10 Google Analytics Features You Need to Understand

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10 Google Analytics Features You Need to Understand

Google Analytics is essential for anyone with a website. By understanding your consumer behavior on your website using Google Analytics, you’ll be able to optimize your website design, marketing efforts and even offerings to increase sales and revenue.

There are a lot of features and reports with Google Analytics out of the box. It can actually be a bit daunting trying to figure out, and try to get the information you need. Here are some basic features that everyone who uses Google Analytics should know in order to get the most out of Google Analytics.


Custom Segments

“All data in aggregate is ‘crap’”. Google Digital Marketing Evangelist has always emphasized the importance of looking data in slices or segments to draw meaningful insights or conclusions for your business. Custom segment is a great way to view only a specific section of your data. You can view it based on devices, demographic, behavior, acquisition..etc. How you set it up totally depend on your account and what questions you are trying to answer from Analytics.

For example, if I want to only look at the behavior of people who access the website through mobile, I would be able to set the technology to mobile users only and see how they behave differently from desktop users.

There are also advanced options for both conditions and sequences. Check it out and you will be amazed at what it can do.

Custom Reports

Custom reports are a lot more useful than the default reports in Google Analytics. It is actually much easier to create than fiddle with the existing Google Analytics reports. If you want to customize the existing report, just click the “Customization” button below.

custom reports in google analytics

You will be able to select different metric groups and dimensions for your custom report. Metrics are mostly numeric, measurable data, while dimensions are usually what characterize your data, for example, channels, landing page, geo, technology…etc.

custom reports in google analytics step 2

If you want to start with a new custom report, instead of customizing an existing report, simply click on “Customize” at the top of the page, and then click on the “+New Custom Report” button.

Once you have created custom reports, you will be able to find them in the Customization tab.

Custom Conversion Segments

If you want to look at Top Conversion Path, which located under Conversions, then Multi-Channel Funnels, you should definitely use Custom Conversion Segments. There are so many different options for segmentations. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. First, decide what questions you are trying to answer or what you are interested in seeing. For example, you might be interested in seeing interactions that started with paid PPC, then social media, and finally ended with direct paths that could began with an non-brand or brand campaign, etc.

custom conversion segments

Graph Annotations

This is one of the most underutilized tools in Google Analytics. However, it can actually be extremely useful. It allows you to look at your data in context as what was happening when there was a surge in traffic or drop in traffic. For example, one of my clients decided to do redesigned their website, but they didn’t redirect some of their urls correctly, and there were a sudden drop in traffic. Because I annotated that in the graph, my client was able to understand the reason behind the drop in traffic.

Create Goals

Setting up goals are important to understand your business’s performance online. Goals can be anything from micro, small engagements to macro, purchase conversions. You can track small engagements from pageviews, duration, bounce rate, but ultimately you want to convert your visitors into customers.

This is where you need to set up goals in order to track what percentage of your visitors successfully convert, and what paths lead to conversion. It’s also helpful to see what marketing campaigns are working in helping convert your visitors.

Google Analytics makes it really easy for you to setup goals. Simply go to Admin, then Goals.

setting up goals in google analytics

As you can see above, there are already plenty of templates for you to choose from depending on your business. However, you could also set custom goals, which can be almost anything.

Remarketing Lists

Remarketing or retargeting can be very powerful when using correctly. If you have Google remarketing tracking code on your website, you will be able to retarget your website visitors based on their behavior on your website, or engagement levels. The remarketing campaigns can be very personalized and targeted depending on how sophisticated your remarketing lists are.

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For example,  you can create a list for visitors who spent more than 10 minutes on site, and visit 5 pages or more without converting, and create a special campaign such as coupon or % of saving reengage these visitors. I also recommend creating a list for users who have already converted. You can further engage these converted visitors in the future.

To get to remarketing, simply go to Admin, it’s located right under it. Once it’s created in Google Analytics, it can be automatically imported to Google Adwords account for easy Adwords setups.

The Site Search Reports

The site search reports in Google Analytics can provide you with a lot of insights into what your visitors are looking for on your site. For most websites, you can set up the site search reports in Google Analytics directly without any modification to your website code.

