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An Owner’s Guide to Google Analytics Dashboards
These days it seems like virtually every business uses Google Analytics to track their website activity; the trouble is none of the business owners ever look at any of the data. Why do you think that is? If you fall into this category, contact me directly and let me know! Not even the most naive business could possibly think that the act of simply installing Google Analytics improves website and online marketing performance… or could they?
So, why don’t more business owners regularly review their website data in Google Analytics?
I suspect that it’s because either:
- They’re busy putting out other fires and/or
- There’s just too much information and detail to sift through
Sound familiar? I feel your pain—some days, I’m right there with you.
But, if you own a business, you’re serious about growing it, you’re not regularly reviewing your Google Analytics data, and/or you’re not taking action on the information, you’re missing out—big time. Take 10 minutes to watch the video below. In it, I’ll show you how creating a custom dashboard for your business can help you cut through the morass of data in a standard analytics account. I’ll also throw out some of the questions I would be asking if I were in your shoes.
Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy:
Summary (not directly related to the video)
We used to have a saying at Blue Corona, “never venture into Google Analytics without a specific question.” When you’re not looking for something specific, it’s easy to waste time bouncing from chart to chart without really learning anything you can translate into improved website or business performance. As a business owner, the last thing you have is extra time.
So, before you venture into your Google Analytics account, you’re going to want to think of some very specific questions you have about your website and your website’s performance. With these in mind, you can then look into Google Analytics for answers or some insights that might lead to better questions. As a starting point, think about why your website exists.
No matter what type of business you have, here are two practically universal goals:
- Increase visibility (brand awareness) with prospective clients
- Generate qualified leads (grow your business)
When you first login to Google Analytics, it’s difficult to connect what you see with the goals above. The solution is to create a custom dashboard, which is exactly what I’ve done in the video above.
What to Put on Your Google Analytics Dashboard
Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but with power comes complexity. If you haven’t used Google Analytics on a regular basis, I’d recommend starting simple. You can create multiple dashboards, so avoid the temptation to include everything possible in the first one you create. Initially, I think it’s helpful to think about your website as if it were a sales funnel and think in ‘summary’ terms.
You want to see things like:
- How many qualified visits are coming to your site
- The number of visits becoming leads
- Which traffic sources and keywords are responsible for the visits/leads you’re receiving
- Which pages of your website are being viewed
Example: The Local Plumbing Company
Let’s say you own a local plumbing company serving residential customers in Maryland, Washington, DC, and Virginia. A lot of local companies often don’t realize that much of the website traffic they receive is from all over the world. If I owned a local plumbing company, one of the first things I’d do is filter my website analytics data to show me ONLY the people living within my service area. I’d also want to see the number of leads from within my service area.
To see this information, you just need to add a ‘widget’ like this to your dashboard:
Now, when you login to Google Analytics and click on your dashboard, you can quickly see how many visits to your site you’re receiving from people inside your service area and how many of these visitors turned into leads.
The output looks like this:
If you haven’t started marketing your website, consider the information you’re seeing baseline data. If you have an online marketing strategy in place, you should monitor these numbers closely. Numbers trending up might suggest that what you’re doing is working. Flat or downward trending numbers could indicate a problem or the need to adjust your strategy.
Your Top Traffic Sources
In order to get sales, you need to get leads. In order to get web leads, you need web traffic. You can learn a lot by regularly reviewing the websites and keywords responsible for the bulk of your traffic. These are also great places to start when you’re trying to improve your web results. In the top section of the screenshot at right, you see the top five websites responsible for sending traffic to your site.
Good questions to ask include:
- Am I doing anything to influence traffic from these sites?
- How well do I rank on Google, Bing, and Yahoo?
- What could be done as a test to increase my direct website visits?
In the lower half of the chart on the right, you see the keywords responsible for your traffic.
With this information, you might wonder:
- Are these keywords relevant to my business?
- Are these the most important / valuable keywords?
- Am I being found for these keywords because these are what people are searching or because these are the only keywords where my website is ranking on Google?
- How do I rank on Google for these keywords?
- If I ranked higher, how much more traffic could I generate?
Top Landing Pages
It used to be that all visitors to your site came in through your homepage. Today, this is no longer the case. Google doesn’t rank websites. Google ranks webpages. Which pages ranks first in the organic search results is a combination of relevancy and authority.
So, if you own a plumbing company and your website is well-optimized, someone searching, “drain cleaning services” would be much more likely to find your drain cleaning page (assuming you have one) vs. your homepage (unless your only service is drain cleaning—in which case, your homepage might outrank a more specific page).
The screenshot at left shows you the pages visitors used to enter your website. The page “/” refers to your home page (the homepage is also often indicated with /index and /index.html).
Relevant questions include:
- Are these the pages you would expect visitors to use to enter your website?
- What keywords did people use to find these pages?
- Where the keywords relevant to the page (and if so, why are my lead numbers so low)?
- How are these pages ranking organically for the keyword used to find them?
- Can I optimize the page to get it to rank higher or convert more visitors into leads?
Again, all of these questions can be answered using other reports contained within Google Analytics.
Traffic Is Great, But Leads are Better
I still talk to business owners that brag about all the “hits” they get to their website (not realizing that many in the web marketing world refer to hits as “how idiots track stuff”). There’s nothing wrong with focusing on increasing traffic to your website—especially if you’re just getting started with online marketing. However, at some point, you’ve got to shift your focus to leads (and eventually to sales).
In the video above, I’ve added a widget to our Business Owner Dashboard that highlights the which traffic sources and keywords that send us the most leads. Put in context with the rest of the information on the dashboard, questions should start popping into your head…
- Why aren’t more of my visitors converting into leads?
- What’s a good conversion rate for a local plumbing company?
- What’s an appropriate visit-to-lead conversion rate for a local plumbing company?
- What can I change about my website content to convert more visitors?
Each of the questions above can now be used as the basis for digging deeper into your Google Analytics account. For example, you could see what page the person searching “drain cleaning in olney md” reached and then review the content on that page. Maybe the searcher reached a main services page which only mentions drain cleaning in passing? Maybe it wasn’t clear to the searcher that you service Olney, MD?
Using analytics data to improve your marketing isn’t a passive, one-time project. It’s an ongoing process. You TRACK everything you can. Implement TESTS based on what you’d like to improve and TWEAK your next test based on the data.
Make Your Data Come to You
Over the last five years, there’s been an explosion of web services that you have to visit and login to. Remembering them all is a complete pain in the ass. Just keeping all my passwords straight is a full time job! Don’t worry. Google Analytics doesn’t have to become one more tool you have to remember to login to.
Once you have a dashboard built in Google Analytics, you don’t have to remember to check it. Google has a feature where you can have your data emailed to you on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. For business owners just getting started with Google Analytics, I recommend a PDF report sent once per month.
Next Steps & Setting Up Your First Dashboard
Hopefully, the video above and this blog post has changed your perception of Google Analytics. By creating a custom dashboard, you can quickly pull some awesome insights from your Google Analytics data and use the information to ask better questions and/or create better tests.
Need help setting up Google Analytics for your business or creating some dashboards customized to your unique needs? Drop us a line or let us audit your analytics set up and show you how to turn data into more leads and sales!
About The Author: Ben Landers is the President and CEO of Blue Corona, a data-driven, inbound internet marketing company. Submit an inquiry to book Ben to speak at your next conference or event.
View more blogs by Ben Landers