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What to Do When You Have Too Many Ideas and Not Enough Time

What to Do When You Have Too Many Ideas and Not Enough Time

What do you do when you have too many ideas and not enough time? Or similarly, what about when you have too many tasks and not enough energy?

As an entrepreneur, I feel like I’ve been battling this issue for awhile. There is always another opportunity to chase or a new product idea that sounds exciting. For a long time, I felt guilty about ignoring good ideas that came my way and so I kept adding more to my to-do list.

However, during a recent conversation with Travis Dommert, I learned about a new strategy for dealing with the issue of having too many ideas and projects.

It all comes down to treating your life like a rose bush.

Let me explain what Travis taught me…

Ideas are Like Rose Buds

As a rose bush grows it creates more buds than it can sustain. If you talk to an experienced gardener, they will tell you that rose bushes need to be pruned to bring out the best in both their appearance and their performance.

You see, a rose bush isn’t like a tree. It can’t grow wider and taller each year. And that means if you never trim away some of the buds, then the bush will eventually exhaust itself and die. There are only so many resources to go around. And if you really want a rose bush to flourish, then it needs to be trimmed down not just once, but each year.

Ideas are like rose bushes: they need to be consistently pruned and trimmed down. And just like a rose bush, pruning away ideas — even if they have potential — allows the remaining ideas to fully blossom.

Just like the rose bush, we face constraints in our lives. We have a limited amount of energy and willpower to apply each day. It’s natural for new ideas and projects to come into our life — just like it’s natural for a rose bush to add new buds — but we have to prune things away before we exhaust ourselves.

In other words: new growth is natural and it’s normal for tasks and ideas to creep into your life, but full growth and optimal living requires pruning.

We All Need to Cut Good Branches

I like the rose bush analogy because it brings up something that is often lost in most conversations about productivity and simplicity: if you want to reach your full potential, you have to cut out ideas and tasks that are good, but not great.

In my experience, this is really hard to do.

  • If you’re building a business, maybe you have 3 product lines that are profitable. Your business might grow by 5x if you focus on all three, but which product line will grow by 500x if you put all of your energy into it?
  • If you’re training in the gym, there are all sorts of exercises that could make you stronger. But which two or three exercises will build a foundation of strength better than anything else?
  • If you’re thinking about the relationships in your life, there are dozens of people that you are connected to in some way. But which people bring energy into your life and which ones suck energy out of it?

The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics

The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics

If you don’t know what Google Analytics is, haven’t installed it on your website, or have installed it but never look at your data, then this post is for you. While it’s hard for many to believe, there are still websites that are not using Google Analytics (or any analytics, for that matter) to measure their traffic. In this post, we’re going to look at Google Analytics from the absolute beginner’s point of view. Why you need it, how to get it, how to use it, and workarounds to common problems.

Why you need Google Analytics

Do you have a blog? Do you have a static website? If the answer is yes, whether they are for personal or business use, then you need Google Analytics. Here are just a few of the many questions about your website that you can answer using Google Analytics.

  • How many people visit my website?
  • Where do my visitors live?
  • Do I need a mobile-friendly website?
  • What websites send traffic to my website?
  • What marketing tactics drive the most traffic to my website?
  • Which pages on my website are the most popular?
  • How many visitors have I converted into leads or customers?
  • Where did my converting visitors come from and go on my website?
  • How can I improve my website’s speed?
  • What blog content do my visitors like the most?

There are many, many additional questions that Google Analytics can answer, but these are the ones that are most important for most website owners. Now let’s look at how you can get Google Analytics on your website.

How to install Google Analytics

First, you need a Google Analytics account. If you have a primary Google account that you use for other services like Gmail, Google Drive, Google Calendar, Google+, or YouTube, then you should set up your Google Analytics using that Google account. Or you will need to create a new one.

This should be a Google account you plan to keep forever and that only you have access to. You can always grant access to your Google Analytics to other people down the road, but you don’t want someone else to have full control over it.

Big tip: don’t let your anyone (your web designer, web developer, web host, SEO person, etc.) create your website’s Google Analytics account under their own Google account so they can “manage” it for you. If you and this person part ways, they will take your Google Analytics data with them, and you will have to start all over.

1. Set up your account and property

Once you have a Google account, you can go to Google Analytics and click the Sign into Google Analytics button. You will then be greeted with the three steps you must take to set up Google Analytics.

google analytics setup

After you click the Sign Up button, you will fill out information for your website.

setting up a new account in google analytics

Google Analytics offers hierarchies to organize your account. You can have up to 100 Google Analytics accounts under one Google account. You can have up to 50 website properties under one Google Analytics account. You can have up to 25 views under one website property.

Here are a few scenarios.

  • SCENARIO 1: If you have one website, you only need one Google Analytics account with one website property.
  • SCENARIO 2: If you have two websites, such as one for your business and one for your personal use, you might want to create two accounts, naming one “123Business” and one “Personal”. Then you will set up your business website under the 123Business account and your personal website under your Personal account.
  • SCENARIO 3: If you have several businesses, but less than 50, and each of them has one website, you might want to put them all under a Business account. Then have a Personal account for your personal websites.
  • SCENARIO 4: If you have several businesses and each of them has dozens of websites, for a total of more than 50 websites, you might want to put each business under its own account, such as 123Business account, 124Business account, and so on.

There are no right or wrong ways to set up your Google Analytics account—it’s just a matter of how you want to organize your sites. You can always rename your accounts or properties down the road. Note that you can’t move a property (website) from one Google Analytics account to another—you would have to set up a new property under the new account and lose the historical data you collected from the original property.

For the absolute beginner’s guide, we’re going to assume you have one website and only need one view (the default, all data view. The setup would look something like this.

new account information google analytics

Beneath this, you will have the option to configure where your Google Analytics data can be shared.

configuring shared info for google analytics

2. Install your tracking code

Once you are finished, you will click the Get Tracking ID button. You will get a popup of the Google Analytics terms and conditions, which you have to agree to. Then you will get your Google Analytics code.

find google analytics tracking code

This must be installed on every page on your website. The installation will depend on what type of website you have. For example, I have a WordPress website on my own domain using the Genesis Framework. This framework has a specific area to add header and footer scripts to my website.

installing google analytics tracking code wordpress genesis

Alternatively, if you have a WordPress on your own domain, you can use the Google Analytics by Yoast plugin to install your code easily no matter what theme or framework you are using.

If you have a website built with HTML files, you will add the tracking code before the </head> tag on each of your pages. You can do this by using a text editor program (such as TextEdit for Mac or Notepad for Windows) and then uploading the file to your web host using an FTP program (such as FileZilla).

adding google analytics tracking code to head tag

If you have a Shopify e-commerce store, you will go to your Online Store settings and paste in your tracking code where specified.

adding google analytics tracking code to shopify account

If you have a blog on Tumblr, you will go to your blog, click the Edit Theme button at the top right of your blog, and then enter just the Google Analytics ID in your settings.

adding google analytics tracking code to tumblr

As you can see, the installation of Google Analytics varies based on the platform you use (content management system, website builder, e-commerce software, etc.), the theme you use, and the plugins you use. You should be able to find easy instructions to install Google Analytics on any website by doing a web search for your platform + how to install Google Analytics.

Set up goals

After you install your tracking code on your website, you will want to configure a small (but very useful) setting in your website’s profile on Google Analytics. This is your Goals setting. You can find it by clicking on the Admin link at the top of your Google Analytics and then clicking on Goals under your website’s View column.

setting up goals in google analytics

Goals will tell Google Analytics when something important has happened on your website. For example, if you have a website where you generate leads through a contact form, you will want to find (or create) a thank you page that visitors end upon once they have submitted their contact information. Or, if you have a website where you sell products, you will want to find (or create) a final thank you or confirmation page for visitors to land upon once they have completed a purchase.

That URL will likely look something like this.

In Google Analytics, you will click on the New Goal button.

adding a new goal to google analytics

You will choose the Custom option (unless one of the other options are more applicable to your website) and click the Next Step button.

setting custom goals in google analytics

You will name your goal something you will remember, select Destination, and then click the Next Step button.

naming a goal in google analytics

You will enter your thank you or confirmation page’s URL after the .com of your website in the Destination field and change the drop-down to “Begins with”.

setting goal details google analytics

You will then toggle the value and enter a specific dollar value for that conversion (if applicable) and click Create Goal to complete the setup.

If you have other similar goals / conversions you would like to track on your website, you can follow these steps again. You can create up to 20 goals on your website. Be sure that the ones you create are highly important to your business. These goals (for most businesses) include lead form submissions, email list sign ups, and purchase completions. Depending on your website and its purpose, your goals may vary.

Note that this is the simplest of all conversion tracking in Google Analytics. You can review the documentation in Google Analytics support to learn more about setting up goal tracking.

3. Set up site search

Another thing you can set up really quickly that will give you valuable data down the road is Site Search. This is for any website with a search box on it, like the search box at the top of the Moz Blog.

site search moz

First, run a search on your website. Then keep the tab open. You will need the URL momentarily.

site search query parameter

Go to your Google Analytics Admin menu again, and in the View column, click on View Settings.

setting up search query parameter in google analytics

Scroll down until you see Site Settings and toggle it to On.

site search settings in google analytics

Look back at your URL for your search results. Enter the query parameter (usually s or q) and click Save. On Moz, for example, the query parameter is q.

entering the query parameter in google analytics site search

This will allow Google Analytics to track any searches made on your website so you can learn more about what your visitors are looking for on specific pages.

4. Add additional accounts and properties

If you want to add a new Google Analytics account, you can do so by going to your Admin menu, clicking on the drop-down under the Account column, and clicking the Create New Account link.

add account google analytics

Likewise, if you want to add a new website under your Google Analytics account, you can do so by going to your Admin menu, clicking on the drop-down under the Property column, and clicking the Create New Property link.

create new property google analytics

Then you will continue through all of the above-mentioned steps.

Once you’ve installed Google Analytics on your website(s), set up your goals, and set up site search(es), you should wait about 24 hours for it to start getting data. Then you will be able to start viewing your data.

