Website Analytics to the Next Level [How-to-Guide]

Marketing Web development
July 22, 2016

More than half of the websites out there use Google Analytics, making it the most popular website analytics tool in the world with a huge market share of over 80%.

Being a free tool with a very easy install process, it’s no wonder everyone uses it.

However, the reports and data it shows you out of the box are standard traffic metrics and for too many companies out there, that’s the only data they ever use to analyse their website’s performance.

With right set-up, Google Analytics can track pretty much anything you want with some exceptions where other tools perform much better or you need to get some real human answers instead of quantitative data.

In this post, we’re going through some essential setup steps for Google Analytics and introduce few other tools that will take your website analytics to the next level.

Setting up your website analytics the right way

When you first create a Google Analytics property, it comes with default settings that won’t do much if you really want to track the performance of your website.

With some simple additional steps, you get access to the following features:

  1. Event and conversion tracking
  2. E-commerce data
  3. Remarketing
  4. Visitor demographics
  5. Campaign tracking
  6. Google search console data
  7. Site search data
  8. Filters
  9. A/B testing
  10. Automated reports

Let’s dive into the features…

Conversion tracking

To be able to calculate ROI for your marketing efforts, conversion tracking is bare minimum you have to get set up. For any action that plays an important role in achieving your business goals should be tracked, so make sure you set them up.

Conversions fall into 2 categories:

Macro conversions are primary goals like completing purchase or user converting to a qualified lead via a form, trial or demo signup. These are important events, but not the only ones you should track.

Micro conversions can be anything that plays a part in leading a visitor becoming a lead or are otherwise important to your marketing. These can be e-mail signups, downloads, social shares or users spending a great amount of time reading your content.

In Google Analytics, conversions are tracked with Goals and there are 4 different types you can set up:

  1. Destination, a certain page is being loaded, typically a thank you page or order confirmation. You can also set up funnels to track the steps leading to conversion
  2. Duration, a session that lasts a specific amount of time or longer
  3. Pages per session, a user views a specific number of pages or screens
  4. Events are actions that cannot be tracked with page load, like a button clicks or view views. Events are set up placing JavaScript triggers either by code or using Google Tag Manager


Analytics Help: Create and manage goals ›
Kissmetrics Blog: The Google Analytics Conversion Funnel Survival Guide ›

Tracking e-commerce data

Analytics can receive detailed information about e-commerce activity on your site like total revenue, a number of orders, average order value, conversion rate etc. But the feature needs to be switched on and your e-commerce platform needs to have support for sharing that data.

Many platforms like Shopify have this feature built in, or it can be enabled with a plugin like in WooCommerce.

By turning on Enhanced Ecommerce tracking, you can get even more insight into the customers’ purchase journey in your website analytics.


E-Commerce Tracking in Google Analytics – Complete Guide ›


Remarketing allows you to place ads in front of a defined audience that had previously visited your website.

Even if you have no plans of running a remarketing a campaign right now, it’s a good idea to enable the feature so you have the data if you ever decide to do so.

Enabling remarketing requires data collection for advertising features turned on and notification of this in your privacy policy.


Ultimate guide to AdWords remarketing ›


With demographics and interests data you can see the age, gender and interest categories of your visitors. This is not enabled by default and like remarketing, it requires data collection for advertising features to be turned on.


Guide to Google Analytics Demographics Reports: Age, Gender & Interests ›

Campaign tracking

If you are using AdWords, make sure to link it to your website analytics for automatic campaign data.

For everything else, you need to generate campaign tracking URLs to track them in google analytics. You can use Google’s Campaign URL builder for generating your tracking URLs.

Google search console

Google Search Console is a powerful tool to improve your SEO and analyze your search traffic, keywords. You can now see that data in Google Analytics reports by linking the Search Console property with your Analytics account.


The Ultimate Guide to Using Google Search Console as a Powerful SEO Tool ›

Site search

Your website’s internal search can give insight into your user’s behaviour. By enabling site search in Analytics you can tap into this valuable data.


Essential Guide to Google Analytics Site Search ›


Internal traffic and referral spam can mess up your data. You can create filters to exclude internal traffic and remove referral spam from your view.

A/B testing

A/B testing is a great way to optimise your site for better conversions. There are many premium tools to do A/B testing with, but you can also do get started doing it free with Google Analytics Content Experiments.

