Competition is something that comes to our minds as soon as we think of the word business. In this ever-competitive world, every business has not just one but many competitors. Businesses have been, since time unknown, striving to be better than their competitor, after all they are all after the same piece of pie aka the same potential customer. Similarly, it is no different in the world of marketing and website traffic.
Despite advancements in technology, running a website is not an easy task but is still hard work. There are countless articles written on how to jump your website traffic and not enough stress is placed upon the other end of the spectrum- monitoring the traffic. When monitoring and tracking is mentioned, people start looking here and there because they know it is going to involve numbers and not everyone is a math genius who loves numbers.
Every blogger or website owner out there who is in this for the long haul knows the importance of monitoring traffic. However, what exactly to track and how to track it can be confusing for most people as the amount of information available can overwhelm anyone.
Digital analytics is the analysis of quantitative and qualitative data of your websites, social media channels and competitors for the purpose of making improvements and optimizing towards your desired outcomes online and/or offline.
One of the standard tools webmasters use to track website/mobile data is Google Analytics. Properties are where you place the tracking code such as a website or mobile app. To set up your first property, you can do so when you open your GA account or if you’d like to add another property go to your Google Analytics account and click on “Admin”. Click on “Create new property” from the property dropdown.
On the next page, select whether you want to track a website or a mobile app. Give your website a name and input the website’s URL and click “Get tracking code”.
The next page will have the tracking code where you will copy and paste on every page you want to track data from. It is good to place it in your header so that Google Analytics can track a hit even when the user decides to leave the site before it finishes loading. Once you have placed the tracking code on your pages, it should start tracking your data instantly.
A view is the level in Google Analytics where you can access reports and analysis tools. When you add a property, Google Analytics will automatically create one unfiltered view. It is important to never make y changes to your unfiltered view because if you do add filters to your unfiltered view and remove them later on, the data that has been filtered out will never come back. Instead, you can customize multiple views with different settings like one view for internal traffic or one view to track activity coming to a certain page on your website. To create a new view, go to “Admin” and in the property column select the website you want to create a view for in the property dropdown. To the right, you’ll see the view column. Click on the dropdown and click “Create new view”.
On the next page, give your view a name and click “Create View”. After creating your view, you can select it from the dropdown and give it filters, goals and more. For example, you can create a view called “Sign ups” and add a filter that will only track visitors when they land on the Registration complete page.
In “Admin” page, select the view you want to add a filter to and click “Filter”. On the add filter page, you will see something like this:
Give your filter a name such as “Sign ups” and select the filter type. For beginners, you should use predefined filters. When you learn more about regular expressions (ReGex), you can use custom filters which allows you to create more powerful implementations. To learn more about regular expressions you can go to: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1034324?hl=en
Moving on to our “Sign ups” example, we can select “Include Only” for the first box. For the second box, we can choose “traffic to the subdirectories”. For the third box, we can choose “that are equal to”. If our website sends the user to domain.com/registration-complete/ after signing up, we can put “/registration-complete/” in the subdirectory field. You can choose whether it’s case sensitive or not and click “Save”.
Now your view “Sign ups” should track visitors who have signed up to your website only. You can experiment with other filters but make sure you do not add any filters to your “All Web Site Data” view as data that has been processed through these filters cannot be changed.
Users are the visitors who visit your website or mobile app. Sessions are the time they spend on your website or mobile app. Interactions are what the users do while they are on your website or mobile app. For example, think of your website as a restaurant. You’ll have customers (users) who come in once and never come back. You might also have a returning customer (users) who comes to your restaurant multiple times (sessions). For each session, the user will do something like look at the menu, order food, eat their food or pay the bill (interactions). Individual interactions are also called hits. Some users may look at the menu and leave right away because it’s too expensive. Others might spend more time and have more interactions with your website (multiple hits).
The first time a visitor comes to your website or mobile app, Google Analytics creates a random unique id that is associated with the user’s device. Each unique id is considered a unique visitor. In each hit, this unique id is sent to Google Analytics. If a new id is detected, this means there is a new user. If Google Analytics sees that the id is an existing id in a hit, it will count the hit as a returning user. These ids can be reset or erased if the user clears the cache from their browser or uninstalls/re-installs the mobile app.
A user can have multiple sessions. Sessions can occur on the same day or over several days, weeks or months. When a session ends, there is an opportunity to start another session. By default, Google Analytics ends a session when there hasn’t been any activity from the user in the past 30 minutes. This is based on the session timeout settings. The next time Google Analytics detects a hit from the user, a new session is created. For example, a user lands on a page and idles for 2 hours. After 30 minutes, the session will end. When the user comes back to their computer and interacts with the page again, a new session will be created. Two sessions were counted by Google Analytics. You can change the session timeout based on your business needs from 1 minute to 4 hours.
To change your session timeout, go to Admin and browse to the property you want to change the session timeout for. Click on Tracking Info and click on Session Settings. Here you’ll be able to change the session timeout and campaign timeout.