5. View Google Analytics data

Once you start getting in Google Analytics data, you can start learning about your website traffic. Each time you log in to Google Analytics, you will be taken to your Audience Overview report. Alternatively, if you have more than one website, you will be taken to your list of websites to choose from, and then taken to the Audience Overview report for that website. This is the first of over 50 reports that are available to you in Google Analytics. You can also access these reports by clicking on the Reporting link at the top.

viewing google analytics

6. Standard report features

Most of the standard reports within Google Analytics will look similar to this. At the top right, you can click on the drop-down arrow next to your website to switch to different websites within all of your Google Analytics accounts. Or you can click the Home link at the top.

google analytics audience overview

In the report at the top right, you can click on the dates to change the date range of the data you are viewing. You can also check the Compare box to compare your data from one date range (such as this month) to a previous date range (such as last month) to view your data.

google analytics date range select

You can hover over a variety of areas on your Google Analytics reports to get more information. For example, in the Audience Overview, hovering over the line on the graph will give you the number of sessions for a particular day. Hovering over the metrics beneath the graph will tell you what each one means.

google analytics hover

Beneath the main metrics, you will see reports that you can switch through to see the top ten languages, countries, cities, browsers, operating systems, services providers, and screen resolutions of your visitors.

screen resolution report google analytics

You can click the full report link on each to see the full reports. Or you can click on any of the top ten links to see more details. For example, clicking on the United States in Countries will take you to the full Location report, focused in on visitors from states within the US.

location report google analytics

In this view, you can hover over each state to see the number of visitors from that state. You can scroll down to the table and hover over each column name to learn more about each metric.

visitors by state google analytics

You can also click on the name of each state to see visitors from cities within the state. Effectively, any time you see a clickable link or a ? next to something, you can click on it or hover over it to learn more. The deeper you dive into your analytics, the more interesting information you will find.

7. Types of Google Analytics reports

Speaking of reports, here is quick summary of what you will find in each of the standard Google Analytics reporting sections, accessible in the left sidebar.

types of google analytics reports

Everything in (parenthesis) is a specific report or set of reports within the following sections that you can refer to.

Audience reports

These reports tell you everything you want to know about your visitors. In them, you will find detailed reports for your visitors’ age and gender (Demographics), what their general interests are (Interests), where they come from (Geo > Location) and what language they speak (Geo > Language), how often they visit your website (Behavior), and the technology they use to view your website (Technology and Mobile).

Acquisition reports

These reports will tell you everything you want to know about what drove visitors to your website (All Traffic). You will see your traffic broken down by main categories (All Traffic > Channels) and specific sources (All Traffic > Source/Medium).

You can learn everything about traffic from social networks (Social). You can also connect Google Analytics to AdWords to learn more about PPC campaigns and to Google Webmaster Tools / Search Console to learn more about search traffic (Search Engine Optimization)

Behavior reports

These reports will tell you everything you want to know about your content. Particularly, the top pages on your website (Site Content > All Pages), the top entry pages on your website (Site Content > Landing Pages), and the top exit pages on your website (Site Content > Exit Pages).

If you set up Site Search, you will be able to see what terms are searched for (Site Search > Search Terms) and the pages they are searched upon (Site Search > Pages).

You can also learn how fast your website loads (Site Speed) as well as find specific suggestions from Google on how to make your website faster (Site Speed > Speed Suggestions).

8. Conversions

If you set up Goals within your Google Analytics, you can see how many conversions your website has received (Goals > Overview) and what URLs they happened upon (Goals > Goal URLs). You can also see the path that visitors took to complete the conversion (Goals > Reverse Goal Path).

Speaking of goals and conversions, most of the tables within Google Analytics standard reports will tie specific data to your conversions. For example, you can see the number of conversions made by visitors from California in the Audience > Geo > Location report. You can see the number of conversions made by visitors from Facebook in the Acquisitions > All Traffic > Source/Medium report. You can see the number of conversions made by visitors who landed on specific pages in the Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages report.

google analytics conversions

If you have multiple goals, you can use the dropdown at the top of that section of data to switch to the goal you want to view or all of your goals if you prefer.

9. Shortcuts and emails

While you won’t need every report within Google Analytics, you should explore them all to see what they have to offer. When you find some that you want to visit again and again, use the Shortcut link at the top of the report to add them to the Shortcuts in your left sidebar for faster access.

google analytics shortcuts

Or, use the email button to have them emailed to you (or others on your team) on a regular basis.

google analytics emailed reports

If you choose to send emails to someone outside of your organization, be sure to regularly check your emails by going to your Admin menu and clicking on the Scheduled Emails box under the View column to ensure only people working with your company are getting your data.

google analytics admin window

FAQs about Google Analytics

Got a few questions? Here are some of the common ones that come up with Google Analytics.

1. How do I share my Google Analytics data with someone?

You don’t have to give your Google account information over to someone who needs access to your Google Analytics data. You just need to go to your Admin menu and under the Account, Property (website) or View you want someone to see, click the User Management menu.

adding user to google analytics

From there, you can add the email address of anyone you would like to view your Google Analytics data and choose the permissions you would like them to have.

user permissions google analytics

2. I don’t like viewing the reports in Google Analytics. Can someone just summarize the data for me?

Yes! Quill Engage is a service that will take your Google Analytics data and summarize it in an easy-to-read report for you. Best of all, it’s free for up to ten profiles (websites).

quill engage summary report google analytics

3. I have a dozen websites, and I don’t want to check each of their Google Analytics on a daily basis. What do I do?

You have two options in this scenario. You start by going to the Home screen of Google Analytics. There, you will find a listing of all your websites and an overview of the top metrics—sessions, average session duration, bounce rate, and conversion rate.

google analytics home screen

You can also try business dashboard solutions like Cyfe. For $19 a month, you can create unlimited dashboards with unlimited widgets, including a large selection of data from Google Analytics, alongside data from your social media networks, keyword rankings, Moz stats, and more.

cyfe dashboard google analytics

This solution significantly cuts down on the time spent looking at analytics across the board for your entire business.

4. Google Analytics says that 90%+ of my organic keywords are (not provided). Where can I find that information?

(not provided) is Google’s way of protecting search engine user’s privacy by hiding the keywords they use to discover your website in search results. Tools like Google Webmaster Tools (now Search Console, free), Authority Lab’s Now Provided Reports (paid), and Hittail (paid) can all help you uncover some of those keywords.

search analytics keyword data

They won’t be linked to your conversions or other Google Analytics data, but at least you will have some clue what keywords searchers are using to find your website.

5. How do I use Custom Reports, Dashboards, and Segments?

If you’re ready to move to the next level in Google Analytics, Custom Reports, Dashboards, and Segments are the way to go.

Custom Reports (under the Customization menu at the top) allow you to create reports that look similar to the standard Google Analytics reports with the metrics you want to view.

custom report google analytics

Dashboards allow you to view your Google Analytics data in a dashboard format. You can access them at the top of the left sidebar.

google analytics dashboard

Segments allow you to view all of your Google Analytics data based on a specific dimension, such as all of your Google Analytics data based on visitors from the United States. You can also use them to compare up to four segments of data, such as United States versus United Kingdom traffic, search versus social traffic, mobile versus desktop traffic, and more. You can access Segments in each of your reports.

audience comparison google analytics

The nice part about these is that you don’t have to create them from scratch. You can start by using pre-defined Custom Reports, Dashboards, and Segments from the Google Solutions Gallery.

google solutions gallery

There, you will find lots of Custom Reports, Dashboards, Segments, and other solutions that you can import into your Google Analytics and edit to fit your needs. Edit Custom Reports with the Edit button at the top.

edit custom reports google analytics

Edit Dashboards using the Add Widget or Customize Dashboard buttons at the top.

Edit Segments by clicking the Action button inside the Segments selector box and choosing Edit.

edit segments google analytics

Or, when you have applied Segments to your reports, use the drop-down arrow at the top right to find the Edit option.

As you get used to editing Custom Reports, Dashboards, and Segments, you will get more familiar with the way each works so you can create new ones on your own.

In conclusion

I hope you’ve enjoyed this beginner’s introduction to Google Analytics for beginners. If you’re a beginner and have a burning questions, please ask in the comments. I’ll be happy to help!

How to Run an A/B Test in Google Analytics

How to Run an A/B Test in Google Analytics

Designs don’t always work out as intended.

The layout looks good. The color choices seem great. And the CTA balances clever and clear.

But…

It’s not working. All of it. Some of it. You’re not completely sure, but something’s gotta give.

Despite everyone’s best intentions, including all the hours of research and analyses, things don’t always work out as planned.

That’s where continuous testing comes in. Not a one-and-done or hail & pray attempt.

Even better, is that your testing efforts don’t need to be complex and time consuming.

Here’s how to set-up split test inside Google Analytics in just a few minutes.

What are Google Analytics Content Experiments?

Let’s say your eCommerce shop sells Pug Greeting Cards. (That’s a thing by the way.)

Obviously, these should sell themselves.

But let’s just suspend disbelief for a moment and hypothesize that sales are low because you’re having trouble getting people into these individual product pages in the first place.

Your homepage isn’t a destination; it’s a jumping off point.

Peeps come in, look around, and click somewhere else.

Many times that’s your Product/Service pages. Often it’s your About page.

Regardless, the goal is to get them down into a funnel or path as quickly as possible, (a) helping them find what they were looking for while also (b) getting them closer to triggering one of your conversion events.

The magic happens on a landing page, where these two things – a visitor’s interest and your marketing objective – intertwine and become one in a beautiful symphony.

So let’s test a few homepage variations to see which do the best job at directing new visitors into your best-selling products.

One has a video, the other doesn’t. One is short and sweet, the other long and detailed. One has a GIF, the other doesn’t.

 

pug getting chest scratched
 

New incoming traffic gets split across these page variations, allowing you to watch and compare the number of people completing your desired action until you can confidently declare a winner.

(It’s probably going to be the one featuring this video.)

Running simple and straightforward split test like this is landing page optimization 101, where you identify specific page variables that result in the best results for your audience and multiply them across your site.

Google Analytics comes with a basic content experiments feature that will allow you to compare different page variations, split traffic to them accordingly, and get email updated about how results are trending and whether you’re going to hit your defined objective or not.

But… they’re technically not a straightforward A/B test. Here’s why, and how that’s actually a good thing.

Why Content Experiments Can Be Better than Traditional A/B Tests

Your typical A/B test selects a very specific page element, like the headline, and changes only that one tiny variable in new page variations.

The interwebs are full of articles where switching up button color resulted in a 37,596% CTR increase* because people like green buttons instead of blue ones. Duh.

(*That’s a made up number.)

There’s a few problems with your classic A/B test though.

First up, tiny changes often regress back to the mean. So while you might see a few small fluctuations when you first begin running a test, small changes usually only equal small results.

 

changes-regress-to-the-mean-ab-test
 

The second problem is that most A/B tests fail.

And if that weren’t bad enough, the third issue is that you’re going to need a TON of volume (specifically, 1,000 monthly conversions to start with and a test of at least 250 conversions) to determine whether or not those changes actually worked or not.

Google Analytics Content Experiments use an A/B/N model instead. Which is like a step in between one-variable-only A/B tests and coordinated-multiple-variable multivariate tests.

(After typing that last sentence, I realized only hardcore CRO geeks are going to care about this distinction. However it’s still important to understand from a high level so you know what types of changes to make, try, or test).

You can create up to 10 different versions of a page, each with their own unique content or changes.

In other words, you can test bigger-picture stuff, like: “Does a positive or negative Pug value proposition result in more clicks?”

Generally these holistic changes can be more instructive, helping you figure out what messaging or page elements you can (and should) carry through to your other marketing materials like emails, social and more.

