A Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics

A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics featured image

Are you making the most out of the data you can get about your website from Google Analytics (GA)?

The free tool gives you valuable insights into metrics like conversion rates, traffic sources, engagement, audience demographics, and more.

Let’s learn what GA is and how to use it to improve your website’s metrics.

What Is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free tool to track user behavior on your website. With a range of metrics to explore, you can start to get a picture of how people use your website and how you can make changes to increase sales.

On a basic level, you can track how many visitors you have, how they found you, the number of views a page receives, and more.

In many ways, Google Analytics is the portal giving you insider, back end, and real-time access to what your users want.

Why Should You Use Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is the most powerful tool to track website metrics, and it comes from the king of search engines. On top of that, it’s free.

Although it takes some work to get set up, there are plenty of online tutorials and resources to walk you through the process. Once you get Google Analytics connected to your site, you can head to the Google Analytics dashboard and start checking things out. It can’t go back in time, though, so you will have to wait for data to gather.

Google Analytics can free you from relying on gut checks and intuition and instead tell you what pages and which content hit the mark or fall short. In this way, you can make informed choices.

The Basic Google Analytics Interface

Once you set up your Google Analytics account, you can connect different URLs and choose which one to explore from the drop-down.

The first thing Analytics shows is basic traffic data, including dates. You can alter the dates based on your needs.

On the left side of the screen, Google Analytics provides a list of report options. This is where you can start to get into the details.

The Basic Google Analytics Interface

On the far right, there’s a blue box with real-time metrics showing how many people are on the site, how many pages are viewed per minute, and the most popular pages to view. You can then click on the blue box to learn more about the data.

If you’re looking for something specific, just type it into the handy search bar.

Google Analytics Interface

As you scroll down, you can check out different analytics, including where your users come from and what devices they use.

Common Metrics Tracked With Google Analytics

There are many metrics you can track using Google Analytics.

No matter which type you focus on, you need to choose a time frame for your data. This way, you can check a specific timespan against prior spans to see what’s changing and if what you’re doing is working.

As you analyze the data, try to remember what your marketing goals are. Otherwise, you may get overwhelmed by the whirlwind of numbers.

Let’s look at some of the most popular metrics just to get you started.

Tracking Visitors With Google Analytics

Tracking visitors shows who’s visiting, how many visitors you have, and what they’re doing on your website. This includes factors like bounce rates and session durations.

These metrics are anonymous and vague. You can’t gather personal details for specific visitors to your website.

To dig deeper, you can go to the “Audience” section of Google Analytics.

Tracking Traffic Sources With Google Analytics

Another powerful metric Google Analytics can provide is traffic sources. It answers the question, “how are people finding my website?” You can find this information under the “Acquisition” tab.

For instance, you can find out how much traffic comes from social media, Google Ads, and the Google Search Console. Knowing where your visitors are coming from and what they do once they get to your site can help you know where to focus your marketing efforts.

Tracking Content With Google Analytics

Google Analytics can help you understand how well different pieces of content perform by tracking user behavior. For example, are they visiting certain pages more often than others? Is on-page time higher on some types of content? This can help you determine what works and what doesn’t, which you can use to inform future content creation and marketing choices.

You can find this information under the “Behavior” section.

Tracking Conversions With Google Analytics

Let’s get down to brass tacks here. Are people buying (or doing whatever else you want them to do) once they land on your website? That’s what conversion metrics on Google Analytics can tell you.

These metrics are not automatically generated like the previous ones. Instead, conversion analytics requires you to set goals, typically using the pages visitors are directed to once they convert. Telling Google Analytics to follow users to these final pages can provide more specific information about how people are getting there, how many are converting, and more.

Track Mobile Performance

As mobile use becomes the norm, you may want to see how well your website performs on mobile devices.

These metrics can be found in the “Audience” section under “Mobile.” Here, you can see website metrics broken down by device categories. For example, if you find certain device users are spending less time or money on the site, look into how your site looks and behaves on that type of device.

Creating Custom Reports

As you get a handle on following your website’s metrics, you may find you need custom Google Analytics reports. Custom reports can help you check specific metrics more efficiently, using apples-to-apples comparisons between periods, campaigns, and more.

These custom reports may help when presenting information to your department, organization, leadership, or investors thanks to the hard numbers you can compare and the visual reports you can run. Of course, not everyone may fully understand what you do, but many are likely to understand the basics of what these numbers and graphs mean.

