Google Analytics… what would we do without it?!
The free web analytics service offered by Google has been the Webmaster analysis tool of choice for many years now.
But as many of us know, this treasure trove of information provided by Google won't get us far if we're making mistakes along the way, as far as taking in - and interpreting - the actual GA data.
Most of us at some point probably believe this to be a pretty easy task. But it’s not always.
Interpreting Google Analytics data (and interpreting it correctly) can be especially tricky when it's not something you're accustomed to doing often.
Statistics are like Bikinis. What they reveal is suggestive, but what they conceal is vital - Aaron Levenstein
… and the same can be said about analysis tools for Webmasters.
Are you approaching your GA analysis in a correct manner?!
Today, we take a look at the 6 most common mistakes Webmasters make when reviewing their Google Analytics data.
1 - Analyzing only one data type
Sounds like an obvious thing to steer clear of, right? Well, not for everyone!
Far too often it seems we have a tendency to focus on only one or two data types, rather than the whole picture.
Maybe we're just drawn to the data we're most used to reviewing, the data WE THINK is only relevant to our traffic, or maybe we're just reluctant to explore other areas of Google Analytics.
Either way, it’s a mistake many Webmasters make.
Google Analytics is beyond detailed; site owners can only benefit from taking it all in and reviewing anything and everything that could help paint a clearer picture about one’s traffic.
Sadly, you just can’t get all the information you need when you limit your analysis scope.
2 - Spotting the fluctuations, but ignoring the long-term view
We can’t hammer home this point enough: look at trends, not short-term fluctuations.
Spikes in web traffic occur all the time; therefore, they are not an accurate gauge on failure or success.
You want to analyze and measure X-number of months of data to really get a good feel for overall trends.
3 - Comparing apples to oranges
There are some things that can be compared, and other things that simply shouldn’t be.
For example: you wouldn’t want to compare Tuesday traffic to Saturday traffic.
In the adult industry, historically, these days can be very different. Again, historically speaking, people tend to visit adult sites more actively during the weekend.
To the same point, you wouldn’t compare winter traffic to summer traffic…
Japanese traffic to Australian traffic… and so on.
Therefore, the biggest mistake webmasters can make in terms of data comparisons is not taking these factors and vast differences into account.
You need to compare relevant stats (the apples to the apples themselves) to measure the change that actually matters and counts. Otherwise, comparing two different metrics will lead to downright bad / useless information.
4 - Not tracking your campaigns
Last year, we wrote at length about the importance of trackers in campaigns.
Therefore yep, you guessed it. We deem not tracking your campaigns Mistake #4.
TRACKING YOUR CAMPAIGNS IS PARAMOUNT!
If Google allows you to generate custom campaigns, why not take full advantage of it?!
As far as custom campaign trackers go, the kind people at Google want you to be able to analyze your Analytics data successfully and efficiently.
That's why they let you use trackers and parameters in your URLs, such as -- Campaign Source, Campaign Medium, Campaign Term, Campaign Content, and Campaign Name.
For more information and examples on how to use each of these parameters, refer to this.
5 - Not realizing the difference between Pageviews and Unique Pageviews
We're sure most of our loyal readers know the difference at this stage, but believe it or not, many people still misinterpret Pageviews and Unique Pageviews when reviewing their traffic stats in Google Analytics.
They may sound like the same thing, but they're not.
|A pageview is defined as a view of a page on your site that is being tracked by the Analytics tracking code. If a user clicks reload after reaching the page, this is counted as an additional pageview. If a user navigates to a different page and then returns to the original page, a second pageview is recorded as well.
|A unique pageview, as seen in the Content Overview report, aggregates pageviews that are generated by the same user during the same session. A unique pageview represents the number of sessions during which that page was viewed one or more times.
More Google Analytics terms defined clearly here.
6 - Not segmenting data, only checking overall numbers
We totally get it: there’s just something very appealing about looking at the big picture; it kind of makes you think you’ve figured it all out regarding your site’s performance in that tidy little view.
However, if you’re not segmenting your data, you’re missing out on a pivotal Google Analytics tool. And as we wrote earlier, you just can’t compare apples and oranges.
Thankfully, Google offers plenty of ways to segment your data with their segment builder.
You'll find that isolating subsets of your Analytics data can be a tremendous help.
The key is breaking down all your Google Analytics visitor data into manageable chunks.
Google Analytics provides such a wealth of information… Confusion at first is only normal!
Your success as a web marketer is in a constant state of flux.
Much of this success hinges on how well you objectively measure the data that comes your way on a day-to-day basis. Google Analytics is a Godsend for this reason.
As we all know, these common mistakes can hinder our success and growth along the way. But with so much information at our fingertips, who wouldn’t get a little confused at first?!
Once you've grown accustomed to the Google Analytics platform, these mistakes will become few and far between. The more familiar you become, the more data you will get and learn from!