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Toolkit Tuesday: 4 Google Analytics Tips to Conquer Data Overload

Google Analytics is a goldmine of valuable information about your website visitors – how many you have, where they are coming from and how they’re interacting with your site. If you know what to look for and how to interpret the data, this information can help you improve your site, increase conversions and grow your business. There is so much information to be gleaned from Analytics, however, that it can be quite overwhelming – especially if you aren’t a tech expert or a data nerd. (“Not that there’s anything wrong with being a data nerd,” said the data nerd writing

Google Analytics Tips

Google Analytics is a goldmine of valuable information about your website visitors – how many you have, where they are coming from and how they’re interacting with your site. If you know what to look for and how to interpret the data, this information can help you improve your site, increase conversions and grow your business.

There is so much information to be gleaned from Analytics, however, that it can be quite overwhelming – especially if you aren’t a tech expert or a data nerd. (“Not that there’s anything wrong with being a data nerd,” said the data nerd writing this article.)

4 Google Analytics Tips to Help You Deal with Data Overload

The key to cutting through the data overload is to know what you are trying to accomplish, and then to use Analytics to help you measure your progress toward those objectives and make adjustments. Below, we’re sharing some Google Analytics tips to help simplify the process and make sense of the abundance of data.

1. Define Your Objectives

As I mentioned above, the first and most important step in using Google Analytics successfully is to know what goals you are trying to accomplish. Then, you can turn those goals into questions which Analytics can answer.

Let’s say, for example, your goal is to get users to create an account on your site. Here are some questions you might ask that Analytics can help you answer:

  • What percentage of visitors to my website create an account?
  • If visitors leave my site before signing up, at what point in the funnel do they leave?
  • Which (and how many) pages do users visit before creating an account?
  • Are users who access my site with a mobile device more or less likely to create an account?

2. Set Goals in Analytics

Once you’ve defined your objectives and the questions you want to answer, you can create goals within Google Analytics to help you track conversions – how well your site is performing in relation to those objectives.

Your goal might be for users to arrive on a “Thank you for downloading” or “Thank you for registering” page. Or, your goal could be for users to spend a certain amount of time on your site or visit a certain number of pages. You can set up multiple goals for various objectives, then use this information to see what area(s) of your site need to be adjusted.

To create goals, navigate to Conversions > Goals > Overview in the left sidebar, then click “Set up Goals.” (You can also get to it from the Admin panel, by clicking on the Goals tab under your website View.)

google analytics tips

Click the red New Goal button, then choose one of the existing templates or create your own custom Goal. Then, follow the steps to select the type of Goal and fill in the details. For more details, visit Google’s guide on how to set up, edit and share Goals.

Note: To create goals, you must have administrative level access to your Google Analytics account.

3. Create Custom Dashboards

There are endless sets of data to view in Analytics and endless combinations of ways to look at it. Decide which metrics are most relevant to your objectives, and build a custom dashboard to track those metrics. That way, instead of being paralyzed by information overload, you can focus on the specific data most important to you.

To set up a custom dashboard, click on the dashboard tab in the left sidebar and select “New Dashboard.”

Google Analytics Tips

You can start from a blank canvas and create your own dashboard from scratch, or make things simpler by using the starter dashboard template provided. Once you’ve created it, use the Add Widget button to populate your dashboard with whatever data, charts and graphs you’d like to have available at-a-glance.

google analytics tips

Here’s a detailed tutorial on how to create custom dashboards, which also includes a handy list of places to find free dashboards others have already created, which you can import right into your account.

4. Have Reports Automatically Emailed to Yourself

Sometimes, the most difficult thing about Analytics is finding the time to check it. You get busy with other things, and it gets pushed to the back burner. Make things easier on yourself and set up automatic emails so you receive the latest data and reports right in your inbox. You can have your custom dashboard emailed to you, as well as any of the reports available within Analytics.

To set up emailed reports, simply click the email button at the top of whichever report or screen you wish to send yourself. Choose when and how frequently you want to receive the emails (daily, weekly, monthly or quarterly), and bam – no more need for logging into Analytics, because your data will now come straight to you.

Google Analytics Tips

Now You Can Be a Data Nerd, Too

With your goals, custom dashboard and automatic emails set up, you’ll be able to clearly see how your site is performing in relation to your objectives and what areas need improvement. Basically, you’re on your way to being an Analytics rock star.

Have you found any tips or tricks to help you make the most of your Analytics data? Share your thoughts in the comments below or visit us on Twitter.

Heather Allen

Belle's first employee. Lover of great food, good books and spreadsheets. Mom of three. Native Floridian and city girl residing in the cornfields of central Illinois.