And the best part, is instead of requiring a sophisticated (read: time consuming) process to set up to make sure all of your variable changes are statistically significant, you can use Google Analytics Content Experiments to run faster, iterative changes and learn on-the-go.

Here’s how to get started.

How to Setup Google Analytics Experiments

Setting up Content Experiments only takes a few seconds.

You will, however, have to set-up at least one or two page variations prior to logging in. That topic’s beyond the scope here, so check out this and this to determine what you should be testing in the first place.

When you’ve got a few set-up and ready to go, login to Google Analytics and start here.

Step #1. Getting Started

Buried deep in the Behavior section of Google Analytics – you know, the one you ignore when toggling between Acquisition and Conversions – is the vague, yet innocuous sounding ‘Experiments’ label.

Chances are, you’ll see a blank screen when you click on it that resembles:

 

google-analytics-experiments-empty
 

To create your first experiment, click the button that says Create Experiment on the top left of your window.

With me so far? Good.

Let’s see what creating one looks like.

Step #2. Choose an Experiment

Ok now the fun starts.

Name your experiment, whatever.

And look down at selecting the Objective. Here’s where you can set an identifiable outcome to track results against and determine a #winning variation.

 

content-experiment-step-one
 

You have three options here. You can:

  • Select an existing Goal (like opt-ins, purchases, etc.)
  • Select a Site Usage metric (like bounce rate)
  • Create a new objective or Goal (if you don’t have one set-up already, but want to run a conversion-based experiment)

The selection depends completely on why you’re running this test in the first place.

For example: most are surprised to find that their old blog posts often bring in the most traffic. The problem? Many times those old, outdated pages also have the highest bounce rates.

Navigate to: Behavior > Secondary Dimensions + Google/Organic > Top Pageviews > Bounce Rate.

Here’s an example:

 

google-analytics-source-medium
 

(Here are a few other actionable Google Analytics reports to spot similarly low hanging fruit when you’re done setting up an experiment.)

Let’s select Bounce Rate as the Objective for now, so we can make page changes to the layout, or increasing the volume and quantity of high quality visuals to get people to stick around longer.

After selecting your Objective, you can click on Advanced Options to pull up more granular settings for this test.

 

content-experiments-advanced-options
 

By default, these advanced options are off, and Google will “adjust traffic dynamically based on variation performance”.

However if enabled, your experiment will simply split traffic evenly across all the page variations you add, run the experiment for two weeks and shoot for a 95% statistical confidence level.

Those are all good places to start in most cases, however you might want to change the duration depending on how much traffic you get (i.e. you can get away with shorter tests if this page will see a ton of traffic, or you might need to extend it longer than two weeks if there’s only a slow trickle).

So far so good!

Step #3. Configure Your Experiment

The next step is to simply add the URLs for all of the page variations you want to test.

Literally, just copy and paste:

 

content-experiment-add-urls
 

You can also give them helpful names to remember. Or not. It will simply number the variants for you.

Step #4. Adding Script Code to your Page

Now everyone’s favorite part – editing your page’s code!

The good news, is the first thing you see under this section is a helpful toggle button to just email all this crap code over to your favorite technical person.

If you’d like to get your hands dirty however, read on.

 

setting-up-experiment-code
 

First up, double check all of the pages you plan on testing to make sure that your default Google Analytics tracking code is installed. If you’re using a CMS, it should be, as it’s usually added site-wide initially.

Next, highlight and copy the code provided.

You’re going to need to look for the opening head tag in the Original variation (which should be located literally towards the top of your HTML document. Search for to make it easy:

 

head-tag-source-code
 

Once that’s done, click Next Step back in Google Analytics to have them verify if everything looks A-OK.

Not sure if you did it right? Don’t worry – they’ll tell you.

For example, the first time I tried installing the code for this demo I accidentally placed it underneath the regular Google Analytics tracking code (which they so helpfully and clearly pointed out).

 

tracking-before-experiment-code-google-analytics
 

After double checking your work and fixing, you should see this:

 

review-and-start-content-experiment
 

And now you’re ready to go!

See, that wasn’t so bad now was it?!

Conclusion

Websites are never truly done and finished.

They need iteration; including constant analysis, new ideas, and changes to constantly increase results.

Many times, that means analyzing and test entire pages based on BIG (not small) changes like value propositions or layouts. These are the things that will deliver similarly big results.

Landing page optimization and split testing techniques can get extremely confident and require special tools that only CRO professionals can navigate.

However Google Analytics includes their own simple split testing option in Content Experiments.

Assuming you already have the new page variations created and you’re comfortable editing your site’s code, they literally only take a few seconds to get up-and-running.

And they can enable anyone in your organization to go from research to action by the end of the day.

How to Track Conversions in Google Analytics

How to Track Conversions in Google Analytics

Visits and page views are nice.

But conversions are all that matter at the end of the day.

The trouble, of course, is that conversion goals don’t come ‘preloaded’ with each new Google Analytics account. And you can’t get access to historical, legacy data, either.

That means when you let days (or weeks) go by without setting up conversion goals properly, you’re going to lose all of that information forever.

Key data points that could have helped you to quickly spot new revenue-boosting opportunities or money-saving costs to cut.

Fortunately, setting up goal tracking only takes a few minutes if you know what you’re doing.

Here’s a complete guide to starting tracking conversions inside Google Analytics.

 

How Google Analytics conversion tracking works

After logging into your Google Analytics account, look at the bottom of the left-hand sidebar menu for “Admin.”

Clicking that will bring you to a three-column page where different options are sorted by “Account,” “Property,” and “View.” Look on the far right (under “View”) for the Goals option.

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Here’s where you’ll select a new Goal to create.

You can get started with one of their pre-configured ‘templates’ that are split up into four different categories: Three ‘hard’ ones (Revenue, Acquisition, Inquiry) and a single ‘soft’ one (Engagement).

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Let’s say you run an e-commerce site that sells meal delivery services. Amanda visits your website, watches a video, and then signs up for a free trial. In that order.

We tend to fixate on ‘macro’, hard conversions like that new free trial goal completion. However, in this scenario, an assist should go on the scoreboard for that ‘micro’ conversion, or soft video view, too.

So let’s create different goals for each.

First up, let’s track that video view by selecting the Engagement Goal. Here’s what step two will look like:

Analytics 2

Engagement-based goals like video views will be tracked as a new Event. Click “Continue” and your new Event options will pop up:

Analytics 1

Here, you’ll need to add labels to describe what this Event is tracking. There are three categories that start big and get smaller as you go.

Or, if you’re a grammar nerd, these can be broken down into noun, verb, adjective:

  • The category is the most general term for what you’re tracking. The noun: Outbound link. Video. File.
  • The action is the verb. What are visitors doing? Download. Click. Submit. Play. Share.
  • The label is the adjective — the small details of what you want to capture. Perhaps it’s specific poll answers. Or if it’s video playbacks you’re tracking, this is where you note the video title.

Before finishing, you’ll also typically want to select “Yes” so that Event Values are passed onto Goal values, too.

That way, you can track this information back later to see where these video views originated (i.e. the channel, source/medium, marketing campaign, etc.).

(Note: Keep in mind that adding event tracking will require a new line of code on your site. If you use WordPress, there are a couple plugins that make this really easy. Or you can use Google Tag Manager.)

Now that we’ve got the video view set up, we can move on to creating a Goal for our ‘macro’ conversion. Head back to the beginning and this time, select “Acquisition.”

Your Goal type for this one will be a Destination goal, where you’ll simply drop in the URL for the Thank You or confirmation page someone lands on after submitting their information.

Analytics

Here’s how to customize that option in the last step.

First, drop in the URL path for the Thank You page (minus your root domain). So: “https://neilpatel.com/thanks” should be simply: “/thanks”:

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Then you have two optional values underneath:

  • Value: A simple dollar amount based on the value of this new signup. If it’s technically free still, you can at also use a placeholder like a dollar per subscriber or cost per lead (if appropriate).
  • Funnel: If you want to specify that a conversion goal is only tracked when someone hits every single page, you specify in sequence.

Last but not least, click that little Verify link on the bottom prior to saving in order to test and see if you’ve set up the Goal correctly. (For example, if this conversion has already existed, you should see some kind of percentage conversion rate value.)

Once you’ve got these two different Goal types set up, you can go back to the main reporting area of Google Analytics to view your results.

(Note: Unfortunately, Google Analytics won’t provide you with historical data that may have already happened in the past. You’ll only be able to view these new conversions going forward.)

In the left-hand sidebar menu, click on Conversions > Goals > Overview to start.

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BAM! In a few days, you should see a nice little graph that looks something like this:

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(There are other places in Google Analytics to view goal conversions, but this is the most straightforward.)

And that’s pretty much it! Easy, right?!

Except for one thing:

Your work is just beginning. Because the only reason to track anything in the first place is so that you can do something with the information.

Here are a few examples you can start pulling from now that you have conversion tracking set up.

How to #MakeMarketingGreatAgain with Google Analytics conversion tracking

Looking at total conversions is fine. Tracking those over time is a tiny bit better. The conversion rate itself is somewhat helpful.

But these are all just barely scratching the surface.

✅ Pinpoint ‘Low Hanging Fruit’ Opportunities

The ‘mobile friendly’ moniker is somewhat misleading.

True, you could have a website that’s mobile friendly (technically speaking). It passes the smell test (or at least some online test).

But is it really, truly mobile friendly?

Because jamming an already clunky user experience onto a smaller screen with limited processing power can be a recipe for disaster.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than by comparing your conversion rate across devices. Head on over to “Audience”, then “Mobile”, then “Overview”, and look for a huge drop off like the following:

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There it is. The smoking gun. The golden, lost opportunity cost staring you in the face.

The good news is that you can at least see it now. And do something about it, like redesign these pages (or experiences) for mobile specifically, and then A/B test the result.

✅ Reverse-Engineer Conversion Paths

Users flow through your site in different patterns.

For example, organic search traffic coming into a blog post will often view other blog posts. While PPC traffic will typically head straight to a landing page.

User Flows

(image source)

At the end of the day, they all might convert. But the ‘path’ they take will usually follow a few well-worn patterns.

The first step is to simply identify these ‘conversion paths’ taking place on your site. Because then the second step is to optimize them by removing friction along each step, increasing the value proposition on the landing page.

Head over to the Conversions section and look for “Reverse Goal Path.”

The first page on the far left will be your “Completion Location” page (which is typically just the Thank You page for a Destination goal we set up earlier).

The next step to the right is the landing page that these people converted on.

And the one before that (“Step – 2” on the far right) could be the initial entrance page that someone first visited your site (from a paid ad, etc.).

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This report will highlight all of these pre-existing patterns. So you can see which ‘paths’ are already the most popular (and, therefore, which ones you should focus on improving first).

✅ Analyze Converters vs. Non-Converters

Unfortunately, the vast majority of website visitors will not convert.

