If you run a website and don’t use analytics to monitor its performance, you’re a fool. Analytics provide rich, granular data about every aspect of your site and how it performs. Without this information, you can’t meaningfully improve your site – or justify the resources needed to run the site to your boss or board of directors.
Because of the depth of information available from analytics, it’s essential that you go beyond the standard default reports. You may also need to modify your code to track downloads or ecommerce. You may also want to segment your reports (only visitors from Illinois or exclude employee use of the website, etc.). You need to be able to peel back the layers of this powerful tool.
One way to make sure you’re learning the depth and breadth of the tool is to seek certification, the Google Analytics IQ exam. Pass it and you’ve got a credential that distinguishes you from the other so-called digital “experts.”
Here are some resources to help you better understand Google Analytics, whether your goal is to pass the competition or simply to pass the test. I recommend you work through this material in conjunction with using Google Analytics (at the “administrator” level) for a client.
Evan Fazio’s recommendations. Evan is a student of mine who took the test. He offers strategies for making the most of the time allotted (90 minutes).
How to pass the Google Analytics IQ test, guide from Slingshot SEO in Indianapolis. Other great Google Analytics and SEO resources available on this page, too. Includes some useful regex statements you can copy and repurpose.
The Rise guide to passing the Google Analytics exam, from Rise Interactive in Chicago. Excellent multi-part guide, free downloads.
Jens Sorensen’s advice on how to pass the GAIQ test
Jens Sorensen’s online notes (use CTR-F to find relevant text strings on this long page)
Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics, by Brian Clifton (third edition forthcoming.) Previous editions have come with a $25 voucher for taking the Google Analytics IQ test (full cost to take the test is $50). Clifton is a former Google employee.
Web Analytics: an hour a day, by Avinash Kaushik. Avinash works for Google
Web Analytics 2.0: the art of online accountability and science of customer centricity. This is Avinash’s newer book.
Occam’s Razor, Avinash Kaushik’s excellent analytics blog.
Google Analytics home page. Especially useful: Support and Education tabs.
Filter IPs with this Regex calculator from Google.
Conversion University. This is Google’s set of videos, which are essential to study. Just a couple of notes: they mostly reflect the old version of analytics, and some of the audio is missing. If there is no sound, click on the notes tab to see the text.
Lynda.com offers a complete set of videos on Google Analytics. Access to the entire Lynda site, which features many great instructional videos of interest to designers, videographers and digital marketers, begins at $25/month.