What better way to start off the new year with a comprehensive collection of free Google Analytics (GA) resources? The truth is, information about Google Analytics is more decentralized than ever. There’s a lot of free and paid content scattered across the web, which isn’t ideal when we’re in a pinch and lack the patience required to hunt and dig to find the information we need, which is why I’ve taken the time to compile the top 5 resources to help you take your knowledge and experience with Google Analytics to the next level. Let’s jump right in.
1. The Official Google Analytics Community
Would you be shocked if I told you Google has created it’s own official Google Analytics community? Most people have never seen or heard of it, but that’s okay. It just launched in Nov. 2015. The community forum exists for a variety of advertiser products, one of which is dedicated solely to Google Analytics. Anyone with a Google account is able to join the community and ask questions you may have, or even contribute answers to other questions. Much the same way a traditional online forum behaves. There’s a wealth of information here. Even if you don’t have a question to ask, it’s worth spending some time here to read what others are saying. The various areas of functionality are grouped into one of many available categories to make learning more and contributing questions an easier and less frustrating process.
I became a member and started contributing content as soon as it was announced, but I’m in no competition with some of the top contributors on the site, some of whom Google establishes as top contributors with hundreds of answers that have been chosen as “best answer” by the community. If your answer is chosen as a best answer, you receive a gold star. It’s like reliving kindergarten all over again. Except this is gamification for adults!
2. Analytics Evangelists at Google
For us digital marketers out there, you may have read this title and think “I know who he’s going to say.” I’m going to throw you a curveball on this one and say right off the bat I’m not referring to Avinash Kaushik. Is he awesome? Sure. I’ve met and heard his keynotes before. He’s a wealth of knowledge and a great guy, but I’m going to go in a slightly different direction here and offer resources provided by Justin Cutroni. Let me explain why. Cutroni is an Analytics Evangelist at Google, but prior to Google, Cutroni spent time at Cardinal Path. Not sure where I’m going with this yet? Cardinal Path is “the” leading provider of Google Analytics in-person training seminars. I’ve met the team and have attended them in the past. However, what makes them particularly interesting is that Cardinal Path knows Google Analytics so well, it’s not uncommon for them to train Google’s own employees. How’s that for industry-leading? Cutroni offers multiple resources, many of which are available for free on his blog.
3. The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics
At this point I know what you’re thinking. “He’s a Google fanboy.” I assure you of the opposite. These next three will be resources external to Google. If you’re in the SEO or content markting space, you know Moz. Formerly SEOMoz, they’ve pivoted their product to focus on the practice of inbound marketing while staying true to many of their SEO roots. It just so happens that they maintain one of the most comprehensive walkthroughs on setting new instances up from scratch. It’s called a beginner’s guide, but with approx. 60% of new Google Analytics installations configured incorrectly for a business’s needs, I recommend everybody read through it at least once. I’ve long been a big fan of Rand’s work and he’s a very personable, humble personality that anyone sharing an interest in marketing can get along with. Also, how can you not love rogerbot?
Before we move on, I’ll give you a free bonus on this one. I don’t want to be “that guy” that plugs his own content, but similar to the guide Moz put together, I’ve also published my own version with original content in ebook format, made available to you as a free download.
4. The Power of Linkedin Groups
In my view, Group affiliations are the most underestimated part of the Linkedin platform. It just so happens that the Google Analytics group on Linkedin has 69,000 members as of this writing and guess what? Users actually share content and engage with each other here. At the end of the day, Google Analytics is a “learn by doing” platform, but as a close second comes real interaction with people from a variety of backgrounds and working for different types of companies. Nothing will expose you to a variety of real-world reporting challenges and use-cases faster than the melting pot that is the Linkedin group.
Since the first recommendation on this list was another community-driven site, I want to make sure I touch on the distinction between the advertiser community and the Linkedin group. The advertiser community is good for asking very pointed, technical questions, whereas the Linkedin group can aid in providing technical responses, but also bring in a wealth of supplementary content from external sources. That’s something you just won’t get from the advertiser community. Reference links, articles, etc. seem to run much more prominent in the group. Much like Google’s other advertising products, the information can often times feel silo’d and self-contained. Just know that each source serves it’s purpose and that both are available to you.
5. SEER Interactive Analytics Blog
SEER Interactive is a digital agency founded and ran by Wil Reynolds. I have first hand experience working with Wil and his team and can confidently say they’re one of the best in the business. Not many others compete at the level SEER’s team does. Their analytics blog offers regular insights for users from beginner to advanced. I’ve personally learned a lot from them over the years. SEER is a great resource because as a digital agency, they’re constantly exposed to clients in various industries with various configurations. They’ve seen a lot that in-house marketers simply wouldn’t have exposure to.
I’ve compiled a brief list of what I feel is the highest quality learning material available. At the same time, I’ve tried to make suggestions that you won’t find anywhere else for the sake of not just regurgitating content, so you’ll find these resources insightful and a bit unorthodox and unexpected at the same time. Often times, the best material is by offering value and learning from each other. There are hundreds of other resources available on the web, but keep in mind that all content is not created equal. These resources should serve you well as you expand your education in the start of the new year.