Note from Rae: Knowing Ian is fantastic with analytics, I selfishly asked him if he'd want to guest post on how affiliate marketers could make more income as a result of learning some tips and tricks when it came to analytics so I could pick up some new information. He graciously obliged.
#1 – Use Avinash's great page efficiency analysis report
Click this link , then click ‘Create Report' in Google Analytics, and bam—shiny new report. This report tells you which pages are doing the best job of attracting and keeping visitors.
By the way, Avinash has two other fantastic reports dealing with visitor acquisition and PPC in the same blog post. Read it here.
#2 – Integrate Adwords
I'd hope you've already done this, but if you're buying Adwords traffic, integrate Adwords into your Analytics profile.
The insights are priceless, from the cost per click to the value of each click from PPC. You'll never waste PPC money again. (Click all pictures to see the full size image)
Follow the instructions in Analytics for Adwords integration. They change so often I can't even try to approach the subject in a single blog post. But it's never that hard to do.
#3 – Look at query diversity
Organic search is a HUGE traffic driver. It gets stronger as you diversify the set of unique phrases driving traffic to your site. That query diversity is the single best indicator of SEO health. Find it under Traffic Sources > Search Engine Optimization > Queries. See that little number at the bottom right? That's your query diversity. More is better.
Note that you may have to set up Webmaster Tools integration, first. Go to Admin > Property Settings > Webmaster Tools Settings. Follow the instructions there.
#4 – Track onsite search terms
Google Analytics has a built-in tool for onsite search tracking. Go to Admin. Then select the individual site profile. Click Profile Settings and check ‘Do track Site Search'.
Then enter the search query parameter you use for onsite search. If you're not sure what the query parameter is, go to your site, run a search, and then look at the URL of the search results page. Here's one from our site, using Google Custom Search:
In that URL, the ‘s=test+query' is what matters. ‘s' is the query parameter. Enter that into the query parameter field, click ‘Apply', and you'll start getting great data regarding onsite search terms:
If you can deliver the content folks are searching for in the top 2-3 phrases right away, on the home page, you'll see an immediate boost in conversions.
#5 – Set intelligence alerts
In 2009 I started a blog about my favorite video game: Starcraft. I decided to give it a shot in the arm by buying some traffic. I put in a bid with no maximum budget.
You'd think I'd know better after 14 years.
The next day, I took a peek at my Adwords account and let out a screech rivaling The Sound of Ultimate Suffering. I'd somehow done a broad-match buy on ‘craft', thereby bringing my site 5,000 worthless clicks. I won't even tell you the price.
It's so frakking embarrassing I nearly retired on the spot. It still makes me whimper. My. God.
If I'd had an intelligence alert set up for traffic, or PPC costs, or just about anything else, I wouldn't known right away. Intelligence alerts send you an e-mail the moment something happens, like, oh, a sudden surge in paid search traffic.
To set up an alert, go to Admin. Select your site profile. Then click Assets > Custom Alert > Create new alert. Tweak as desired.
You'll now get a daily notification whenever your site reaches the alert condition:
It's not the be-all of site notification, but it would've saved me at least $900 or so. Le sigh.
Know what it can do
The most important lesson: Know what Google Analytics can do. It's far more than a traffic reporting tool, and you can use it to refine and hone your affiliate sites for huge gains.
You don't have to implement every feature on every site, but you should understand what's possible. Your bank account will thank you.