That’s just the cold, hard reality we face.

The other ~97-99% of visitors are just browsing, looking, viewing, learning, and consuming.

But, comparing their actions against those who did convert can be illuminating. For example, it can show you which specific ‘micro’ conversions (remember those?) contribute most to eventually persuading someone to give you a shot.

Let’s return to our original example. Amanda converted for a free trial. Bob did not.

Of course, there could be many, many reasons. But by comparing the differences between converters and non-converters can help us see how Events eventually lead to new conversions.

Simply go to “Segments” in your Audience Overview, select “Converters” and “Non-Converters.”

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Amanda may have watched a video. She may have downloaded an e-book. Maybe Bob did none of the above, even though they both came from the same source originally (organic search).

Now you can drill down in almost every category to see how the site experience of Converters on your site differs from Non-Converters.

You can hypothesize why those experiences might be different (based on different paths, micro-conversions, etc.). And you can come up with new things to test to improve.

Conclusion

Google Analytics allows you to track conversions based on both ‘hard’ Goals and ‘soft’ engagement conversions.

At the end of the day, you need both. One eventually leads to the other.

The trouble is that you have no idea how to improve either one until you start tracking them properly. That means manually going into Google Analytics to set up Destination Goals (like a new free trial) and Engagements Events (like video views).

It takes a few extra lines of code. A few minutes worth of work.

But the insights you’re able to glean after analyzing the data can help you transform a failing campaign into a successful one. And a loss into a profit on your P&L.

Do you track goals and events for your site?

How to Increase Your Conversions Using Google Analytics Conversions Reports

How to Increase Your Conversions Using Google Analytics Conversions Reports

Do you understand how visitors convert on your blog or website?

Are you tracking conversion goals?

Knowing how visitors convert on your website can help you improve your marketing.

In this article I’ll show you how to dive into Google Analytics Conversions reports so you can optimize your site for more conversions.

Locating Google Analytics Conversions Reports

The Conversions section shows you the path your customers take on your website, from the entrance to making a purchase or becoming a lead.

conversions report menu
Google Analytics left sidebar menu with Conversions section.

Conversions reports are broken into four sections. While some conversion reporting areas look similar to the standard reports you will find elsewhere in Google Analytics, many are customized to the data they represent. Each data set is based on the reporting period you define in the date range drop-down menu.

Ready to learn more about them? Let’s get started with a list of terminology.

#1: Goals

The Goals Overview report gives you a quick summary of the total number of goal completions made on your website.

conversions goal overview report
Google Analytics Conversions Goals Overview.

You can quickly view the pages where goal completions are made or click the Source/Medium link to see where converting traffic originates. To dig deeper, you can click through the following detailed reports.

Goal URLs

The Goal URLs report shows the URLs on your website where visitors convert. If you use the Destination goal type, this is the URL visitors land upon once a goal has been completed, such as a thank-you or confirmation page.

To find out which pages on your website lead to the most conversions, use the Secondary Dimension drop-down and select Goal Previous Step – 1. The goal URL report will then display the page a visitor was on before landing on the Destination URL.

conversions goal urls report
See which pages lead to the most conversions.

Reverse Goal Path

The Reverse Goal Path report displays up to four steps in the goal completion journey. In the example below, you can see that some people started on the home page (represented by the /), submitted a contact form from the freelance-writing and contact-2 pages and landed on the thank-you page to complete the goal.

conversions goal reverse path report
Find out where converting customers started on your website.

This report shows you two things. First, it shows you the most popular pathways people take to complete a goal on your website. Second, it shows how many steps people take to complete a goal.

For example, the majority of people who complete a goal only go through three pages at maximum, from entrance to completion. If this is the case, you may want to shorten other pathways through your website to get people to the goal faster.

Funnel Visualizations

If you set up your Destination goal to track multiple steps in the conversion process, you will be able to see the steps your visitors take in the Funnel Visualization. If you setup a Destination goal with one URL, your funnel will look like this.

conversions funnel visualization report
Google Analytics Conversions Destination goal tracking with a single URL.

Funnel visualization is critical for those sites with multiple steps in the goal completion process. You can find out where in the conversion process people drop out before making a purchase.

If you set up multiple steps, such as those a visitor experiences with a shopping cart, your funnel will look like this.

conversions funnel visualization ecommerce report
Google Analytics Conversions Destination goal tracking with multiple URLs.

In the example above, only 35% of people who add a product to their shopping cart continue on to make a purchase. This means that you should work on optimizing that part of the sales process to increase conversions.

Goal Flow Visualization

The Goal Flow displays the goal completion paths of visitors in a flowchart.

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Conversions Goal Flow Visualization.

You can use the drop-down to show traffic sources and other dimensions that drive visitors who complete a goal.

#2: Ecommerce

For businesses that sell products through an ecommerce shopping system, Ecommerce reports will give you insights into your shoppers’ journey from entry to conversion. You must specifically set up ecommerce tracking to use these reports.

Ecommerce Overview

The Ecommerce Overview report summarizes your ecommerce conversion rate, transactions, revenue, average order value, unique purchases and the quantity of product units sold.

Beneath the main graph, you can see data about your top revenue sources—products, product SKUs, product categories and traffic sources.

You can also click through to the following detailed reports.

How to Run a Cohort Analysis in Google Analytics to Better Segment Your Traffic

How to Run a Cohort Analysis in Google Analytics to Better Segment Your Traffic

Google Analytics is a staple in every experienced digital marketer’s set of tools.

That’s primarily because it provides a wealth of data, covering virtually everything you might want to know about how visitors interact with your site.

But it’s only useful to your business if you can use that data to draw actionable conclusions about your audience.

One of the best ways to do that is by using the Cohort Analysis report in Google Analytics.

The Cohort Analysis report tells you how well your website is performing. And, it gives you in-depth insights into user behavior on your site.

If you’re unfamiliar with this report, you’re not alone.

Cohort Analysis is an underrated report but one that analyzes trends and patterns in user behavior to help you understand who is converting and who is not.

What is a cohort analysis?

To understand what a cohort analysis is, it’s necessary to define a “cohort” first.

This term refers to a subset of people grouped together because of a shared value.

Google defines it as a group of users who share a common characteristic, identified by an Analytics dimension.

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A cohort analysis, then, is the process of analyzing the behavior of groups of users.

You can compare groups to one another and look for differences and trends.

If you identify any patterns, it can help you determine which changes and behavioral differences led to different results.

To be clear, this process is not unique to digital marketing. You can run a cohort analysis to compare many different types of groups.

In fact, the term originates from medical studies, in which researchers compare groups of people like smokers and non-smokers to identify differences between the two.

smokers vs nonsmokers

When it comes to your site, however, the cohort possibilities are limited to the data you can collect from your visitors while they browse.

For example, cohorts in Google Analytics are grouped based on Acquisition Date, or the users’ first visit to your site.

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And this cohort type can be extremely helpful in giving context to data.

Analyzing specific segments, instead of your audience as a whole, will give you a clearer idea of what makes a great customer for your business.

A cohort analysis also goes beyond basic data points to suggest the reasons for changes in your site visitors’ behavior.

As a result, comparing cohorts can help you learn more about what influences specific behaviors and the impact your marketing campaigns and strategies have.

For example, when the children’s online clothing store Spearmint LOVE wanted to identify trends on their site, they created several cohort analysis reports based on first purchase date.

cohort analysis months on books

Using this analysis, they were able to determine how long the average visitor would continue to return to their site, as well as the average time between purchases.

They also used this insight to break their cohorts into “custom windows” based on the different purchasing behaviors of moms during pregnancy and the first few years of their children’s lives.

This way, they could more accurately predict what the cohorts’ next purchase might be, then base their ad campaign content and timing on those predictions.

And while this was only one of several strategies Spearmint LOVE used to improve their marketing, the end result was 991% YoY growth from 2015 to 2016.

How to run a cohort analysis in Google Analytics

Running a cohort analysis in Google Analytics is a fairly simple process.

Under the Audience Tab, select Cohort Analysis.

ga menu

By default, the main dashboard for this report will show a graph with your site’s Acquisition Date cohorts by User Retention.

cohort analysis dashboard

In this case, Day 0 represents each user’s first visit to your site, and the subsequent days show whether they returned.

If you notice a decline in this chart, don’t be alarmed.

Cohorts inevitably drop over time as users stop returning to your site.

Maintaining a steady flow of return visitors is challenging for even the most experienced marketers — so don’t be surprised if this number gradually declines for most of your cohorts.

Below this chart, the report will also display a table showing your site’s user retention, divided into groups based on the date of users’ first visits.

In this case, each row represents a different cohort of users by Acquisition Date.

If you notice that any rows show significantly different retention rates from the rest, this can be a great starting point for analysis.

This is especially true if you run any major marketing campaigns.

For example, a high-performing cohort can indicate that the campaign you ran that day was particularly effective at attracting engaged traffic.

Then, at the top of this dashboard, you can adjust the data included in your report.

cohort analysis options

Right now, the only Cohort Type available is Acquisition Date or the date of a user’s first visit to your site.

But you can adjust the Cohort Size to reflect groups of users by day, week, or month.

This is especially helpful if you launch and run new campaigns on a timeline that meets one of these durations.

Next, you can choose from a few different metrics by which to analyze your cohort.

The default metric is user retention, which shows the percentage of a cohort that returns on subsequent days following their original visit.

user retention analysis

If one of your primary goals is increasing your overall traffic and maintaining a steady flow of return visitors, this report can be extremely helpful.

But for most site owners, the next two sets provide more valuable insights as they relate to the actions a user takes beyond simply visiting your site.

The “Per User” set of metrics will show the average number of actions each member of a cohort took on your site, including:

  • Goal Completions per user

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  • Pageviews per user

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  • Session Duration per user

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  • Sessions per user

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  • Transactions per user

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So instead of analyzing your cohorts based on whether they consistently return to your site, you can focus on the actions that have an impact on your most important goals.

The next set of metrics is similar, but instead of showing an average per user, it will show the total for the metric of your choice, including:

  • Session Duration
  • Sessions
  • Transactions
  • Users

Finally, you can adjust the date range of your report to include data from the previous week, two weeks, three weeks, or month.

The range you choose depends on the scope of data you want to analyze, as well as the size of your cohort.

After all, one week may provide plenty of data if your cohorts are broken down by day, but you’ll need to select a larger date range for any larger cohorts.

So, that’s the basic process of accessing data for a particular cohort on your site.

But how is this information valuable?

1. Use additional segments to learn more about your audience

The fact that the current setup only allows you to create cohorts based on Acquisition Date may seem like a limitation.

Fortunately, you can use additional segments to segment your data further. In fact, Analytics currently allows for up to four segments in the cohort analysis report.

As you add new segments, each one will appear in a new table below the “All Sessions” table.

For example, you can dig deeper into your cohort analysis by segmenting mobile traffic vs. all traffic.

