As the top search engine in the world, Google leverages its ability to route web users by offering several reporting products for businesses looking to understand how users engage with their digital properties. Of its portfolio: Analytics, Tag Manager, and Search Console are three powerful tools that enable marketers with greater visibility into the effectiveness of their efforts, guide digital strategy and decision-making, and get a sense of overall web health.
Here’s an overview of what you can expect from each product, and a little on when/how to use them:
Of any Google product, I suggest starting with Google Analytics before using and integrating with other Google products. It’s a great (and free!) solution for capturing user demographics, behavior, and origin. To get started, I would recommend using a corporate Google account and ensure you (or a developer) have access to your site’s HTML to add the tracking code. This tracking code and instructions for installation are easily found in the administrative pane.
Once you’re in, look around! The initial data you see is a “raw” or unfiltered view. Maintaining a view of your “raw” data is a best practice, as this will serve as a backup. Over time, you’ll want to establish filters for grooming your data by adding additional views with filters to sniff out internal traffic, bots, and spam. I suggest giving your site about a month before you start setting up filters. We’ll come back to this another time.
The left pane is where you’ll want to focus your attention:
Search Console conveys how Google crawls and interprets your site and content. From the Search Console interface you can gauge search traffic and performance, immediately troubleshoot indexing and sitemap issues, improve search results based on Google’s recommendations, and analyze impressions, clicks, and overall position.
There’s something valuable in each tab:
By connecting Search Console data to your Google Analytics account, you can see which queries are bringing visitors to your sites from the Analytics interface. It’s important to make sure you don’t neglect Search Console, as there’s pertinent data that’s not reflected in Analytics, such as what pages are being indexed (or not), mobile usability issues and recommendations, and specific search query metrics.
Tag Manager enables non-technical users to quickly and easily customize and deepen their analytics reporting without the need of a developer. To accomplish this, Google Tag Manger brings the data layer to marketers to better understand code-level interactions, including specific downloads, forms, data layer variables, and much more.
Once in, here’s a breakdown of the interface, the basic components at your disposal, and how each work together to deepen our understanding of what’s happening on a given site:
There you have it! An introduction to the must-haves in Google’s Business Solutions suite. These tools collectively enable teams to take a deeper look at the effectiveness of their work. By regularly taking time to monitor and understand your analytics, you can make incremental improvements to your site and tailor future marketing efforts that drive greater and more relevant engagement.