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Approximately 30 million businesses and websites currently have Google Analytics installed, but still a significant percentage of webmasters never use the program. Not taking the time to learn Analytics is a huge mistake, as the data found inside will help you measure performance, improve campaign ROI, and achieve specific business goals.
Measurement matters – especially when you’re focused on revenue and profits. Whether you’re overwhelmed by the sheer volume of reports available or just don’t know where to get started, here are three of the top “hacks” you should learn to help mine actionable data from your Google Analytics account.

Hack #1 – Check Your Mobile Optimization

Mobile strategies are no longer optional. According to Pew Internet, 56% of Americans own a smartphone and 34% own a tablet. Google Analytics can help you measure how well your site is performing for these mobile viewers. If you know that mobile is a priority, but have no idea how your site is doing or where to go next with your optimization, there is a quick and easy way to learn more:
Within the Analytics dashboard, select “Audience” from left-side admin menu. Then choose “Mobile.” Under “Mobile,” click on “Devices.” The comparison chart found there will show you statistics such as number of visits, bounce rate, time on site, and pages visited by device type (e.g. Apple iPad, specific models of Samsung smartphones, etc.).

To use this data to quickly assess your site’s mobile performance, look at two things:

  • Compare your general bounce rate to your mobile bounce rate. If your mobile bounce rate is significantly higher, it’s time to think about your overall site optimization. View your site from a variety of mobile devices to start pinpointing specific issues and talk to your web designer about implementing a mobile responsive site design.
  • Look at the bounce rates by specific device type. This level of granularity allows you to really understand individual device performance. If specific models have high abandonment rates, it’s time to get your hands on that phone or tablet and test out your site. The results can give you a roadmap for future mobile development strategies.

Lack of a mobile strategy can also hurt your site’s search engine rankings, making this an important area to pay attention to.

Hack #2 – Get to Know Your Key Segments’ Traffic Behavior

Every visitor to your site is a potential sale or newsletter subscriber. But the lifetime value of every customer is different. Since some forms of traffic are more expensive – for example, the upfront costs of PPC compared to long-term SEO benefitd – it’s important that you understand how different traffic types convert on your site. You can get a very detailed understanding of where your site traffic comes from and what those visitors do once they reach your website with GA’s advanced audience segmenting feature.
To get started in the Analytics dashboard, click “Audience” on the left-hand menu. In the menu bar above the graph that appears, select “Advanced Segments.” A checkbox list will appear. Check the boxes next to the following options:

  • “Paid Search Traffic” (if you track paid search traffic within Google Analytics)
  • “Non-Paid Search Traffic”
  • “Direct Traffic”
  • “Referral Traffic”

Then hit “Apply.”

You’re now able to compare differences in key statistics across traffic types. For example, if your PPC bounce rates are high; it’s time to take a closer look at your paid campaigns and whether your keywords are targeting the right landing pages. If referral traffic is consuming a lot of your content, guest posting may be a profitable strategy for your brand.
Don’t stop at the basic stats, though. Once advanced segmentation is enabled, you’re also able to use the segmentation to view any other report within Analytics. Areas to look at in more detail include:

  • Ecommerce stats – If you sell products or services on your site, this breakdown can help you understand which referral sources are sending you the most buyers.
  • Goals – Setting up goals in Google Analytics, such as getting to a download completed page or a sign-up thank you page, helps you determine what traffic is converting on other dimensions beside sales.
  • Traffic source – Is mobile behavior significantly different than desktop computer-based users? If your advanced segments reveal this, these results might have implications for your mobile optimization plans.

For any set of statistics that are vital to your business, drill down. Knowing more about the individual behaviors of different visitor types can help you to better optimize your site on multiple levels.

Hack #3 – Clarify Calls to Action with In-Page Analytics

Calls to action (CTAs) are critical to conversions. Both your copy and design tell site visitors what you want them to do next. The most common way to improve your CTAs is through split testing. You serve up two versions of the same page with one difference – for example a red call to action button and a blue call to action button – and find out which one converts better. Refining your pages this way is effective, but it can take a lot of time.
Google’s In-Page Analytics report now allows you to see the percentage of clicks for each link on a landing page. You can also set the report to measure specific goal performance. It’s a highly visual report that overlays data on your site’s design. You’re able to very quickly answer questions like:

  • Are your calls to action motivating your visitors?
  • Does your layout drive people to view your most important content?
  • At a design level, is your site supporting your business goals?
  • Which menu items are most frequently clicked on by visitors?
  • Is something on your site – such as comments or live chat – distracting visitors from the content you really want them to see?

In-Page Analytics also allows you to test the concept of “above the fold.” Stolen from the print industry, the term refers to the portion of your site that visitors can see without scrolling. It’s your most valuable web page real-estate. To find out what exactly your visitors are seeing, select “Browser Size” from the mid-page navigation bar on the In-Page report.
Google Analytics provides hundreds of insights that can help to improve your site’s performance and move your business forward. Don’t be afraid to get in there and explore. Take the time to learn the basics of Analytics – it’ll have a direct, positive impact on your bottom line.

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