary url that doesn't exist on my website, we're probably going to have a zero percent conversion rate for this goal. But I would recommend looking at this, putting in your parameters, hitting verify to see if this would make an impact on your website in making this change. Now, some of you might not have a thank you page yet or you're creating a new page just to get the goals going. You're going to see zero percent as well. As long as that page exists, it will start collecting data in the future. Now, another warning that I give you is that your goals when you set them up, they only collect data from the day you set it up moving forwards. This means that you can't set up a goal today and expect to have data for what happened last week or last month or last year. These things are only proactive. So, only when you proactively put a goal in place will the numbers be affected into the future, they don't go retroactive at all. Once you can verify that your goal is working, you can go ahead and save your changes and now you have a goal set up in your Google Analytics account. So, once you're satisfied with your goal and you start collecting data, a few days later you can go into your reports and you can see how those goals are coming in. So, you going to do is you're going to go into the flag for conversions, you are going to go to goals and then you can see the overview of your goals and you can see the goals that have come in. So, you can see here during the time period we're looking at this website has gotten several goals, sometimes, fewer and several goals coming in. If you look down at your goal completion report, you can see which goals were completed the most often and which urls made up the goals that were completed for your site. So, how do you take action with goal reports? Well, first of all, a lot of organizations don't even track success at all on their website. So, the first step is to have these things in place. Once the data starts rolling in, it's all about using your imagination and crafting a story as to why things happened the way that they did. You can use these goals to see what traffic sources drove the people to your site and were the most effective. You can see what key content they viewed on your site, and why they did that. You can even look at things like the demographics of the people who visited your site and how that pertains to the goals that they reached. So, the whole reason why goals exist is because if we don't know the actions that people took, we're just guessing about our visitors instead of not knowing why these people come to our site in what they do, we can make better decisions. We can't put our money where our mouth is and we can invest in good marketing because we've tracked what happened in the past. We know what happened in the past. Then our analytics can tell us what we can do in the future and how we can get a better result in the future. Now here, are some cautions with goals and setting up goals on your website. First of all, Google allows you to have 20 goals in Google Analytics per view. But you don't need to set up 20 goals because if you set up too many goals, your conversion rate is going to be off the charts. It's not really not going to make sense because if you have a 100 percent conversion rate, if every single person who visits your website is a conversion, then you can't really make a lot of sense of it. So, you want to be very careful and only pick out the things that you really do find valuable for your website when you set up goals. You want to make sure that you're going after only the important stories that you can tell for your business. Just because something is there or it's available doesn't mean that it's relevant to what you're doing. So, make sure you're only focused on things that you can take action as a business. At the end of the day, I always try to bring things back to the question, what is the purpose of my website? Then configure Google Analytics to reflect that purpose. Now, time for my pro-tip. I use the destination url goal about 90 percent of the time. So, if you're confused about which of these goals to set up, most of your cases, most of your uses are going to be fine if you use a destination url. Now, with this lesson on goals, I have a word of caution. You can only measure the things that exist on your website. So, if a page doesn't exist that says thank you or that indicates that somebody accomplish the goal, then you're going to need to set that up on your website. You're going to need to have your web developer put that in place. You going to make sure that you have some thing that you can track. Okay, so now, we've discovered the purpose of your website and we've talked about how to set up goals in Google Analytics. Next, we're going to move on to segmentation. 4. Segmenting Your Users: Not everybody who comes to your website is the same, and so you probably shouldn't treat them the same either. So, instead of looking at every single person who visits your website and treating them all the same, what you want to do is you want to get into specific segments of the population. Now, the reason why we want to do this is because otherwise without segmentation, you're looking at the average of every single person who's ever gone to your website. You're not controlling for things like whether somebody is already bought from you, whether they're logged into the website or logged out. You're basically looking at everybody and treating them the same. Now, one of the things that I've started to adopt is that I say that averages are lies, and the reason why is because there's no such thing as an average visitor to your website. Either they're going to buy from you or they're not. Either they converted or they didn't. Either they took action or they left and they became a balanced visitor. Creating segments that look at a specific population of the people who visited your website allows you to get past looking at averages and lets you dive right into the insights. Now, building segments in Google Analytics is actually very easy to do, and also the segmentation capability is very, very powerful. So what I'd like to do for you now is to build out a segment and to show you how easy it is to do this