This is a guest post by Lior Levin.
If you’re not using Google Analytics to track your site statistics yet, then you’re missing a trick. This awesome free tool from Google can really show you the ins and outs of what your site visitors are doing. The only trouble with Google Analytics is that it’s hard to get the best from it unless you really know what you’re doing. There are all kinds of tweaks you can make to make the information you get even more useful. Here are a few tips, we learned by hard word at TheApplicants, to get you started.
Put Your Code in the Right Place
You’re probably used to putting tracking code in the footer of your site’s template (or, if you’re using WordPress, in the footer.php file). Apparently you get much better results from Google Analytics if you put the code in the header.
The code is asynchronous, which means it won’t affect your site load times so there’s no need to worry about placing it there, and there’s an important benefit to be gained from the revised placement – since the code loads first, it will track any clicks that happen while the rest of your site is loading. If you’ve got an image-rich or slow site, keeping the code in the footer could mean that you miss out on tracking some of the actions your visitors take while waiting for loading to complete.
Use Those Filters
Filters are one of the great open secrets of Google Analytics. Many people don’t use them, but using filters could help you really drill down into your site metrics. You probably spend as much time as anyone else on your site or blog, but you don’t really want to track those visits. Putting in a filter could help you exclude your own visits from tracking.
The way to do it is this:
1. Add a filter, using the Exclude all traffic from an IP address setting.
2. Input the IP addresses you want to exclude, putting a backslash before each period.
Bam! You’re gone! See how simple that was?
Get (Almost) Instant Stats
One of the things that many people find annoying about Google Analytics is that by default it shows you stats up to the previous day. That’s not so useful if you want to react to what’s happening on your site today. Luckily, there’s a workaround. Click on the date box to get a calendar. Select the second box, then click on the last date that’s not grayed out. That will give you access to stats on what has happened on your site up to the last hour. Thanks to Hongkiat.com for the tip.
Finally, implement some custom reports so you can track the data that’s really important. Some of the best I’ve seen are on the Occam’s Razor site. The reports I’ve linked to let you find out how many people are actually engaged with your site and what they are actually doing when they get there. I especially like the ‘non-flirts’ report.
Make these four changes and you’ll be well on the way to getting great data from Google Analytics.
This was a post by Lior Levin who works for TheApplicants and also is an online consultant to a live chat support software company called iAdvize.