To enable tracking on your site search, simply navigate to Admin, then View Settings, scroll all the way down to find Site Search Settings, click ON for site search tracking. Then you need to find out what query parameter you site is using. See some examples below:

Query Parameters: http://www.siteber.com/?s=google+analytics

Page Paths: http://www.siteber.com/search/google+analytics/

For query parameters, you simply enter s=. For page paths, you can use /search/. I also recommend to check Strip query parameters out of URL. It just makes your report cleaner. Click save and you are done.

site search report

To access your Site Search Report, go to Behavior, and click on Site Search. There are many things you can do with your site search report. For example, you will be able to see what your visitors are looking, but your site provides no such content. If many people are using your site search, you could reevaluate your site navigation to make it easier for your visitors to find information they need.

site search report 2

Affinity & In-Market Segments

Affinity & In-Market Segments Reports in Google Analytics can help you understand your website visitors better. This detail demographic data is a nice complement to the behavior data that Google Analytics collect from your site. In order to see this information in Google Analytics, under Demographics and Interest reports, you have to enable the reports from the admin tab. Here are the steps:

  1. Modify your Google Analytics tracking code by adding this line between ga(‘create’,…) and ga(‘send’,…)

ga(‘require’, ‘displayfeatures’);

  1. Navigate to the Admin tab
  2. Go to the specific account and property where you want to see the Demographic and interest data.
  3. Click on Property Settings
  4. Set Enable Demographics and Interests Report on under Advertising Features.

Affinity categories identify lifestyle preferences of your website visitors. See example below:

affinity category in google analytics

In-Market segments identify the product purchase interests of your site visitors. You can use this information to influence your marketing strategy. In addition, you can integrate this to Google Adwords to create different segments to target. This would likely create high value conversions.

in market segement in google analytics

Search Queries

This is one of my absolute favorite, yet many people do not utilize it to its fullest potential. With the advent of “Not Provided”, Google basically shut down our access to the organic search keywords that brought traffic to our site.

In order to see of more organic keywords, take a look at your Google Webmaster Tools (Now Google Search Console). Once it’s integrated with your Google Analytics Account, you will be able to see increased number of keywords. This is under Acquisition folder > Search Engine Optimization > Queries.

You can even export this data out of Google Analytics, do more analysis and provide this data to people without access to Google Search Console.

search queries in google analytics

Google Analytics Application Gallery

This is the hidden gem in Google Analytics. You are able to get access to a whole bunch of super-creative applications that help you solve any problem imaginable.

For example below, you can see an app called “Supermetrics Data Grabber for Excel’, this allows you to create automated dashboards and reports without needing you to manually update your reports. LogMyCalls integrate conversion analytics for phone calls that might originate from your digital ads and website interactions.

The App Gallery has both free and paid solutions. Check it out and you will be amazed at what you’ll find that will make your work 10x easier.

Google analytics appliation gallery





2018-03-01T02:40:01+00:00By |Categories: Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager|Tags: |

About the Author:

Cofounder of Siteber: a digital marketing professional with Master of Science in Marketing Analytics, specialize in SEO and Digital Analytics.


  1. Saima Newal June 8, 2015 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    First of all thanks for this useful article. I am a beginner on Web Analytics and was facing difficulties on some of the report-generation from Google Analytics. This article helped me a lot to understand how-tos of Google Analytics and additionally shared some interesting things, I can explore in coming days. Thanks for this article, tips and insights.

    • Jessie Liu June 19, 2015 at 12:30 am - Reply

      Thanks Saima. I am glad you found this article useful. Come back often, we are always adding articles about Google Analytics.

  2. Kristi Hines June 10, 2015 at 4:18 pm - Reply

    The best way to get started with custom reports, segments, etc. is to download a few from the Google Solutions Gallery [https://www.google.com/analytics/gallery/]. Then you can go in to edit them to see how they are set up and either tweak them to fit your needs or start creating new ones from scratch.

    • Jessie Liu June 19, 2015 at 12:26 am - Reply

      Great idea Kristi! That’s how I started as well. Occam’s Razor Awesomeness collection from Avinash Kaushik is awesome!

  3. Mamun June 15, 2015 at 12:59 pm - Reply

    At first many thanks for this useful article.This is very necessary post for me because I recently started SEO.Really awesome article of list, great effort.Great content.Your article help me to easy way to learn.God bless you.

    • Jessie Liu June 19, 2015 at 12:28 am - Reply

      Thanks Mamun. Glad you found it useful!

  4. Riyaz Alam June 23, 2015 at 11:50 am - Reply

    I was actually searching for an article that can help me in Google Analytic and your post ended my search. It is really a peace of quality work. I would like to thank for the contribution. I have bookmarked it for future reference. thanks for such a nice post. Keep it up!

    • Jessie Liu June 28, 2015 at 4:09 pm - Reply

      I am glad you found this useful! 🙂

  5. Julue January 27, 2016 at 3:46 am - Reply

    Great post! Google analytics has so much to offer which can make it overwhelming at times…this post helps to simplify things a bit. I will be saving this for future reference.

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