14 Features That Make Google Analytics Worth Your While

Image of Google Analytics DashboardYears ago, you had to pay hundreds of dollars on server-side statistical software to get any sort of idea of your website’s performance. These days, you can get more information than you’ll ever need for free by employing Google Analytics on your site.

If you’re not using this incredibly helpful tool, you’re missing out on an easy and efficient way to monitor and enhance the performance of your online presence.

Take your site’s performance and appeal to the next level by utilising some of Google Analytics’ most important features. Here are 14 of them that I find really useful:

1. Geographic Data

When you install Google Analytics on your website, you’ll be able to view detailed information about visitors based on their individual location. Armed with this knowledge, you can determine which markets deserve the majority of your focus and which ones are floundering.

2. Date Ranges

Google Analytics has features that allow you to easily compare performance between specific date ranges. This allows you to monitor the effects of your latest marketing adjustments so you can put more effort behind the ones that are working and less behind the ones that aren’t.

3. Keyword Source

Unless you have AWStats set up through your hosting platform, you’ll need Google Analytics to determine which keywords visitors are using to find your website. Armed with this critical knowledge, you can design marketing plans that target specific keyword phrases; you can also invest more of your money on AdSense campaigns associated with keyword phrases that have proven most successful in the past.

4. Funnel Visualisation

This technical term refers to the point where visitors click off a website. Google Analytics allows you to determine the weak points on your site that continuously bore visitors to the point of exiting. Armed with this knowledge, you can tighten up these flaws and keep your visitors engaged for longer periods of time.

5. Detailed Conversion Data

This feature provides information on where your sales or signups are occurring down to the region, town and neighborhood. This feature allows you to cultivate a marketing campaign directly suited to specific hotspots rather than broad ranging hit or miss plans.

6. Navigation Summary

This immensely helpful analysis tool helps you gauge the effectiveness of your navigation system by explaining in detail how visitors navigate between pages on your web site. Poor navigational structure can drastically affect a site’s performance. Google Analytics can help you hone your site’s performance so it’s easier for visitors to navigate through.

7. AdWords Integration

If you use Google AdWords to promote your site, Google Analytics will give you information on performance results that can help you construct better more profitable campaigns. Analytics can provide you with everything you need to know about costs and conversion ratios so you can better calculate your margin (revenue minus overhead).

8. Reports

If you work below or alongside others who require steady performance reports, Google Analytics can provide you with well-organised information that is easily consumed and pleasing to the eye. Formatting tools are relatively easy to learn and the resulting printed material can incorporate material in short summaries or extended, detailed sections. You can also export reports in PDF format.

9. Security

If your company is large enough to afford subordinates, Google Analytics allows you to set up rules and privileges for your staff. Simply set up a sub-account for your workers and restrict their privileges to read only.

10. Site Overlay

If you have trouble digesting long lists of numerical information, Google Analytics has an answer for you. The site overlay feature allows you to open your site in a separate window and hover over links to determine the number of times each is clicked and how many of those clicks result in a positive conversion. Google Analytics features many more tools like this that are well-suited for those who better consume information visually.

11. Click and Dump

Google Analytics’ “Bounce Rate” feature allows you to isolate meaningful clicks from garbage traffic that features lost or uninterested visitors who tend to dump the page as soon as it loads. If your site gains a large amount of traffic from landing pages, this feature will allow you to determine which ones invite useless traffic so you can eliminate those proving least productive.

12. Connection Speed Data

This is another feature recently announced by Google that can help you enhance the performance of your website. Google Analytics’s connection speed data will tell you which pages and graphics load the slowest. Combined with information from the Bounce Rate feature, you can determine which pages require tweaking for faster load time that won’t leave your visitors impatiently tapping their mouse pad.

13. Referrers

Google Analytics doesn’t just tell you how many visitors you are getting and how valuable that traffic is; it also tells you which websites are linking to you and how much traffic they are sending. This feature not only helps you formulate useful relationships with other websites, it enables you to determine which sites are poison to your overhead. For example, if you notice that a link to your site has landed on a high-traffic message board that continuously sends useless traffic to your site and drains your bandwidth, you can block visitors from that site and save a bundle in costly expenses.

14. Customisable Dashboard

This feature allows you to have information most pertinent to your website’s performance at the ready. For example, if you want to focus on the widgets that detail AdWords performance and keywords, simply click on the area that says “add to dashboard,” and these statistics will be ready where and when you need them without you havingto load the information every time you access Analytics.

Eliminating relatively useless information is just as easy. You can also drag and drop items in your dashboard so you can easily access information without having to waste time navigating through menus.

What are your favourite features of Google Analytics and why?  Share in the comments…

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Omar Kattan is Chief Strategy Officer at Sandstorm Digital, the MENA region's first specialist content marketing agency headquartered in Dubai. His experience includes 10 years in traditional marketing and advertising in the Middle East and a further 10 years at two of the largest media agencies in the UK. Follow Omar on Twitter for updates on the latest in digital, branding, advertising and marketing.

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