Google Analytics Tips and Tricks


This post is about Google Analytics (GA)– if you don’t have an account set it up now… How to Set Up Google Analytics.

Imagine that one day Google decided to go into politics and run for president/prime minister/clan leader of your local government. Knowing that most elections are won by whoever can dig up more dirty secrets about the other candidates, there’s only one way that would end:

Google analytics image

I, for one, welcome our new search engine overlords.

And it’s all thanks to Google Analytics – the single largest data gathering system on the web today. It’s free and it gives lots of information to website owners and managers – and if you know how to customise it this information can become even more useful.

The first thing you ought to do is set up filters and goals so you don’t count your own visits and get separate at-a-glance notifications about the results of your site.

The second thing to do after setting GA up is setting up automated alerts, so you don’t have to monitor your websites progress every day, but still get notified if something of interest happens.

Google Intelligence Alerts

Google Intelligence is easily found on your left hand side, when you login to your GA account and choose a profile.

Google Analytics - Intelligence Alerts Image

From here you can add custom alerts that will be sent to your email based on your requirements.

Here are some useful custom alerts that you can add right now (click the ‘add it’ link to add the alert to your GA account):

  • Analytics Flatlining

Probably the one must-have alert on any GA account – notifies you if/when your analytics code stops tracking;

Add it!

  • Traffic Drop

The second most important thing you’ll probably want to know about as soon as possible is a sudden drop in your tracked website’s traffic. You can set it up to compare with previous day, same day last week, last month or, as I’ve set it up, last week;

Add it!

  • Drop in Organic Traffic

Another thing you’ll want to be notified about is a decrease in traffic from search engines;

Add it!

  • Sudden Traffic Spikes

Enough with the drops and decreases – sudden traffic spikes are also worth tracking;

Add it!

  • Referrals Increase

Ever had a link to your site posted on a high traffic blog, news piece, twitter or facebook that you only discovered after a week or a month? Here’s an alert that will notify you of increases in referred traffic;

Add it!

That’s enough of alerts from me – you should have the basic knowledge about the possibilities of GA Intelligence by now to go in and do some experiments setting up customized alerts.

Advanced and Custom Segments

To further enhance the usefulness of the information you get from GA, there’s a function called ‘Advanced Segments’ that you can access on the upper right side of your GA interface.

Google Analytics - Advanced Segments Image

In most cases you can get useful insights when using the default segments like ‘Paid Search Traffic’, ‘Mobile Traffic’ or ‘Non-bounce Visits’, but the real value here is the ability to create your own custom segments, like:


  • Visitors That Spent Less Than 10 Seconds on Your Site

No matter what your website is about, it probably takes at least 10 seconds to classify a visitor a good one and the default ‘Non-bounce’ segment just counts visitors that have viewed more than one page. This segment is useful in weeding out the traffic sources that get you low quality visitors;

Add it!

  • Visitors That Spent More Than 10 Seconds on Your Site

As useful as knowing which sources bring you bad traffic, is knowing which sources bring you good traffic and what that traffic does on your site, so here’s a segment that would show longer staying visitors:

Add it!

  • Bounces

This segment shows all visits that are bounces. Useful for having absolute numbers rather than just a bounce rate for landing pages.

Add it!

  • Excluding Traffic from a Medium

Let’s say you want to see traffic from all sources, except your PPC campaigns – with the default segments you can deduce it by subtracting the Paid Search segment from All Visits segment. Not very productive, is it? Here’s a segment that does just that and you can customize it to fit your needs:

Add it!

  • Other Segment Examples

The segments listed above are the ones that I use frequently across all of my managed accounts, but there are many that I just create and delete or use just occasionally. It’s very useful and gives lots of information when you pinpoint a specific set of parameters, like:

Mobile Users from London

Actual Site Users

Track Image Traffic (Rachael from Seer Interactive)

I strongly recommend setting up custom segments yourself, as the real value with them is the ability to track very specific groups of visitors. They are also useful for GA Intelligence alerts, as you can set up an alert ‘Drop in Mobile Users from London’ for example.

To sum up – Google Analytics may just give you general info or it can be the best web tracking platform, if you set it up correctly.

We will follow this blog up with another post on a number of custom filters that we use regularly that can be very beneficial.

We hope you found this post intersting and informative.

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