How to find the metrics that matter and not get swamped by data
Google Analytics can feel just a little bit yawn.
Yes, you set it up yonks ago.
And maybe poke around once in a while.
You’re not doing anything with the data.
In this week’s episode, we’re going to dig deep into Google Analytics, the important metrics, and reports that actually matter.
But more importantly, we’re going to chat about how to interpret the data and turn it in to… yes you guessed it, ACTION!
Tune in to learn:
- What is data analytics?
- Best practice tips to make the most of your Google Analytics setup.
- Which metrics you should pay attention to.
- How to make the most of the Google UTM URL Builder to better track your online activities.
- Why it is important to use analytics to track your own marketing efforts.
- Understanding marketing attribution and the multi-channel funnel attribution tool.
Listen to the podcast
Share the love
And big thanks to diamondqueenhk for their lovely review:
I’ve only done 2 of Kate’s episodes and I’m already hooked.
After spending loads with agencies trying to work out what to do with SEO and digital marketing and not being able to afford to continue it and finding myself on my own, this is giving me hope to DIY!
Thanks Kate, looking forward to listening in.”
Share the meme
Ray Pastoors is the founder of ethical digital marketing firm LYF Solutions, helping small business owners to grow online in a data-led and sustainable way.
Ray has worked for a top global healthcare firm and Australia’s largest energy utility in digital marketing and communications.
His passion for small business stems from starting his first business at the age of seven.
At the age of 12, Ray started an import business where he sold “As seen on tv” products and established a shop in his bedroom. His older brothers were not so keen on the idea.
Connect with Ray
Kate Toon: Google Analytics can feel just a little bit yawn. Yes, you set it up ages ago and maybe you poke around in it once in a while. But really you look at the data and then you don’t do anything with it. I know that’s true. In this week’s episode, we’re going to dig deeper into Google Analytics, the important metrics and the reports that actually matter. But more importantly, we’re going to chat about how to interpret the data and turn it into, yes, you guessed it. Action. Hello, my name is Kate Toon and I’m the head chef at The Recipe For SEO success. An online teaching hub for all things related to search engine optimization and digital marketing. And today it is my pleasure and my delight to be joined by Ray Pastoors. Hello, Ray.
Ray Pastoors: Hello.
Kate Toon: How are you doing?
Ray Pastoors: Very good, thank you. Happy 2021.
Kate Toon: I know here we are, another year. Let’s hope it is a bit better than last year, right?
Ray Pastoors: Fingers crossed.
Kate Toon: Fingers crossed. Well, now I’m going to awkwardly read out your bio. So just listen to this. You wrote it. So let’s see how it sounds when someone else reads it out. Ray Pastoors is the founder of the ethical digital marketing firm LYF solutions, helping small business owners to grow online in a data-led and sustainable way. Ray has worked for a top global healthcare firm and Australia’s largest energy utility in digital marketing and communications.
Kate Toon: His passion for small business stems from starting his first business at the age of seven. We need to talk about that at the age of 12, Ray started an import business where he sold as seen on TV products and established a shop in his bedroom. His older brothers were not so keen on the idea. Ray I love that you’ve had the entrepreneur spirit since you were in the womb by the sound of it.
Ray Pastoors: Yeah, I’m not sure how it came about, but it’s just more naturally and I’ve always known what I wanted to do, which it’s strange for some people, but there you go.
Kate Toon: I love it though. And I’m the same and lots of the people I talk to who’ve started their own businesses, had similar experiences. The cheesy ideas of people selling lemonade on the street. When I was about six, I had a membership programme. Now more about our memberships, I’ve got about 600 people in my memberships now. But I’d a membership, it was called the monkey club. And you got a little card, you’ve got a membership card. You got a badge, which have a safety pin on the back. You’re going to get a monthly magazine. It was like a magazine. My mom joined, my brother joined. My dad joined, which is really great. It was like 20p a month. And then it came to the next month and I was like, oh my God, I have to do this magazine again. And so I closed the membership.
Ray Pastoors: There you go.
Kate Toon: There you go. There’s so many lessons in that. There’s so many entrepreneurial lessons in that. The pricing wasn’t right. It wasn’t scalable. I didn’t think about that magazine publishing is a thing of the past. So many lessons. What were your lessons from your As seen on TV business?
Ray Pastoors: Definitely cashflow was one of them because no idea, you know I was probably spending more than what was coming in. And my mother was very generous and supporting my entrepreneurial ways, but I had no idea about finance. So I’ve had to learn that over the years, but yeah.
