Configure Google Analytics-for-High-Performance Reporting

Sometimes Google Analytics can seem unnecessarily confusing, manual or full of too many features to do one thing very well. I’m going to go ahead and play devil’s advocate here a little and suggest that maybe it seems hard to use because it wasn’t set up properly from the get-go.

To know what a good setup looks like let’s work backwards and determine how to setup Google Analytics for high-performance reporting.

What a Badass Google Analytics Configuration Looks Like

Knowing what a good GA configuration looks like becomes possible by knowing what it’s going to be used for, then anticipating the possible issues that could arise later.

Most of the time Google Analytics is going to be used for reporting traffic. This could be a high-level domain wide analysis, measuring the different sections of a multi-site, traffic to specific pages, goals met in an e-commerce site, and so on.

A few questions to keep in mind in any of these scenarios might be:

  • How are you keeping your data as clean as possible?
  • Do you have a standard for comparison so you can identify a sudden increase in SPAM traffic vs faulty or missing filters?
  • Is there a safe environment for making changes to reporting before pushing the changes to the reporting environment?
  • Are you gathering and sharing information with AdWords and Search Console?

How to Achieve a Ridiculously Awesome Google Analytics Configuration

How to Achieve a Ridiculously Awesome Google Analytics Configuration

Step 1: Configure Property-Level Settings

First, you’re going to set up an account, within that account you’re going to create a property. Here’s a good resource that outlines the hierarchy of Google Analytics. Then, within that property, you’re going to set up your property-level configurations.

  • There are a lot of settings in the “Property Settings” section. The setup of these is going to depend on your exact purposes. However, no matter what your purposes are, you should link your Search Console to this property, the place to do this is at the bottom.
  • Connect all of your products like AdWords, AdSense, Ad Exchange, DoubleClick, and other Google or third party tools.
  • Create audiences for remarketing.
  • Create any custom dimensions or metrics.

Step 2: Configure View-Level Settings

Gather and implement any filters you’ll need to remove SPAM traffic, block IP addresses of contractors, internal traffic, or any third party companies that you’re working with who will be accessing your company (web development companies, marketing agencies, etc.).

Configuring View-Level Settings

Step 3: Future-Proof and Enhance the Identification of Issues

Set up three views in the property of the account. These serve very specific purposes that will save you hours and headaches in the future.

  • MAIN: This is the view for reporting.
  • RAW: This is the view that has no view level configurations (filters, goals, grouping, etc.). It should be used as a standard of comparison. For example, imagine you see a change in traffic in the MAIN view month over month and the RAW view is showing pretty uniform traffic month over month. Chances are the traffic reporting is an issue within the MAIN view, not actual traffic or website performance.
  • TEST: This is the view for setting up new filters, trying new goals, or any other view level configurations. Use this view to keep changes in reporting protocol methodical and transitionary. This will help a lot in client communications by enabling you to set expectations for a change that’s going to be made at the beginning of the month, then you can let them see the impact it had on the data before you push these changes to the main reporting view.
    Notice: if you aren’t currently testing any new changes to your main reporting view the MAIN and TEST views should be identical. This will throw an alert in Google Analytics, but you can ignore it forever by selecting “Ignore” then “Dismiss for” and selecting “All time” from the drop down.

Now Your Google Marketing Tools Are Working Together

With all of your Google Marketing tools setup, you can track search analytics with precision and capture Search Console data. Because you can also create audiences with smart lists in the Google Analytics segment builder, you can make remarketing lists based on buyer behavior.

A key thing to note here: Google saves individual user interactions in the “User Explorer”. This data is incredibly high-value and makes properly setting up Google Analytics with other tools a necessity. Otherwise, there is a lot of cool data, but it isn’t being put to use.

Now Your Google Marketing Tools Are Working Together