Posted by Chloe Spencer
There is an array of SEO tools out there, many of which cost money and may be complicated to use. However, one of the best tools available for analyzing your traffic and SEO performance is free and easy to use (at least at a basic level!) – Google Analytics. If you don't know what Google Analytics is, it's a tool to keep track of your website's data; who's visiting your site, from where, how they got there, what your most popular keywords are, which of your pages are most popular, etc. And among all the thousands of SEO tips you may come across, one of the most important is using a tool like Google Analytics to track everything you need to be aware of and improve on for increased traffic and conversions. So I'm going to walk you through a short Google Analytics tutorial, along with some Analytics SEO tips and how to get the most out of this tool. Step 1: Signing up
If you haven't already sign up by going to Google.com/Analytics and logging in with your Google Account (create a free one if you don't already have a Google Account). If you need some further incentive to get a Google Analytics account, take a look at some testimonials by major companies that use Google Analytics. After you've created an account and added your website, it will walk you through how to embed the tracking code on your site. You or your webmaster need to embed the code on every page in your site. After you've done that, and your code has been detected (usually takes up to 24 hours), Google Analytics will begin to collect data from your site. At that point, you'll need to know how to navigate and use the different aspects of the tool. I'll give you some of the basics but realize that Google Analytics is an advanced tool so there is quite a bit to learn if you want to know how to use it in depth. Fortunately, the basics are enough for most users.
Step 2: Understanding The Basics of Google Analytics
First thing's first, take a look at this interface map. It'll show you what sections are what in a screenshot of the Google Analytics interface; what you'll see when you're logged in and looking at your website's data. On that page you will see that some of the area titles listed below are links, and when clicked on bring up a page about that section for more information. After you've understood the interface map, the next step is understanding what the tabs on the left sidebar mean. On the Analytics Help page, if you click on "Analyze" under "Monitor", a list will pop up on the right side: "Audience, Advertising, Traffic, Conversions, Content". If you click on any of these links it will bring up a page briefly explaining that tab and all its sub-tabs. This information will help you properly navigate Google Analytics and understand your findings. The help page also goes over other options on Analytics that are more complex, such as using Motion Charts. For a comprehensive course on Google Analytics or to learn about just a few aspects of the tool, you can take IQ lessons, which cover the different topics of using Analytics in the form of presentation videos you watch online, which are all free. There are four main categories with a handful of videos under each one covering different aspects. I would definitely recommend at least watching the Working With Report Data video, that goes over interface navigation. If you end up watching all of the videos, you can optionally go on to get your Google Analytics certificate by taking the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) Test. For further learning, Google Analytics also has a Youtube Channel with help and tutorial videos as well as other Analytics related videos.
Step 3: Setting up Goals
Setting up goals is optional but recommended to get the full benefit of Google Analytics. Goals are actions you want to track, conversion rates, marketing initiatives, etc. You can measure your effectiveness by setting up goals, and see the metrics calculated for you. There are 3 types of goals you can set up: a URL destination (such as a Thank You page), time on site, and pages per visit.
Step 4: Linking Google Analytics to Adwords and/or Adsense
If you do paid advertising or get paid for carrying Google ads on your site, linking your account will allow you to track all of your data in the same place as well as gain further insight on your buying or selling of ads through Adwords or Adsense or Adwords data.
Step 5: Tracking Conversions
You can track conversions by tagging your links and ads and differentiating your campaigns. This allows Google Analytics to show you which of your marketing activities are successful or not. An optional last step is further optimization by creating advanced custom segments and reports to isolate certain data for analysis. After completing all these steps you should be informed enough to call yourself a Google Analytics expert! The best and most popular of the well-known SEO tools, Google Analytics enables you to analyze your data like a pro to increase your traffic, as well as your conversion rates and sales.