within Google Analytics. Now, if you look on my screen, you'll notice that I'm in the audience overview page in Google Analytics. When you first log into Google Analytics, this is the screen you're going to see. From there, the actions we take, that's really what makes Google Analytics our own. So, if you notice on this interface, there's a section here that says Ad Segments. You may have been in Google Analytics 100 times logged in and not notice this feature because you're always looking at 100 percent of the people who come to your website. Now, I would tell you that 100 percent of the people who visit your website are again not average. Even though we treat them as averages, there's completely different segments there. There's male versus female. There's age differences between the people who go to your website. People come from different traffic sources. Your social traffic might behave differently than your search traffic. There's people who accomplish the goals that you want to have accomplished on your site. Then there's people who left, who left and didn't do anything at all. There's people who watched your videos. There are people who do all kinds of different things. So, to look at everybody and treat them equally is not doing a service for your website. What you want is to get to different segments of your website population and to do analysis for each of them individually and uniquely. So, what you want to do is click on the Ad Segment button, and this brings up a great dialogue with all different goodies that we're going to get into right now. I'm going to start by concentrating on a system-generated messages. These are ones that are generated by the Google Analytics System. So you'll see the systems section here. You can also create your own custom segments. You can share them across your account, and then the starred is just the ones that you consider your favorites. So you notice that I've starred a few that I use all the time. So, the builtin segments are a great catalyst for us to understand what type of segmentation is possible in Google Analytics. So, I use these all the time, and they're pretty darn good. So, if you see here, we can see all of our users, we can see people who bounced, people who converted, direct traffic, people who made a purchase. That's If we're using e-commerce or if our goal is to sell things. We can look at mobile and tablet traffic and compare them, mobile only, people who visit our website multiple times for multiple sessions, new users, which represents the first time that we've seen a certain users cookie, non-bounce sessions, which is the opposite of the bounced sessions, non-converters people who did not take the action that you wanted, who did not fulfill the purpose of your website. We have organic traffic, paid traffic, people who performed a site search, referrals, and returning users. Now, what's nice about these segments is that you can often find visitor population and you can compare them to the opposite. So, for example, if you're doing a lot of organic search, you can compare that to your paid search and look at them side-by-side. How is paid doing versus organic? So, to get this to work in your Google Analytics account, you can simply check any of these sections that you want to use. So, for example, I could look at mobile and tablet traffic, and I could compare that to everybody who's been to my website. Now, if I apply this, now Google Analytics magically behind the scenes, what they did is they reconfigured everything and now they're saying, "I want everybody who came to this site and I want to compare that just to people who came through a tablet or a mobile device." Everything gets compared side-by-side. So this segmentation engine is very powerful. You can look at the 500 plus people who came in on mobile and tablet and you can treat them for what they are, people who are on a smaller screen, a smaller device, and you can compare things like what is their conversion rate compared to desktop, what are they looking for, what is their intent. You can use this information to make improvements. So, if we have 15-20 percent of people coming from mobile, how does that affect our overall bottom line? Should we give them a different experience? Should we give them a better experience? How does this all come together? So this is why I love segmentation because you can compare two totally different population groups, two different sets of visitors to your website side-by-side and use that insight in order to make improvements to your overall process. Now, my pro-tip for segments is to try to find segments that represent between five and 50 percent of your website visitors. You don't want anything more than 50 percent because then you're pretty much looking at the average of 100 percent and if it's less than five percent, sometimes you just don't have enough traffic to show any significance. So, in this case, if you look at our mobile and tablet at 17 percent, it's right in that sweet spot of analysis. Now, this is a rule that changes depending on the size of your website. So, if you have a gigantic website, one percent might be significant enough to make a difference and to make some kind of analysis. Google Analytics is a one-size-fits-all tool for every single website in the world. The way that you get the most value is to make it your own. So that's it for segments. Hopefully, you start to love them as much as I do. Next up, we're going to talk about campaign tagging and making sure that you understand your traffic sources. 