While there are a lot of web analytics software solutions available, most webmasters end up choosing Google Analytics. Of course, there are other options. For example, Piwik is worth mentioning. And there are reasons not to choose Google Analytics. However, in terms of balancing cost, functionality, and ease-of-use, Google Analytics is tough to beat.
As you might imagine, it would be impossible for me to teach you everything you need to know about Google Analytics in a single blog post. (Plus, Google provides a ton of great educational resources on analytics.) Instead, I want to give you what I think are some of the most important things to understand about using Google Analytics.
Before I share some of my law firm-specific Google Analytics tips, I would be remiss if I didn’t share this excellent resource from Simply Business:
(via Simply Business)
This is just a graphical representation of the resource they’ve compiled. I strongly encourage you to click on the image above to open the interactive version.
Assuming you’re beyond the basics and want to put your GA knowledge to the test, try studying for and passing the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (IQ) test.
Traffic Sources and Advanced Filtering
If you forced me to break down what I think are the two most important things to learn about analytics, I would be forced to choose traffic sources and advanced filtering.
Traffic sources tell you about how people are finding your site.
Traffic sources are generally broken into four major types:
- Search (organic and paid)
Understanding traffic sources is critical to understanding what’s working and what’s not working in terms of getting people to your site. Furthermore, it’s your best protection against deceptive analytics reporting. It’s unfortunate how many times I talk to lawyers who have been misled about their “real” traffic.
After traffic sources, the next most important thing to get a handle on is probably filtering.
Filtering allows you to include or exclude certain segments of your traffic. For example, if you are a personal injury attorney who only handles cases in a particular state and you want to zoom in on your most targeted traffic (i.e. relevant searches in your state), you may want to filter out all traffic from other states and include only traffic that contains particular keywords.
This is a really good way to audit your online marketing strategies. If you find that you’re not getting a lot of target traffic in the state(s) in which you practice, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that you’re not getting a lot of inquiries from your website.
Filtering can also provide insight into the effectiveness of your reputation development initiatives. By creating a filter that only includes search engine traffic for your name or firm name, you can see whether or not people are “looking you up” by name online.
Are you using Google Analytics on your site? What has been your experience? Have a specific Google Analytics question? Don’t hesitate to post it in the comments below. Let’s see if we can get you an answer.