Analytics is what makes online marketing so valuable to many executives. We can track what is working on the site and how effective an online campaign is for the business bottom line. It's like the wiring in a house, it's not the foundation but just as imperative and not seen to the user of the site.
Many of our clients come to us and ask for help with marketing, community building, and of course increasing traffic. Part of that process is ensuring that the reporting is set up correctly so they can see the ROI. Many sites today prefer Google Analytics due to the price tag and ease of use. But the ease of use is just on the surface. Many search marketers love it due to what can be done with it on the fly.
Our newest team member at Distilled Seattle asked for some resources to learn about Google Analytics and that got me thinking about a good list of resources. Alas there are already some great guides out there. A particularly well done analytics guide for small business owners just flabbergasted me.
I tell my clients not to write content if they can't be the best, and I'm going to take my own advice. This is not going to be the "complete" list of resources, but rather the busy person's guide to learning Analytics fast. Rather than 50 articles, I am going to give each level (beginner, intermediate, and advanced) a list of three I think you should be reading.
Beginner: Learning Google Analytics
- Most Comprehensive: Google Analytics Training from Google
It's free and it's from the source, if you are true beginner, start here.
- Understanding It All: Web Analytics Demystified
Avinash Kaushik is the godfather of Analytics. This is a great guide that breaks down what it all means.
- Setting It Up: The 8 Google Analytics Features Every Site MUST Have Enabled
These 8 things have not changed, they are the most important to set up no matter what level you are at.
Intermediate: Starting to Customize
- Advanced Segments: From the Source
I personally use Advanced Segments more than custom reports because I need overarching trends quickly. This is a definite must to learn once you get comfortable with Analytics.
- Mobile Tracking: Tracking Mobile Visitors in Google Analytics: A Checklist Guide for Mobile Insights
Mobile is growing everyday, this is something every site should be monitoring. If you are seeing major mobile traffic and don't already serve mobile visitors, check out our new guide to Building a Mobile Friendly Site.
- Filters: The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics Profile Filters
This is a fantastic guide to the ins and outs of filtering. Just remember the warning at the top, always have one unfiltered profile. Always. But filtered profiles are a great way to really dig into specific traffic without as much sampling as your main profile.
Advanced: Digging Deep and Hacking for Results
- Tracking Google Referral Strings: Decoding Google's Referral String (or, how I surviVED Secure Search)
This is my new favorite thing and we are testing it on a client. So far it works really well. I am not sure how long it'll last, but for now this is one you should definitely look into.
- Custom Variables: Using Custom Variables to Make Google Analytics Work for You
Pull in data that you never dreamed Analytics could pull in. Learning custom variables let's you custom design Analytics to your needs. Want to see your average ranking? Custom Variables let you do that!
- Multi-Channel Funnels: Uncover Badass Exposers with Google Analytics’ Multi-Channel Funnels
Mike Pantoliano is by far the smartest man I know when it comes to Analytics. One of the many things he taught me while at Distilled was how to find and possible change how Google views conversion tracking. Want another good post on multi-channel and attribution? Check out Measuring and Increasing the ROI of Your Content Resources. And just follow the man on Twitter.