5. Tracking Campaigns: Did you know that not all the traffic that comes to your website is automatically classified by Google Analytics? It sounds crazy right? But yes, the fact is that Google's not going to know all the traffic that you send to your website unless you specifically let them know the traffic that comes in. So you're sending an e-mail to your database, and you're driving them back to your website what they call the action. Now, in the email program you probably put in there a link to your website and that's all you do. You say I go back to my website to learn more. Unfortunately, out of the box without advance configuration, Google Analytics does not recognize that email is what drove the traffic to your website. It's not like Google is at fault here because they can't track everything, a lot of times they don't know that's the traffic you're sending over. So, they don't know that you opened up an email program, you designed a campaign and then he clicked send in that campaign. They just know that somebody came to the website. So, how do you get around this? The key is to implement something in Google Analytics that we call campaign tracking. So, what is campaign tracking? It's attaching something to the end of the URLs that you send to your website that Google Analytics specifically recognizes as a campaign URL or a specific URL that you want to track. So, basically what you're doing is you're telling Google Analytics you're giving that missing link to them and saying, "Here's the traffic that we sent." Anytime that you have a call to action driving somebody back to your site, you're going to want to make sure you have these campaign tracking codes at the end of each URL. Otherwise, the traffic sources that you list on your website are not going to be as accurate as you want them to be and it's not going to be very insightful. So, let's go into Google Analytics and take a look at our traffic sources and I can help you understand how to build campaign URLs and why they're important. Specifically, we're looking at the source and the medium of a website. A source of traffic is who sent traffic to your website. Now in this example you see Google sent us traffic, you see t.co which is Twitters, URL shortener, you see Bing, you see Linkedin, you see Quora, you pretty much see the gamit of different networks that you might use on a daily basis, and eventually, you might click through on those links to go to a website. The medium is how they sent the traffic to you. So in the case of Google, they are sending the medium organic, organic means organic search or through a non-paid search listing. Now, you might also hear about CPC. You won't see it here, but Google also can send you paid traffic, CPC means pay-per-click traffic. Other common mediums that you'll see are referrals, none, and even customized ones like you can see below with email. Now, these last three are the ones that generate a lot of questions from Google Analytics users, so I want to explain how they work here. Now referral might sound complicated, but it simply means that somebody clicks on a hyperlink from one website and then they ended up on your website. Basically, anytime that somebody visits one website, it keeps the history of the link they clicked on. This is called the referral or referring URL, it's part of your browser and it stays with the person when they click from one website to another. Now in addition to referral links, we also have this thing called none or it says direct is the source, none is the medium. That just means that there is nobody who clicked on the hyperlink. They either typing in that URL directly, they went to a bookmark or they came through and they clicked on a link and an email, so a lot of people have questions about that, but basically, referral means yes, they came through a hyperlink, none means they didn't. When you look at your direct none percentage you want to keep that as low as possible because the more you have there the less you know about them. You don't really know how they got to your website. So, you want to get around that by implementing campaign tracking. Now if you look below on number 10 here, you can see that I have a source called jeffalytics and a medium called email. This is basically when I send an email to my own email list, that's exactly what this traffic is. So the source is jeffalytics, that's my website or my email list, then emails when I send a link through an email. So when I send out my newsletter, I send out a monthly newsletter, I put URLs at the end of every single link that I sent somebody to both my website and other websites, and those are tracking URLs that Google analytics can recognize. So, what I'd like to do next is I want to build these custom campaign tracking URLs for you so you can see the difference between what's known as direct traffic and then a specific campaign source and medium that you track on your own. What I've done as I've gone to my website, jeffalytics.com, and what I'm doing is I typed in URL directly into the URL bar, and let's see how this shows up in Google Analytics. Remember, I typed it didn't directly, that's an important distinction to make here. So if we go into our Google Analytics you can see there's people on my website right now, and if you go to the locations you can see this has me sitting in downtown Manhattan in New York City. Now, what do we know about me? We know what page I'm on which is the home page, we know that I'm in New York City. If we dig a little bit deeper we can see the traffic source I came in on. Notice how I have a source in medium of direct and none, that because I typed in that URL directly. Obviously, if I'm sending a bunch of people to my website through email or any other medium, this becomes a big problem because we don't know anything about these direct visitors. So instead of doing it this way, the better way to do things, the better way to track is to build your own custom campaign URL. So, how do we do that? So, what I've done is I've gone to a website called the Google Analytics URL builder and you can use this URL builder to build a tracking URL that gives you a specific source, medium, and campaign for your results. So, the first thing you want to do is you want to put the page you're going to in this website URL field. So, I put my home page in there. Now the source is a required element, and actually, I would recommend doing source, medium, and campaign even though it only says one is required on this tool. Basically, your source is who send the traffic. Now if you recall, if I'm doing my own internal email newsletter, I can just say that I sent it to myself, so I had been using jeffalytics. Now while you're looking at this, one thing to note is that these are case sensitive. So if you do capital J in a lower case j, Google treats them as two different sources. So, you want to be very consistent with the way that you track sources. Now, the