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10 Simple(ish) Settings for Enhanced Google Analytics Data

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Not ready to make the switch to Google’s new Analytics 4? Enhance your businesses’ current Google Analytics implementation by enabling these advanced (yet easy to activate) features. Enjoy enhanced data accuracy and granularity with just a few clicks.

Google Analytics is the go-to free Analytics system for enterprise businesses, and small mom-and-pop shops alike. Google Analytics is very simple to install, and has robust features for advanced users and data-forward businesses. That said, there are many enhanced features and opportunities in Google Analytics (at the Account, Property, and View levels) that many businesses have failed to activate; this means you are likely missing out on valuable business analytics information that you could have had right at your fingertips, for free. If you installed your Google Analytics tag, checked for tracking, and then stopped there, I’m talking to you.

There’s nothing worse than logging into Google Analytics for specific business metrics and finding that your half-hearted GA installation left the enhanced features unused. Now, the information that you and your team thought you were tracking is nowhere to be found, and you are hindered by a significant lack of robust digital data. Activate these enhanced features now, and the data will be there when you need it for business decision-making.

Here are the most impactful Google Analytics features and settings for improving the accuracy and usefulness of your business’ digital analytics.

1. Create Additional Google Analytics “Views”

Google Analytics allows for advanced filtering of data at the View level. Whether you choose to filter your data for the time being or not, create at least one additional view as a backup of your unfiltered website data, and keep that view free from any future filtering. Advanced Google Analytics users may benefit from a third “testing” view, in order to test filters, settings, and features before pushing them info production.

To Implement:
Go to Admin > Create View > Enter View Name & Timezone > Create View

2. Enable Demographics & Interest Tracking

Google Analytics can help you understand your ideal customers by providing robust demographic data for your site visitors and (most importantly) those that complete conversions. In addition to a standard age/gender breakdown, Google Analytics also groups users into Interest Categories based on their web behavior off of your site. This is key information about your shoppers — straight from the world’s largest search engine — and you can’t find this information anywhere else.

To Implement:
Go to Admin > Property Settings > Scroll to Advertising Features > Enable Demographics & Interests Report

This may require a tweak to your Google Analytics tracking code; details will be provided when you enable this feature.

3. Enable Ecommerce Tracking

Does your company sell products online? If so, improve your understanding of your ecommerce sales with Google Analytics Ecommerce Tracking. It is not enough to simply pull sales reports from your ecommerce tool (WooCommerce, Shopify, SquareSpace); while these reports may show you HOW MUCH you sold, they do a poor job helping you understand WHY, and HOW you sold the products you did. By enabling Ecommerce Tracking or Advance Ecommerce Tracking in Universal Analytics, you can tie your revenue directly back to your customers’ online journey, including how they got to your website, what actions they took on your site before buying, their demographic / interest information, and more. This will also allow you to build remarketing audiences based on this valuable information.

To Implement: 
Go to Admin > View > Ecommerce Settings > Enable Ecommerce

Additional steps and developer support may be required, depending on your Content Management System (CMS) and website infrastructure.

4. Create & Track Your Goals

In addition to online product sales, there are surely other user actions on your site that are valuable to you, like contact form submissions, clicks to call, email signups, video views, etc. In order to get a clear picture of your online success, it is essential that you track these key metrics, and Google Analytics makes it easy. In their simplest form, Goals can be set to trigger by Destination (e.g. order confirmation page, contact page, etc.), Duration (e.g. 5 min or more), or Pages / Session. More advanced users may find the most utility in setting up Goals tied to custom Event Tracking, allowing for Goals tied to specific button clicks, page interactions, video views, form submissions, and more.

To Implement: 
Go to Admin > View > Goals > Goal Setup

5. Connect Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free resource which provides irreplaceable information about your company’s standing in Organic Search rankings. Use Google Search Console to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot the factors that impact your standing in search results. Once you’ve added your web property to Google Search Console, it will show you robust data that Analytics does not, including search Impressions, Clicks, and CTR for specific search queries, Web Vitals (sitespeed factors), and information relation to your site’s Structured Data (needed for your site to show in Google’s Rich Results, like Top Stories, Events, Products, Recipes, Reviews and more).

To Implement: 
Go to Admin > Property > All Products > Unlinked Products > Link Search Console

If you have not yet claimed your domain on Google Search Console, you will need to do so before completing this integration.

6. Activate Google Signals

Google Signals is a feature within Google Analytics which enables cross-device remarketing and reporting. Especially useful to those advertising on Google Search and Display, Google Signals extends your remarketing ads to work cross-device, provides more information about users that click your ads (extended Demographic and Interest data), and increases the data available in cross-device reports.

To Implement: 
Go to Admin > Property > Tracking Info > Data Collection > Turn on Data Collection for Google Signals 

7. Activate Cross-Channel Attribution

Attribution Projects in Google Analytics provides invaluable information on the conversion paths most taken by your online customers. Within attribution you will find not only the last referral or traffic source that lead to conversions, but the entire multi-touch user journey. This will help to understand the value of your various traffic channels, and to sculpt your customer journey and invest your time and resources accordingly. Attribution contains a wide range of attribution models, with options to filter by conversion type, number of total touchpoints, and conversion lag.

To Implement: 
Go to Admin > Click “Attribution” (bottom left) > New Project > Get Started

8. Enable Bot-Filtering

Bot traffic will muddy your Analytics account and erode your reporting accuracy. Ensure that bot traffic is being removed from your Google Analytics report using the “Bot Filtering” feature to exclude data from all known bots and spiders.

To Implement:
Go to Admin > View > View Settings > Bot Filtering > Check “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders”

9. Remove Facebook Click Identifier Parameters

Certain website tools and traffic sources, including Facebook, add a text string (called a parameter) to the end of links to your site. In the case of Facebook, it appears as a long string that begins with “?fbclid…”, and is unique for each user that clicks a link to your site. While these parameters are useful for Facebook tracking purposes, they may cause analytics systems to misinterpret the distinct parameterized URLs as unique pages on your site.This will lead to Google Analytics reporting 1-2 pageviews on hundreds of unique urls, even if they are all, in fact, the exact same page. Removing these parameter strings from the URLs within Google Analytics will not impact their functionality, but will cause all visits to the same webpage to be tracked as such, vastly improving data accuracy and clarity.

To Implement:
Go to Admin > View > View Settings > Exclude URL Query Parameters > Enter “fbclid” > Save

10. Increase Site Speed Sample Rate

By default, Google Analytics only captures real world site speed data for 1 out of 100 website visitors. For businesses receiving less than several hundred visits per day, this will mean major gaps and inaccuracy in this hugely important metric, and an incomplete understanding of how your users experience your website.

Adjusting your Google Analytics site speed sample rate is a slightly more complex task, requiring a change to your GA tracking snippet. Learn more about Google Analytics site speed measurement protocols in the Analytics Help Center. Additional details about changing your own website site speed sample rate can be found in the analytics.js developer documentation

WordPress users, learn to test and improve website load speeds for a better user experience. 

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