Kate Toon: I’m still learning, still learning. Ray I love that. That’s actually made my day. That’s fantastic. I’d rather just talk about that but we can’t, we have to talk about Google Analytics. And as I said in the intro, we’re going to talk about what Google Analytics is and what it’s capable of. But I think for those, this episode is going to be a newbie episode. So if you’re listening to this, it’s going to start right at the beginning, but we’ve also got a few little more advanced tips towards the end. Most people set up Google Analytics and they just don’t know what they’re looking at. So for complete noobs, not just what is Google Analytics, but what is it really about what’s it for? How would you describe what’s it for?
Ray Pastoors: Yeah sure, so put simply, I would say it’s a free tool by See By Google. That lets you see where your website or if you have an app, traffic has come from. What the person actually did on your website and of course what they didn’t do. So that would be the most simplest way to describe it, I guess.
Kate Toon: Yeah, I think that’s right. And I think a few things that’s really important to say is. You set up Google Analytics, you add code to your site to track it and you verify. You can’t break Google Analytics. I think a lot of people worry about this. If I fiddle around with Google Analytics too much, am I going to break something on my site? No, it pulls data from your site and from the internet and displays it back to you. It doesn’t change anything in your… I think that’s a really important thing to say, because people are I don’t want to press the buttons because what if… Yeah, it’s a reporting tool.
Kate Toon: And we talk a lot on this podcast about Google search console. And I think Google search console is like the ugly brother of Google Analytics that no one really knows about. Most people have set up Google Analytics, but they don’t really make the most of it. So if we’ve started with Google Analytics and we’ve just verified, what are some best practise tips to immediately hit the ground running and get the most out of your Google Analytics setup?
Ray Pastoors: So obviously first like you said, ensure the tag is on your site and working. So you need to test that, people are coming through, there’s pages, there’s data in there. But some of the key things that you want to be looking at is, how many users are coming through. So users essentially is people. This is the closest we can get to people. So if you think user people, you probably on the right page. And that shows you how many people are coming through to the site. And don’t be surprised if it’s not that many because especially when it comes to building a website these days, you’re not going to get all that traffic that you used to get a few years back.
Ray Pastoors: It actually takes time to come through. So don’t be alarmed by that. And of course the other thing to factor in as well is if you’re doing advertising like on Facebook, for instance. You’re going to actually have a variance between what you see on Facebook and what you get in Google Analytics. A lot of people get surprised by that. It’s just how they measure things. They measure it very differently. And it’s the same for other analytic tools as well. The other key thing to look at is how long people are spending on your actual site.
Ray Pastoors: So what’s the average time on page? Often clients get a bit surprised when I say to them, Google doesn’t really know how much time someone spends on a page, it’s actually based on them firing a tag. So for instance, if you haven’t been a developer or been really clued in trying to tag all these different events in your site. Google doesn’t really know when someone leaves the site, it’s actually based on when they’re loading a page quite often than not. So don’t be surprised if it’s not too long or too short, but just keep an eye on it and see how you go. We expect for instance, if you’ve got a blog that if it’s quite modern, you’d want people to spend a bit of time on there.
Ray Pastoors: Whereas if they’re only spending a few seconds or perhaps it’s not a great piece of content, maybe you need to update it. So it’s really important when you’re looking at Google Analytics is to have context with the data. So often we go, “Oh no, my bounce rate’s too high and it’s like, oh, okay.” But at the same time, a bounce rate might be high because for instance, if it was a blog post. That’s where people stop they just go, “Oh, you’ve answered my question. I’m off now see you later.” So we’ve always got to add context. And that’s one of the key things that you’d be looking for in your data.
Kate Toon: Fantastic and probably are listening to this podcast as you’re walking along or whatever. So I’m just going to say this moment, try and maybe take a little pause. And if you later on want to come back and look at this on the desktop. Because what I’d love to do, and I didn’t tell Ray I was going to do this. But I’d love to just walk around that Google Analytics homepage and talk about some of the terminology that’s used there. Because this is a noob episode and Google does have its own lexicon of words that it likes to use.
Kate Toon: So you’ve covered off one of the users. We look at the Google Analytics homepage. We can see all these panels. It looks so much better than it used to. Oh my God, I love the new design. It’s so much better. The first thing we can see is users. You’ve talked about that, that’s customers pretty much individual customers. The next thing is sessions. Now this often confuses people. Well, why is my sessions higher than my users? So how would you describe a session, Ray?
