The 7 Scariest Tricks in Google Analytics


Google Analytics collects a scary amount of data on website traffic. We’re talking every action on your site, plus demographic information. Even scarier, many people don’t take advantage of all the awesome features of this tool. There’s no denying that we at Whole Whale are fans of using technology to get creepy for good, and we have plenty of tricks up our sleeves to find data treats that help to BOOst conversions and drive impact. Dive deeper into Google Analytics with our 7 scariest tricks to help you conjure more precise reports and advanced insights.

1. I Spy… User Explorer

I always feel like somebody’s watching me… and that somebody is probably Google Analytics. Not only can you see the general traffic flow from one page on your site to another, but you can leverage the User Explorer to understand how individuals travel through your site. Google Analytics uses cookies to track users, so as long as a user is using their regular browser (not Incognito) and hasn’t cleared their cookies, you can track their interactions with your site day by day, hour by hour. You can also see what device they used, what channel source they came from, and if they completed any events or goals.
Use this data to get an idea of users’ relationships with your site and to learn what brings them back again and again.

2. Creepy Assisted Conversions

Speaking of repeat interactions, you can use the Assisted Conversions tab to see what traffic sources helped to drive (eventual) conversions. A user usually has multiple interactions with your site before she signs up for your list, donates, or takes some other key action. She may have found you when she Googled “candy donation,” then she saw your Google AdWords campaign about donating candy after Halloween, and then she finally decided to sign up to host a collection at her school after going directly to your site.
We often look at what sources drove the most goals, but we shouldn’t forget about the sources that assist along the way. Even though they don’t stick the landing, they help to get us there.

3. Spooky Scary Segments

Want to know how a specific demographic interacts with your site? Build out segments to filter your view for only users that satisfy certain criteria. For example, are you looking to target college students with your Facebook ad campaign? Create a segment of users with a service provider name that contains “school,” “university,” “education,” or “college.”

Or, maybe you were targeting government officials with an email campaign. You can build out a segment of users with a service provider name that contains “state of,” “senate,” “house of,” “government,” etc.
You can get super granular to see not only how many of these users are on your site, but also how they got there, and what they do when they arrive.

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4. Shocking Search Query Report

What are people thinking when they get to your site? Get into the minds of your users with the Search Query Report. This shows you what terms people searched before they saw your website and clicked through. Prepare to be surprised. One search term that brought users to the GOLD Comedy was “joke structure.” GOLD already had a types of jokes article, but this gave us the idea to write an even more specific resource outlining the structure of a joke.
Use this feature to get an idea of how people find your website, how they think about your organization, and what sort of content you can write to better reach and engage your audience.

5. Aaahh!! Real-Time Reporting

What are people doing right now? Real-Time reporting allows you to see the activities of people on your site in, well, real time. See what devices users are currently using, what sources are directing them to your site, and whether or not they’re converting. Great for testing any new goals or signup forms, and even better for creeping.

6. Ghost Spam

How can we not include something that is actually called “ghost”? Ghost spam never actually crawls its target site. Instead, spambots communicate directly with the Google Analytics Server to send fake data to unsuspecting accounts.
If you can’t tell whether or not a hostname is spam, check for user engagement: any hostname with a bounce rate close to 99% is likely ghost spam. You want to filter this spam out of your view so you only see the real, human actions on site. Our complete guide to filtering spam in Google Analytics in the video below.

7. Eerily Easy Shortcuts

There is nothing scarier than wasting time. Get data faster with these Google Analytics shortcuts. Our favorites are the date range shortcuts, the easiest way to search for data from Halloween 2016-Halloween 2017.

  • d t – Set date range to today
  • d y – Set date range to yesterday
  • d w – Set date range to last week
  • d m – Set date range to last month
  • d 7 – Set date range to last 7 days
  • d 3 0 – Set date range to last 30 days
  • d c – Toggle date comparison mode (to the previous period of whatever you are looking at.
  • d x – Toggle date comparison mode (to the previous year of the period you are looking at)

Those are our 7 Google Analytics tricks that are creepy and crawly, but in a good way. Have a scary cool trick of your own? Share it with us @WholeWhale and use the hashtag #WailedIt (see what we did there).