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And, you’ll receive a comparison chart like this.

mobile

And, if you scroll down to the columns, you can see the data for the individual cohorts.

mobile 2

This report shows that 3.98% of the 125,499 desktop users who signed up the week of April 1 – April 7 came back on Week 1, 2.41% came back on Week 2, 2.05% on Week 3.

And, when you compare that to mobile, you’ll see that desktop is still retaining users better than mobile.

But beyond the pre-set options, you can also apply any custom segments you’ve created in Analytics.

This means you can use the cohort analysis report to access data on sets of users you’ve already identified as valuable for your site.

For example, below you can see a comparison between a site’s visitors who signed up for a free trial and those who downloaded a whitepaper.

trial vs paper

Regardless of the segments you use, you’ll want to keep an eye out for any that perform significantly differently from the “All Sessions” report.

This will help you identify groups of users that differ from the average user’s behavior, either in positive or negative ways.

If a group performs better, by returning to your site at higher rates for instance, then you’ll want to dig into the potential causes for that difference.

Then, you can use this insight to replicate that behavior across other segments of your traffic.

2. Gauge responses to short-term marketing efforts

The cohort analysis report can also be helpful for analyzing how your audience responds to short-term marketing efforts, like email campaigns.

With each email you send, you reach a slightly different set of users — and monitoring the behavior of the users you reach as a result can be a great way to gauge your success.

As long as you use UTM tracking for your campaigns, you can do this by creating a new segment within the cohort analysis report, and selecting “Traffic Sources” from the left column.

segment sources

Enter your campaign’s parameters, then compare this segment to your site’s overall traffic.

So, for example, if you run an email campaign for three days offering a 25% discount, you can track the behavior of users who used the discount during this period.

If the users you reached with your campaign performed better for your target metric, this is a solid indicator that it was effective in reaching the kind of traffic and customers you want.

3. Learn about e-commerce shopping habits

One of the best features of the Cohort Analysis report is the inclusion of e-commerce-specific data, including revenue per user, transactions per user, total revenue.

Looking at transactions per user by acquisition date can show the average amount of time it takes for a user to make a purchase.

In the following report, for example, purchases spiked five days after the acquisition date.

transactions by day

Of course, it’s important to consider factors that could’ve caused this spike, like a promotion or remarketing campaign.

But this data can give you a stronger understanding of your audience’s purchasing behavior and the average time it takes them to make a decision.

You can also take things a step further by cross-referencing this data with the Lifetime Value (LTV) report.

For example, let’s say you notice in a cohort analysis that over the span of a 12-week campaign, you saw significant drop-offs in user retention in weeks five and 11.

week 5 1

You can hop over to the LTV report for the same time frame, then determine if there are any channels or campaigns seeing the same low-performing weeks.

To access this data, select LifeTime Value from the Audience menu.

Then, you’ll need to decide which metric you want to use to determine the value of your users. For e-commerce sites, this will likely be revenue per user.

ltv metrics

Then, you can sort your data by acquisition channel, source, medium, or campaign.

ltv channel

This can give you an idea of which channels you need to improve to eliminate drop-offs in site performance and increase your user retention and revenue.

4. Use annotations to monitor impact

As you analyze your cohort reports, it’s essential to keep in mind any factors that could be impacting the data you see.

Fortunately, you can make annotations to keep track of these factors and easily see the dates of specific events, campaigns, and site changes.

For example, the following chart shows three significant events for a company’s marketing efforts.

annotations

In this case, it shows the date on which the agency had an article published on a third-party platform.

A few days later, they saw a significant jump in traffic.

And while this could be confusing while looking at the cohort analysis report alone, the annotation ensures that users looking at this data don’t forget to consider that significant factor and analyze the data accordingly.

5. Save reports for your most important cohorts

If you plan to use the Cohort Analysis feature frequently, saving your reports is an excellent way to save time.

It also ensures that you’re consistently looking at the same data sets so that you don’t draw any inaccurate conclusions simply because a setting in your report is slightly different.

You can save a report by clicking the “Save” button at the top of your dashboard and creating a name.

save cohort

named report

This will keep all customizations intact, including advanced segments, secondary dimensions, and sorting — so that the next time you want to use the cohort analysis feature, you won’t need to waste any time recreating your data set.

Conclusion

Drawing actionable conclusions from Google Analytics data can be challenging, even for experienced marketers.

The amount of data the platform provides is extremely valuable — but the sheer volume can make it difficult to sort through the noise and find the metrics you can use to improve your site’s performance.

So if you’re looking for a way to segment your data into more manageable chunks, the cohort analysis feature is a great way to focus in on specific subsets of your audience.

You can use it to learn more about segments you’ve already created and see how their behavior differs from other segments, as well as your site’s traffic as a whole.

It’s also useful for gauging responses to specific campaigns, learning more about e-commerce shoppers’ behavior, and monitoring the impact of any other significant events related to your business.

And considering how underutilized this report is, you can consider it your secret weapon for analyzing your site’s performance and gaining the kind of insight that your competitors might be missing out on.

How do you use the Cohort Analysis report for your site?

How to Use the New Lifetime Value Feature in Google Analytics

How to Use the New Lifetime Value Feature in Google Analytics

You’re drowning in data.

You’ve got enough KPIs to track and report on already.

Why would you possibly need another one? What good would come of adding yet another hour to the end of you’re already long work day in order to dig it up?

The truth, in this case, is that you can’t afford not to.

Lifetime value isn’t just another vanity metric. It’s the metric. The one that stands head and shoulders above all others.

If there was one and only one metric you were tracking, this should be it.

And now you can do it simply and easily inside Google Analytics. Here’s how.

 

What is lifetime value (and why does it matter?)

Metrics often lead you astray.

Take cost per click.

They range wildly from industry to industry. $2 bucks in one industry, but $50 bucks in another.

Crazy, right? Surely that $50 is just “too expensive.”

Not necessarily, obviously.

The first easy answer is your break-even point. If your cost per acquisition is less than your initial average order value, you’re golden.

But sometimes, in some cases, you actually want to willingly lose money initially.

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(image source)

Ever heard of Netflix? How about Amazon?

Amazon routinely enters a new market with razor-thin (or even negative) profit margins so they can grab market share. Only to then turn the dial back once they’ve gained a market leadership position.

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(image source)

So what’s a reasonable cost per click in that scenario? Now, it depends.

This can even change from company to company within a vertical (and their appetite for risk).

Let’s talk insurance.

Two ways to make money:

  1. Upfront commission when you close a sale
  2. Ongoing residual payments over the life of each deal.

So you’ve got a new company. You’re entering a new market and trying to expand.

Would you willingly, purposefully sacrifice #1 in order to scale #2?

Of course you would.

Why? Because of the lifetime value of a customer.

The full potential value of each new client you add will eclipse the initial commission. So, as long as you can stomach the negative cash flow for a bit, you’d probably be willing to drive that cost per click as high as humanly possible.

You go all in when the stakes are right and drive everyone else out.

All of this sounds perfect except for one teeny, tiny detail.

Does your company track lifetime value? ‘Cause most don’t.

I’ve personally worked with dozens (hundreds?) of clients over the past few years and I can count on one hand the number who were actually tracking conversions properly. Let alone seeing anything past the first purchase.

One of the reasons is because tracking this info, with current systems, isn’t always easy. It might be easy if you’re using a Shopify and do all sales in a single channel or two. That way, everything happens inside one platform.

But usually, your business is spread out. Each department has its own independent systems. So it’s tough to bring everything together.

Thankfully, Google Analytics has been hard at work recently.

Their new Lifetime Value report helps business owners acquire data to understand how valuable certain users and customers are to their businesses based on their lifetime performance.

And best of all, it pulls together lifetime values for people acquired through different channels and mediums, like social, email, and paid search.

You’ll also be able to view data by engagement (page views, goals, events) and trends (like 90 days after customer acquisition).

Using this will help you determine which sources are driving the most valuable traffic and which corresponding marketing investments are truly delivering good ROI.

Here’s how to run a lifetime value report inside Google Analytics.

How to run a lifetime value report

Start by signing into your Google Analytics account and then follow these simple steps:

  • Step 1: Click on Reports Section
  • Step 2: Click on Audience
  • Step 3: Click on Lifetime Value

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Note: The Lifetime Value feature should already be available inside your GA account (no need to change your code!).

Now let’s get started generating a report. Here’s how to setup your graph first:

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Start by setting your acquisition date range (the option on the far right). Any customer acquired during this date range (May 2017, in this example) will be included in the LTV report.

Let’s say you ran a promotional campaign or online sale during the month of May. You can easily analyze the data for these customers and segment by date based on your campaigns.

For steps two and three, you can select the following list of metrics to compare:

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Now, let’s break this graph down a bit to help you understand what the heck is going on:

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Essentially, this graph is showing site users acquired during the month of May and how their lifetime value changes based on the page views and session duration metrics over a 90-day period on the site.

These are obviously engagement metrics, but you can customize this even further to track the exact amount spent if you have e-commerce tracking enabled.

Now, let’s jump to the table below:

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Now we’re able to compare the number of acquired users (and the page views per user) — in this case, by acquisition channel.

Click on the drop-down above the table to pull up different granular sorting options like source, medium, or campaign.

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How is this helpful? Check it out:

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Let me break it down:

  • Blue: Acquisition channel. This shows what channel the users were acquired through, such as direct, organic, social, or referral.
  • Pink: Users.The number of users in the specified acquisition date range (May 2017 in this example).
  • Purple: Your selected lifetime value metric. In this example, page views per user is the LTV. This column is where the data begins to get interesting.

Let’s zoom in on the last column in detail to see if there’s any insight we can already glean from these reports.

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Now we start to notice patterns among the different channels. For example, referral traffic has double the page views per user (LTV) than almost every other channel. While organic page views per user (LTV) is beginning to fall behind.

Want to pull back the curtain even more? Like being able to see things what individual referral sites are driving higher LTVs?

Head back over to the “Acquisition Source” on your table. Now we can break down which individual websites are sending us the most valuable traffic (based on LTV). And the winner is…

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Kissmetrics! 🙌

Here’s why this new insight is important.

Data lies. LTV forces it to tell the truth

Data lies to you daily.

For example, pull up your goals inside Google Analytics to conduct a similar analysis to the one we just did.

You can even view the reverse funnel path to see which pages, posts, or campaigns delivered the most conversions. This report is helpful … to a point. If you understand its limitations.

For example:

❌ Problem #1. These could be subscribers or leads — not solid purchases. So you’re basing hard decisions off of ‘top-of-funnel’ data.

One campaign or channel might send 100 subscribers while the other only sends 20. But none of this takes into account how many of those people are converting. Or even how much money each is spending.

❌ Problem #2.  Oh, these are sales, you say? OK.

Except for one thing: You can’t tell if they’re one-off or repeat. So you can’t tell if each customer is a $100 order or a $1,000 one.