medium, and we said here is email, so jeffalytics through email. The campaign name say that it's a newsletter, it could be Jeff's newsletter. Now you don't need to worry about URL in coding because they'll do that for you here with Google, but you can put whatever words you want to in here, and then if you go down to the bottom it says here is your campaign generated URL. You can copy this to your clipboard, you can create a shortened link, but basically, that's just the link that you send people to. Now notice this isn't nearly as pretty as what your website URL is, but it's so much more useful from a tracking perspective because now you actually know how they got to your site. So we do is we copy this URL, put it into your email program or to your advertising programs like Facebook ads or Bing ads and you want to put that URL in there to track it. So now we built this URL, I'm going to go back to my home page and put on my campaign tracking URL, and hit enter and that's going to refresh the page. Now, we're going to look at Google Analytics and see what Google knows about us. The first thing you'll notice is that there is now email in jeffalytics. This is exactly the campaign that we just built out. So our traffic it went away from being direct to none and now it is the correct traffic source and media. Now to prove that this is working the way that we want to if we stick on the medium of email and we look, we can see that this person is in the United States and when we zeroed in even further that's us sitting here Skillshare offices in New York City. That's how we are able to track that proper campaign traffic and the sources and the mediums that come into your website. Now, why is this important? I think we know by now that having a direct visitor doesn't really do us much good. Basically, I call it dark traffic because we're in the dark, we want the light to shine through and that's really what we're doing with tracking campaign sources and mediums. So, my pro-tip for this section is that if you're building a lot of campaign URLs, put all of your URLs into a spreadsheet, and that way you can keep track of all the different places you've sent people, and you can go back once the campaign is done and do measurement as well. So now you have a list of everything that you've measured and everything that you've sent traffic to, you can compare that list to the actual traffic that comes in and now you know the effectiveness of your campaign. Whether it's email or social or search, whatever campaign you're running you can now know exactly how it did and then also you can tie it to the outcomes of your website. You can build specific segments around the different campaigns you've generated. You can establish how many of these people became goals on your website, how many of them fulfilled the purpose of your website. That's the magic of campaign tracking. 6. Using Social Reports: So, now that we've covered campaign tracking and how it can effectively help us measure our advertising campaigns, let's go into even more depth about the traffic sources going to your website. Specifically in this section, what we're going to do is we're going to cover social media and search reports within Google Analytics. Now, the first thing we're going to talk about is something called Google Search Console. Now, depending on when you're watching this, you might have heard this as Google Webmaster Tools. They did a name change and they call it Google Search Console now. Google Search Console is a separate system created by Google to help webmasters understand what they see from a search perspective, what results are happening from search crawls. Basically, what Google thinks of your website from a search perspective, and that's really useful. If you have a website and you're relying on organic search, you'd want to know what Google thinks about you. Well, on top of Google Search Console, they have a reporting package that tells you what pages search visitors land on for your website, as well as what queries or what searches they type into the search engine, specifically on the Google search engine. So, if you integrate these two separate products, Google Search Console and Google Analytics, they actually pull in that search query and landing page data right into Google Analytics. It's really cool to see exactly who searched on Google to come to your website. This integration does require some configuration. It's not something that happens out of the box. What the configuration makes you do is you need to verify that you own this website. You need to verify that you own the website in Search Console, in order for the data to come in. You can't just get data from any random person out there. Now, to verify your account, there's multiple ways to do it, but there's two that I recommend. The first one that I recommend is to use your Google Analytics account to verify that you own the site. The thinking here is that if you have Google Analytics installed and you have access to Google Analytics, then you're the owner of the website. The other one is through Google Tag Manager, another standalone program that's provided by Google. You can use this to verify that you own the website. So, once you're able to configure Google Search Console, if you look in these reports and you go to queries, you can see the top searches that people are using to find your website. Now, the first thing you'll notice is that the majority of the keywords they're still not giving to us. So they're really only giving us about 30 percent of the keywords in this particular case. Yours may be higher or lower. But there are some insights we can find. People are searching for the brand name, people are searching for specific queries. If you were to look for any of these things on Google and you look at the average position, anything that shows up on the first or second page of Google results, you can see that my site would be ranking there. This is one way you can see whether your ranking for a keyword or not and how it's doing, how well it's doing, because this is the only way to get a match between query data and your specific website provided by Google. Now, another report that might be interesting to you within this section is