Creating exponential growth for your firm may seem like a strong claim, but this strategy is so essential to a firm’s success, yet so few accountants actually utilise it. It’s not a magic potion or a silver bullet, it’s analytics. Specifically Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a fantastic way to monitor how much traffic your site is getting and where it is coming from. It provides a treasure trove of information about how your visitors interact with your website, what pages are popular (and which are not), and even your conversion rates.
The problem is, and this is what scares a lot of accountants off, there is a learning curve. There are loads of features just waiting to provide you with a wealth of knowledge hidden amongst a variety of options. The majority of people don’t even know they’re there, much less how to use them.
In this guide, you’re going to learn about some of the most important features of Google Analytics and how you can use those features to improve your traffic, conversion and ultimately make more sales.
Installing Google Analytics
The first thing you need to do is get a Google Analytics account. If you don’t already have one, head over to Google Analytics.
You will need a Google account, so if you don’t have one, you will need to create it. Once you have a Google account, sign in and press ‘Sign Up’.
Next, you’ll need to add a site to Analytics. To do this, you can take a look at this great guide Google has already made for you, Setting Up Analytics Tracking.
Analytics and WordPress
If you’re using WordPress, you can use a helpful plugin to make it easier to install analytics on your pages. This is especially helpful if your theme doesn’t already have a specific place to add your analytics code (Some do, some don’t). Here’s a video showing you how to install Google Analytics on a WordPress site.
The Five Report Suites
There are five report suites inside Google Analytics that will each offer you different types of information. These five report suites include:
- Real Time;
- Behavior; and
Some of these features won’t be necessary for your site. There are features for e-commerce websites for example.
Real-time reports let you know what is happening with your site right now. You can find out what is happening on your website at the moment you’re viewing the report. This will give you live (or about 2 minute delay) information about how much traffic you are getting and what pages people are currently viewing.
The audience reports give you information about the people visiting your site. They let you know their demographics, such as age and gender, their interests, where they are located, what type of devices and broswer they use, etc.
Acquisition reports tell you where your traffic is coming from. It gives you information such as keywords used to find you and links they came from. This will help you determine which are your most effective keywords and marketing channels. Find out more about keywords, and more specifically keyword research in our blog, Keyword Research: What is it?
The behavior reports provide insights into what pages people are viewing, what page they are entering your site on and what page they are leaving on. It is also a good place to find out how fast your website is loading. This report will tell you which pages are most popular and what you can do to get your visitors more engaged with your site.
While the conversions reports are really helpful for e-commerce websites, they can also be helpful for accounting websites as well. If you set up goals within Google Analytics (covered later), any completion of that goal will be shown here.
Basic Date Range Reports
Using date ranges allows you to view data over long periods of time and compare different date ranges to see if your traffic is growing or shrinking. If you look at the top of your screen while logged into Google Analytics, you’ll notice the date range to the right. You can set this to pretty much any date range you want in order to see historical data and compare your information to previous dates. For this to work however, you have to have the historical data available, so if you installed it today, you will have data available from today, but nothing before today.
This is useful for figuring out if your traffic is growing or shirnking, viewing spikes in traffic and determining what caused that spike in traffic. Was it an Ad campaign? A specific time of the year? Did you hold an event?
You can also compare data easily by selecting “Compare to” in order to select two different time periods to get a comparison. Here’s how to do it:
Just tick the ‘Compare to’ box after you click on your date range, and then select the time period you want to compare it to.
Note: You can do this while viewing a single site, or while viewing an overview of your entire account at once to give you a snapshot of how all your sites are doing.
Here’s what it looks like to view your main page with this:
And here is what it looks like to view a single site:
If you look at the bottom of your chart, you can add an annotation. This will help you add notes to remind you in the future what happened on certain dates.
For example, you might add notes such as:
- Ran Facebook Ad Campaign, traffic up by 28%;
- Launched new website;
- Added article on Pinterest, traffic doubled overnight;
- Site hacked, traffic dropped by 75% for several days (lets hope not).
This is a great way to keep track of your marketing campaigns, determining which are effective and which are not. If you choose to sell your firm later on down the track, this information could also be invaluable.