Which is kinda important when you’re looking backward to see how that content investment performed versus the paid campaign.

❌ Problem #3. A/B tests lie, too.

Things start off great. That new button resulted in a big conversion rate leap.

The only problem is that these small, temporary fluctuations often regress back to the mean. Larry Kim likened it to “moving desk chairs around the Titanic.”

conversion rate optimization test over time

(image source)

There might only be a literal surface level change, without ever fundamentally improving the organization as a whole.

When does this commonly happen? When you over-optimize.

❌ Problem #4. Over-optimization.

A/B tests that increase top line metrics often backfire.

For example, another study from Larry Kim showed that for every increase you made in a conversion rate, the lower your rate of marketing qualified leads.

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(image source)

In other words, the more aggressive you at about collecting that initial opt-in or lead can often lower the overall quality of the leads that are getting in. Which doesn’t make a whole lot of sense in the grand scheme of things when you think about it.

The point is that there are many, many ways data often lies to us. We think we’re seeing the whole picture, when in reality, it’s only a tiny slice of it.

Conclusion

Metrics aren’t always what they appear. And data often lies.

An “expensive” cost per click for one business might seem relatively cheap for another. And sometimes, that overall conversion rate we’re looking at to base our decisions around is fraught with peril in reality.

The one savior is lifetime value.

It gives us a broader, big-picture context when viewing other bits of information. It helps us put things into proper context.

So we can not only make better decisions to drive additional revenue. But also realize when we’re about to make a few costly mistakes.

How to Remove Referral Spam in Your Google Analytics

How to Remove Referral Spam in Your Google Analytics

The other day, I was checking out a friend’s website.

I was poking around in his Analytics, trying to come up with some actionable insights for him to work on.

I saw a number that was super exciting. His referral traffic was through the roof!  

Referral traffic can be super valuable. I had plans for how he could turn his referral traffic into insane revenue.

Until I started digging deeper. The referral traffic was 85% spam!!

Sometimes, owning a website means riding an emotional roller coaster.

You’ll take a look at your Google Analytics (GA) and see that you’re getting lots of referral traffic, like my buddy’s website.

That’s exciting! Right?

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Unfortunately, if you dig deeper, you’ll probably find out that a lot of that referral traffic is nothing but spam.

This is exactly what was happening to my friend’s site.

Referral spam (or referrer spam) is a pain in the butt for site owners around the world.

It makes it look like you have more hits than you do and it can throw off your entire marketing strategy if you’re unaware of it.

Yes, it’s that bad!

If you’ve been seeing some traffic from odd sites that you don’t recognize, it’s most likely spam.

Don’t worry. You’re not the victim of some malicious hacker. In fact, it happens to almost every site on the web.

Thankfully, there’s a fix.

Once you take the steps to eliminate the spam infecting your site, your analytics will reflect your actual traffic and you’ll be able to count on the numbers.

Plus, you’ll be better able to make informed marketing decisions.

Unfortunately, most marketers and site owners don’t even know how to recognize spam.

That’s not anyone’s fault! Some spammers are so crafty that fake visits will appear perfectly legitimate.

First, let’s talk about how to identify spam.

Then, I’ll show you exactly how to spam-proof your GA and prevent it from happening again.

Learn how I used Google Analytics to increase my traffic to 195,013 visitors a month.

 

What is Referral Spam?

Like I mentioned before, referral spam basically consists of fake website hits.

Here are some screenshots of GA users, pointing out their referral spam.

This website is receiving new sessions (and look at those bounce rates!) from some weird sites.

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Are you beginning to see a pattern?

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Yikes! This unfiltered view of my GA is displaying a bunch of spam visits.

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They’re not even real website visits (but we’ll get into that later on).

Sometimes, you’ll be able to tell that the hits are spam.  But, other times, the spam comes from seemingly reputable sites.

Let’s start by examining some referral spam in its natural habitat.

Log into GA and click on Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals in the left hand sidebar.

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Scroll down until you see this box:

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You’ll probably see valid visits, but we want to weed out the spam.

Thankfully, most spam is easy to spot. Several of the ones we noticed above had a 100% bounce rate and a session duration of 0 minutes, 0 seconds.

That basically means that a hit came through to your GA, but no one actually visited your site.

To find these spam hits, click on the Bounce Rate column, so visits with the highest bounce rates are listed first.

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These hits have all the marks of spam. 100% bounce rates, 1 page per session and a nonexistent duration time.

This is exactly the kind of spam that you want to target and eliminate. Here’s how to do that.

Step 1: Clean Out Existing Spam

To remove spam from your existing GA reports, you can create a Custom Segment.

Go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels.

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Click on the Secondary Dimension box and enter “Source / Medium.”

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At the top of this page, click, “Add Segment.”

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Click +NEW SEGMENT.

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Click “Conditions” in the pane sidebar.

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You should see this box:

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In the first dropdown, click Behavior > Hostname.

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In the second dropdown, select “matches regex.”

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In the third box, you’re going to copy and paste the string below, courtesy of Brian Clifton:

offer|free\-|share\-|mercedes|buy|cheap|googlsucks|benz|sl500|hulfington|buttons|

darodar|pistonheads|motor|money|blackhat|backlink|webrank|seo|phd|crawler|anonymous|\d{3}.*forum|porn|webmaster|flipboard|fl\.ru|mbca|ahrefs|game|\.io|^sex|^video

Hit the OR button. You’ll see another identical section pop up:

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Make sure the dropdowns are also set to “Hostname” and “matches regex.”

This time, copy and paste this string:

dailyrank|100dollars-seo|anticrawler|sitevaluation|buttons-for-website|buttons-for-your-website|-musicas*-gratis|best-seo-offer|best-seo-solution|savetubevideo|ranksonic|offers.bycontext|7makemoneyonline|kambasoft|medispainstitute

Hit the OR button again, and copy and paste this string:

127.0.0.1|justprofit.xyz|nexus.search-helper.ru|rankings-analytics.com|videos-for-your-business|adviceforum.info|video—production|success-seo|sharemyfile.ru|seo-platform|dbutton.net|wordpress-crew.net|rankscanner|doktoronline.no|o00.in

Hit the OR button one more time, and copy and paste this string:

top1-seo-service.com|fast-wordpress-start.com|rankings-analytics.com|uptimebot.net|^scripted.com|uptimechecker.com

Again, make sure all of these are set to “Hostname” and “matches regex.”

Now you can apply this filter to any time frame and any view. Pretty useful, right?

Next up, we have to prevent future spam. Here’s how.

Step 2: How to Add Filters to Block Out Referral Spam

Lucky for us, GA has the handy capability to create filters that stop certain traffic sources from coming through.

In other words, once you add spam sites to your filters, you’ll no longer see fake hits from those sites.

There are two things I should mention, before we get into this step.

First, you’re going to have to keep these filters updated. New spam sites are always showing up and you want to stay protected from those.

I’d recommend looking for referral spam every month. If you see any new spam referrers, create a new filter to block them out.

Second, you’ll want to create a copy of your current Analytics view. This is simply making a backup of everything you see before you make any changes.

To do that, navigate to the Admin tab. In the right-hand column, click on “View Settings.”

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Next, click “Copy View.”

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Give your new view a unique name so you can tell it apart from your original view.

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Now, if anything goes wrong with your new view, you can switch back to the old one.

Now, we’re going to add specific filters based on spam sites that have already given you fake hits.

First, you need to find the spam domains. You can do this by following the process above to get to your GA page on referral traffic.

(Hint: It’s Acquisition > All Traffic > Referrals. Don’t forget to sort the results by bounce rate by clicking the box at the top of the Bounce Rate column.)

Gather all of the spam domains in a spreadsheet or text document.

Second, you need to block the spam domains. Once you’ve compiled all of the spam domains (those with 100% bounce rate and a nonexistent session time), head to the Admin tab at the top of the screen.

Click on “All Filters” in the left column.

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Click “+ADD FILTER.”

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Give your filter a name like “Spam Domain Filter.” Next, click “Custom.”

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In the next drop down menu, make sure “Exclude” is checked. Under “Filter Field,” click on the drop down and select “Campaign Source.”

Next, you’ll enter the spam domains you want to block into the Filter Pattern box. But, there’s a specific way you have to do this.

The pattern looks like this:

domain\.|domain\.

So, if you wanted to block two spam sites called SpamMe and FakeViews, you’d enter:

spamme\.|fakeviews\.

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Each domain ends with a \. And every domain (except the first) has a | in front.

To add a third called FakeHits, you’d enter this:

spamme\.|fakeviews\.|fakehits\.

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It’s kind of complicated at first.  But, after a couple of tries, you’ll get used to it.

When you’re done, scroll down to the “Apply Filter to Views” and click “All Web Site Data.”  Finally, click “Save.”

You now have a filter that is blocking all the spam sites that were plaguing you!

But, there is so much more you can do. Here are even more techniques to help you curb the amount of spam getting through to your site.

Step 3: Block Common Spam Referrers

You’ve probably gotten fake traffic from some more well-known spam sites, but there’s a good chance that other spam sites are out there waiting to pounce.

You’re going to stop these infamous spam sites right in their tracks.

You’ll need a total of four filters to do this. It sounds like a lot, but I promise it’s easy! There’s a character limit for each series of blocked referrers, which is why you need so many.

For the first filter, navigate to Admin > All Filters > + ADD FILTER.

This screen should look familiar. Give your new filter a name like “Common Spam Referrer Filter.”

Click “Custom” and make sure “Exclude” is checked. Once again, select “Campaign Source” from the Filter Field drop down.

This process is identical to what you just did, but you’ll also use the strings from earlier in this article that you used to clean up your current spam.

In the Filter Pattern box, copy and paste the string below, courtesy of Brian Clifton:

offer|free\-|share\-|mercedes|buy|cheap|googlsucks|benz|sl500|hulfington|buttons|

darodar|pistonheads|motor|money|blackhat|backlink|webrank|seo|phd|crawler|anonymous|\d{3}.*forum|porn|webmaster|flipboard|fl\.ru|mbca|ahrefs|game|\.io|^sex|^video

Then scroll down, click “All Web Site Data,” and then hit “Save.”

For the second filter, the process is almost exactly the same. This time, you’re going to copy and paste this string into the Filter Pattern box:

dailyrank|100dollars-seo|anticrawler|sitevaluation|buttons-for-website|buttons-for-your-website|-musicas*-gratis|best-seo-offer|best-seo-solution|savetubevideo|ranksonic|offers.bycontext|7makemoneyonline|kambasoft|medispainstitute

For the third filter, copy and paste this string:

127.0.0.1|justprofit.xyz|nexus.search-helper.ru|rankings-analytics.com|videos-for-your-business|adviceforum.info|video—production|success-seo|sharemyfile.ru|seo-platform|dbutton.net|wordpress-crew.net|rankscanner|doktoronline.no|o00.in

For the fourth filter, copy and paste this string:

top1-seo-service.com|fast-wordpress-start.com|rankings-analytics.com|uptimebot.net|^scripted.com|uptimechecker.com

That’s it for this section! You’ve now got four (or five) filters working to combat spam.