the top landing pages. So, this data provides impressions, clicks, click-through rate, average position, and then it matches it up with the data on your own Website, so you can see how this ties even to conversions. My pro-tip for Google Search Console is that if you want to store your data for more than 90 days, you can use an automated tool like Analytics Edge to download the data into your own separate spreadsheet file and then have that data handy for safekeeping well into the future. Next up, I want to talk about the integration between Google AdWords and Google Analytics. This integration is the original master, the OG integration between products that Google has. It's the reason why Google Analytics exists, because Google AdWords launches a product well before 2005. One of the problems that advertisers had and the reason why they were afraid to spend money with Google is because they didn't know what happened to the traffic they sent to their website, sort of sending money into a black box. So, Google bought a software company called Urchin, spun it around and turned it into Google Analytics, and then they gave people a free way to track people on their website. So, the reason why Google Analytics exists is to support Google AdWords. You can see throughout the product how well-integrated these two things are. Now, how does this configuration work? Basically, there's a two-way data sharing mechanism between Google AdWords and Google Analytics. Google AdWords, if you can link the two together, it pulls in all of your cost data, all your campaigns, Ad Groups, everything that you have in AdWords. It pulls that into Google Analytics for measurement capabilities. They also have this thing called auto-tagging, where you basically automatically tag every single one of your URLs in Google AdWords with a parameter that Google Analytics can understand. So, it's basically a seamless integration. Now, this seamless integration is awesome because it gives you so much more from a reporting perspective than you would get just in Google AdWords alone. So, if we look in Google Analytics and we look at the AdWords tab, once this is set up, you get some really cool reporting capabilities. A lot of these reports aren't available in Google AdWords themselves. So, you can see things like how your bid adjustments are working. With that two-way integration, there's also things you can do, where you send data from Google Analytics into Google AdWords. You can use your Google Analytics data to create remarketing lists in Google AdWords. You can also use your Google Analytics goals as goals within AdWords. So, this two-way integration is pretty amazing, and there's all kinds of cool things you can do when these things are working together. Now, my pro-tip for integrating Google AdWords is that you need to make sure that you have auto-tagged URLs, and you shouldn't double this effort up with using campaign variables. Now, going back to our previous lesson about campaign tagging, I mentioned that you want to have campaign tracking URLs for everything. You don't need them with Google AdWords, and the reason why is because their integration between the two Google products is so tight that they take care of it for you. So, as long as you have auto-tagging in place, they will do the rest. A second pro-tip is that if you want to have multiple Google AdWords accounts or if you have multiple Google AdWords accounts sending traffic to your website, you can link all of them within Google Analytics. So, it's not just a one-to-one thing. You can link as many advertising accounts as you have to the same Google Analytics account. I know many people out there have multiple advertising accounts sending traffic to the same website. Now, if you're interested in setting these up for yourself, we have some links in the resource section that you can use to get started. Finally, we're going to talk about the Social Reports in Google Analytics. Now, unlike the integration that we've talked about with Google products, integrations with social media is a lot more difficult. Because of that, the reports you have available are a little more limited, but you can use the Social Reports to understand exactly which social networks are driving traffic to your website. So, if you look at the social section in Google Analytics, your overview section is going to tell you the top social networks driving traffic to your website. The good news is that this works for you out of the box. If you have traffic coming in from social media referrals, this will just work for you. Now, my pro-tip for tracking social is that you want to use campaign URLs and the skills you've developed in the last section to make sure that when you send social traffic to your website, you're able to track specifically the source, medium, and the campaign that you use to send traffic. A second pro-tip is that if you are going to do this, you want to make sure that you keep the medium consistent because the medium is what makes this report work. So, this report is based on the medium that you use to send traffic to your site. So, that's it for tracking search and social. Next up, we're going to talk about tracking the performance of your content. 7. Analyzing Content Performance: It's time to have a little talk about your website content. We spend so much time as creators, creating content and putting it onto our Website, in almost no time at all, measuring the performance of the content we've created. I think that's a mistake because if you don't know how the content performed, how are you going to make better content in the future if? If you don't know which one is driving the most traffic or which one is getting the most search visitors, then how do you expect that the next one's going to knock it out of the park? You can use analytics to understand what content is working, what content didn't work very well, and what content might work if you just had enough promotion, if you just put enough advertising behind it. So in this section, I want to talk to you about the content reports in Google Analytics, so you can have an understanding of what's available and how we can use that data to make better decisions for our website. So, if you want to measure the