Other Common Google Analytics Functionality and Uses

Google Analytics is constantly rolling out new features that may help you meet your marketing goals. Let’s dive into a few.

Learn What People Are Searching for on Your Site

If you have a lot of content on your website, you may have a search function available to users. Knowing what people type into that search function can help you understand why visitors are on your site, allowing you to plan for and create more relevant content.

Under the “Behavior” area, click “Site Search” to view this information.

Identify Your Worst Performing Pages

Is there content on your website that’s just not performing? Then, you may benefit from optimizing those pages for SEO, deleting useless content, or creating entirely new work.

To learn which pages are not performing, go to “Behavior,” then “Site Content.” From there, click on the arrow to reorder the pages by popularity. This shows which pages get the fewest views. Do with that information what you will—though perhaps consider finding a cause before throwing the page into the abyss.

Find Where People Abandon Their Shopping Carts

People abandoning shopping carts while shopping is a typical e-commerce problem. If you can find where visitors are dropping off your website, you can make improvements to help convert them.

First, set up your goals using a sales funnel. Include each step of your check-out process, including cart, check-out, shipping, and confirmation, in the pages you plan to monitor. Then, click to “visualize your funnels” to see how people behave as they move through the funnel.

You may see a pattern regarding when people abandon carts begin to emerge and make updates accordingly.

See Your Most Important Analytics First

As we talked about above, Google Analytics places many of the most common analytics on the dashboard. However, you can set up a custom dashboard to see exactly what you need. Under the “Customization” tab, find the link for “Dashboards.” You can use a dashboard template or create your own.

How to Create Custom Reports in Google Analytics

Google Analytics makes it easy to create custom reports for your own use or presentations.

  1. First click on “Customization,” then click on “Custom Reports

    google analytics - custom reports

  2. Click on “+ New Custom Report” to get started

    You can name your custom report, as well as each tab you want to create if you want different variables in the same report.

  3. Choose what you want to create the custom report to report on, including overarching metrics you can choose from a dropdown, more specific dimensions, and filters to fine-tune your data thoroughly.

    If you scroll over the question mark in the dropdown, you can learn more about each choice.Google Analytics - information about each metric

  4. Click on whether you want to see all views or limit them.

    Start with all, if you’re not sure. Now click “Save.” You’ll be taken to a page with the data automatically. From here, you can save, export, share, or edit the report.
    If you save it, you can find this report under “Saved Reports.”Google Analytics Report
    To rerun this custom report, go to “Custom Reports.”

Google Analytics Basics FAQs [wp editor: add schema]

What are some basic things you can do with Google Analytics?

Google Analytics can give you information about who visits your website, how many views your website receives, which content is the most popular, and more.

What is the best way to learn Google Analytics?

You can learn more about the basics of Google Analytics from Google themselves.

What is a Google Analytics tracking code?

Google Analytics uses a tracking ID, which you place in the code of your website or a plugin to allow Google to receive information about your website.

How much does it cost to use Google Analytics?

Most of the benefits of Google Analytics are free, though you can choose to purchase upgrades.

What is the benefit of using Google Analytics?

Google Analytics provides in-depth information on how well your website is performing.

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Basics of Google Analytics Conclusion

Google Analytics provides nearly endless amounts of information about your website’s data. Once you set up Google Analytics on your website, you can access metrics covering nearly every part of your customers’ journeys.

You can create custom reports to analyze how well your strategies work. This may help you make informed changes to your website, which may, in turn, draw even more people to your brand and via your analytics-driven marketing strategy.

What’s your favorite Google Analytics feature?

7 Link Shortener Alternatives to Goo.gl

7 Link Shortener Alternatives to Goog.gl - featured image

When you’re trying to drive traffic to your website and generate new leads, the goal is to make your content as attractive as possible. After all, with so much competition out there, it’s important you stand out from the crowd and grab someone’s attention right away, right? 

The answer’s yes!

Just like you spend time and energy creating visually appealing content for users to enjoy, you shouldn’t forget the finer details: namely, your links.

Yes, really. URLs matter. Let me show you why link shortening is worth your time and what link shoortening alternatives to Goo.gl are worth trying.

What Is Link Shortening?

Link shortening takes longer links, with their confusing combination of numbers, letters, and special characters, and turns it into a short, readable link.