Step 4: Block Third Party Traffic

There’s one more thing that you can do in GA to reduce the amount of spam traffic that you get.

Most of the time, when you get a fake hit, that referrer never even visits your site! This means that these referrers never request your actual hostname (usually your domain name).

To see this in action, make sure you’re on the Reporting tab in GA and head to the left-hand sidebar. Navigate to Audience > Technology > Network.

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Select the Hostname tab.

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If you don’t see your actual domain name (or a variation of it), then that traffic isn’t even visiting your site.

By blocking third party traffic entirely, you’ll ensure that the traffic you get actually visits your website.

To do this, you can create a Hostname filter.

Start by going to the Admin tab and navigating to All Filters > +ADD FILTER.

This filter will be almost exactly the same to the other filters we created in Step 3. There are two differences.

First, choose “Include” instead of “Exclude.”

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Second, select Hostname in the Filter Field dropdown.

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In the Filter Pattern box, enter your domain name. Select “All Web Site Data” in the Apply Filter to Views section and click Save.

Now, you’ve effectively blocked out all third party traffic.

You can go a step further and block out traffic by country, if you’re seeing a lot of repeat offenders from the same country.

Obviously, this can also be problematic, so think carefully before you choose this option.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there is no ultimate solution to completely eliminate spam. Spammers have always found a way to do their dirty deed.

Google and other huge companies are working to fight spam better, but there’s no perfect solution on the horizon (at least, not soon).

So, it’s safe to say that if you own a website, you’ll be facing spam for a while.

That’s why it’s crucial to regularly clean out your analytics and make sure only the good stuff’s coming through.

If spam is inflating your analytics, everything else gets thrown off. You could waste time, money and energy on strategies that are ultimately useless.

All it takes is a few minutes to set up these filters and you’ll successfully eliminate 99% of spam. And, if you spend a few more minutes every month updating your filters, you’ll be even better off.

Trust me––it is absolutely worth your time to battle spam.

What are your favorite anti-spam tips and tricks?

How to Protect Your Google Analytics From Getting Hacked

How to Protect Your Google Analytics From Getting Hacked

Within 15 minutes, anyone with a decent amount of traffic to their own site can completely CORRUPT your Google Analytics data. It’s easy, simple, and once the data is corrupted, you can’t fix the data that’s already been collected.

I’m going to show you exactly how to hack Google Analytics. Then I’m going to tell you how to protect yourself.

And as a super secret bonus, I’ll show you how to get the attention of a fellow marketer if you’re applying for a job, trying to close a deal, or just want to show off your Google Analytics chops.

First, let’s dive into how someone can corrupt your data.

How To Corrupt Google Analytics Data

First, we need a quick overview on how the Google Analytics Tracking Code works. Here’s the tracking code:

This code is on every page of your site (at least it’s supposed to be). Each time a page loads, it executes this JavaScript and records a pageview along with other relevant data. Unless you customize the code yourself, it looks exactly the same on every site.

Google Analytics needs a way to keep track of which data comes from which site. To do this, it uses a Property ID (also called a Tracking ID). It’s completely unique to each Google Analytics account. It also gives you complete control of where your data goes.

The red box above shows you where to find this delicious little nugget.

For example, if you want data from multiple sites to go to the same account, use the same Property ID on each. Google Analytics will then track everything as if it’s a single site. Be careful though, I don’t recommend doing this unless you really know what you’re doing. In order to tell what is happening on a specific site, you’ll need to separate your data back out with filters or tell the Google Analytics Tracking Code to send data to multiple accounts. Both options are fairly advanced and not for the faint of heart.

As long as we have the Google Analytics Property ID, we can send data to ANY Google Analytics account we want.

So if someone gets a hold of your Property ID and wants to corrupt your data with their data, it’s very easy to do so.

Corrupting Data: Step-by-Step

Let’s say you REALLY hate me because I ate all your gummy bears. You’re SO angry about not getting your gummy bears that you want to ruin all of my Google Analytics data. I have a site at LarsLofgren.com that’ll be perfect for exacting your vengeance.

First, you’ll go to my site, right click, and choose “view page source.”

This gives you the code for my home page.

Now, you want to find my Google Analytics Tracking Code (where you’ll find my Property ID). To find it, hit control+F or command+F and search for “ga.js”. This is the Google Analytics file that does all the analytics grunt work and will bring you right to my Property ID.

This is what you’ll find:

And BAM, you now have my Property ID which is UA-23929748-1. If you plug this Property ID into any other site, my data will become a mess and I won’t be able to use any of it.

Go to your Google Analytics Tracking Code, trade your Property ID for mine, and the Google Analytics servers will take care of the rest. Your revenge will be complete and I’ll feel appropriately sorry for eating your gummy bears.

Is There a Way to Fix the Data Once it’s Corrupted?

Nope. Google Analytics collects raw data all day. At the end of the day, they run your raw data through filters, goals, and profiles to get the final report. That’s what you see when you log into Google Analytics. Once the data is compiled, there’s no going back. So if two sites are sending data to the same account, there’s no way to separate the data once it’s in your reports.

Your only option is to protect yourself and keep all of your future data clean.

How to Protect Yourself

All you need is a simple filter. It will only include traffic on your domain, protecting yourself from any data corruption when people hijack your Google Analytics Property ID.

To find your filters:

  1. Go to your Google Analytics standard reports
  2. Click on the “Admin” button in the top right
  3. Click on “Filters”
  4. Click “+ New Filter”

Then use these settings for your filter:

  • Select “Create New filter for Profile”
  • Name your filter with something snazzy like “Hacking Defense”
  • Select “Custom Filter”
  • Select “Include”
  • For the Filter Field, select “Hostname”
  • If your site is LarsLofgren.com, you would define the filter pattern as “larslofgren\.com” and make sure to include a “\” before any “.”
  • Pick “No” for case-sensitive

You’ll get a filter that looks like this:

Hit the save button and you’re all set. Your Google Analytics profile will now be hacker proof.

WARNING: Make sure you test this filter on your Test Profile (One of the 8 Google Analytics Features Every Site MUST Have Enabled). If you don’t set everything up correctly, you could delete all of your data while the filter is active. So apply it to your Test Profile first, make sure everything works, then add it to your main profile.

Including Multiple Domains on Purpose

Some of you will be collecting data from multiple domains intentionally. A common example is merging data from different country domains. Let’s say that I include traffic from LarsLofgren.com and LarsLofgren.co.uk in the same Google Analytics profile. If I use the filter above, I’ll only see traffic on LarsLofgren.com.

With a little regular expression magic, I can include both. Instead of defining the filter pattern as “larslofgren\.com”, I’ll use “larslofgren.com\.com|larslofgren\.co\.uk”. Since the “|” acts as an “and” symbol, this tells Google Analytics to include traffic from both these domains.

All the other settings are exactly the same. My new filter would look like this:

The filter pattern is set to “larslofgren\.com|larslofgren\.co\.uk” even though you can’t quite see it in the screenshot.

Why Would Someone Want to Hack You?

I’ve seen hacking occur for two reasons:

Evildoers Want to Corrupt Your Data: If you pissed the wrong person off, they may want to make your life as miserable as possible. And with a large enough site, they could inject all their traffic data into yours. This will make it impossible for you to learn anything about your customers and traffic.

Spammers Driving Traffic: You’re more likely to see situations where spammers inject data into your reports. Their goal is to perk your curiosity and get you to come to their site, resulting in more traffic for them. I think this is a terribly inefficient for building traffic (even for spammers) but people do it.

How to Hack a Campaign Report and Get Noticed By Other Marketers

This hacking method isn’t nearly as nefarious as the first. While we’re going to inject our own data into someone’s report, we’ll only mess with the campaign data. The rest of their data will remain untouched.

If you’re classy about it, you can get a custom message into someone else’s campaign reports. Say you’re trying to close a client, land a job, or make a connection. This method is perfect for getting the attention of another internet marketer.

Let’s back up for a moment. Google Analytics allows us to track our marketing campaigns by adding UTM parameters to our links. Basically, you define a few variables (the name of your campaign, where the link is located, etc.) and you can see which links drove traffic and conversions to your site. So if you have an email campaign, banner ads, and Facebook ads for a marketing campaign, you can see which ones are actually working.

But there’s nothing stopping me from creating campaign URLs for someone else. All I have to do is create the link, send traffic through it, and I can insert any message I want into someone else’s campaign reports.

Here’s how it works:

1. Confirm that the site is using Google Analytics. Just like the last hacking method, go to their site, view page source, and search for ga.js. All you need to do is confirm that they’re using Google Analytics, you don’t need to grab anything like the Property ID. If the site doesn’t use Google Analytics, this won’t work.

2. Build Your URL. Go to the Google Analytics URL Builder and setup your link. Enter in the homepage of the URL that you’ll be sending traffic to, and then insert a message in the Campaign Name field. The Campaign Name is displayed first in the campaign reports and also comes up in the traffic source reports. By putting your message here, you’ll have the best chance to get noticed. For Campaign Source, put your name so they can easily connect the dots. You’ll also need to fill in the Campaign Medium field since it’s required. Avoid all punctuation and symbols in all fields. Once you’re ready to go, click “Generate URL.”

3. Send Traffic. Place your URL in a location where it will get plenty of clicks. If you have a large email list, blog, or Twitter following, spread the link to your audience. Success depends entirely on the size of the site that you’re sending traffic to. The larger the site, the more traffic you’ll have to pass through the link for it to get noticed.

Once the link is live and your minions have clicked on it, Google Analytics will now report visits from the campaign that you’ve set up. Queue maniacal laughter.

Rapid Fire Recap

Anyone can populate your Google Analytics reports with their own data. Since you can’t separate the data back out, it’ll prevent you from learning anything about your visitors.

To protect yourself, set up a quick filter that only includes data from the domains you want to track. Make sure to apply this filter to your Test Profile first to make sure you set it up correctly.

If you want to get someone’s attention, insert a message into their campaign reports using the Google Analytics URL Builder. Link to a page on their site, add a message to the end of the URL via the UTM parameters, and drive traffic through the link. The more people that use the link, the better the chance you have of someone noticing it.

So set up your filters and protect yourself from Google Analytics evildoers!

Seriously, go set up your filter right now. This is probably the most important filter you’ll set up on your site.

8 Simple Yet Effective SEO Hacks Inside Google Analytics

8 Simple Yet Effective SEO Hacks Inside Google Analytics

You probably think that Google Analytics has lost its value because they’ve stripped away valuable keyword data.

But Google Analytics is still one of the best SEO measurement tools out there. You can get tons of actionable data from the platform at your fingertips in just a matter of minutes.

And you can use this data to find huge insights that can help you figure out exactly how to optimize your website to boost search traffic.

