This article is to discuss some of the most used Google Services available, Google Analytics (GA) and Google Tag Manager (GTM). It is for non-technical professionals who wish to understand these systems and make a determination if their benefits can improve your bottom line.
Google Analytics (GA) is a tool for website owners, business professionals and web developers to monitor the traffic coming to your site. When setup correctly, GA can provides insights on user behavior and can be used to help improve the impact your site has.
Update: Google is currently phasing out Google Analytics 3 (or Universal Analytics) for Google Analytics 4 (GA4).
Contrarily, Google Tag Manager (GTM) is an associated and complimentary technology to Google Analytics that enables advanced event recording on internal and external applications. In essence, Google Tag Manager enables Tags that allow for advanced recording of user activities. GTM is also available for non-web based applications or apps.
Google Analytics is one of the most popular Analytics tools available. With Google Tag Manager, GA is expanded to offer all of the analytics an average company needs. This leads to accurate statistics and amazing value. What’s more, its almost free.
User Behavior Tracking
Known as user flow tracking, Google Analytics can provide you with how users commonly use your website or application. Utilizing the extensive analytics can provide an in-depth understand of what parts of the sites are used, and what parts need to be optimized.
Goal / Conversion Tracking
Improper configuration of Google services will lead to missed opportunities. And what we find is absent, is often missing is the important part. Goal tracking, or conversion tracking, is easily the most important, common, opportunity that is missed by most technicians. and is the part that defines a successful user engagement. Thus, without this information we will struggle to measure success.
So what does goal tracking involve? This may involve the user using the contact form or making a purchase. For most websites, a successful engagement is when a sale occurs. Regardless of the goal, marking these activates as a success can help you find out what works and doesn’t.
Most site owners are missing opportunities because of improper setup, and leading to missed opportunities. We recommend a regular analytics audit.
Google Tag Manager and Analytics are compatible with A/B testing. A/B testing can only occur after identifying opportunities on your web property. Instead of destroying the original method, and replacing it, A/B testing provides each user random access each solution.
Utilizing A/B testing provides a way to verify any system changes are effective. Through A/B testing, we therefor can prove any improvements actually accomplish sales goals.
Contrarily to what everyone else seems to think, Google services are not free. In exchange for the insight into your users behavior, Google gets to track your users on your site. This presents clear privacy concerns for your users and has legal concerns for you. Your Privacy statement should include your usage of Google Analytics.
Another key problem with Google Analytics comes from its popularity. Its rather ease for users to find tools that block it. We even encourage our users to use some of these.
Lastly Google only allows for anonymous tracking. Any attempt to break this, by storing user identification information, is a violation of Google Analytics and Tag Manager Terms of Service, and can lead to account suspension.
Should I Use Google Analytics or Google Services?
Typically we advice our clients to use these services if they’re actually used by the owner. In many cases, our customers have these tools installed but their never use them. If this is the case, the cost of these services might not be worth what you get. And no, these are not free tools.
What is the cost?
It’s free, right? Not so fast!
The cost of all Google services is that you agree to provide data of your users and customers to Google. This is used by Google to develop products and to calculate what advertisements are shown to users. And don’t forget that Google (or the Advertisers) maybe your competitors.
As mentioned in the cost section, these services cost your company privacy on your users and customers behavior. This means, to be GDPR compliant, the usage of these services must be included in the privacy statement.
Why is the proper method important? (Advertisement)
Here at Proper Programming, data is king. Knowing how your users behave online will ultimately lead you to success. But that data needs to be as complete as possible. Let us help set up your Google Services so that you can maximize your returns.
How to set up Google Services?
It’s actually not hard to set up most websites with Google services, but to do it properly requires a bit of expertise. We will continue to dive into this topic in the future and want to encourage our readers to find many great resources available on this the topic. You may even use Google to do this.
Search Console, or formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, reports to website owners any issues Google search bot has when indexing your site. This is important because it will notify the website owner of any problems that might be hurting their PageRank.
Our current recommendation for WordPress users is to first check your theme and plugins for Google Analytics support. Many current themes have options in their settings that allow for Google Analytics.
After searching the settings, it’s important that you only use one set of Google Analytics or tag manager trackers. If you see more then one of these trackers present, its best to remove them.
There are plenty of alternatives to Google Analytics, including Microsoft, Twillo, Zoho, IBM, Adobe, and many others. Unfortunately, its outside the scope of this document to talk about this.
Update: May 18th, 2022 – Added Google Analytics 4 information. Fixed up language, and made it more clear and accurate.