Google Analytics allows website owners to gather valuable information about how their website is performing. By understanding where website visitors are coming from and what actions they are taking once they arrive, more informed decisions can be made with regard to content creation, site navigation, and marketing planning.
The standard reporting dashboards within Analytics provide a lot of useful data, but the true extent of Analytics’ reporting capabilities goes much, much deeper. Listed below are five reporting features that every website owner should have enabled, all of which are super easy to set up, require no real technical knowledge, and ultimately allow for a deeper level of reporting.
1. Site search
Tracking the queries being searched for within your website’s search box can provide useful information about user intent. For instance, frequent searches for a specific piece of information could indicate that your site’s navigation needs improving, or that you should consider adding a page for that piece of information if it does not already exist.
The Site Search report allows you to track this search information, and the journey users take after completing the search. However, in order for Analytics to display this data in reports, you’ll first need to tell it to do so. This is a two step process:
- Identify the query parameter: When a user searches on your site, the query is usually included in the resulting URL; this could be a term such as ‘query’, ‘term’ or ‘search’, or may just be a letter, such as ‘q’ or ‘s’. Whatever it is, you’re looking for the bit in the url that comes directly before =.
In the example below, the query parameter is ‘q’.
- Enable site search: Next, head to Admin > View settings. Toggle the Site search button to ‘ON’, then enter the query parameter, like so:
To see site search data, go to Reporting > Behaviour > Site Search. Please note, it can take a day or so for Analytics to start pulling this data through.
2. Google Search Console association
Google Search Console (previously Google Webmaster Tools) offers up a bunch of useful tools and reports for website owners. For example, the Search Analytics report shows how often your site appears in Google’s (organic) search results, the queries it is shown for, average position, number of clicks, and click through rates (CTR). Needless to say this is all super useful information to have, especially now almost all organic keyword data in Analytics is encrypted.
By linking Search Console with Analytics, all of your Search Console data can be accessed from the comfort of your Analytics dashboard. Nice.
Follow this link to get started.
3. Benchmarking reports
Benchmarking reports allow you to compare your data with aggregated industry data. These reports can provide valuable insights into industry trends, and allow you to see how your website is performing against similar websites within your industry; competitors, if you will.
To access this feature, you must first allow Google to (anonymously) share your own website data with others. To do this, go to Admin > Account Settings > Check the Benchmarking box.
To access Benchmarking reports, go to Reporting > Audience > Benchmarking.
4. The segment gallery
Segments allow you to isolate and examine subsets of your Analytics data. For instance, a segment might only include users from a certain country, include or exclude users who visit (or do not visit) a certain area of your site, or segment sessions that meet a specific criteria.
Analytics includes a number of predefined segments for common use cases, but for more advanced segmentation you’ll need to either create your own custom segment, or better still, import an existing segment from the Analytics Solutions Gallery. The Solutions Gallery is a platform where Analytics users can share and import custom reporting tools for all manner of purposes – if you’re in need of a custom segment, you should check it out as it could save you a lot of time and energy.
5. Goal templates
Goals allow you to see how your website is performing in relation to your business objectives. No matter the objective of the website – to encourage people to fill out a contact form, to download a PDF, or to interact with a piece of content – goals allow you to track those actions.
When setting up a goal in Analytics, you’ll be presented with three options: Custom, Smart goals (used for Adwords only) or Template. However, in order to take advantage of goal templates, you’ll first need to select an industry category for your website. To do this, go to Admin > Property Settings. You need to do this because goal templates are industry specific.
For those who are not confident setting up custom goals, templates can prove a useful feature. For more about setting up goals, have a read of this post.