content of your website in Google Analytics, what you can do is you can go into the behavior section, and then the favorite place I like to go to is Under Site content, and then all pages. This just shows all the pages on your site, which ones are getting the most traffic, which ones are getting the most action and traction. You might also notice some metrics beyond that. One that might catch your eye, and it catches a lot of people's eye, is Bounce Rate. Bounce Rate simply means the number of people who come in on your website to that page, and then leave without viewing another page. So, if we look at the first page on this list, 92 percent of people, which is not a very good number, 92.92 percent of people, come into my site, on this page, and then leave without doing anything else. Now, one of the questions that I get all the time is what should my Balance Rate be? Or is there a good Balance Rate? Is there a bad Balance Rate? There's no perfect number for what a Balance rate should be. Obviously, you want more people to spend time on your site. I think that most website owners want people to view as many pages as they can. So, the key here is to understand what a Balance Rate means, and then if you want to, you can strive to do better. So, one way we might strive to do better is to get people to go to a second page, or to make navigation easier, so they can go somewhere else. So in general, a high Balance Rate is not great to have, but it's also not the end of the world either. Now, the other metric that I want to bring your attention to is the one that's called Page Value, on the far right-hand column. The Page Value is something that I really enjoy because it's telling you relatively speaking, how much value is driven by each page of your website. So, you can see here a lot of these pages have very low Page Value, or no Page Value. That's because they are not contributing to goal conversions, or the goals have a zero in place for the Goal Value. Now, remember back to our goals lesson, we talked about putting a value in place, because the higher the value of the goal the more you can measure impact. But on the other end, if you have a very low Page Value, it also helps you recognize opportunity. What you want to do is you want to learn from the past, and the past is saying that not many people are taking the action you want, and so you can find very low Value Pages and you can make them infinitely more valuable by adding different elements to it by adding more conversion elements, more areas focused on fulfilling the purpose of your website. So, it works both ways. You can pat yourself on the back with a high Page Value or you can use a low Page Value as your opportunity machine. Where do we have the most opportunities to improve things to see the best results? Because high traffic, low Page Value is an opportunity. A huge opportunity, you can take advantage of. So, what I recommend doing is looking at high traffic pages with a low Page Value, and then brainstorming ways to make them better. How do you make this content perform better, not just for today but well into the future? Because there's a lot of missed opportunities if you don't do this. So, one of the questions that I get all the time about content is, what happens if your Website is hundreds or thousands of pages? How do you make sense of it? You can't look at every single thing individually. Well, fortunately for us, Google has a feature called Content Grouping, that allows us to group content by similar themes. So, I've applied Content Grouping to my Website, and I just wanted to show you how you can group things together and make more sense. So, if you noticed here, there's 193 pages that are getting traffic or getting action. But if we look at our Content Grouping, I've created one around the topic of the post, and you can see here that we got it down to 11 groups. So now, instead of looking at one or two percent of the traffic that goes to a single page, we've group things together, we've created segments based on the topics we write about, and now we can do much deeper analysis and more meaningful analysis without trying to overdo it by looking at little things here and there. So, how do you set up Content Groupings? I thought you'd never ask. So, we're going to go to the Admin section of Google Analytics. You set this up at a view level, so your views have Content Groupings in them, and you can see I've already set up a Content Grouping called Post topics. As you can see here, I'm using something called a rule definition. Basically, I've taught Google Analytics to recognize when certain words are in the URL of a page that is viewed, it gets put into a certain content group. Now, these things work in a waterfall fashion. So, if it matches the first one, then it gets put into the Preachy Writing bucket. If it doesn't match the first one, it goes down to the second one. If it's about Google Tag Manager, it makes it in there, and then it just keeps on going down until there's nothing left, and if it doesn't see something, it's regarded as not set. Now, what classifies something that's Preachy Writing? So, let's see how this is set up in there. So basically, if I use certain words in the URL, profits, advice, goals, words, whatever ends up being, this is just the sort of thing that I threw together to define some type of writing, and that's how this gets generated. Same with things like Google Tag Manager. These are just the topics of things that I write about on my Website. So, I write anything that has Google Tag Manager. I could say "or", the "or" sign is a pipe symbol. I'd say GTM, because that's an abbreviation. So, you can make these rule definitions and as long as the page, the URL that you're looking at has that in there, then it will be part of that Content group. So, this is how we group together our content by common themes, and this is the easiest way to do Content grouping. If you look here, there are other ways to do it as well. One of them involves code on your Website. That's a bit more advanced than we're going to want to get into today, but just know that that option is there for you as well. Now, in order for this part to work, you URL needs to be very descriptive. So for example, I need to have the words "google-tag-manager" with the dashes and everything in my URL. Now, if your URL's are not descriptive in this way or if there's no pattern to it, then you won't be allowed to use this method. But there are other methods of setting up content groups. The second most common one that we use is through a tracking code. So, you basically put code on your Website and use it to define what content that page belongs to. Now, my approach for this section is that, content groups are awesome but they can get complicated, and I wrote a really in-depth blog post that I want to share with you, and you can look at that in the resources section. To really understand how you can use content groups to your advantage. So, that's it for content performance. Next up, we're going to talk about dashboards and Google Data Studio. 