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How to Optimize Google Analytics for WordPress

Google Analytics is an immensely powerful tool that enables its users to gain invaluable insights into the behavior of their website’s visitors. Learning how to optimize Google Analytics for WordPress will let you know how users interact with your site and which goals you are failing to meet, and ultimately enable you to shape a unique marketing strategy for your whole online business.

Despite there not being a single official tool for integrating Google Analytics with WordPress, there are plenty of unofficial plugins which get the job done fantastically well.

This time around we’ll be taking a look at several of these plugins, and an extended peek under the hood of one in particular. Then we’ll guide you through the process of setting goals for your site. Are you ready to unleash the full potential of Google Analytics for WordPress? Let’s find out!

Step 1: Optimizing the Google Analytics by MonsterInsights plugin

Formerly known as Google Analytics for WordPress, this plugin was re-branded as Google Analytics by MonsterInsights after being acquired in 2016 by a team with ties to OptinMonster.

This plugin enables you to track your stats easily with a metrics dashboard, activate demographics and interest reports, track your search result pages, and pretty much everything you’ve come to expect from Google Analytics – right from your WordPress dashboard.

We won’t bore you with installation details or by guiding you through the process of syncing it with Google Analytics – instead, let’s jump right into the optimization process.

Enabling demographic and interest reports

Demographic reports provide you with insights as to who your users are by segmenting them into specific categories according to their age, gender, and parental status.

A screenshot of a demographics report on Google Analytics.

Interest reports, on the other hand, enable you to categorize your audience according to their affinities for specific products, services, or – in our case – keywords.

A screenshot of an interests report by Google Analytics.

To get started gathering this data, head over to your Google Analytics account, find the Reporting tab, then go to Audience >> Demographics >> Overview. There, you’ll see the following screen:

A screenshot showing the option to enable demographic and interest reports on Google Analytics.

Hit the Enable button and we’re all set on this end – now it’s time to turn the feature on within the plugin as well.

Open your WordPress dashboard and locate the Insights tab, then go into its Settings screen. Check the Enable Demographics and Interests Reports for Remarketing and Advertising option as seen below:

A screenshot showing the option to enable reports on MonsterInsights.

Having done that, we’re all set! Do remember that it might take up to 24 hours before there is any data available for you to peruse within these reports, though.

Step 2: Installing complementary plugins

The Google Analytics for MonsterInsights plugin is not all that’s out there as far as third-party improvements for the platform are concerned – in fact, when it comes to learning to optimize Google Analytics for WordPress we’ve got a couple of suggestions for you right here:

Reduce Bounce Rate

The aptly named Reduce Bounce Rate plugin introduces a simple tweak that modifies the method Google Analytics uses to track your bounce rate. By default, Google Analytics will count visitors who fail to engage with your site as ‘bounced’ – and set their time spent inside as zero – even if they spend half an hour reading a sales page and then decide to send you an email.

What Reduce Bounce Rate does is send Google Analytics a bit of data every few seconds which enables it to count those slow-reading individuals as real visitors.

Look through what’s in the official plugin directory

The official plugin directory always has interesting solutions for Google Analytics. You should check out what’s available every once in a while and update the GA plugin portfolio of your site accordingly.

ga plugins

Step 3: Setting goals in Google Analytics

Every website has a goal – be it to sell products, amass users, or promote other services (among many others). Google Analytics enables you to track your goals through its aptly named Goals system, which determines whether the conditions for each goal have been met using parameters set by you.

To find the Goals screen, you need to go to your Admin tab on Google Analytics, then click on the Goals item under the View column:

A screenshot of the Goals option under the Views column.

Once there, you can create new goals by choosing from a template of predetermined ones or creating a custom one. Despite the many templates available, there are only four types of goals:

  1. Reaching a specific URL.
  2. Spending at least X time on a page.
  3. Visiting at least X pages.
  4. Completing a particular action/event (e.g. watching a video).

For each new goal, you must set a specific set of requirements out of the four above. This enables you to create highly specific goals using Google Analytics for WordPress, such as tracking WooCommerce conversions using a destination goal (i.e. reaching a specific URL).

To do this, first, we must click on +New Goal, then set the goal as Custom, specify an informative name and select Destination as its type:

Screenshot showing the process of setting a custom goal.

All that’s left to do now is select the destination itself, and the Thank you page that WooCommerce displays post-checkout is the perfect setting for ours.

Screenshot showing the process of setting a custom URL as a goal.

Insert your post-purchase URL, click Save, and that’s it for your first goal! You could do something very similar with say your email signup confirmation screen (for tracking signups), to track the efficacy of calls to action and landing pages, and so on.

Optimize Google Analytics for WordPress: Conclusion

As is plain to see, if you want to optimize Google Analytics for WordPress, this can be a difficult goal to achieve. Putting Google Analytics to work to its full potential alongside WordPress requires a lot of tweaks and the occasional third-party tool, but the efforts are well worth the reward. If you’ve followed our advice, you’re well on your way to unlocking the full potential of this powerful combination.

Before we part ways, let’s briefly recap the steps we’ve outlined here today on how to optimize Google Analytics for WordPress:

Having trouble integrating Google Analytics for WordPress and making it work exactly like you need it? Feel free to submit any questions in the comments section below!

Original text by Tom Ewer and Karol K.

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