Ray Pastoors: So session is by default 30 minutes. So every 30 minutes a session resets, if you haven’t changed the default, that’s what you’ve got. So basically it’s just the time someone’s actually spending on the website. So for instance, if you’ve actually got, let’s say a member site. Or something where you know that people are going to need to spend more than 30 minutes. You might actually consider changing the default settings within your Google Analytics. Otherwise, just bear in mind that when you do look at your sessions, you’re going to be like, “Oh, that’s way more than my users.” But you need to again, add that context and understand what it is that you’re seeing. So just bear that in mind.
Kate Toon: So underneath each of the figures, we’ve got there, we’ve got the figure and then we’ve got the percentages increased or decreased. So that’s something to look at. We also have bounce rate. Now we talked about bounce, but bounce rate as somebody who comes into a page, looks at a single page or post or products and leaves again. And it’s something that people get very upset about. I should really quickly say that we don’t believe Google uses that as a ranking metrics. It’s not something to get over excited about. And I loved what you said about context.
Kate Toon: So if I come in, I read a single blog post. Maybe that’s all I want to do today. And I could have spent nine minutes reading that blog post. That’s a great interaction, but the bounce rate will still show just one page and off I go. So obviously there’s an opportunity there to draw people into other parts of your site. And have internal linking and ads, but it’s not necessarily always going to work.
Kate Toon: So bounce rate is something we should take notes of. If it’s particularly high on a page where you would expect people to take another step, like a homepage bounce rate is crazy high. I’d be looking at improving the stickiness of my homepage and the movement to other pages. I think context is, I love that you said that. Session duration, so that’s pretty much how long someone’s spent on your site and that can hugely vary as well, can’t it?
Ray Pastoors: Yeah, definitely and it’s an average as well. So you’ve got to think that average is there’s always, you know, it could be pretty bad all the way to pretty high. And then there’s a medium in the middle, so it’s not reflective of everyone. So you have to be careful at that. Going back to bounce rate just a little bit quickly. If your bounce rate is between 10 to 20% or even lower for your site, then that signals to me that you probably have the tag twice? On the website.
Kate Toon: I had that about ten years ago and I was like, “My bounce rate is so low.” And then I was like I’ve got the tag three times brilliant.
Ray Pastoors: That’s exciting. But I think it happens a lot because sometimes for instance, we add it in… And it happens a lot in Shopify where you add in with a plugin and then you add it into your theme as well. And then you get it twice and you’re like, “Oh, what’s going on.”
Kate Toon: Same with WordPress. You can add it with maybe monster insights, but you can add it into your code, maybe a developer already added it. And then you’re like, “Oh, I bet he didn’t, I’ll do it.” We also have the lovely panel, which shows active users, which is great if you’ve just done a launch or you’re in the middle of… You’ve just promoted something and made a big fuss of it, or you’ve just sent an email out. You can sit there and watch active users.
Kate Toon: That’s quite exciting sometimes if you’ve got nothing to do. I’m going to come back to analytics intelligence in a minute. Traffic channel I think is obviously super useful and super ignored. So I’m looking at one of my sites at the moment and I can see I’ve got, my direct traffic, my organic search, my social, my referral and other. So let’s break those down direct traffic. Where is that coming from?
Ray Pastoors: Well, this one is often a misconception because direct usually means that someone’s actually typed the website in, or it’s bookmarked. But often people forget that if Google can’t categorise or know where things are, they’ll actually put it in the direct bucket. And so that’s why for a lot of sites, the direct can be the highest one because it’s actually just everything else. So for instance, if you’re not using… And I think we’ll touch base on this later, but you know, tracking tags, then Google doesn’t know where it’s coming from.
Ray Pastoors: If it’s not a known source. So it often knows Facebook and social media, but even sometimes with them if you don’t add tags, they can scrape the actual tracking. And so Google just falls it into the direct bucket. But in saying that you can still filter down and work out what is the direct traffic that’s coming through. One of the key things in terms of tests that we kind of do for clients is for instance, in social media. So for clients that are not convinced what the value is in terms of Facebook advertising.
Ray Pastoors: We say, you know what, how about we turn off Facebook ads for a week or so, and see how that changes in the direct traffic, because it can actually have a real impact. And it depends obviously on the business and what you’re selling and stuff like that. But these tests with your data can actually allow you to understand a bit more about what’s happening. But yeah, the channel breakdown is also useful of course, if you’re doing SEO. And you’re following obviously Kate Toon’s lovely tips and everyone else on the podcast. Because then you can see, if it’s actually growing, is it going up or down? And where are people actually coming from in terms of organic search? So if you do link up the Google Search Console then of course you can see that data around most of the times.
