Google analytics implemented their annotations feature at the beginning of this year, and so far most of the feedback on the tool is extremely positive as it is a genuinely useful but simple tool. The problem is, however, that many people using Google Analytics simply don’t use annotations correctly. I tried have tried a few different ways of using annotations and come to the following ideas of DO’s and DON’Ts when using annotations…
1. DO: Noting any technical or structural changes to your site is important. If you’ve switched servers, hosting companies, added new H1 tags, changed URL structures or anything that could affect your sites performance, by tracking these changes in Google web analytics you will get a good idea whether these changes have had a positive or negative effect on your site’s indexing and traffic.
DON’T: Note every single tiny change that you make to your site. Annotating tiny changes to your site that will have no effect on site performance or conversion is not necessary and will only end up crowding your Google analytics data.
2. DO: Track any major online PR articles or press releases that are written by you or about you and are bound to result in major inbound links and traffic. If you know that a major website has published an article about your company, note this in Google analytics so that you can be reminded of this when it comes time to complete your monthly report.
DON’T: Track each and every inbound link or online PR piece that is written by you or about you. If you’re a reputable company, you should have numerous press releases and links coming in to your site every month and annotating each one in Google Analytics would kind of defeat the purpose.
3. DO: Track the implementation dates of any major campaigns, be it an organic campaign, an AdWords campaign or any major offline advertising campaigns that your company may be implementing. Annotating these in Google Analytics is extremely important, especially in monitoring the seemingly “immeasurable” effect of offline advertising campaigns.
Summary of the “DON’Ts”: As a general rule, don’t fill your Google Analytics annotations tool with unnecessary information that is not going to make any major or immediate difference to your sites performance, traffic or conversion. The whole point of using Google Analytics annotations is so that when monthly report time arrives, you will be able to quickly and easily be reminded of the notable events and implementations that took place during the previous month, and compare these dates to the Google Analytics data for the weeks following these implementations.
All in all, annotations in Google Analytics can be extremely useful if used correctly. If, like me, you work for a search marketing company, then it is impossible to keep a mental track of all major work carried out on clients’ websites over the course of a month. Using Google Analytics annotations will ensure that when time comes to do monthly reports, you will be reminded of all significant events that took place for ALL of your clients. Good Luck!