Google Analytics is an exceptional tool for website traffic reporting, but the data can lose its value if certain decisions are not made early on. Here are a few tips to get you started with Google Analytics so you can get the most out of your data.
Unless you tell it otherwise, Google Analytics includes all traffic information coming to your website. Yes, that includes everyone in the office, your marketing person, and you when you’re checking to make sure something works or find a link to send to a client or customer. To avoid this and get accurate data, create a filter for IP addresses for yourself in Google Analytics. If you don’t feel quite that tech savvy, install the Google Analytics Opt-out plugin in your browser.
Goal-setting is a big deal in Google Analytics. It allows you to know if people are doing what you want them to do when they visit your website. Are they searching for a property? Did they sign up for your newsletter? Have they registered for unrestricted access? Creating and tracking goals in Google Analytics will let you know how well those conversions are working. You can even set a dollar amount for each goal to represent what those conversions are worth to your business.
When you look at your Aquisition report in Google Analytics, you’ll see several traffic categories including organic search, direct traffic, referrals, social, and paid ads (assuming you’re using that option). Direct traffic is often the first or second largest channel since it refers to visitors who typed your exact URL into to the address bar, or used a saved bookmark. But the “direct” channel data can sometimes include visitors who used links that you sent in an email or text message as well. This makes it hard to see the value of your email or text campaigns. To avoid this issue, use unique URL parameters for every campaign. For example, your email newsletter might include a link that looks like this:
URL parameters like this help you to better identify the exact source of your visitors, and gauge the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. Use the Google URL builder to tag your URLs with parameters Google Understands.
Google Analytics automatically tracks about many +1s you receive, that is interaction on Google Plus. That’s not so helpful when you’re more heavily involved in Facebook or Twitter. You can use the Social Interactions feature to find out how many shares or likes you’re getting on Facebook or how many times content is tweeted. Knowing this information can help you learn what kind of content people respond most to. It not only gives you good information, it may also help you plan your content.
You’ve probably at least heard of A/B testing, even if you’re not quite sure what it is. Simply put, A/B testing is when you change a single element on your website to find out if changes how people interact with your website. Do more people sign-up for your newsletter if the button is blue or red? Will a font size change get more interest? It’s an either/or system of testing. Thanks to Google Optimize, this kind of testing is easier than ever.
Before you dive deep into Google Analytics, make sure you have a clear idea of what your goals are for your real estate website. Yes, you want traffic, but you want it to be good traffic, and you want visitors to stick around on your website and engage with it. Using the tools available through Google Analytics, you’ll have a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t on your website. It’s not enough to get hits to your real estate website – those hits have to move your business forward. Google Analytics gives you the information to know if your website is doing it’s job or not.
Former Communications Director for a local Realtor Association and a big cheerleader for all things real estate related, Michaela is now a full-time freelance writer specializing in real estate and other business industries. When she's not writing the serious business-y stuff, she's likely to be found writing about the hilarity of being a Mom to two rowdy boys.