Over the years, the Nerds here at Jackrabbit have thoughtfully developed and evolved what we refer to as our “pre-launch checklist.”
It’s a checklist of “must-do’s” during every website redesign and covers things like security, SEO, and functionality. And one of the items we’ve deemed critical to the success of any website is the addition of Google Analytics’ tracking code.
I’m always surprised at how many of our clients do not already use Google Analytics or have it on their site but have never looked at the data (if a pageview registers in a Google Analtyics account and no one ever sees it, did it really happen?). And I get it – if you’ve never used it before, a first look at Google Analytics (GA from here) can feel a bit like taking the reins at a NASA control center.
So, here’s a quick guide to some resources that GA (and others) make available to make the task of leveraging GA for good (not evil!) less daunting.
There are tons of free resources available on the interwebs that teach you how to use GA’s tools. GA even has their own “Analytics Academy” with courses covering the fundamentals. A few that we think are the most helpful:
- Key Metrics and Dimensions Defined
- Setting Up Goals and Ecommerce
- The Google Small Business YouTube channel has compiled a useful playlist of GA videos that cover practical topics.
- Lynda.com also maintains their own library of tutorials
GA recently released a new tool that allows users to access real site data from an active business, so that they can learn without messing with their own site’s data. The Google Analytics Demo Account can be accessed by anyone with a Google account. When you log into the Demo Account, Google will automatically create a GA account for you (if you don’t already have one), so check that off your list! You can use and test all the features and metrics that will exist in your own GA account.
Use it! The last and most critical piece! In addition to resources for learning to use GA, there are thousands of tools out there to make actually using GA on a day to day basis easier (are we sensing a theme?).
My personal favorite elements are the custom report configurations. Not only can you customize the way you view GA so you can more easily see the numbers that are valuable to you, but the fabulous folks of the internet have made available crowd-sourced, pre-defined “templates” for dashboards and reports! These templates are filterable by priorities, like e-commerce, social, and campaigns. So handy!
So in conclusion: Google Analytics rocks, and numbers aren’t scary as scary as they seem. Take some time to get familiar, and then go forth and analyze!