8. Creating Dashboards: So, what is a dashboard? And why would you want to use one? I'm going to be real with you here, I do log into Google Analytics just about every single day and look at performance of my websites. But I realize that maybe you're not going to want to log in every day and look at tons of different reports, what you want is a place where all your favorite things, all the things that you find important are available right to you in one spot. So, instead of having to look through everything and click around 1,000 times and find what you're looking for, you can build a dashboard based on the reports that are the most important to you and then you can go in every time you log into Google Analytics, you can just look at your dashboards, the ones that are important to you and find exactly what you're looking for. So, in this section, I want to teach you how to set up a dashboard that you can use to measure the important things about your website. So, let's go to the customization section and then go to dashboards and as you can see, you may have one or many dashboards available to you or this could be completely empty. But we're going to start a new dashboard, now when you get started, you can either create a blank canvas or you can use a starter dashboard one that Google recommends for you. At first, if you're just getting used to this thing, you can try a starter dashboard but you'll find shortly that it doesn't give you everything you need. So, I'm going to start with a blank canvas, so we'll call this blank slate. So, if I go 'Create dashboard,' and now I have the options to add widgets, and so you can give your widget a title and you can do things based on metrics, a graph or a timeline, maps, pie charts, all kinds of different options available to you, and then you can choose which metric you want to look at. Think of the metric as the columns of data that you have in place. A dimension is a row and a metric is a column of data in Google Analytics. So, we're going to choose the column of sessions. We'll just do new sessions and then you can choose the metric and then you can save your metric and this is a pretty boring pretty mundane little thing but you can build out your dashboard with several different metrics or dimensions that you want to look at. Now as I had mentioned, there's two ways to do this. One is to do it manually this way, the much much better way to do it is to go to your favorite report and then add it to your dashboard. So, my favorite reports as you've probably guessed by now are things like traffic sources, campaigns, content and goals. But since I've harped on you so much about having goals in establishing the purpose of your website, I'm going to go right to the goal section and I'm going to add that to my dashboard. So, if we go to 'Conversions' and then we go to 'Goals,' maybe you haven't noticed this all along, but it's a little trick that I found is that you can add any report that you like to your dashboard. Not only that, you can also add a shortcut and then the shortcut shows up in the customization section. You can export it, you can export it as a CSV file, as an excel file, even as a PDF, and you can email it. You can email it to yourself or to people in your organization. So, this little navigation is handy for any report that you enjoy using a lot in Google Analytics. On the email front, you can actually email it to yourself every week. If you're not used to logging into Google Analytics, you can at least get the effect of looking at the data every single week. But for the purpose of the dashboard section, I click here and I say add a dashboard and then you can choose where you want it to go. So, we're going to call it our blank slate dashboard and we're going to add, you can add the timeline which is this piece below it's the actual graph of goals and then you can do the table which is the data below it. In our case, let's add them both, just so we can see what they look like. So, we add this to our dashboard and now we have goal completions as well as which URL people came in. Now remember how I showed you this exact same thing earlier in the class, now you have it right there for you on your dashboard. There's plenty of reports that are really awesome that you want to look at all the time. Now another cool thing about dashboards is you can actually export these as a PDF and you can email it to yourself as well. So, one of the questions that I get all the time about dashboards is, ''Do you want to have one dashboard for the entire business or is it all right to have multiple dashboards?'' What I'd say to you is that how many business units does your company have? How many different functions are there? I say it's all right to create a dashboard for every function of your website. So, you might have a dashboard for your social media team to see how social is doing. You might have an SEO dashboard to see how SEO is doing. You might have multiple dashboards for each of these things. Now if you're not sure what you should put in your dashboard or you're like what are the things that I should be looking at here. I highly recommend that you check out the Google Analytics gallery which has awesome dashboards developed by professionals. I mentioned this earlier but basically if you hit import from gallery, there are dashboards that are built up for different functions and different teams and different