Haven’t set up Google Analytics on your site yet? Don’t worry, Search Hermit has you covered. Check out this blog on how to get started with Google Analytics and why you should. (Need a hand? Reach out to learn how I can help.)
If you’ve ever looked back at your marketing data, seen a huge drop or a huge spike, and tried to remember exactly what happened, you’re not alone.
I can’t tell you how many times a Search Hermit client will be checking out a reporting dashboard and say something like, “Hey isn’t that when we got mentioned in that big-time magazine?” Or, “Didn’t that huge traffic drop come when we accidentally didn’t renew our site’s domain?”
Sure, you may have your meeting notes filed away from months ago, but it’ll take time and effort to sort through them all and pinpoint the exact reason you had a huge anomaly in your data. Luckily, there’s an easier solution.
Annotate Big (and Small!) Events in Google Analytics
Google Analytics offers a small and very under-used feature that allows you to make note of big (and small!) events that can affect your website data.
If you’re logged in to your Google Analytics account, click AUDIENCE and then OVERVIEW. This is one place to see and add annotations.
When you’re on the page, click on the small, downward arrow under the main graph and on the right-hand side, click Create new annotation.
Select the date and create your annotation.
You can set annotations to be either private or shared. Once you’ve completed the form and made your selections, click ‘Save”.
Once you’ve saved your annotation, you’ll notice that it displays as a note in the Google Analytics timeline:
When to Use Annotations
Annotations should be used whenever an event occurs with the expectation that site traffic will be affected (positively or negatively!).
Major site launches or refreshes, SEO changes, promotional campaigns, and sitewide sales are examples of times annotations will prove useful.
But it doesn’t have to just relate to your site–newsworthy events or worldwide happenings that could affect traffic–like the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Annotation Best Practices
In order to make the most of the Google Analytics annotation feature, there are a few things you’ll want to remember.
Include specific details about the event that occurred. Vague notations like “campaign” or “promotion” won’t provide you with the information you’ll need to help make decisions about whether a specific campaign or promotion worked.
Consider creating a template of naming conventions for annotations so that notes will be consistent, regardless of who’s entering the information. This also ensures that no matter who’s adding the notes, the same information will be tracked.
Keeping track of marketing events can be a daunting undertaking, but effectively using annotations with Google Analytics is a simple, time-saving tool that will help you track and make sense of major changes in your marketing data.
Want to learn more about tracking your SEO and marketing efforts? Learn how Search Hermit can help.