Ray Pastoors: Because the other annoying bug bugbear around Google’s products is they don’t tend to link very well. So you Google Analytics and Google Search Console if you’re using the old HTTP method, instead of that domain verification method. If you know Google Search Console, you know what I’m talking about if not, it’s all good. Then what actually happens is you’ll be able to see the data for the HTTP method in your Google Analytics, but unfortunately for the new domain one, they didn’t actually update it. So you have to then go to Google Search Console. So it’s good to have the two tools there and see what’s happening and try and paint a picture of what actually is happening on your side.
Kate Toon: Going back to the direct thing, so direct generally can mean that either people have typed in your URL directly, they have it bookmarked. It often also covers email if you haven’t used UTM codes, which we’re going to talk about in a minute. So direct can be a lot of things and you’ll over time possibly see your direct increase. As people are bookmarking your sites. On the site I’m at, I’ve got members so they’re coming back again and again. So they’ve probably got like a little shortcut on their desktop and they’re just clicking that.
Kate Toon: Organic search obviously is SEO people coming to you by the search engine results. And then we’ve got social obviously you can drill down into your social. And as you said, it’s not completely infallible. You’ve got your Facebook, your Instagram, your Instagram stories, your LinkedIn, your Twitter. But there could be some of that coming through as direct as well, sometimes as well. But it gives you a broad sweep. So what we see here I can see in mine just so yesterday, 57% was Facebook, 18 Instagram, 13 Instagram stories, seven LinkedIn, and three Twitter.
Kate Toon: Now that should make sense too. On a pretty much a daily basis, because I know that yesterday I didn’t do anything on Twitter. I didn’t do much on LinkedIn. I did a fair bit on Facebook as I always do, and I did a couple of posts on Instagram. So that bears out for me, that bears out. But there was a long time where I was putting a huge amount of effort into Twitter and my Twitter results were terrible. And that really made me rethink whether Twitter was a channel for me to drive people to my site. It’s a great channel to connect and to chat on, but is it a great… And you know, this is what we’re talking about, about taking action from your data.
Kate Toon: If you’re looking at your socials and you’re seeing that one channel is underperforming, but you’re putting hours and hours into that channel. Have a little bit of a thing that’s it, don’t just keep on making the same mistake. Let’s go back to the dashboard and just define a few other things before we move on to our next question. So we’ve talked about the audience overview, the acquisition area, and also you can click on each of the sections in and drill deeper. Then we’ve got users by country. Now this is probably quite obvious, but what can we learn from users by country, Ray? What what’s that useful for?
Ray Pastoors: Definitely, so you can actually see, where people are coming from to actually visit your website. Obviously these days, people have got what they call like a proxy or VPN, which can disorder a little bit. But at the most people are actually visiting from their country. So for instance, if you are a site that obviously is in Australia, but you actually sell to other countries. You can find out, where they’re actually coming from. Or it might even allow you to understand what countries might actually be interested in your products, but you’re not selling to. So it can be really insightful from that perspective.
Ray Pastoors: And for those that are interested in this but for instance, if you’re getting a lot of traffic from sites such as Russia-
Kate Toon: Yeah, Russian and China, sorry to be-
Ray Pastoors: …And China they can often be bots and spiders. Which you can actually try and avoid within your Google Analytics in terms of working out how many are coming through your site. But it could also signal to you that you could even set up a firewall for those countries with your web host or someone else to try and block. Because obviously we don’t want anyone hacking into our site, but it’s another insight-
Kate Toon: Sweeping generalisations, lots of lovely Russian people and Chinese people. But yes, it is a-
Ray Pastoors: Yes of course, don’t get me wrong there.
Kate Toon: No I wasn’t, we have to say things like this. And then there’s a few other bits which was, we’ll skim through, pretty self-explanatory. You can see the pages that people are visiting. Most often, you can see the number of active users over time. And one that I think is very interesting is top devices. So obviously we know that, these days Google is mobile first, we’re all about responsiveness. We’ve got the new algorithm update in May 21, which is all about usability. And it’s going to be mainly focused on mobile. We had an episode about that with Peter all about core web vitals. But even now, on mine on this particular site, 75% of people are still on desktop, 23 on mobile and 1% on tablet.
