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Google Analytics (GA) can be a powerful tool. It can also be incredibly intimidating for new users. This guide is a compilation of VKI’s (now Cardinal Path) Google Analytics: Power User series, presenting an overview of several key features and uses of Google analytics—some basic, some advanced—and how you can use these features to analyze, interpret, and optimize your websites traffic. And as requested, we’ve provided the guide in PDF.  

Introduction: Setup

First things first. Before you can become a GA power user you need to have created a GA account and set it up properly on your website. This blog post will outline a step by step process to implement GA on your site. This in not an exhaustive checklist, but one that will get you up and running so that you can become a power user… read more>>  

The Site Overlay Report

When asking people what their favorite Google Analytics report is you will likely get a lot of different responses. On of the more common responses will likely be the Site Overlay report. Before jumping into who should use this report and what type of analysis should be done there are a couple of things that should be understood about this report… read more>>  

Visitors: Map Overlay

The Map Overlay report is found under the Visitors tab. Simply put, this report allows you to see (visually on a map) where your visitors are located and how visitors from different locations behave… read more>>  

Content: Top Content

Next up in the series of most useful Google Analytics reports is the Top Content report. The Top Content report is likely one of the first reports you will be looking at when assessing your website’s performance. This report gives you the following common per-page metrics… read more>>  

Ecommerce: Overview

If you have an Ecommerce website, then the Ecommerce: Overview Report will likely be one of the reports that you regularly review to assess where your revenue is coming from and how your campaigns are performing… read more>>  

Content: Site Search

If your site allows visitors to search your content to find what they are looking for, then the Content: Site Search Report should be enabled and configured. This report will likely be one of the reports that you regularly review to discover what people are searching for, uncover new terms for you paid search campaigns, refine the results your search tool is providing and learn about content that your visitors are looking for that you might not currently have (this can be treated as a form of market research)… read more>>  

Identifying and Setting up Goals

Next up in the Google Analytics Power User series is not a report, but instructions on how to identify and setup goals in Google Analytics. Step one, identify your site’s goals. Whether you are an ecommerce site, lead generation site, or a publishing site (even a blog), identifying your goals is one of the most important steps in the process of setting up your Google Analytics profile. You have invested time and money into the creation and maintenance of your site for a reason. What is that reason? The answers to this question should be reflected in your analytics as goals. Some examples of different goal types are… read more>>  

Goals and Funnel Visualization Report

Next up in the Google Analytics Power User series we will review path analysis using Google Analytics’ Funnel Visualization Report. When you went through the process of configuring the goals for your website you had the option of setting up or defining a funnel for your goals. Funnels are most applicable to goals that have a well defined path that a visitor will follow prior to completing the goal. Examples of this would be the shopping cart of an ecommerce site, or the steps in a web form prior to submitting it, or an online reservation system… read more>>  

Traffic Sources: All Traffic Sources

When you are deciding how to allocate your online dollars you will want to have a solid understand of how your campaigns have performed in the past. A great way to get a quick high level handle on this is with the All Traffic Sources Report. So let’s start with a couple of definitions. What do Source and Medium mean? read more>>  

Traffic Sources: AdWords

This report enables you to dive into and optimize the performance of your AdWords Campaigns like not other (No surprise that there is such a tight integration between Google’s AdWords and Google Analytics. One of the primary drivers for Google to give away there analytics products is to empower people to improve their websites so that they can more effectively and efficiently spend their ad dollars with Google. Smart move.)… read more>>  

Tracking Error 404 Pages and Broken Links

Time for something slightly different. Instead of your standard “out of the box” reporting, we’re using Google analytics to look at errors on your site. The most common of which will be the classic “Error 404”. Whether you are an ecommerce site, lead generation site, or publishing site (even a blog)… you will likely have the occasional technical problem with your site. Sometime your site may throw a 4XX (client error) or 5XX (Server Error). These errors are often created as a result of broken links within your site, so you will want to find them and fix them ASAP… read more>>  

Tracking Slow Loading Times

Did you know that Google Analytics can track how long it takes your web pages to load? Slow loading web pages frustrate users and provide a poor user experience. There are a bunch of different tools to help you measure the size of your web pages in kb but what you really want to know is on average how long it takes you user to load each of your pages (measured in milliseconds). Beyond that you want to know how the visitor’s connection speed is influencing page load times. … read more>>