Are There Valuable Data Google Analytics Fails To Tell? - Semalt Expert


While we continue to hold Google in high regard for everything related to the internet, they aren't perfect. Google Analytics, for example, wasn't designed to give SEO experts every insight they need.

Considering that Google Analytics is a free tool, it offers more than we can ask for. GA is a tool offered by Google to help SEO professionals track activities that takes place on a website.

How valuable is Google Analytics?

Once we install GA on a site, we can begin collecting specific data like how many visitors the website has, what pages on the website enjoy the most traffic and so on. Google Analytics has its benefits, and there is no doubt that it is a valuable asset to SEO professionals. 

We learn a lot from Google Analytics, but it falls short in certain areas. That is because Google Analytics wasn't designed to tell us everything. 

What Google Analytics Can't Tell You 

As digital marketers, it is important to know the limits of Google Analytics. With the knowledge of what it doesn't tell us, it becomes easier to find a tool that gives that data. Here are some things Google Analytics wouldn't tell you.

Historical data

Not all websites install GA tracking code on their website from the getgo. And sometimes, we need data from before the installation of GA. It's like a net; before you cast it in the water, you can only guess the number of fishes that passed. 

This is why we advise clients to set up GA from the onset of their website. GA should be considered a top priority for many reasons. 

Another reason why you may be missing data is that GA doesn't automatically track the actions of users on your site. If it hasn't been instructed to do that, it will only tell you how many clicks you had, where they are from and which pages they viewed. 

GA4 automatically tags some events (events are actions taken by a user), but it also excludes some very important data for SEO pros. There are other amazing analytic tools out there that can compliment this shortcoming. 

Sampling

Sampling is another piece of information about your site traffic you may be missing out on. Data sampling means that a smaller portion of the larger piece was analyzed in order to identify the trend or pattern quickly. 

Here's an illustration

Imagine if your kids dropped 5,000 lego pieces on the floor. And you get curious, and you begin to wonder how many yellow lego pieces there are. Now you can decide to spend a lot of time sorting and counting each piece. 

Or you could select a section at random and count just 500 pieces. If you're done counting and realize that there are 200 yellow Legos in the 500 pieces, you now have a data subset. It is also reasonable to assume that 1,000 yellow legos got dumped out. 

Sampling may not always give you the exact figure, but it comes close, and it saves you time and effort. Remember that in business, things may not be as evenly distributed as it was in our lego example, and sometimes, your calculation may be way off. 

To ensure this isn't the case, the first thing we do is to identify whether or not the data is being sampled. If you're using a free GA account, data sampling occurs around 500,000 sessions within a specific data range. 

To know if sampling is in effect, look for a yellow shield with checkmarks above the report. You will also find a message that reads: This report is based on N% of sessions. To stop your data from being sampled, you need to upgrade to GA4. Google Analytics 4 is also free and has no limits. The catch, however, is that thresholds will be applied to protect the privacy of your visitors.

If a data report contains the gender, age and interests of users, GA may apply a threshold, and it may keep some data hidden to protect its users. 

Heat Mapping

This is one area where GA falls short in its onsite analysis. Heat mapping is a data visualization technique that uses bright colors to represent values. Red, in this case, represents larger values, and Blue represents smaller values. 

It is a quick and easy way to see how customers interact with a web page. It shows what they click more often and less often. 

There are three types of website heatmaps:
  • Click maps that show where users click and don't click
  • Scroll maps to show how far down users scroll by the percentage of all users 
  • Hover maps to show the location of users cursor 
As digital marketers, we use the heatmap to understand users' behavior on a webpage. We need to understand as much as we can about an audience and how they interact with a webpage, and these insights are essential to doing that. If we're asked to optimize a page's layout, improve the user experience or increase the conversion rate of a site, we need to see how and what users do when they are on the page. 

Although Google Analytics has something similar to a heat map, it comes short in all the bells paid services features. And it is actually Page Analytics, a chrome feature that enables the heat map feature you find in Google Analytics. 

Steps to see your heat map on Google Analytics in Real-Time 
  • The first thing you need to do is download Page Analytics by Google on your extension toolbar. 
  • Log into your GA account and open a webpage that is associated with the GA account you opened.
  • Turn on Page Analytics.

Social Media Monitoring

Social media monitoring is the process of tracking information that's relevant to your business that appears on social media platforms. Here, we look for things like brand mentions, relevant hashtags, shared posts and articles, etc. 

GA can track actions and behaviors on a website. One of those includes tracking which users landed on your website from a referral on social media. It shows which pages they landed on and whether they triggered an event. This won't tell you about user activity on their social media platforms. 

If you know your way around APIs, there are several tools that provide social share analytics and insights. 

Lead quality

Many SEO experts will agree that lead quality is one of the hardest user behavior to track. This is because it mostly happens offline. Things like content form submission and sales calls are essential to determining how effective your marketing efforts are. 

For offline interactions like sales calls, the best thing to do is to monitor those calls so you can fully understand the customer. 

We have also discovered that using Google Tag Manager can help you score more points in lead submission. One day, we may be able to combine online and offline lead quality scoring that will be more accessible to small business owners. This also provides data for marketing professions. 

Conclusion

Google Analytics is an incredible tool for marketers. It provides us with a lot of relevant information that helps us understand how our visitors interact with a page. As a free tool, it sure does a lot of good. 

We can see how many visitors go to a page, how they interact with that page and with that information, we can draft successful marketing campaigns. 

With some tweaks and modifications, we can also transform Google Analytics into an even more robust tool that can power great marketing campaigns. 

We strongly advise that you get professionals who understand Google Analytics. Or you can contact us today

Interested in SEO? Check out our other articles on the Semalt blog.

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