Kate Toon: So it’s important, but I was surprised by that. I thought it would be higher on mobile. But again, if you have a large percentage of people looking at a site on mobile. When was the last time you tried to check out on your site on a mobile? When was the last time you tried to fill out your contact form? 23% is quite a chunk. You need to be really using that data and ensuring that everything is tickety-boo. And you can drill down further and see the types of devices and all manner of things. So that’s kind of sexy as well.
Kate Toon: And then the final thing on the dashboard or the home page is how well do you retain users? So you’ve got the dates, You’ve got week one, two, three, four, five, and it shows you the percentage of people that stay over time. Now that’s an interesting one, isn’t it? I think it’s more interesting for sites that have memberships, directories, shops. And less interesting possibly for service-based businesses, where you come along, you make the interaction and then you move maybe off to Slack or email or something like that. How can we interpret that data from the user retention?
Ray Pastoors: So what is user retention it’s just showing how often do users actually come back to the site? And it really depends, like you said, on what you’re actually got on your website. So if you’re updating content regularly and you’ve got a community, then you’d expect the user retention to progress over time and that people would actually come back. Whereas if you’re not really doing that, and that’s probably for a lot of businesses. People don’t just go to a website at random these days we’re so time poor and that you wouldn’t expect that to be amazing straightaway.
Kate Toon: Fantastic, now we could go through every single tab and every single button we’ve given you an overview there, obviously down the side of the dashboard. If you’re looking on desktop, there’s so much more, we’ve got audience, acquisition, behaviour as well. A lot of interesting stuff is we’ve now got site speed in there and lots of other bits and bobs. We’re not going to go through every single thing. We might come back and talk about conversions, if we have time at the end of the episode. But we wanted to move on and talk about… We’ve talked about some core metrics, Ray’s taking you through some that matter there and what they mean and how to interpret them.
Kate Toon: But we want to talk about another tool that ties into Google Analytics. A lot of people haven’t heard of, and that’s Google’s UTM URL Builder. So that enables you to build very specific URLs that are trackable. And not only saying, hey they went to this website, but they came from this email and it was on this day and it was this paragraph, or it was this image that they clicked on. Tell us a little bit more about UTM URL Builder and how it helps you track our online activities.
Ray Pastoors: Sure, so UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Model. It’s not a sea urchin, but it does that very similarly because it attaches to a URL. So essentially it’s just a bit of information that attaches to the link to actually send that information back to Google. So it just allows you to, stop that problem that we mentioned before. Where things are getting attributed to direct because Google Analytics can’t decide where to actually categorise them.
Ray Pastoors: And they can be really useful for a few different reasons. So for instance, I like to use them for influences or third party marketers. So for instance, if they’re doing a social post for me or a blog post, an email or even a banner on their site. I’ll add a UTM tag using the free Google UTM URL Builder. So if you type into Google, free Google UTM builder you’ll actually find it. It’s really easy to use and quite self-explanatory.
Kate Toon: It’s surprisingly easy to use. It sounds super techie and complicated, but within a minute you can produce a really sexy little UTM. I keep them on a little spreadsheet so I can remember them. But then for the people who don’t know, where will they see that in Google Analytics. Where do they go to see the results of all their hard UTM work?
Ray Pastoors: So it’s under acquisition in terms of campaigns and in the campaigns you’ll see where those tracking are coming from. So it’s really good because you can actually create segments on the top layer of Google Analytics. So segments are really useful as well. Because then you can create rules and put little buckets and scrape the data of what you want. But these campaigns can just give you a quick overview of how things are tracking. So for instance, if you are doing a blog post with an influencer, you know how many users are actually coming through to that, you might be surprised.
Ray Pastoors: Or if you’ve set up those goals or conversions, you might even find out for instance, that that blog post contributed to a lead or a sale. So it’s really useful information to be able to do that. And then the only other thing with UTMs is they’re also great for SMS campaigns. So if you’re doing any SMS you can imagine the UTM makes it a very long URL, which is a pain in the neck.
Ray Pastoors: So all you have to do is use for instance, Bit.ly. So Bit dot L-Y is a link shortener, and it will shorten that very succinct for you. So you don’t have to worry too much about those limits when you do send an SMS. Or even for offline marketing you can imagine you don’t want to attach a long URL to a poster or to a flyer. You just use those shortened URLs and that will still have the UTM when it fires off into their browser, which is great.
Kate Toon: That’s a great tip. I’ll include a link to the UTM builder and to Bit.ly in the useful resources on the podcast. As literally you can hear me just typing that in so that I don’t forget. Now a couple of other things that we wanted to cover off in this episode. We wanted to talk about marketing attribution and what is the purpose of multi-channel funnel attribution tool. So that’s one of the other tools in here. Can you talk us through that a little bit more?