Here’s an example from NASA’s Twitter feed. The link is only a few characters long, it contains the NASA branding, and it’s clear where the link redirects to:

Link Shortener Alternatives to Goo.gl - Example from NASA Twitter Feed

Here’s another example. When you click the link, it takes you to a YouTube video. The destination is fairly clear from the short link (youtu.be) even though it’s unbranded, meaning there’s no mention of NASA’s name in the link:

Link Shortener Alternatives to Goo.gl - Example of NASA YouTube Video

The original “longer” link looks like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Mqsd0ru_pc

Which one do you think looks more attractive on a website or social media post? Which one would you be more likely to click on?

Chances are, it’s the first option, and the reality is, your potential customers feel the same way.

Why Should You Use a Link Shortening Tool?

OK, so that’s how link shortening works, but is it worth your time? Here’s a bit more detail.

In most cases, URL shortener tools also track how many people click your links. You can track who clicked your link to calculate the success of ad campaigns or content marketing strategies you’re running. From a marketing perspective, link shorteners are invaluable.

It’s also ideal for social media posts, where you might have a limited number of characters to convey your message. Shortening URLs and focusing on content makes it easier to engage your followers.

Finally, short URLs are more attractive. They’re easier to read and make your content more user-friendly. You can also create branded links with URL shorteners to reinforce your brand message at the same time.

Since great marketing is all about creating a great experience for your customers and building awareness, short URLs are a crucial tool.

To be clear, it’s not always worth shortening URLs. For example, if you’re just linking from one page on your website to another, there’s no need to shorten the link.

If you need help figuring out which links to shorten and which ones to leave alone, check out my consulting services.

How Did Goo.gl Work?

Google’s own URL shortening tool, Goo.gl, launched back in 2009.

At first, it only worked with Google applications, meaning you could only shorten URLs for the Google toolbar. However, Google made the tool available to the public in 2010, which made it simpler for all website owners to access and use.

Goo.gl offered a simple means to create shorter, more readable URLs. All you had to do was input your long URL and Goo.gl generated a smaller URL without lines of extra characters:

Link Shortener Alternatives to Goo.gl - How Did Goo.gl Work

You didn’t need a Google or G Suite account to create a one-off URL, either. However, if you wanted to keep track of all your custom URLs, you could create an account and view all your shortened links at a glance:

Link Shortener Alternatives to Goo.gl - Screenshot of Simplifying Links with Goo.gl

Website owners could also track how many people clicked the shortened URL, which helped with marketing strategy creation:

Link Shortener Alternatives to Goo.gl - Website owners could track how many people clicked the shortened URL

Why did Google shut down Goo.gl, though? Put simply, Goo.gl wasn’t designed for anything other than desktop browsing. As browsing habits changed and it became more common for people to access the web through mobile devices or apps, Google realized the tool just wasn’t flexible enough to stay competitive.

The answer? Firebase Dynamic Links, or FDL, which replaced Goo.gl back in 2019. As we’ll see in a moment, FDL improves upon Goo.gl in a few ways, although it’s not the only URL shortening tool worth considering.

7 Goo.gl Replacements

There are many other link shortening tools out there, so how do you choose the right one for your needs? To help you narrow your search, here are seven promising alternatives to Goo.gl you can try right now.

1. Firebase Dynamic Links

Since Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL) replaced Goo.gl, it’s a good tool to start with if you’re focusing on app creation and development.

Firebase works similarly to Goo.gl, since you’re still creating short URLs. However, these URLs are no ordinary links: they’re “smart” links, or Dynamic Links.

When a user clicks on a FDL link, they’re directed to exactly where you want them to go in your Android or iPhone app… even if they don’t already have the app installed. They simply download the app and the right page loads automatically.

Cool, right?

It doesn’t matter whether they click through from a desktop browser or mobile device, either. They will be directed to a compatible version of your website, so there’s no need for you to generate different URLs for each platform.

If you’re focusing on app-based marketing, definitely consider FDL. There’s a free plan available, although the paid plan has some nice features.

2. Rebrandly

Do you want to create unique branded links using custom domain names? Then Rebrandly could be for you.

Trusted by global brands like IBM and Shopify, Rebrandly is more than just a URL shortening tool. It’s a link management platform designed to help you build entire marketing campaigns around branded links in just a few clicks.

Without leaving your browser, you can create and share links across over 100 integrated apps including Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Plus, you can measure your campaign results from the dashboard.

Link Shortener Alternatives to Goo.gl - Rebrandly

It’s free to sign up, but paid packages start at just $29 per month, which gives you access to more detailed metrics and a larger number of branded links. If you’re looking for an enterprise-level solution for larger teams, reach out to Rebrandly for a custom quote.

