While exploring the Google Analytics interface, you may have come across the annotation feature. While annotations aren’t a new feature in the platform, they are an optional (though important) tool that sometimes gets overlooked. Annotations can be thought of, in the simplest sense, as a “sticky note”. Similar to placing a reminder on your calendar at home, annotations can be placed directly on the over-time graph in Google Analytics to represent or remind the user of an important event or significant time in history.
Annotations are often created to explain “spikes” in website traffic. As seen in the example below, there was a peak in website traffic on Wednesday, February 16, 2011. Below the graph are four annotations created for the month that note the assumed reason for increases in website traffic (on 2/2, 2/16, and 2/22).
Annotations are a great way to track progress over time. From a marketing perspective, annotations allow you to track the impact of your campaigns. In this way, you are able to bring intelligence to data. Annotations are most useful when you can compare data over time. The more comparable data available, the easier it will be to justify replicating or diminishing certain marketing efforts.
Annotations are easy to create. The one “catch” that is worth noting is you can not create an annotation in advance. For instance, if you know that at the end of each month, you distribute a company newsletter, you are unable to create an annotation ahead of time. Best practice is to create the note immediately after a project is complete.
To create an annotation, click on a date on the graph (Note-you can create annotations on any page in the platform that displays the graph, whether it be “Dashboard” or “Traffic Sources”). When clicking on a specific date, a small window will appear (as seen above) with the selected date, number of visits, and it gives the option to “Create new annotation”. When you click on that option, a new field will appear that allows you to describe an event in 160 characters. Additionally, the feature gives you the option to share the annotation with others that access your account or keep it private (see illustration below). After submitting, the annotation will appear on the date selected and will appear as a small comment box. You are also able to “star” annotations that you feel are most important or that you would like viewers to pay special attention to. A website launch would be a great time to “star” an annotation, as it is an event that may only occur once over a long period of time.
Annotations are a great way to effectively track your marketing efforts (obviously after placing Google Analytics Tracking Code on all efforts first), as they will help you to analyze the success of projects over time. The best word of advice would be to create annotations and use them often.
Properly tagging URLs with Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC) is one of the most important and useful tools at your disposal. Tracking code gives marketers and other decision-makers insight into the success of all marketing efforts. While the process may seem like learning a foreign language in the beginning stages, adding code does get easier with practice. The second challenge with having analytics data is learning how to analyze it. The best part is, MoreVisibility just created a free Google Analytics Tagging Tool that will formulate analytics tracking code automatically for you! Now that there is a tool to minimize human error in generating the data, more focus can be placed on learning how to analyze and make decisions accordingly.
When tagged correctly, Google Analytics will know where to attribute referring traffic. This information will let you know how people got to your website (where they were immediately prior to landing on your website). With this data, you can start to focus your energy on marketing channels that are most successful and rid those that are underperforming. For example, if referring traffic is highest from a particular social media channel, continue efforts in that area (and possibly look to increase the amount of marketing campaigns there).
Analytics data is only useful if it is accurate and consistent. Being able to compare data over periods of time allows for the best decision-making. For the most part, it is human error that causes any discrepancy with information. To help eliminate inconsistencies for clients and others MoreVisibility created new Google Analytics Tagging Tool. The easy four step process allows users to enter four types of required information. After this information is submitted, the tool shoots back a URL with GA coding in the proper format. The four steps are listed below.
*The following two steps are optional and will give you additional information, if desired.
The tool is illustrated below and can be found on MoreVisibility’s website here:
Handling the Corporate Marketing at our company, I can attest to the usefulness of this new tool. To give you a “real life” example of how we would use this tool for our marketing, I have included an example below.
Step 1- Destination URL= https://www.morevisibility.com/mobile-website-form.php
Step 2- Source= google
Step 3- Medium= cpc
Step 4- Campaign= March 2011 (Step 5 wasn’t necessary)
Step 6- 300×250 (put the dimensions of the banner that we used)
Mastering Google Analytics tagging is just a small part of Google AdWords. However, Google AdWords is the foundation that allows you to utilize all of the other tools available within the platform. Furthermore, Google Analytics data is pulled into goals, funnels, annotations, and custom reports that you are able to create in the Google AdWords Platform. For the “rookies” in the analytics world, start tagging every URL possible (feel free use our new tool for some help), collect as much data as possible, start analyzing efforts, and market for success!
In a recent blog post on leveraging SEO benefits of video, I mentioned how YouTube is an excellent way to drive visitors to your website. Equally important is allowing individuals to access your YouTube company page through adding a YouTube link/button on your website. From an SEO perspective, frequently adding fresh content to your channel and properly tagging your videos will allow you to utilize YouTube as an SEO channel.
Properly “Tagging”? Just remember this: “TDK”…Title, Description, Keywords.
SEO benefits are the greatest payback from coordinated efforts to frequently produce video content and properly tag them. While it does require resources, mainly time, using YouTube is an inexpensive way to gain brand visibility and rank in search engines for your important keywords.