Ray Pastoors: So marketing attribution is a method in which we basically apply a credit to a given channel or channels that contributed to a conversion. So if you’ve set up your conversions or goals, you’ll be able to see what channels either assisted or were a result of that attribution. So quite often for most it’s a default in Google Analytics, you’ll be using last click or interaction with it. Basically that means for instance, the last channel gets all the credit for doing the hard work. So often what that means is direct traffic or referral traffic, or even search get the most love.
Ray Pastoors: And again adding that context, you’ve got to understand that if you’re using the last click attribution model. Then of course other channels such as social media might not get so much love or even email, but they actually did assist that purchase. So quite often than not, we can look at data and say, for instance if we look at that attribution tool and be like, “Oh, it’s all coming through a referral. Maybe we need to get more referral traffic.” But then we’re blindsided because in actual fact it was that social email campaign that drove them to the action.
Ray Pastoors: So you’ve got to look at it from a broader sense of you and understand how it works. And the multi-channel funnel report that’s under conversions within your Google Analytics, gives you a better indication. So you can actually change the model. So like I said last time we used the last click, which is the default, but there’s other ones such as linear, time decay and position base. And if you hover over that in Google Analytics, you’ll be able to see how they actually define those different models.
Ray Pastoors: But play around with that because you’ll see how it changes and you’ll understand which channels are actually assisting the conversion. So then that way you can make more informed decisions about your marketing. So for instance, if you do see that social media is assisting with your campaigns. In terms of sales or leads, then of course you might increase that investment. And play around and see how that changes things for you. So always have a look at that and take a bird’s eye view I would say before you make a decision. In terms of what you’re spending or your efforts in terms of your marketing, but yeah it’s really useful to have a look at.
Kate Toon: Now I know that you’re probably listening to this and some of this might be going over your head if you’re not actually looking at the tool. So if you go into Google Analytics, you go to conversions. You’ve goals which we’re going to come back to, e-Commerce multichannel funnels. And then underneath that, it shows you the total number of conversions. You can see the conversions and the assisted conversions and the channels that they came from. So for example, mine is saying 69% came from direct, 44 from organic and 15 from referral. And then obviously what we’re talking about is understanding, how you fiddle with that, how you change things around to maybe up that.
Kate Toon: Maybe that direct figure is great, I love that. But my social figure isn’t that great. My referral, isn’t that great. That’s not working quite as well. Maybe I need to think about that a bit more. But we skipped over something that’s important to do before you can do this, which is goals. So you’ve got the option to do standard goals and e-Commerce goals. Where actually attribute figures to particular products within your site. How would goals work for a service-based business? What’s an example of how someone could set up a goal for a service based business?
Ray Pastoors: Probably the easiest way is for instance, if you’ve got a form on your website. You can set up a page that redirects, like a thank you page. And you can make it fun and customise it and say, thanks so much for your quote requests. We’ll get back to you in jiff or something like that. But you then use that thank you page URL, just set up the goals. So we use that in Google Analytics, it’s called like an event destination URL, and then you pop that in. And so each time someone actually visits that, and obviously they can only visit if you’ve actually put them to that page. You’ll then know that someone’s actually submitted a form. So it’s a really easy way to do it.
Ray Pastoors: The other way is you can actually code it in, but you probably need a developer to do that. So that’s a bit harder, but for a service-based business often they think that goals aren’t actually important. But they really are because you can actually find out a loss. For instance where are those leads coming from? If we’ve got that goal set up, we can see is it actually coming through, let’s say Facebook. Or is it coming through an email campaign that we did? So it’s really useful information. So definitely set up your goals for that. You can also set up goals for certain pathways. So you know, if a person visits a certain page for a long period of time or not.
Ray Pastoors: So, if you’re interested in that you might want to see that. You even might want to just see for instance, how many people actually view the contact page. So often I say, if you’re doing the thank you page, you also create a goal for the view. So you can see how many actually viewed the page, and then how many actually submitted it. And work out if there’s any perhaps issues around your forms. So for instance, if your form stops working in Google Analytics. You might be alarmed by the fact that all of a sudden, the percentage has gone way down and that might be because your form’s not working. So it’s a genius, you know, another way that Google Analytics can help you with your business or-
Kate Toon: Make decisions. I love the fact you know if you go into goals and you say reverse goal path, you can the jump off pages. Which pages were the pages they looked at before they converted you can actually see that funnel visualisation. The e-Commerce goals they’re really amazing, there’s such detail there. And I know that you’ll get some of that detail from your Shopify analytics or your Woo Commerce analytics. But you can obviously see how much money you’re making. But how many people added things to the basket, people who remove things from baskets, it’s really detailed.
