Google Analytics is a popular system for monitoring the traffic to your website. It's free to use and will give you a wealth of data to analyse. In order to effectively measure the impact of your website, you need to set some targets and focus in on the data that matters.
In this post, we will show you how to configure your Views, create goals that correspond to your key performance indicators and segment your results based on the most relevant dimensions to you. For a much more in-depth walkthrough check out our guide to creating a Google Analytics measurement plan. If you haven't got time for that then read this.
Filter the data that you record through views
What is a view?
A View in Google Analytics processes incoming data according to criteria that you set up. Some view settings manipulate your data before it hits your dashboard and cannot be changed retrospectively. For this reason, it is good practice to make sure you keep a separate unfiltered View where ALL data is recorded.
The second View you’ll want is a filtered View. This should be set up to create a more useful data set.
On your filtered view, we recommend at the very least you start with the following filters:
- a lowercase filter so that visits to /PageName.php and /pagename.php are recorded as the same.
- an IP address filter to exclude your own activity so that your administration of the website doesn’t get recorded as visits. Start by asking your IT provider what the IP address is for your office network. Note however that many home broadband providers don't give you a static IP address which means this filter will not work when people administer the website from home.
Understand how goals work in Google Analytics
You can't create content that achieves your charity website goals if you don't know what your goals are. Setting Goals in Analytics is the best way to measure whether your website is proving effective.
You have a limited set of 20 Goals per View in Analytics so use them wisely. If you need to configure more Goals you can create an additional View for the same property and create a fresh set of Goals. You cannot delete Goals but you can disable them or reuse the Goal ID for a new purpose.
Unless you know you are already using Goals to good effect, now is probably a good time to disable them all, organise them into sets and redefine them.
There are four simple Goal types to choose from:
- Destination (eg. thank_you.html)
- Duration (eg. 5 minutes or more)
- Pages/screen per session (eg. 3 pages)
- Event (eg. played a video)
Duration and pages/screens per session are very simple and self-explanatory. There is only so much data you can get from such Goals so their use is limited.
Create goals based on destinations
Creating a goal based on a destination (a visit to a specific page) is the easiest option as it doesn’t require you to add any special code to your website. Assigning monetary values is a good way to aggregate your Goal data and measure success month by month. For this to yield meaningful data you will need to choose appropriate values and not change them very often or at all.
You can change the currency used in your Google Analytics account in the admin area under View settings. Here are some example goals that might be useful for a charity together with appropriately weighted values.
Segment your data based on relevant dimensions
A dimension is an attribute of a data record such as the device used, the country the viewer is in or the source from which they came (such as Google or Twitter). This means we need to segment page views by the dimensions shown in bold. You can do this just by drilling down into the content in the reporting interface but it is useful to save a view of this data so you can easily refer back to it. There are two useful ways to do this.
Segmenting with dashboards
A dashboard is a great way to save almost any data snippet for easy reference.
An objective relating to donations can be tracked in this way:
- Drill down to /donation-confirmation and add the dimension Device category.
- Hit Add to dashboard in the quick action bar at the top of the page.
- Rename the dashboard widget and check the settings.
Then you’ll end up with this.
Segmenting with Custom Reports
Sometimes you’ll want a bit more detail or control than a dashboard widget can offer. Here’s where custom reports come in handy. Objective 3 above, determining the lead medium and source, is a good candidate for a custom report.
- Click the customisation tab at the top and create a new report.
- Give it a title and a tab name.
- Choose Page views as the metric and Medium as the main Dimension.
- Add Source as the secondary Dimension.
- Filter the report to Include the Pages that have the exact text /become-an-advisor
This is just the tip of the ice berg. Our guide on how to Create a Google Analytics measurement plan offers more in-depth guidance and links to other resources where you can learn how to master your analytics. Feel free to get in touch if you'd like to ask us questions and add your comments below with your own advice.