Google Analytics is a very useful free tool for tracking site statistics. For most users, however, it never becomes more than just a pretty interface with interesting graphs.
Tagging and tracking can be an important way to segment and understand user behaviour on your website.
Google Analytics offers lots of ways to do this, but finding out how to do it isn’t always so obvious. Knowing a little bit more about your visitors allows you to make better more informed decisions and ultimately provide a better site to your visitors. There are multiple ways that you can segment, track, and tag site visitors that are not so obvious “out of the box”.
1. Tagging links to know what media delivered them
There are some custom variables that you can set on your links to provide additional tracking capabilities in Google Analytics. ROI Revolution has created a great Destination URL Builder that will help you quickly turn your URL into a fully tagged and ready to go URL that will provide more meaning about your visitors in Google Analytics.
Your end user will never see all this because all they do is click on the link and go to the page, but this provides much more information to us about how this user found out about this page. This is a great tactic for understanding visitors who come from email marketing, snail mail (through a shortened URL and 301 redirector of which I’ll discuss in more detail soon), and other off site links coming to your site.
Example with this LinkedIn campaign I might have additional sources of email marketing, campus posters, snail mail postcards, newsletters, and social networks. Then because each have a specific tracking parameter tagged to the URL I can then see which campaign was the most beneficial.
2. Tracking downloads and Off Site Links
Sometimes you need to track things besides pages on your site. For example you would like to track a PDF downloaded on your site. Maybe something important like your college viewbook?
The trackPageview variable can really include any directory or definition that you choose.
Keep in mind that you can use this onClick call to track a lot more than pdf downloads. If you want to track how many clicks to an external link (say you have an intranet that is on a different domain that you want to track traffic too or have an external campus bookstore) then you can also use this variable. Same for any sort of documents including videos.
As I mentioned make sure that you keep it monitored in a friendly organized way. Maybe for videos you keep them all in a “streaming-media” directory or external links in an “off-site” directory to help make them easy to find.
3. Segmenting Audience
If you are wanting to segment your visitor type to better understand what a specific audience type does on your site this variable can come in very handy. With the link code you simply send them to a page and assume that anyone who visits that page is going to be in the segmented audience.
So there you have it three easy ways to make your analytics data that much more valuable to you. Of course, if this is your first time with Google Analytics these tips are probably not that useful to you without some basic Google Analytics setup tips.