Kate Toon: And I guess often with this, there’s so much information, it can be overwhelming. So I think there’s basic things to look out there. If a hundred people added it to basket, but only one person checks out what’s going on there? Something isn’t working. It’s trying to look for flags and I think this is an interesting point to come back to. Because this data, unless you really know what you’re looking at. And unless you have Ray by your side, holding your hand through it, it can be overwhelming.
Kate Toon: So one of the things I really love is the analytics intelligence panel, which is now on the homepage and you get these insights. I’m just going to tell you a couple of insights that I’ve got here. And it says here top campaigns by sessions. So I can see my top campaigns by sessions and it’s telling me all about that. I can see I’m just going to… Sorry I’m clicking away as we go, because I want to give you some examples. Because what I like about this is it, for example, underneath, you’ve got these whole different types of Google was babbling.
Kate Toon: Google Analytics would generate insights, but you can also get insights on demand. So for example, you can go into understanding trends and it will say, show me a trend of my bounce rate over the last three months. Or how many sessions last over 30 days, you can look at basic performance. How many users did I have in the last week? Show me a breakdown of my users by device type. So that I think gives you more targeted information. So for example, show me a breakdown of users by my device type.
Kate Toon: Because I want to know if my responsiveness is working. Or because I want to know if I really need to be digging in to making my iPad responsiveness better. I think going into Google Analytics with a goal in mind, something you’re going to… Do you agree? Because all of this is just figures and you come away going, “Well, it all looks okay to me.” And then you leave again. How do we use this tool effectively, I guess is the big question?
Ray Pastoors: So like you said, some of the goals, so what is it that you’re trying to answer? Do you want to know where people are coming from, in terms of your website? Do you want to know where your leads are coming from or where your leads aren’t coming from? Or do you have an assumption, for instance? Let’s say for instance quite often than not assumption is from clients, you know Instagram’s driving me lots of leads. And I get all my leads from Instagram. But then we test that assumption and actually go into Google Analytics and go, well actually, you’re getting quite a few from organic search or you’re getting a few from some other channel like email.
Ray Pastoors: It’s a really good idea to have that question in mind because you’re right. There’s just so much information that Google Analytics captures that you get lost in the wilderness. I often think of it you’re searching through the forest and you can’t find that pine cone, if you’re looking for pine cones, I don’t know. That’s something that we do when we go hiking. It’s just about finding that hidden gem that you’re trying to find, because that’s what insight is. Often people, rattle off stats and go that’s insight. Well in actual fact, it’s not.
Ray Pastoors: Insight is when you can tell a story about the data and that story is actually truthful. And how we get to that truth is the fact that, I believe there is no one source of truth. You need to paint that picture based on different sources. So you might get it from Google Analytics. But you also get it from having a look at if it’s Facebook ads, your Facebook analytics. But also your real sales and you picture that together to actually paint that picture and go, oh, that’s what’s happening on my site. And now I’m going to test something else in order to see if that works or if it doesn’t so yeah.
Kate Toon: Fantastic Ray. Now I’m going to finish up with a couple of questions from members of the I Love SEO Group. Now, Ray is in the, I Love SEO Group. So if you have questions after the podcast, I’m sure he would be willing to answer them there. But we’ve got a couple of questions for our audience. The first one’s from Jacinta Marshall from Purple Biz. And we’ve kind of answered this, but if you could just give a quick brief answer and summarise.
Kate Toon: How do you track Google Analytics? Is there an app, is it part of your website analytics or is there a way to get info straight from Google? So we’ve kind of covered that a bit, but let’s talk about apps. You’ve mentioned Shopify and we talked about WordPress. Do you think apps are the best way to integrate Google Analytics or would you do it with code? How do you usually verify?
Ray Pastoors: Oh look, it depends on your business and your capabilities as well. But there’s no problem with plugins. The only issue around plugins is sometimes they do have conflicts. So especially on WordPress sometimes we get clients saying my Google Analytics has stopped working. Then we have a look in, there might be a conflict with another plugin that does happen from time to time. But then if you put it in your code, it can get complicated. For instance, if you don’t have a child theme on WordPress. Because when you update your theme, you lose whatever custom information you’ve actually put.
