One of the biggest resources you’ll encounter on your SEO journey is Google Marketing Platform, an evolved and consolidated version of their previous products, DoubleClick and Google Suite 360.
This new iteration of Google’s services is fantastic, as it empowers us website owners with a whole suite of new and existing tools, allowing us to take control of our marketing efforts in house.
Today, I want to talk about the most important tools within Google Marketing Platform to help you with your SEO: Google Analytics 360, Google Search Console, Google Tag Manager and Data Studio.
Although each service was created with the same goal top-of-mind – to help you understand your customers better – each of these services is different and each serves a different purpose.
Confused? Don’t be.
Let’s get a better understanding of what these services offer your business and how they work.
What is Google Analytics 360?
Before we delve deeper, please note: People often confuse Google Analytics 360 with Google Search Console.
They are not the same thing, and I will explain what Google Search Console is below.
Google Analytics 360 is a part of the Google Marketing Platform. It’s a free web analytics service within the platform that provides basic analytics data that allows you to understand how your website is performing and what your customers do when they’re on your website.
From seeing where your web traffic (that’s visitors to your website) is coming from, to seeing how long they’re spending on each page, to pinpointing your least and most popular content, Google Analytics 360 has a powerful dashboard of data that will empower you to make informed decisions about your digital marketing.
I’ve been using Google Analytics since 2014, and I’ve seen this robust platform improve every year with the addition of new and more useful metrics.
By taking advantage of Google Analytics 360, I’ve been able to:
+ Make the decision to redesign my website when I saw that people were spending less and less time on my website;
+ See where my best visitors are located, so I can consider an in-person workshop versus an online course;
+ Convert my contact page back to an original, high-converting version, after I followed some bad advice to change it. This bad decision saw a 90% decline in leads every month;
+ Understand which traffic source is the most engaged based off how long they spend on my website;
+ Discover my most valuable content, and my least valuable content;
+ Discover which pages cause my users to exit my website;
+ So much more!
If you’re invested in your SEO and digital marketing efforts AT ALL, Google Analytics is an absolute MUST.
But I know that getting your head around Google Analytics can be a bit of a headache, particularly if you're more of a creative.
That's why I've created a printable A-Z guide that explains the most common metrics/terminology you'll find on your Google Analytics dashboard.
What is Google Search Console?
If you’re new to the Google Marketing Platform, you’re likely wondering what the difference is between Google Analytics 360 and Google Search Console. It’s common to get them confused, as like Google Analytics, Google Search Console allows you to collect and analyse your website data.
But where Google Search Console differs is that it provides DIFFERENT data, like what keywords people are using to find your website, information about crawl errors, and how your website is performing in the search results.
In a nutshell, Google Analytics 360 tells you how PEOPLE are interacting with your website, and Google Search Console tells you how GOOGLE’s search engine is interacting with your website.
By using Google Search Console, I’ve been able to:
+ Rewrite my meta descriptions, based off poor click-through rates;
+ Optimise my content for mobile, based off data provided which outlined usability issues;
+ See my current ranking for each keyword by country;
+ Submit my new sitemap to Google for my new website.
Although Google Search Console does provide some useful data, it’s not a tool I personally get much value from. I use AHREFS to track my rankings, and I feel that Google Analytics 360 does a better job of telling me about my traffic. If you’re not using premium SEO software, this tool will be essential in tracking your rankings. But if you already have a few other analytics tools, you might find Google Search Console overrated.
What is Google Tag Manager?
Another robust tool that Google Marketing Platform offers is Google Tag Manager.
Google Analytics 360 can provide a lot of the important insights you’re looking for, but when used alone, it does have its limitations. But by tagging your site and using Google Tag Manager in conjunction with Google Analytics, you’re able to collect much more data than you can otherwise.
Firstly, what is a tag? A tag is a bit of code that’s used to collect data about your website. This can then be sent to a third party app, like Google Analytics, Facebook, Google Adwords, Hello Bar, Sumo, etc.
For example, when I’m running Facebook ads, I insert a bit of code into the backend of my Squarespace website so I can keep an eye on how many people respond to my Facebook ad.
But with Google Tag Manager, I don’t have to do that. I can just manage it all in one place without having to log in to the backend of my website, and muck around with code.
What’s the benefit of Google Tag Manager?
Adding code to your website can be confusing. Google Tag Manager makes this process a lot easier. When you set up Google Tag Manager, you simply connect it to your website, and manage your tags in one place.
If you’re not in charge of your website’s back end, you likely rely on a dev team. What happens if they’re too busy to insert code, or you need to remove some code? You likely won’t be able to for days. But with Google Tag Manager, you can easily take control of the process yourself.
Another huge bonus is that extra code on your website can slow it down, where Google Tag Manager doesn’t mess at all with your site speed.
What is Data Studio?
I remember when I was an account manager for a fashion brand. Every month I’d have to deliver a report, which generally consisted of some screenshots from Google Analytics. I’m not a designer, so it wasn’t very appealing, but all the data was there.
If you understand people and psychology, you’ll understand that we’re visual creatures. Things that are aesthetically pleasing are easier for us to digest and understand, and this is especially true for data analytics.
Which is why I’m very much a fan of Google’s new Data Studio. It connects to all of your properties and accounts, and allows you to auto-generate reports within a few clicks. Genius!
Now that you have a better understanding of how Google Marketing Platform can work for you, it's now time to start using these tools. They're designed to help all website owners leverage their website for more customers and more sales, and best of all, they're free.