Google Analytics is an invaluable source of information for every company operating online. You can track everything from visitor demographics to campaign performance. You can get far more granular to better understand user behavior. But there’s a catch:
Analytics doesn’t show you these insights automatically. In order to get access to certain data, you have to set Google Analytics up manually to unlock its full potential. In this article, we’re going to show you how to do it:

1. Block Spam Bots

Spammers can use bots to drive traffic to their websites via Google analytics. They do this by sending fake traffic to your website that appears in reports as keywords or referral traffic. You can recognize bots by checking your acquisition channels in analytics. Sources like the ones below can quite easily be identified as bots.

bots in google analytics
The intention is usually harmless: These websites use this method to generate traffic and make money with ads. However, clicking through to those websites could expose you to serious security threats. 
Fortunately, there is a way to exclude those bots from your analytics account. Here’s how:
  1. Go to the admin tab in your dashboard menu (1).
exlude bots from google analytics
  1. Under “View” on the right side, go to “View settings” (2)
  1. Scroll down and tick the box that says “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders” (2).
exclude bots ands spiders

Keep in mind that this will exclude the majority of spambots from your analytics. Some bots might still manage to slip through since new bots hit the market on a daily basis. It might take Google some time to identify new bots, but Google catches them sooner or later.

2. Connect Google Analytics and Google Search Console

If you are already working with Google Analytics, you probably noticed that some keywords are shown as “not provided”.  The source of that problem could be that you haven’t yet connected your Google Search Console/Webmaster tools with Analytics yet. 
We have discussed the importance of keyword research in other articles (like this one).
The Google Search Console shows you keywords that generated organic traffic for your website on Google. In other words, people searched for those keywords on Google, you appeared as a result and they clicked through to your website. These are the keywords you might want to integrate into your SEO and SEA strategy since they are already working for you. Apart from making your analytics more precise, merging these accounts allows you to see these keywords directly in Analytics.
Connecting Google Analytics and Google Search Console:
In order to do this, you need to have a Google Analytics and Google Search Console account set up.
  1. In the left-side menu, click the “Admin”(1) tab.
google analytics admin
  1. Go to “Property Settings” (2) in the “Property” column.
analytics property settings
  1. Scroll down to “Search Console”, then click “Adjust Search Console” (3).
adjust search console google analytics
  1. You should be seeing “Search Console Settings” section. Click the “Add link” (4). After you added the website, this is where you can remove the selected search console.
google analytics search console settings
  1. Find and select the website of which you want to integrate the search data and don’t forget to save (6). 
enable search console data in google analytics
  1. If you followed these steps you can navigate to the “acquisition tab in the left-side menu and select “search console”.
  2. In this tab, you will see the landing pages people arrived on, which countries they are from, which devices they use and the exact keywords/queries that drove free traffic to your website via Google.
search console in menu

3. Enable audience tracking

The standard Google Analytics dashboard gives you information about the devices your visitors are using and where they’re located but it can do way more.
However, Google Analytics enables you to see more advanced details like visitor age, gender and more information if you enable audience tracking. 
Be aware that in order to use audience tracking, GDPR demands that you ask users consent to do so when they visit your website.
Set up audience tracking.
  1. In the left-hand menu, select the “Audience” tab, go to “Demographics” and click “Overview”. If audience tracking is not enabled, you should be seeing this:
google analytics demographics and interests report
  1. To activate audience tracking, click “enable” and after a while (up to a week) you should see the collected data.
    Again, using this feature may require you to update the privacy policy of your website.
  2. You can now see demographic data (1) and interests (2) of your visitors.
    You should use this data to gain a deeper understanding of your visitors and adapt your communication.
google analytics demographic data

4. Filter your IP addresses from reports

This will exclude your own website visits from your metrics, making your reporting more precise. Especially bigger companies with multiple people working on the same website should consider excluding their IP address from reports. 
  1. To find out your IP address simply Google “What is my IP address?”
  2. Once you know your IP address, go to the Admin tab we’ve used before.
  3. Go to “Filters” (1)
google analytics settings filters
  1. Click “+ Ad filter”
google analytics add filter
  1. Tick “Create New Filter”(1), name your filter (2), select “Predefined”(3) and select the following parameters: 
  • “Exclude”(4) + “traffic from the IP addresses”(5) + “that are equal to”(6)
  • Paste your IP address into the box (7) and save (8)
google analytics add to filter view
  1. Google Analytics now excludes data of traffic coming from your IP address.
  2. If you are working remotely or with freelancers, for example, make sure to exclude their IPs as well.

Conclusion

Taking the time to tweak Google Analytics can go a long way in understanding your customers.  If Google Analytics is not already your best friend, you are wasting an invaluable resource that can make or break a business.

This article is also available on medium.com.



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