Goals are a function of Google Analytics that is dramatically underused. Many people don’t even know goals exist in Analytics, while others know little about them or don’t know how to use them.
Goals can be very helpful. They will let you track the effectiveness of your sales funnel, your squeeze pages, your ads, etc.
Here’s how goals work:
- Traffic comes in from a specific traffic source.
- You have a specific action you want people to take.
- Users take that action.
- You now know where the traffic comes from, how many people saw the offer, and how many people took the desired action.
To set up a goal, open Google Analytics and go to ‘Admin’ at the bottom of the page under ‘Conversion’. Click goals on the right hand side under ‘View’, then select ‘New Goal’. Select ‘Custom’ and then ‘Next Step’. Choose a name for the goal. It can be whatever you want, but be sure it will be easy to remember what you’re tracking with it.
There are several type sof events you can track:
- Destination – User ends up at a specific page;
- Duration – User is on page for a specific length of time;
- Page/Screens per session – User views at least x number of pages; and
- Event – User views a video, for example.
Let’s say your ultimate goal is to get users to make it to the download page for your lead magnet, which happens after they opt into your list. You’d choose a ‘Destination’ goal, then set your value to the URL of your thank you page.
If you’re looking for more detailed information about setting up all the different types of goals, Google has an in-depth tutorial.
Practical Uses for Google Analytics
There are so many uses for Google Analytics it would be impossible to cover all of them in a short guide. So here are some of the best ways you can use Google Analytics to increase your traffic and grow your firm.
Identify Successful Content
Analytics is great for figuring out which pages your visitors are landing on the most. It also tells you where they go next. This is useful for finding out what content is most effective at pulling in traffic so you can write more of that kind of content.
Let’s say you see a large portion of your traffic visiting an article on tax deductions. You could write more articles on tax deductions, going more in-depth or covering different angles. You could write articles about different types of tax minimisation as well.
Identifying your key content is important, because you will be able to decide:
- What type of content you should write more of;
- What kind of content isn’t working, so you don’t waste time on it;
- Which topics your visitors are most interested in;
- Which articles to focus links on to boost their search rankings.
Getting More Search Engine Traffic
Everyone wants more traffic from Google, but without Analytics, it can be hard to figure out where to concentrate your efforts. You can use Analytics to figure out a plan to help boost your search engine position and attract more traffic.
Most of your information for this will come from the acquisition reports. If you go to ‘Acquisition’ > ‘Search Console’ > ‘Queries’, you’ll discover the keywords people are using to find your site. It will also tell you the position you were in at the time and how many people clicked when they saw your page.
Note: This information is more accurate if your site is added to Google Search Console and linked to your Analytics account.
Here are some ways you can use Analytics to get more traffic from search engines:
- Identify successful and unsuccessful content;
- Figure out which keywords users are using to find your site;
- Find out which keywords you’re ranking near page one for so you can get more links to boost them to the first page. Here’s one of our link building strategies.
- Find out which pages are most popular so you can send share them more on social media.
- Find out which keywords are getting the highest click through rate (CTR) in the search results to know which articles might need to be changed (such as title or description changes) to get more clicks.
Traffic Sources That Are Working Best
If you visit your dashboard and go to ‘Acquisition’ > ‘All Traffic’ > ‘Source/Medium’, you will find out which sites are sending you the most traffic. This can be helpful in figuring out where to focus your marketing efforts, as well as what you could improve to get more traffic from other sites.
It can also provide you with information about too much traffic that may be coming from a single source. Like investing, you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket. A good distribution across search, social, referrals and ads is ideal.
Google Analytics is a complex tool, but that makes it incredibly useful. It does take a bit of time getting used to and it isn’t the most intuitive tools, but if you really take the time to delve deep into it, Google Analytics can really help you boost your traffic, conversions and grow your firm.
As we’ve discussed in this guide, Analytics can help you:
- Track traffic sources;
- See which keywords people are using to find your site;
- Track conversion results;
- Learn what content people want more of;
- and much more.
Don’t be like the average accountant who installs it on their site and then forgets it. Take the time to learn it or hire a professional to analyse it for you.