Google Analytics Best Practices: Plan Ahead

Google Analytics Best Practices: Plan Ahead

For many business owners, bloggers and social media marketers, analytics and other measurement tools are almost an afterthought and often forgotten entirely until they are faced with a situation in which they need to produce tangible results – and in order to do that, you need tangible data.

When setup correctly, Google’s new Universal Analytics can not only provide you with metrics such as the number of visits and page views, it can help you identify conversion problems on your website, assign dollar values to various social platforms, and allow you measure the impact of your brand’s social relationships over time. The most exciting feature is the ability to identify and track visitors across browsers, networks, devices, and believe it or not offline activity from systems such as call centers systems and loyalty cards.

Analytics Intelligence

Google Analytics’ Intelligence Reports and Custom Alerts can help you become aware of variations in your website’s traffic or other anomalies that you might otherwise have missed. These can be set up and aggregated by day, week and month and can be customized to send you an alert when traffic patterns reach a specific threshold that you specify.


Annotations let you leave a shared note right on the graph of your reports. These are extremely valuable to explain spikes in traffic and can act as a logbook for your marketing efforts and website changes. A launch of a new product, a website redesign, an email campaign and offline marketing are all examples of business activities that should be annotated so can later understand events that caused an increase or decrease in visits or conversions.

Webmaster Tools

Each of your properties should have a corresponding verified website in Webmaster Tools and be connected with your Google Analytics account so additional data can be available in your reports and can help with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO) efforts. The queries report is especially useful as it shows you the number of impressions your site showed in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for a given query, the number of clicks it received, the average position, and the Click Thru Rate (CTR).

Webmaster Tools will also allow you to check the “health” of your site by viewing crawl errors, index status and will help you optimize your site for search.

Custom Reporting

Custom Dashboards allow you to get a quick, organized, specific view of your data by grouping together info that is most relevant to your goals as well as providing each of your business groups with reports that are most useful for their needs. For example, a sales and marketing team may want reports showing leads, sales and conversion activity; a content marketing team may want to see content reports, SEO and social activity reports; while a tech team may be most interested in site performance and real-time reports.

Thank you to Marketworks Media for sharing seven custom dashboards that are easily customizable to meet most business needs.


By implementing Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools correctly and by determining your reporting needs in advance, you can define your business goals and key performance indicators (KPIs) in order to ensure that you have the reports you need, when you need them.

I recommend subscribing to the Google Analytics YouTube Channel as well as watch their June 7, 2013 webinar (below) “Measuring Success in a Multi-Device World” that discusses strategies and best practices.

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