realities that you may have on your website. So, there's content analysis dashboards that you see here, SEO dashboard, social media, whatever these things are referrals your site performance even e-commerce. Now if I were to go in here and I were to import like a content analysis dashboard, I can hit import here and then I choose where it goes. Now I have a dashboard with my own data applied so, I can actually see what are the important things for your content. Well, how much time do they spend on page? What's the bounce rate? How many people filled out our goal? How many people accomplished the goal? What country are people coming from? What cities? What pages are people leaving from, all good information that I just imported from this dashboard. So, if you're short on ideas or you're not sure what to look at, what I would recommend is trying somebody else's template, using it against your own data and then seeing what comes up, because the key to analysis is that there's no perfect report for analysis, it's how you react to it. It's how you understand your website, your visitors and what they're doing. So, whatever makes this more personal, whatever makes it closer to what you're trying to achieve with your website, whatever makes you closer to your user is the right dashboard for you. 9. Final Thoughts: So, that's it for our class on Google Analytics. Now, it's time to start talking about how you can turn this new knowledge you have into insights that you can use to have positive impacts for your organization. Now, the reason why taking action is so important here is because, we can collect all the data in the world. We can collect big data, small data, whatever you want to collect and you can do this until you're blue in the face. But if you can't take action on it, if you can't translate that into some kind of thing you can do to improve your organization, it really doesn't matter. You might as well collect no data at all because then you won't have the guilt of not being able to deliver value and insights to your organization. So, the big thing here, I use the word insights, is to basically take the data that you collect to make sense of it. Remember, these are people, these are real people who are visiting your website. They're real people who are interested in what you have to say, and you either got them to take the action you wanted or you didn't. Why didn't they take that action? Was it because they were on a mobile device and your site loaded slowly? Is it that the content was too short or the content was too long? Is it because they were searching for eggs and you gave them information on chickens? So, let's dive deep into one of these examples. Let's talk about your mobile experience on the website. So, first of all, have you ever visited your website on a mobile device? Is the experience good? Are you on a cellular connection? Is it slow to load? Is it fast? Do you get what you want? Can you put yourself into the mindset of somebody who visits your website on a mobile device? What are they looking for? Are you delivering that for them or are you just giving them the same experience, the same tired desktop experience? Are you able to customize that to fit their needs? Are you missing a big revenue opportunity by not having a customized experience? Now, the funny thing is that a lot of the analytics that we do, it falls outside of Google Analytics. Sometimes it's just common sense. But Google Analytics helps us identify that we have a problem. So, using things like segmentation and mobile reports and Google Analytics, we can tell that our bounce rate might be high. Maybe you have a 99 percent bounce rate on mobile devices or maybe our mobile traffic shows up as very low even though we know we get more visitors because people aren't even patient enough to let the whole page load to send data to Google Analytics. These are all ways that we can use to identify the problem. But Analytics doesn't fix the problem for you. It just gives you a canvas where you can generate these ideas. The insights come from being practical, from being a user just like the people who are visiting your website, from experiencing it, from seeing the good things, from seeing the bad things, thinking through problems, and then, implementing some kind of plan to fix it. So, one fix might be to speed up your website or to have a dedicated mobile experience that makes things easier and better for people. Another fix might be creating mobile specific goals, things that you can achieve on the mobile site that maybe you can't on the desktop, then your conversion rate might go up. There's all kinds of different things you can do now that you have this information in your hands. All these things that Google Analytics helps you identify, they are the key to creating a new solution. Because if you don't use Analytics, here's what's going to happen. You're going to make a gut decision based on gut instinct or one loud customer or one person who had a bad experience and you're going to think that you should invest in fixing that problem. Well, that investment in fixing a problem might not be the best investment if it's for one visitor. If there's only one person who had a problem and it was the one who emailed you or sent you a mean tweet or whatever, then you're not solving the problem for the masses. Analytics is a safeguard against making poor decisions because you can quantify things. If you have 10,000 people going to your website and all having the same problem, there's a lot to gain from fixing that. If you have 100,000, if you have a million. But if you have two, there's bigger fish to fry, there's more opportunities out there than fixing that problem. It all comes down to this is what we call making a data-driven decision. You're using the data to drive your decision. So now, it's your turn. How are you using Analytics? I'd love to hear from you. If you can share a screenshot or an example of how you've used Analytics to deliver great insights and to make positive changes, share them with me in the project gallery. Don't be afraid to ask questions either. I'll be around and I'll do my best to answer them for you. I can't wait to hear about the awesome things you're working on. 10. What's Next?: