The default settings in Google Analytics do not provide data you can really take action with. After all what actions can you realistically take with page view and traffic source statistics? Google Analytics is software, and like most software to be valuable it must be configured. Thankfully for WordPress users there are a wide variety of plug-ins available to help you configure a few of Google Analytics’ settings. Here are a few of my favorite settings”:
Site Search (a personal favorite)
If you have a search box on your website, you want this. Google Analytics tracks how many times your visitors use your website’s search box; and even better it tracks how many times each search term is used in your website’s search box. There are many powerful ways you can use the search box data, including for:
- New SEO search terms
- Blog / Content ideas
- Missing content your visitors would like to see
When setting up site search with your WordPress plug in you will need to provide the search query. The search query is a letter, usually an “s” or a “q” on most WordPress sites. To find your website’s search query go to your website’s search bar, type something in and hit return. Go to the URL bar at the top of your search results and look for the letter immediately after the “?”. Insert that letter into plug-in.
Exclude Some WordPress User Types (a favourite of mine)
As the Administrators of our websites we don’t need our traffic activity included with our regular visitors. In fact our own traffic can skew our data. Check this setting to exclude WordPress Administrators activities from being included in your data.
WordPress Categories and Tags (another favourite of mine)
In addition to keep our blog content organized, WordPress tags and categories are valuable SEO juice. When GA tracks how your website visitors use your tags you can rank them and swap out the low performers for fresher tags that might perform better, perhaps with something you see from Site Search. This setting is tough to find in WP plugins. I have only seen it in the Yoast Google Analytics plug-in.
PDF Downloads and Outbound Links
Many of us offer PDFs for download. If you have PDFs on your website it is a good idea to understand how they contribute to your website goals. Check this box on the plug-in and then all PDF downloads on your website will be tracked.
Set Domain Name
This prevents others from using your tracking code on their website and inflating your data.
Enhanced Link Attribution / In Page Analytics
This is a fancy name for telling you what percent of visitors to a page are clicking on specific links. It is useful for analyzing underperforming pages or if you are considering redesigning a page.
If you have advertising on your blog you will want this feature enabled.
Load GA Code onto Your Website
It’s easy to take this one for granted. But it’s important because if the Google Analytics Tracking Code is not inserted on every page, you don’t have Google Analytics. When you sign up for Google Analytics you are provided with java script that should be loaded onto every page you want to track. Without a plug-in you have to insert the java script manually into the header.php file just before the closing head tag. If you are just starting out this is intimidating because there’s the risk (albeit small) of messing up your entire website. If you don’t know what that header.php and closing head tag is, you probably shouldn’t be inserting the GA code – let the plug-in do it for you. The WordPress plug-in will have a box for you to insert the GA Tracking ID (the number highlighted at the top of Figure 1. Copy your GA Tracking ID and paste it in the plug-in. Your Google Analytics tracking is ready to go. Now it’s time to configure with the plug-in.
Do You Have Anything to Add?
So that’s my list. Please add yours in the comments. WordPress Plug-in image: Image from ZERO TO WORDPRESS HERO Ben Lobaugh