Menucha Zimmerman

Five Secret Google Analytics Reports You Need to be Using Right Now

Disclaimer: While Google Analytics has its SEO applications (understatement!), we’ve also found broader uses for the platform. So while this post does discuss some SEO concepts, it doesn’t focus exclusively on SEO.

With Google Analytics, it’s all about cutting out the noise and identifying the data that’s the most important for your business. Custom reports are great for segmenting your site’s traffic data. Analytics, after all, is a massive data puke, so extracting useful information can completely transform your organizational decision making.
Little known fact, however – there are a number of standard reports that have their uses as well. Quel surprise! (Although, of course, they require some minor customizations as well. Must…segment…)
Below are our five favorite standard reports, as well as their practical uses:
  1. Network. Nested deep within the Audience tab of Google Analytics lies the Network report.
    Network report - Google AnalyticsOnce you’ve filtered out all of the standard service providers – Verizon, Time Warner, AT&T, Comcast, Charter, etc. – you have a very specific list of companies and universities that have visited your site. It’s a great place to start cold calling.
    Practical application: Sales
  2. Affinity categories. The Affinity Categories report extracts data from Google’s display network and outlines the primary areas of interest for your site’s visitors. By themselves they are very broad:
    Affinity Categories report - Google Analytics?Integrated with long-tail keyword research, however, and you can create content that not only incorporates high-volume keywords, but also targeted toward your demographic. For example, an ecommerce site that sells bag and has a user base that includes “TV Lovers” might consider “12 times a leopard clutch made us swoon on the red carpet” as a blog post.
    Practical application: Content creation (amongst others!)
  3. Referrals. This one is pure SEO – combined with some branding/content marketing. This report will help identify referral sites that have potential as content partners. By applying weighted sort to this report, we can identify 3rd party referral sites that are currently sending engaged, high quality traffic, and create a list of sites to pitch.
    Referrals report - Google AnalyticsReally, this report should always be our first line of inquiry when formulating an off-site strategy. We don’t need to go to competitors if something’s already working for us.
    Practical application: Off-site strategy, content partnerships ?
  4. Landing pages. This report provides important information regarding the pages on which users land from external traffic sources. Typically the homepage receives the most traffic in this report. Our goal is to identify landing pages that have above average performance (whatever that means – whether it be engagement or revenue related), but are receiving less traffic than they deserve. In other words: anomalies. Enter our old friend, weighted sort!
    Landing pages report - Google AnalyticsSort either the bounce rate or the ecommerce conversion rate in ascending or descending order (respectively. Then apply weighted sort so that we’re seeing the bounce/conversion rate that’s the most significant. We don’t care about pages that have a 100% conversion rate if they only have one visit. We are very interested, however, in a page that has 30,000 visits with a 15% ecommerce conversion rate. Very, very interested. Those are the pages that should have contextual links from other important pages – say, the homepage.
    Practical application: Identifying important pages on the site, internal linking
  5. Content Drilldown. This report is great if you have a site with well-structured URLs. The Content Drilldown report allows us to determine which sections on the site are the most popular/top performing, according to subfolder:
    Content Drilldown

    Practical application: Content strategy and direction

So what are your favorite standard reports? And how do you use them to make key strategic decisions?

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