5 Most Under-Utilized Google Analytics Features

By Ivy Lustig | Jan 8, 2016
More Articles by Ivy

I love Google Analytics. I am constantly using it throughout the day to analyze data and get updates on campaign performance. It’s the best. I’ve noticed recently that there are quite a few aspects of Google Analytics that I find super helpful and awesome, but I don’t hear many other people talking about taking advantage of them. So, I thought I’d share with you what I think are some under-utilized hidden gems of Google Analytics.

1. Verify Your Conversion Tracking with Pageviews

Sometimes it’s hard to know if you have conversion tracking set up correctly in AdWords. Maybe you just realized that your code was screwed up and you’re freaking out because you’ve been losing data for months. Don’t panic, there’s a super simple solution: You can check pageviews for the page that contains your AdWords conversion code! Go into your Google Analytics account and with your segment set to AdWords traffic, then go into the Behavior reports section (left-hand navigation) and select “All Pages” under Site Content. Then in the search bar put the URL of the page containing the conversion code, such as a thank you page. For example, if I wanted to check conversions for a white paper the URL might be something like “/white-paper-download.”

Then all you have to do is look at pageviews associated with that page, and voila, you have data!

2. Find Your Top Content Pieces

It’s always important to know what your top pieces of content are on your site since these are the main traffic drivers. It could be a super old blog post that you had no idea was amazing and bringing in more traffic than your home page. These things are essential to know! To find out what your top content is simply go back into the Behavior reports section, and select “All Pages” under Site Content. From there, sort pageviews from largest to smallest and check out what comes out on top. If there are clear winners, this can help you in knowing what content to create moving forward to continue driving more site visitors.

3. Run Experiments

Since there’s always a new landing page or messaging to try out to keep improving your results, experiments are a necessity in marketing. Google Analytics makes it very easy to set up and keep track of experiments. Under the Behavior reports section, choose “Experiments.”

Then click “create experiment.” From there, you can set all kinds of parameters to the experiment to customize it however you would like, such as the objective, the percentage of traffic to use, etc. Then you put in the information for your original page and the page(s) you’d like to test against it. You’ll have to put Google Analytics Experiments code on the original page in order for the experiment to start. This code has to be placed immediately after the opening head tag on the original page. Once you’ve verified that the code is correctly in place, your experiment will start. Google makes it easy to check the status of the experiment at any time and shows you the data which you can see in the screen shot below. You can find out more details about experiments here.

4. Dashboards

Dashboards are wonderful for viewing your most important data fast and all together. Not sure what one looks like? Below is an example of a simple dashboard:

They are very easy to set up. Although, it can be time consuming depending on how many you set up and how many widgets you choose to add. To get started, go to the left hand navigation bar and select “Dashboards.” Then click “+ New Dashboard.”

From there, you can select to either start with a completely new dashboard or go with Google’s pre-made dashboard which contains data like sessions, users, new users, etc.

Whichever you choose to make, they are totally customizable. You have the ability to add widgets for any metric that you want to view, such as sessions or page views. You can also add filters and view your data in different visuals like pie charts, tables, etc. The best part is you can set your dashboard to contain whatever data you need.

5. Annotations

Annotations are one of my favorite features of analytics. If you’re not sure what I’m talking about, annotations allow you to mark specific dates in analytics when events took place. They are also helpful in keeping track of changes you make your website, like if you have a brand new site launch or you want to make a note about when a new Google Algorithm update happened. Annotations will help you in the future in analyzing your data. If there are notable increases/decreases, you’ll want to know why they happened, i.e. two years down the road, you may not remember the specific date you relaunched your site.

To create one, all you have to do is click on the arrow below the date line (see above), then select “+ create new annotation.” From there, you can put the specific date to mark, whether it’s the current day or something that happened in the past. Then, give a short description explaining the event, select whether you want it private or shared and then save. You’ll then see your annotation along the date line.


Have more things that you love about Google Analytics? Share them below or tweet me @ivy_lustig!

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