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CXL Website Optimization Minidegree – Week 5

Week five of my minidegree in conversion optimization from CXL Institute was a continuation, and completion of the Google Analytics For Beginners course.

My overall impression of the course is it was very helpful in understanding how to use this powerful tool more effectively for my business.

The instructor, Chris Mercer, is the best instructor so far, in terms of his energy, enthusiasm for the topic, and for his ability to keep me engaged.

The course included a lot of great examples of how to do what was being taught. I liked that Chris actually opened up his own sites to demonstrate the lessons being taught. I liked this because I have a business that’s more similar to Chris’ than it is to the Google ecommerce site that was also used in the course.

I did, however, have one big complaint with the course…

The big thing I felt was missing in this course was information on how to use Google Tag Manager with Google Analytics.

The section I found most interesting was the one on Event Goals. Sadly, you can’t really take advantage of Event Goals without using Google Tag Manager.

Thankfully, Chris teaches Google Tag Manager For Beginners in the next section of the course.

Keep reading for my takeaways from each section of this week’s lessons.

Getting Started: View Settings

You cannot have just 1 one. You should have these 3 views as a minimum:

  1. Master view (Production)
  2. Test view. Not used for any decisions.
  3. Raw data view. This is never adjusted and is only there for emergency purposes.

You can have multiple instances of each, but all views fall into one of these three categories.

View Settings

  • Can change the name at any time.
  • Time Zone should be set to the same time zone as your ecommerce platform.
  • Check “bot filtering” to remove bot traffic.
  • If using a search box on the site, turn on “site search tracking” and set the search parameter.
    • Need to do this for all of my sites!
  • Can have a maximum of 25 views, and each view can have 20 goals.


  • Content grouping allows you to create groups of like pages, such as “clothing”, “shoes”, etc.


  • Most powerful feature of GA, but also the most DANGEROUS. They permanently alter the data.

Channel Settings

  • Set up brand terms for your own website, brand names, etc.

Ecommerce Settings

Getting Started: Filters – The Basics


  • Show domain filter – very cool way to show the url in its entirety. 

Cleaner Data

  • Use filters to transform report data into lowercase.

Filter management

  • Creating filters at the account level allows you to assign them, as needed, to the views for all properties.
  • Filters are applied in order of appearance in the view. Make sure to arrange them in order you want them to be applied.

Understanding Traffic: Types of Traffic

  • Referral report shows you all of the sites that are referring traffic to you.
  • You can click on a referral source to drill down even further. For example, if Quora is referring traffic to you, you can drill down to see which pages on Quora are sending you the traffic.
  • Search console reports only tell you about Google search traffic – and does not include search traffic from other search engines. To see that, you need to go to Source/Medium and filter by “organic”.

Understanding Traffic: Customizing Traffic Sources – Part 1

The How

  • 5 different UTM (urchin tracking) tags you can use:
  1. Source = Brand Name (Google, Zoom, Youtube, Pinterest, etc)
  2. Medium = Type of traffic (email, post, pin)
  3. Campaign = What’s the purpose (course name, daily specials, etc)
  4. Term – Could use the content headline
  5. Content – differentiators
  • Use consistent structure for constructing links
    • Use lowercase
    • Use dashes to separate words
    • No punctuation

** The Structure Is The Magic

  • Keeping the same structure prevents fractured data in GA.

Understanding Traffic: Customizing Traffic Sources – Part 2

m.facebook = mobile

lm.facebook = mobile through malware scanner

l.facebook = desktop traffic through malware scanner

Facebook = desktop traffic

Use filters to simplify your story. Use the find/replace filter to clean up all the versions of facebook traffic to show as just “facebook”.

How to determine the referral source of traffic…

  • When looking at Source/Medium, filter out for the source of traffic – i.e. “digitalmarketer”.
  • Then add a 2nd dimension for referral path.

Understanding Results: Destination Goals

Intro to Goals in GA

Set up goals under Admin/View/Goals

3 types of goals:

  • Aware
  • Complete
  • Engage


Name = Aware of free resources

Type = Destination (URL)

PRO TIP: copy and paste the URL as its showing up GA (if you have filters applied to show the domain). And do NOT copy and paste the “http…”

“Equals to” = exact match

“Begins with” = accounts for any parameters that are attached

Don’t trust “verify goal” 100%. Always check in real-time if your goal is firing correctly.


Use REGEX when including your home page in a funnel so you can include just the home page (with parameters) and not ALL pages on your website. 

If you use “begins with” and then your domain name, all pages will be included in that funnel step.

Understanding Results: Duration Goals

Duration goals are goals based on how long someone spends on your site.

How GA Measures Time

The time for each session is measured from timestamp to timestamp. If someone lands on a page, spends 10 seconds on that page and then clicks to a new page, then stays there for 15 minutes before closing the session, the session duration is 10 seconds.

Understanding Results: Pages per Session Goals

A session for Single Page Application (SPA) is often recorded as just 1, even though multiple pages have been seen by a user.

NOTE: Would have been great if the presenter gave a definition for SPA. I had to Google it.

Duration and pages per session goals DO NOT show up in realtime reporting.

Understanding Results: Event Goals

Events are specific behaviours. GA has to be told to store this information.

Category > Action > Label

You can have multiple actions and labels for one category.

These seem to be far more powerful when using Google Tag Manager

Understanding Results: Ecommerce

FiGS = Find Graph and Send

Need to make the choice between standard and enhanced ecommerce.

Enhanced Shopping Behaviour shows you a visual breakdown of your funnel.

Enhanced Checkout Behaviour shows you the journey of how your customers are purchasing.

How to decide?

Am I already measuring the “how”, choose standard. If you don’t use the “add to cart” process, stick with Standard.

If you want to know how people are buying, or are using a shopping cart as part of the process, choose enhanced.

Analyzing Reports – The Basics

The QIA Framework = Question Information Action

The most important part of this is ACTION.

Based on the information you uncover, what action will you take once you get the answers?

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Curtis Penner

Curtis Penner

Curtis Penner is the man behind the sheep ... ahem ... well, he helps service-based businesses harness the power of online marketing to become the lead sheep in their markets. Cause if you follow the herd, all you get is sheep $#!t on your shoes.