For a complete guide, read this blog post from GrazyEgg’s blog for A/B testing in Google Analytics.

Automated email reports

Want your key reports delivered to you, team members or client on a regular basis?

No problem, you can set up recurring email delivery for any report view in Google Analytics. If you need to send out a custom report, you can do this by setting up a dashboard and set it up for email delivery.

Setting up additional analytics tools

Google Analytics is all about numbers.

While that data can help you identify some critical issues and learn about your visitor’s behaviour, there are other tools that will help you drill down into user experience in much deeper level and analyse that data visually.

What google analytics can’t track

  • Heatmaps
  • Recordings
  • Tracking forms
  • Qualitative data
  • Contact tracking

There are some free tools you can start using to track these, one that can track most of the above is HotJar.

Setting up HotJar

Setting up HotJar is very easy, a lot easier than Google Analytics. Just sing up for a free plan, install the tracking code and start recording website analytics data.

With the free plan, you are limited in terms of pages to track, snapshot sample size and number of user recordings to store. Upgrading to paid plan is only $29/month and gives you the advantage of unlimited recordings and tracking.

Heatmaps with HotJar give visual behavioural data


When it comes to analysing user experience, traditional website analytics data just won’t tell you everything you need to know. That’s where heatmaps come very useful. Heat maps are images of your page overlayed with hot areas based on clicks, mouse movement or page scroll.

Google Analytics kind of does this with its in-page analytics, but it’s nothing compared to what a proper heat mapping tool can do for you.

HotJar does this very well by recording separate maps for device and type including mobile, tablet and desktop, taps, mouse movement and page scroll.

Once completed, you can download the maps as images to archive, this is particularly handy if you are using the free plan limited to recording only 3 heat maps at once.

Analyze user behaviour with user recordings in HotJar


Recordings are amazing, they basically show a video of a user browsing your website. It sounds creepy but really helps you identify problems that you could miss by just looking at data. The interface for filtering recordings is pretty amazing too, so you can really dig deep finding out about specific issues.

Other reports like form analysis and funnels also link directly to filtered recordings specific to that specific step and problem.

Analyzing your website forms with with HotJar form tracking

Tracking forms

The last and crucial step for many conversions is a form, identifying fields that make your users abandon it can help you make a massive improvement to your conversion rate.

HotJar conversion analysis does just that for you, by creating a visual funnel from your form fields and showing the percentage of users dropping in each step. This allowing you to analyse and optimise it to perform much better resulting in higher conversion rates.

Funnels with HotJar provide more visual way to analyze your website data


Funnels basically same as multi-step goals in Google Analytics, but they are much more visual in HotJar and give you more insight by linking to recordings users existing in each step.

Get qualative website analytics data using polls with HotJar

Qualitative data

In terms of users experience, what your website analytics offers is behavioural data, but often it’s not enough to give answers to all your questions.

So why don’t you just ask them instead?

HotJar provides you with a few different tools to get answers from your users.

Polls let you create short surveys that can be triggered on a page or when a user is about to leave your site. They are great ways to get spontaneous answers to simple questions.

For collecting more specific data, you can use surveys or ask visitors to sign up for user testing with recruiters.

Contact level tracking with HubSpot Free

At my agency we’ve been using HubSpot for marketing and sales for some time now, what I like best about it is the contact records and how they show the timeline of every action taken by that person.

HubSpot has made this feature available for everyone with their free version of the marketing platform.

It turns your site visitor into a contact once they fill in a form on your website and tracks where they first came to visit you, and every taken action since then.

You can automatically sync these contacts to other tools like email marketing platform or CRM, making it easy to follow up with email or set up automation workflows to nurture your leads.

HubSpot Free can be installed on any website with forms by simply adding a tracking code, or if you run a WordPress site it’s even easier with their plugin.


Finally, if you’ve read this far, it’s obvious setting up a website analytics properly does not happen in 5 minutes.

But it’s most certainly worth the effort if you want to eliminate guesswork and improve your site based on real data.

As a result,  understanding your users and their behaviour requires tools beyond traditional website analytics. HotJar and HubSpot Free are what I use to improve many of our client’s website performance.

Go try them out and let me know in the comments if you found success with them.

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Ville Teikko

Ville Teikko is an award-winning creative & digital marketing specialist with over 20 years of experience in the digital design and advertising industry. Currently working as a Head of Digital at Harva Marketing.

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