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Analyzing Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an excellent tool for B2Bs, but as with all analytics tools, the results don’t actually speak for themselves. Google Analytics results do require some human analysis. Without taking that additional step, the results can be misleading. Here are a few things to consider.

1. Visitor Volume: The best use of this metric is for long-term trending. I would recommend comparing at least the last 3 months-over the previous period.

A. If you see a major visitor drop on a single day or even over the previous month, don’t despair. It probably indicates a technical issue such as one or more pages missing code.

B. Or, there may one or more pages that Google is suddenly not able to index. This can happen for a number of reasons such as adding page elements that cause the page to load too slowly.

C. If you see a drop over the last month, have a look at the calendar. B2Bs get the vast majority of their traffic during the week. If there were 5 weekends in the last month, overall traffic will naturally drop. Also, for any month with a holiday—traffic will drop. It’s just not the 1-2 days that people officially have off, but the entire week—people are more likely to use vacation days during that time.

D. If there is suddenly zero traffic to your website that either means all of the code is missing— that can happen when you start using a new page template and forget to add the code or (and this is really dire, but really rate) Google has hit your website with a penalty.

2. Acquisition Source: It’s much more of a gray area than you think. In some instances, Google will count what would seem to be referral traffic as direct traffic and organic traffic as direct traffic. It’s not a flaw with Google—it’s just that the Google algorithm looks at acquisition sources more broadly than many humans do.

3. Key Terms: Google hides most of the organic key terms that people use to find your website—unless you upgrade. There are other, in some cases free, tools that will pick up the slack.

4. Individual Page Metrics: As with key terms, Google hides most individual page metrics —unless you upgrade.

The bottom line is that Google Analytics is a great tool for long-term trending, but not great for making day-to-day decisions—unless you upgrade to the paid version.

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