3. Ow.ly

If you’re already using Hootsuite, Ow.ly is worth a look.

You can shorten any link posted to social media right from the Hootsuite dashboard. This lets you view everything from your campaign ROI to your link metrics at the same time. There’s no need to switch between different tools (unless you’re also using other platforms like Google Analytics.)

Ow.ly comes free with every Hootsuite account, too, so you don’t need a paid subscription to benefit from the tool. Sounds good, right?

All that said, Ow.ly’s only available to Hootsuite users, so it’s not the right tool for everyone, but it’s worth a try if you already use Hootsuite.

4. Bitly

For enterprise-grade link management, consider Bitly, one of the most comprehensive tools out there.

With Bitly, you’re not just creating short, branded links. You’re turning those links into valuable marketing tools. Bitly offers some of the most in-depth campaign management tools available to help you track everything from clicks to organic shares.

It’s a useful tool for tracking customer journeys without hopping between different CRMs, making it ideal for larger companies looking to track data and grow their campaigns efficiently. You can even generate QR codes to engage customers and drive sales.

What’s more, Bitly is trusted by the likes of Amazon, Disney, and Gartner, so you know it’s a platform that delivers on its promises! Packages start at $29 per month.

5. TinyURL

No roundup of link shortening tools is complete without TinyURL, the very first program of its kind:

Link Shortener Alternatives to Goo.gl - TinyURL

You don’t need an account to shorten one or two short URLs. To get the most of the platform, sign up for a free account which allows you to create an unlimited number of URLs and track clicks.

The Pro package starts at $9.99 per month and offers advanced tracking options. For businesses looking to run high-volume ad campaigns, the Bulk package may be a better option at $99.00 per month.

If you’re looking for a no-fuss way to shorten your URLs and track some metrics, TinyURL is worth a go.

6. BL.INK

Are you a small business owner looking to launch marketing campaigns but don’t need a large-scale solution? BL.INK was designed for you.

With BL.INK, you can quickly share shortened URLs across social media channels and even send actionable links by SMS or messaging platforms. BL.INK seamlessly integrates with existing worktools and CMS, so you can easily track link performance and view the data alongside other metrics.

Packages start at $48 per month, making it one of the more expensive tools on the list. However, you can try it free for 21 days, which is a bonus.

If you’re not looking for an enterprise-level solution but want more than just a basic shortening tool, consider BL.INK.

7. Sniply

Do you want to add a CTA to every shortened link you create? Now you can, thanks to Sniply.

On the surface, Sniply works like any other link shortener. However, it offers a unique level of customization: you can embed a colorful CTA button with every link you share across social media.

Not only do your links look more appealing because they’re shorter, but they’re more actionable than ever:

Link Shortener Alternatives to Goo.gl - Sniply

Pricing is reasonable, too, with packages starting at $29 per month. However, if you want to add more than one team member, you’ll need to opt for a more expensive tier.

Link Shortener Frequently Asked Questions

What is link shortening?

Link shortening, or URL shortening, lets you change how a link displays to users. You can make a URL appear shorter or even add branding and still send users to the correct page.

What’s the point of link shortening?

A link shortening tool turns a long, rambling link into something memorable to share with prospects, which is handy on social media. You can also track the number of real people visiting your website, which provides more accurate analytics information.

Why did Google stop supporting Goo.gl?

Google made the changes in response to how people use the internet. Its new tool, Firebase Dynamic Links, is more flexible than Goo.gl and lets site owners redirect users on mobile apps rather than just desktop websites.

When should you not use link shortening?

Since one of the main reasons we shorten links is for tracking purposes, you don’t need to shorten links if you’re just linking from one page on your website to another.

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Link Shortener Conclusion

Are the alternatives to the Goo.gl link shortener worth your time? Absolutely. With the range of link management tools out there, you can quickly generate short, readable links to showcase your brand and drive traffic to your website.

What’s more, there’s a link shortening tool to suit every marketing strategy, whether you’re looking for a no-fuss, budget-friendly option or want to invest in an enterprise-level solution.

Have you tried a link shortening tool yet? How has it improved your conversions or made it easier to track your performance?