But you’ve got to know where to look and which reports to run.

In this article, I’m going to show you how to find and use eight simple, yet effective SEO hacks inside Google Analytics.

 

1. Set up a custom alert or a custom SEO dashboard

Google’s constantly refining its algorithms, so it’s not unlikely that there will be fluctuations in your search traffic.

And that means that algorithm updates are likely to affect your site now and then.

Therefore, it’s best to get notified so that you can work on a game plan to reverse any impact from an update.

Luckily, you can set up a custom alert in Google Analytics that will allow you to take action if there are any sudden, dramatic changes in your Analytics report.

For example, if you experience a huge decrease in search traffic that has seemingly come out of left field, you can create an alert that analyzes the changes.

To create a custom alert, select “Admin” in the taskbar on the left.

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From there, click “Custom Alerts.”

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Then, select the “NEW ALERT” button.

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Once you’ve done this, configure your settings to match the image below. After that, click “Save Alert.”

create alert when search traffic declines

You can also set up a custom SEO dashboard, which can be just as helpful as custom alerts. A custom SEO dashboard gives a brief overview of important SEO stats all in one place.

If you usually analyze several different SEO reports, a custom dashboard can save you tons of time.

You can put everything in one place and won’t have to go searching for any information.

That way, you can spend more time actually using the SEO hacks in this article instead of searching for stats and analyzing them.

Here’s an example of what a custom dashboard might look like:

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You have the option to create a new custom SEO dashboard or import an existing one that you can customize.

If you want to use an SEO dashboard that’s already been configured, just import an SEO dashboard here.

Next, you need to focus on low-hanging SEO fruit.

2. Make your underperforming pages rank higher

Content is becoming harder and harder to create. It takes a long time to get a piece just right.

Orbit Media’s Blogger Survey proves that bloggers are spending more time on each of their blog posts than ever before.

Q1

Findings show that it takes some bloggers more than six hours just to write one post.

If you’re spending six hours per post, the quantity of your articles will be pretty low. But the good news is that you don’t have to spend a ton of time writing new posts to improve SEO results.

Recently, Unbounce put a pause on newly published content for a two week period.

During that time, they went back through all of their old content and improved it. The results?

“275% more conversions from their top 17 highest traffic posts.”

That’s huge. And you don’t have to spend hours on each post to get the same results.

If you want to to get the best results possible out of your older, underperforming pages, set your eyes on the low-hanging fruit.

Here’s how.

First, log in to Google Analytics. Search for the “Search Console” button under “Acquisition.”

Note that you’ll need to have Search Console integrated before you can view any data here.

Then, search for the “Queries” button under the “Search Console” section. This will show you a Search Queries Report.

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Most of your queries will say “(not provided).” But the rest of the search queries bringing in the most traffic should show up right under that.

On the far right, you can see exactly where your pages are ranking for each of those search queries.

The results on page one of any given Google search are going to get more clicks than results on page 2, 3, 4, and so on.

Searchers assume that the results on page one are usually higher quality, more informative, and more credible than the results on other pages.

That is Google’s job after all, right? Well, kind of.

The results on other pages can be just as good (if not better) than the ones that are coming up on page one.

The good news is that you can do something about that, which is promising for your pages that are ranking on page 2 or 3.

To get started, click on the “advanced” option. From there, set the “Average Position” to greater than “10.”

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Save the results, and you’ll be able to see all of your low-hanging fruit in one place. On the left, clicks are low.

But to the right is the real treasure: a bunch of impressions. That’s the jackpot.

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These impressions mean that a huge chunk of traffic could be yours, if your position were higher.

Now that you know exactly where to look to find underperforming pages, you can take action.

The next step is to optimize these pages to rank higher by improving your URL structure,  implementing the “Skyscraper Technique,” and more.

You can also monitor referral traffic.

3. Increase opportunities by monitoring referral traffic

If you’ve already got some referral traffic to your website, it’s a good idea to monitor links so that you can use them for link-building opportunities.

For example, if someone has linked to one of your blog posts, reach out to the author of the article and ask them if they can throw in an additional link to your product page, too.

You can also ask if the author can add your link to a roundup post so that you get even more referral traffic.

But the opportunities don’t stop there.

You can ask the author if you can write a guest post on their blog, or vice-versa. You could run a cross-promotion, give the author a discount for their readers on your products, and more.

Use referral traffic as an opportunity to build lasting relationships.

To find your referral traffic report, head to “Acquisition.” Then click on “Referrals” under the “All Traffic” tab.

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You can also make use of annotations to find out what’s working (and what’s not working).

4. Use annotations to see what’s working (and what isn’t)

SEO management tools are great. But why spend money on them when Google Analytics gives you annotations for free?

Creating a new annotation is as simple as the click of a button.

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If you use annotations, you can keep them updated so that your team always knows what’s going on.

For example, have image alt tags been added to a piece? Annotate that.

Added a new blog post? Annotate it.

Did you update keywords on a page? Annotate that.

Your clients will appreciate it because all they need to do to find updates is log into Google Analytics and check annotations.

There’s no need for them to message you with any questions, so it saves your time and theirs.

Leaving annotations also leaves you a paper trail that shows what’s working for SEO and what isn’t.

You can always look back to see the changes you made to a page and how it impacted traffic during that time period.

For example, if you place links on a page, go ahead and annotate the date.

Then, if your organic traffic increases (which it hopefully will) you can see which links you added and when you added them.

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This makes it much easier to replicate your successful SEO moves for other clients or pages. Think of your annotations as an SEO journal.

From here, you can funnel traffic over to your top converting pages.

5. Funnel traffic over to top converting pages

The main end goal of SEO is to get people to convert.

What’s the easiest way to get people to convert? Send them to pages that are already converting.

The hardest part of this hack is to figure out which of your pages are top converting.

People are already converting on your site. You can force them to flow through it with clever links or restricted pages.

But people are already converting organically. You just need to see how.

In Google Analytics, head to the “Conversions” section. Under “Goals,” select “Reverse Goal Path.”

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This tool does exactly what its name sounds like. With it, you can see the exact steps that someone took online before they visited your page.

Then, each step that they took forms a path, which Google Analytics ranks by the frequency of people who took the same path.

It should look something like this:

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Thank-You confirmation pages will show up in the far left. Then, intake forms or purchase pages will show up right next to that on the right.

On the far right, landing pages and the pages that sent people to them to convert (along with their frequency) will appear.

Now that you know what these pages are, send more people to them for more conversions.

Add some CTAs and internal links to those top performing pages, too.

That’s it. Next, repair any leaking pages to better match search intent.

6. Repair leaking pages to better match search intent

Site-wide bounce rates don’t really tell you a whole lot about what’s going on.

Site-to-site comparisons are just as mysterious. Bounce rates on blogs are obviously going to be lower than sites that have found commercial success.

And data lies. A lot.

You’ve got to dig in deep to understand the exact context of all the numbers.

Getting a page to rank higher is great.

But not if those people are going to stick around. They’re only going to do that if they subscribe, opt-in, etc.

That’s why you need to know which of your high-ranking pages are great at bringing in search traffic, but bad at turning visitors into leads.

In Google Analytics, go to the “Behavior” section. Under “Site Content,” click “All Pages.”

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Again, click on the “advanced” button. Then, select the “Source / Medium” and type in “Google / organic.”

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The goal of this hack is to look at top performing pages exclusively from Google. That way, paid campaigns and referrals aren’t included in the results you’re analyzing.

Sort results by views. On the far right side, you’ll be able to see the true “Bounce Rate” and “% Exit.”

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Blog post search traffic will probably have a high bounce rate. On these pages, you get some traffic from people who are interested in a certain topic, but not you as a brand.

That’s not unusual, and these pages aren’t a huge problem.

It’s the pages that have both a high bounce rate and a high % exit that you need to worry about.

That means that something is off with your page. The content on it doesn’t align with the search intent. It’s either outdated, irrelevant, ugly, not mobile-friendly, or too short.

There are limitless possibilities. You need to run some tests, make some changes, and work to optimize and improve these pages.

Next, create a profile filter to help you find some additional keywords.

7. Create a profile filter to find additional keywords

The Queries report in Google Analytics is the best way to find out how your site is performing for certain keywords in search.

But a ton of queries are grouped together. You won’t find a whole lot of information on additional keywords.

There isn’t a single solution to find additional keywords in Google Analytics, but you can find out some more information by creating a profile filter.

You can only use profile filters for new visits, not historical data.

To create a profile filter, click on “Admin” in the left taskbar. From there, click “Filters” in the “View” column.

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Next, click “ADD FILTER.”

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From there, create a filter by matching your selections to the ones in the following image:

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This filter tells Google Analytics to apply a filter to a search term that matches the additional keywords.

Finally, work on increasing engagement by analyzing your landing page reports.

8. Increase engagement by analyzing landing page reports

You can analyze organic landing pages, which are the first pages where your organic visitors land from search engine results pages.

With this report, you can check to see if there are any issues with organic landing pages that keep users from navigating to other pages.

Find the organic landing pages report by heading to “Acquisition.” Under “Search Console,” locate the “Landing Pages” selection.

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By analyzing your organic landing pages report, you’ll be able to see a clear map of exactly how your visitors are engaging with your website.

You can also find out how they’re navigating and flowing through it.

Engagement signals are now considered in Google’s ranking factors, so keeping a close watch on engagement can help you increase search engine rankings.

For example, if Google sends some traffic over to your web page, which has a high bounce rate and a low average time on page, then Google will think that the organic visitors aren’t finding what they’re looking for on your site.

Even if they are.

To make sure that search rankings are accurate, you’ve got to keep an eye on all of these metrics and improve them so that engagement doesn’t take a dive.

Conclusion

Google Analytics might be ever-changing, but it isn’t going to lose its value anytime soon.

It’s one of the best SEO tools out there, because of the valuable data and insights that it provides.

With a few tricks up your sleeve, you can use data from Google Analytics to boost traffic and SEO in no time.

To start, set up a custom alert or create a custom SEO dashboard. Custom alerts will notify you if something changes to your site’s SEO as a result of changes with Google’s algorithms.

And a custom SEO dashboard keeps you from having to manually search for SEO data.

You can also make your underperforming pages rank higher by taking advantage of the low-hanging fruit.

Increase opportunities for exposure by keeping an eye on referral traffic. You can ask for more referral links, build a guest posting relationship with the author, and more.

Use the annotations feature in Google Analytics for a detailed paper trail of what actions are working for and against your SEO.

Another tactic that is often overlooked is to funnel your traffic over to top converting pages for even more conversions.

Don’t forget to repair your leaking pages to better match search intent. If something is off with your page, fix it.

Create a profile filter to find any additional keywords that Google Analytics isn’t automatically picking up.

Finally, boost engagement by analyzing your landing page reports. By taking a look at how users are interacting with your website, you can see which pages need to be optimized.

How do you use Google Analytics to boost your site’s SEO?

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