There’s no question that web analytics are vital, but even Shakespeare acknowledged that one can have too much of a good thing. In an environment where nearly everything that happens online can be measured, the challenge for marketers isn’t gaining the ability to measure even more factors, but rather the clarity to focus on measuring what matters.

How can you measure all of the sources that contributed to a conversion–not just the last click? Which Google Analytics (GA) metrics are most important? How can you take action on analytics reports? What can GA tell you (and not tell you) about your sources of website traffic? How can you capitalize on the Advanced Segments feature in GA?

Find the answers to those questions and many more here in 16 remarkable guides to web analytics from the past year.

The SEO’s Guide to GA 5, Part II: Top 3 Features for Setting & Achieving SEO Goals by Search Engine Journal

Dali Burgado details three key features of Google Analytics 5 (GA5) for SEO professionals: dashboard customization with SEO widgets (e.g., branded vs. non-branded search), custom alerts, and multi-channel funnels (see Pritesh’s post above). This last feature is interesting but would be much more useful if one could customize segment definitions to correct for the way Google gets search traffic wrong.

Using Multi-Channel Funnels to analyse the impact of marketing channels on conversions by Smart Insights

Writing that “When conversions take place over multiple visits rather than a single visit to a site, it’s really important to understand the complete customer journey and not use the standard ‘last click wins’ model of attribution,” Pritesh Patel demonstrates how to use Multi-Channel funnel reports in Google Analytics to obtain more detailed insights into the different interactions visitors have with your website before converting to a lead.

Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics: What to Track by Search Engine Watch

Sarah Carling notes that GA is incredibly powerful–but needs to be set up properly first. Much of it’s potential analytical power can’t be accessed “out of the box.” She then provides examples of and instruction for setting up three types of data you may want to track: customer segments (actually, visitor segments), goal and event tracking, and page categories (“If, for instance, you want to know if product category A or B is more likely to result in a customer creating an account or making a purchase, you can track this data”).

9 Ways to Make Your Marketing Analytics Actionable by HubSpot

Contending that good marketers use analytics to measure the performance of their marketing initiatives, while “Great marketers use them to adapt, improve, and modify their marketing efforts,” frequent best-of honoree Pamela Vaughan shows to use analytics to improve in areas like focusing on popular blog topics, refining SEO strategies, improving landing pages, and more.

Setting Up Actionable SEO Dasboards in the New Google Analytics by SEO Book

Okay, GA 5 isn’t “new” anymore, but the techniques outlined here are still intriguing. This richly illustrated post shows how to set up actionable dashboards and widgets to monitor a variety of specific custom metrics like non-branded keyword traffic, top actionable social content, page load speed, top converting keywords, top exit/bounce pages and others.

Capturing The Value Of Social Media Using Google Analytics by Google Analytics Blog

Noting that “Since social media is often an upper funnel player in a shopper’s journey, it’s not always easy to determine which social channels actually drive value for your business and which tactics are most effective,” Phil Mui steps through five different ways to gauge “social value” in GA, such as the Conversions Report, with which “marketers can now measure the value of each individual social channel by seeing the conversion rates of each social network and the monetary value they drive to your business.” Both goals and goal values need to be defined in order to use this report.

The Ultimate Guide to the New Google Analytics Social Reports by KISSmetrics

Expanding on the post above, Lars Lofgren steps through each of the six social reports provided by GA, explains how traffic gets tagged as social media, and shows how to use GA’s Social Source Graphs. He cautions in his conclusion though to “be careful. These reports only use the referring URL when assigning traffic to a social media site. So if the referrer gets corrupted in any way, your traffic won’t get assigned to the right network and all your data will be skewed. If you commonly use URL shorteners, it’s very easy for the data in your social reports to be incomplete.”

4 Google Analytics updates you should know by iMedia Connection

Dan Brooks discusses four components of GA 5, including real-time data reporting (one of the primary benefits of which is, as notes, that it’s “just kind of fun to watch”), search engine optimization insights (which requires integration with Google Webmaster Tools) and Google+ integration (useful for organizations getting traction on G+).

What Google Analytics New Social Reports Offer & What They Can’t by Search Engine Watch

Marshall Sponder points out that, though the newest iteration of Google Analytics does offer some useful advantages over older versions, it doesn’t always live up to expectations. For example, “Traffic networks are mixed up with traffic tools…Twitter and Facebook are termed networks while HootSuite, which is a tool, and WordPress, which is a blogging platform, are treated identically by Google, as being the same type of traffic—social media. While technically true, it’s incorrect to place these sources on equal footing.” In addition, custom configuration is required to take advantage of many of the more granular features.

Google Analytics: Understanding Traffic Sources by iMedia Connection

Arden Kaley steps through the details behind the high-level traffic sources reported by Google Analytics (direct, referral, and search), then explains the importance of using Google’s URL Builder to create custom, trackable URLs for different digital marketing activities, and how to use the tool.

3 Steps to Measuring Your Social Marketing Campaign with Google Analytics by Social Media Club

Similar to the post above, Yola Blake supplies detailed instructions on how to create custom UTM codes (including medium, source, campaign name, etc.) for tracking specific marketing campaigns, concluding “Now, you are able to track the performance of the marketing message and pinpoint each sale (or other type of conversion) as a result of the tweet directly in Google Analytics.”

4 Shortcuts for Analyzing Social Media Traffic in Record Time by Social Media Sun

Eugen Oprea details four “shortcuts” for efficiently analyzing social media activity using GA, including instructions for building custom dashboards (“Dashboards are really important because they can provide you information at a glance, without spending hours digging through reports. In Google Analytics you can setup up to 20 dashboards that can provide insights about your visitors”).

Measuring a Mobile World: Introducing Mobile App Analytics by Google Analytics Blog

JiaJing Wang outlines three GA tools for mobile app analytics: Acquisition (and user metrics such as downloads and new users); Engagement (metrics such as retention, crashes and conversions); and Outcome (metrics such as app sales and in-app purchases). While not likely to be needed by most b2b marketers, these new tools may be valuable to b2c brand marketers investing in mobile app development.

8 ways to use Google Analytics beyond keywords by iMedia Connection

Casie Gillette recommends eight ways for marketers to act on GA data, among them: generating blog ideas (“Take a look at which posts drove the most visits and engagement, had the lowest bounce rates, and (of course) which posts were shared the most”), social targeting and attribution, and landing page testing.

3 Hidden Optimization Tips in Google Analytics by Conversation Marketing

Aviva Jorstad offers step-by-step instructions for using “three advanced tips that will help you unearth hidden optimization opportunities with Google Analytics,” such as seven “simple” (though your definition of that term may vary) steps to increase conversions from organic search traffic.

Google Analytics Advanced Segments Comprehensive Template Collection by Penguin Initiatives
***** 5 STARS

Contending that “Advanced segments in Google Analytics are one of the most powerful tools for gaining immense insight into your visitors,” Andy Forsberg provides more than two dozen copy-able advanced segment definitions, for everything from tracking searches of different keyword lengths to “user behavior” segments like Explorers (new visitors who viewed more than three pages) vs. Fans (returning visitors who viewed multiple pages).

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