Google Analytics is a vital tool for any website owner. It allows you to see what content is performing well and what elements of your site are not performing as well, so you can make necessary adjustments. While the default settings are adequate for basic tracking, there are simple steps you can take to leverage the full power of Google Analytics for your website.
Tracking Code Inclusion
If you haven't already, add the tracking code to your website. Correct placement is directly after the opening <head> in your code, on every page you want to track (you'll typically want it on every page of your website).
Set Up Views With Filters
Analytics automatically created an unfiltered view called "All Web Site Data" when you set up your Analytics property. To see this, click on "Admin" in the left navigation then click "View Settings" under View. Change the View Name to "Raw Data" so you know this view is the one with unfiltered data, then click Save.
Next, you will want to create a "Test View" view. The purpose of creating this view is so you can test filters out on this view first before applying the filters to your master view. It is vital to do it this way, because once you apply filters, any data that is filtered out cannot be added back in later if the filter is removed. So you could potentially lose a lot of data if you configured your filters incorrectly.
To create the view, click on the view selector pull-down menu at the top left of the page then click "Create new view." Enter "Test View" into the View Name field, select a relevant time zone, then click "Create view."
Click on "View Settings" once again under View. Check the box for "Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders" so you can filter out bot traffic, then click Save.
Now create the "Master View" view. This is the view that you will use to do all of your reporting and analysis. To do this, simply click "Copy view" at the top right of the page. Enter "Master View" into the View Name field and click "Copy view" to confirm the view creation. Copying a view ensures that all of the same filters/settings carry over into the view you're creating.
Note: If you delete a view, you have 35 days to restore it!
Adding Additional Filters to Your View
You now have three views – one for backing up your data, one to test new analytics configurations, and one for your daily reporting and analysis – and are ready to start adding filters.
Select "Test View" from the view selector on the top right of the page under View, then click "Filters."
Click "Add Filter" and name it "Exclude Internal Traffic." Since excluding data by IP address is common, Analytics provides a predefined filter for that, so leave the type as "Predefined." "Custom" filters would allow you the flexibility to design a filter to include, exclude or modify data which isn't available under Predefined (e.g. include/exclude hits from your data collection, format data to lowercase/uppercase, search & replace data collected in the hit).
Click "Select Filter Type" then "Exclude" then "Select source or destination" then "traffic from the IP addresses" then "Select expression" then "that are equal to." Now you can enter your IP address in the IP address field. You can find your IP address by Googling "what is my IP." Save your filter.
It will take some time for the filter to catch all of the traffic. Usually it takes about half an hour, but sometimes it can take several hours. To test that the filter is excluding internal traffic click on the "clock" (Real Time) on the left hand navigation then click "Overview." With this open visit your website and click around, then go back to the Real Time reports page. Right now it may still show you as an active user. Watch this over the next 30 minutes and you should see your user disappear.
Once you have verified this is working on the "Test View," apply the filter to your "Master View." Click on Admin then select "Master View" from the view selector on the top right of the page under View, then click "Filters." Select the radio button for "Apply existing Filter" and select the filter from the list that pops up, then Save.
If you have more than one filter on a view, be mindful of the fact that filters are applied to the view in the order they appear in your filter settings.
Filter for Mobile Only Traffic
You can have a maximum of 25 views per property. An example of another type of view you could have is a view that shows only data from Mobile traffic. On this view you could add a Custom Filter. Name this Filter "Mobile Only" then select "Custom" for the filter type then "Include" and "Device Category" and "Mobile" then Save the filter.
Now that you have your views and filters set up, you will be able to track user behavior and engagement on your website. The next step would be to create goals for your Analytics. Goals can help you see how many people are filling out your contact form, calling you from a click-to-call link, purchasing products, and more. You may want to wait to see how your site is performing in certain areas before you realize the goals you would like to set up.
Once you have gathered enough data, you can start viewing reports on your data to get a better sense of how users engage with your website.
Cohort Analysis Report – analyze specific groups of users and their behavior
Pages Report – see which pages get the most traffic and highest engagement
Behavior Flow Report – visual representation of the pages users entered your website on
Frequency & Recency Report – (under Behavior) shows the percentage of traffic that's visited before
Goal Flow Report – used to determine where users enter or exit the conversion funnel
Benchmarking Report – enables you to compare your data with anonymized aggregated industry data from other companies who have shared their data
Learn more with Google's Analytics Academy