Ray Pastoors: Which can be a pain, or even if you change things. So sometimes plugins can actually be easier than actual custom coding as well. And it’s worth noting that yes Google Analytics obviously needs the code to be tracked. But you can also use it for apps as well. We probably haven’t mentioned that too much. But Google Analytics 4 was launched only in October last year. And it’s still quite new, but that actually allows you to measure for the first time a website as well as an app. So if you’re listening and you do have an app, you’ll be able to paint the picture as one something that you weren’t able to do previously. So that’s exciting-
Kate Toon: It’s exciting it’s kind of mildly exciting, come on, Ray. It’s Google Analytics. It’s exciting you.
Ray Pastoors: To be honest, I think Google tries so hard to make things easy. Because Google Analytics 4 is like the next evolution of Google Analytics. And it hasn’t happened for such a long time. And they’re trying really hard to make things easier. Like they’ve broken it down and really focused on the key areas. Like users and events and making it a little bit easier to track, but they have a long way to go to make it simple, I think.
Kate Toon: Yeah, I think so it still needs a lot of translation. So Elanya Van Heerdon from 4 Vans In A Caravan asks, why do my Google Analytics figures differ from shopping analytics as insight visitor numbers are never the same. How can this be? Am I doing something wrong?
Ray Pastoors: So there’s a few different reasons. First one we said before, obviously check the tracking is working correctly, that it’s not set up twice. Some people put it in the theme dot liquid settings, if you know Shopify, you know what I mean. And then they obviously have a plugin on top, so that’s not great. The other one is that GA and Shopify measures site visitors very differently. So Google measures based on page reloads. So like I said before, when the page fires up or events. So if you’ve set those custom events up or you’re using Google Analytics 4, some of those events already tagged for you.
Ray Pastoors: So Shopify says they actually measure based on browser reload, but don’t disclose how they do it. It’s very sneaky all these companies have their own intellectual property. They don’t disclose how they actually do it. The other thing I think is worth mentioning is Shopify also said that some of their reports, so the visitors column is actually an approximation and not a final number. So that’s probably why you’re seeing a discrepancy there. Because they measure things differently and unfortunately they do estimate sometimes. So they’re not always going to be the same.
Kate Toon: Yeah that makes sense. Ray, that was just splendid. You actually made me vaguely interested in Google Analytics, now I am. I am interested in it, but I think as we said at the head of the episode, there’s a lot of good stuff there. And when you’re in there, you’re like, “Ooh, ah, Oh.” And then you shut it down and do nothing. So I think you’ve given us some great examples of things we can do around setting goals, using UTMs. Really looking at if what we’re doing is working.
Kate Toon: If that blog posts that we spent 17 hours writing is only getting a minute on the page and people aren’t reading it. We need to not be in such a rush to produce content and push it out. We need to take time to take a step back and go, is this working? Maybe stop for a bit, as you said. Turn things off and see what difference it makes. And I think we’re all just in such a rush in business sometimes that we forget the analytics part is actually quite crucial. So thank you Ray, for that, that was amazing where people find out more about you.
Ray Pastoors: So you can visit our website lyfsolutions.com.au. We have a learn hub, which has heaps of resources. And I’ll share some links as well with you Kate. Because we’ve done a whole heap around Google Analytics recently. Including information about Google Analytics 4, for those that are interested but we didn’t get a chance to share today. So there you go.
Kate Toon: So that’s the end of this week’s show. If you have questions about how to take your business further with best practise, Google Analytics, head to my I Love SEO Group on Facebook. Now, I like to end the show with a shout out to one of my lovely listeners. And today it’s Diamond Queen HK from Hong Kong and they write, “I’m hooked. I’ve only done two of Kate’s episodes and I’m already hooked. After spending loads of time with agencies. Trying to work out what to do with SEO and digital marketing and not being able to afford to continue. I’m finding it myself on my own, and this is giving me hope to DIY. Thanks Kate and I look forward to listening and more.” Well, thank you very much Diamond Queen HK, and thanks to you for listening.
Kate Toon: If you liked the show, please don’t forget to leave a five-star rating and review on iTunes, Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you heard the podcast. Your review will help others find the show and learn more about the lovely world of SEO and digital marketing. And you’ll get a shout out on the show. And finally, don’t forget to check out the show notes for this episode at www.therecipeforseosuccess.com, where you can learn more about Google Analytics, connect with Ray and check out the useful links and maybe leave a comment about the show. So until next time, thanks for listening and happy SEO-ing.