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Use The Data To Take Action

Every website has it's problems.  Google Analytics can help you find and fix those problems by tracking visitor data and website errors.  Learn how to use Google Analytics and you can increase your conversions.

Let's face it: every website is faced with a problem (or two). It may be related to an internal process or a customer, or both. As discussed throughout this book, Google Analytics provides you with the intelligence to understand and address the problem. Yet the data can be overwhelming, to say the least. This is especially true if you are a small business owner or new to the business of tracking website visitor behavior.

One look at Google Analytics data and you can come away feeling lost or anxious to get answers. Ah, but therein lies the key: intelligently interpreting, disseminating, and utilizing the data to arrive at conclusions and decisions.

Otherwise, the information becomes useless. Here are some suggestions on how to properly use your data.

Invest in the Analysis, Not the Technology

Surround yourself with people, colleagues, friends, and the like who have analytical minds that will be able to interpret, disseminate, and manage the mounds of data. Google Analytics is sufficient for the needs of most businesses so there's no need to fret over the technology. However, you should try to avoid using two analytics programs. Experience has taught me that you get more questions than answers when dealing with multiple sets of data. Not everyone may agree but let's not forget that the primary goal and a better use of your time should be on the analysis and drawing conclusions, not on the technology.

Establish Goals

Ask yourself, "What is the desired result?" or "What am I trying to accomplish?" for a particular web page. Whether it's increasing traffic or converting customers, having clear, established goals and objectives will prevent you from performing unnecessary analysis. It will also keep your website on the right track to achieving its goals. Google Analytics allows you create up to 20 conversion goals per profile. So, there is no excuse for adding such simple goals, such as length of time on site and number of pages per visit.

Test and Tweak, Then Test Some More

Once you establish goals (see Rule 18, "Decide on your Goal Type") it is time to put the data to the test. Literally. Because what do bounce rates really mean if the data is not coupled with the testing of a message, design, layout, or call to action? The results will show how users react to changes. So, if your goal is to decrease the bounce rate, then did the test show the visitor staying on the website longer, or leaving quicker? You want to keep tweaking and testing until you reach the desired result. Without testing, how can you really make a sound, logical decision pertaining to your website? There are no excuses for not testing. Google has a free tool called "Website Optimizer" ( to achieve the desired test data you seek.

Patience Is a Virtue

It is generally not a good idea to make changes on the basis of a few days worth of data. Before you delete or pause a keyword or ad (either temporarily or permanently), ask yourself if you have "statistical significance" or statistically enough data to make a sound decision. A longer date range translates into statistical significance, which then translates into easier decisions. Shorter time frames offer misleading data, which lead to miscalculated decisions. Take into account returning customers or those who return to your website a second time at a later date to make a purchase. You may miss out on important conversion data if you react too quickly due to a small date range of data. Also, depending on your goal, it may take days or even months for many of your visitors to convert to customers. SoFree Articles, be patient and set a date range that will last as long as your expected sales cycle or that will return statistically significant data.

© 2012 Rob Sanders.

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This excerpt by Rob Sanders, courtesy of Editor Laura Lowell, is Rule 38 from "42 Rules for Applying Google Analytics".  As founder of RSO Consulting, Rob Sanders brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the world of online marketing.  Rob started his online career as a Web Producer for USA Today Online in 1994 before moving to Philadelphia to help launch an online media service at The Sports Network.  You can purchase the book at  Follow 42Rules at!/42_Rules.

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