B2B Marketing News: B2B Ad Spending Sizzles, Salesforce Slack Buy Complete, C-Suite Marketing Survey, & Clubhouse Opens To All

2021 July 30 Demand Gen Reportl Chart

2021 July 30 Demand Gen Reportl Chart

US B2B ad spend set to pass $30b in 2023, nearly half the dollars will go to digital
In the U.S. alone B2B advertising spending is expected to top $30 billion by 2023, with almost half going to digital, while display advertising spending is expected to surpass that of search advertising by 2023 — two of several insights of interest to digital marketers in newly-released forecast data. The Drum

Salesforce completes $27.7B Slack acquisition
Salesforce has put finishing touches on its $27.7 billion acquisition of business communication platform Slack, with the now-official purchase set to combine Salesforce’s data platform Customer 360 with Slack, Salesforce recently announced. Venture Beat

Zenith: Online Video To Lead 2021 Global Ad-Spend Growth, At +26%; Digital To Take 58% Share Of Total
2021’s most robust growth in global digital advertising spend is set to come from online video, climbing some 26 percent to $63 billion, according to recently-released forecast data. Overall ad spending growth is expected to reach 6.9 percent in 2022 and 5.6 percent in 2023, the forecast data also shows. MediaPost

Twitter Posts Steady Increases in Users and Revenue for Q2, with Good Growth in Ad Spend
Twitter saw an 11 percent rise in its monetizable daily active user (mDAU) count compared to last year, an increase of some 7 million users since the first quarter of 2021, while also recording a 69 percent increase in international revenue, Twitter recently announced. Social Media Today

C-Suite Survey: The Top 5 Marketing Org Deficiencies
84 percent of senior management executives say they are interacting either closely, regularly, or increasingly with marketing teams, while 52 percent noted that interim or fractional marketing leaders bring new thinking, ideas, and innovations to marketing departments, according to recently-released survey data. MarketingProfs

Clubhouse is now out of beta and open to everyone
After a year of restricted waiting-list access, and following up on May’s Android version release, audio-call-based communication app Clubhouse has opened its digital doors to the public, accompanied by an updated logo, the firm recently announced. TechCrunch

2021 July 30 Statistics Image

Consumers want control, not ad blocking, in online advertising
80 percent of consumers say they don’t trust online ads, and 74 percent report that they hate them, while 67 percent of the Gen Z demographic said that online ads serve an important purpose — two of several findings of interest to online marketers contained in recently-released survey data. AdAge

Google now shows why it ranked a specific search result
A new list of factors taken into account by Google for individual search results has been launched by the search giant, highlighting some of the top areas businesses can look to for improving their search rankings, Google recently announced. Search Engine Land

2021 U.S., Worldwide Consensus Jumps On Zenith Ad Revisions
Global and U.S. advertising spending forecasts for 2021 have recently gotten stronger, with worldwide ad spend growth predicted to reach 13.1 percent and U.S. growth 14.6 percent, each revised to greater levels than earlier predictions, according to joint forecast data from Dentsu, GroupM, Magna, and Zenith. MediaPost

What B2B Buyers Want From Vendor Websites
When it comes to B2B buyers seeking insight from online vendors, the top three criteria affecting purchase decisions include easy website access to relevant content, pricing and competitive information, and site content that directly demonstrates expertise around industry needs — one of numerous findings of interest to digital marketers contained in newly-released B2B buyer research. MarketingProfs

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE:

2021 July 30 Marketoonist Comic

A lighthearted look at the “the personalization privacy paradox” by Marketoonist Tom Fishburne — Marketoonist

The Internet Is Rotting — The Atlantic

TOPRANK MARKETING & CLIENTS IN THE NEWS:

  • Joshua Nite — What’s Trending: Shake Things Up — LinkedIn (client)
  • TopRank Marketing — How to Create Winning Sales-Enablement Content — Content Marketing Institute
  • Lee Odden — 8 Binge-Worthy Public Relations Podcasts — OnePitch
  • Lee Odden — 5 Things You Need To Know About Search Engine Optimization SEO — Wow Digital
  • TopRank Marketing — 101 Top Minnesota Social Media Companies and Startups of 2021 — BestStartup.us

Have you come across your own top B2B marketing news item from the past week of industry news? Please drop us a line in the comments below.

Thanks for joining us for this week’s TopRank Marketing B2B marketing news, and we hope you’ll come back next Friday for more of the week’s most relevant B2B and digital marketing industry news. In the meantime, you can follow us at @toprank on Twitter for even more timely daily news.

The post B2B Marketing News: B2B Ad Spending Sizzles, Salesforce Slack Buy Complete, C-Suite Marketing Survey, & Clubhouse Opens To All appeared first on B2B Marketing Blog – TopRank®.