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What Analytics Should I Be Tracking on My Website?

When someone asks me what analytics they should be tracking on their website, my answer is always the same—I rattle off 3-5 stats that are important for every website.*

But then I go further and ask, “What are your site’s goals?” Usually I’m met with a blank stare or the always insightful, “Um…uh…”

If I don’t know your goals, I can’t comment on what you should track. If you don’t know your goals, developing an effective marketing strategy will be virtually impossible.

Tracking Goals in Google Analytics

Determining Your Goals

Let’s start from the beginning. Whether you have an existing website, just built a new website, or are in the midst of creating a new site, you can—and should—establish goals.

You have business goals (I hope). Your website goals should align with those, but will likely be slightly different.

For example, one of Far Reach’s goals is to continue to grow our market geographically. To relate this business goal to a website goal, we could say:

By July 2015, we want to see a 20% increase in website traffic from outside Iowa, compared to our 2014 average.

If you’re an e-commerce store and you want to increase the average dollar amount of purchases from social media sites over the holidays, boom, easy:

Between November 28, 2014 and January 31, 2015, we want the average dollar amount of purchases from Facebook and Twitter to increase 35% from its current level of $58.50 to $78.97.

Now, of course, reaching that goal is a whole different blog post, but you can see the basic format of a SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound) goal.

Once you have your goals set, then what?

Google Analytics Lets You Track Your Goals

A novel idea isn’t it? While it would be great if Google could automatically figure out what your website’s goals are, it can’t…yet.

You have to understand what you consider a conversion before you can tell Google Analytics what to track. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you here because it depends on your goals.

Google Analytics Goals

Once you have goals set up, you’ll see your conversion rates on almost every report in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Won’t Let Me Track _______

Within the context of a website, I don’t think that statement can be true. With a little customization, you can track pretty much anything that happens on your site.

Of course, you have to have purposefully set up custom tracking…it doesn’t happen by accident.

Goals Are Your Guide Through Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a fabulous tool. But, it can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for. Even the out-of-the-box data is pretty robust, and when you consider all the possibilities of customized tracking, you could spend (dare we say waste) a lot of time digging through data.

Understanding your specific goals helps you stay focused and only spend time on the data that matters to you and your business.

If you ever find yourself staring blankly at the Google Analytics dashboard with no idea where to start—start with setting some goals.

Get More Out of Google Analytics

Want to learn more about using Google Analytics to measure your goals? I did a webinar on that very topic as part of Iowa Global Entrepreneurship Week.



*For those curious cats out there, the analytics I usually rattle off are:

  • Sessions (compared month to month)
  • Bounce Rate (compared month to month)
  • Top Traffic Sources
  • Top Pages
  • Conversion Rate