You’ve probably heard the saying, “work smarter, not harder,” but how have you applied it to your private practice marketing campaigns? If you’re not harnessing the tools in Google Analytics, or other reporting tools, you’re missing out on powerful platforms that can help you determine what’s working, what’s not, and what opportunities may be available to you.
If you haven’t started using Google Analytics yet, not to worry. This article will serve as your “Google Analytics 101” guide. Learn the ropes and you’ll be that much closer to leveling up your healthcare marketing as a private practice physician.
How to set up your Google Analytics account
Create or sign in to your account
If you haven’t signed up for a Google Analytics account yet, that should be your first step. Signing up is free with a Google account.
- Visit the Google Analytics website
- Click the button that says “Start for Free,” which should appear if you don’t already have an account (if you do, it’ll say “Sign in to Analytics.”)
- Note: If you don’t use Gmail at your organization, you might want to sign up using a Google email that you regularly check, or set up a dedicated Google account to use as a private practice physician.
Set up a property
After you create your account, it’s time to set up a property. This will be for the website or app you want to track. This will be your opportunity to set up the time zone and currency that should be used for reporting as well. You can always update these settings later if they need to change.
Create a reporting view
Reporting views are the more refined slices of data inside of your property. To start, we recommend creating two views at minimum. One would be the raw data with no filters, and the other would be a filtered view that eliminates traffic from bots and crawlers, as well as internal IP addresses from your company or home office. You can create other filtered views depending on other needs you may have, but that should be the bare minimum.
Set up custom reports and dashboards
Google Analytics has a number of standard dashboards, but depending on your goals, you can create custom dashboards and reports that more closely align with your business objectives. You can add up to 12 widgets per dashboard, and you can include standard or real-time measures. Dashboards are great for monitoring KPIs you care about on a regular basis.
Custom reports, on the other hand, are useful for taking an in-depth look at something like the success of a particular campaign. You can build custom reports in Google Analytics, or connect with Google Data Studio.
Adding a tracking code to your website
Depending on the type of website you have, you should be able to add the tracking code either using Google Tag Manager, before the </head> tag on your website, or adding the property via a WordPress plugin.
Set up a property in your Analytics account. A property represents your website or app, and is the collection point in Analytics for the data from your site or app.
Set up a reporting view in your property. Views let you create filtered perspectives of your data; for example, all data except from your company’s internal IP addresses, or all data associated with a specific sales region.
Understand your audience
Once you’ve set up your account and properties, it’s time to gain a better understanding of the audience that is visiting your website. While you can slice and dice data in many different ways in Google Analytics, we’ll cover a few basics that will help you understand the overall traffic to your practice’s website: Who they are, where they come from, and what they need. You can learn a lot using custom segments, geo location, and visitor behavior.
By putting a few filters together, you can create a custom segment. Segments are useful for looking at a subsection of your audience. For example, you could create segments that correspond with common age ranges and device usage of your patients, to see if patterns emerge with young visitors who view the site via mobile.
An important part of web analytics is understanding where your visitors are coming from. Looking at the geo location of web visitors can help you determine:
- Where your patients live
- If there is a difference between the location of people who end up booking an appointment or converting in some other way (signing up for a newsletter, downloading a PDF), and visitors who do not convert
- Whether you need to focus more content on locally based keywords to drive more locally relevant traffic to your site.
Geo reports in Google Analytics allow you to view the countries, states, cities, and metro regions your visitors are coming from. If your practice is in Wisconsin, for example, but most of the visits are coming from California, you may want to focus more on adding your site to local listings, and writing content with the city where your practice is based.
When your current or prospective patients visit your website, there are certain actions you want to make sure they take, like booking an appointment or signing up to get your emails. How can you see whether they make their way to those desired actions?
There is more than one way to look at this, but the behavior reporting can help you see things like how many pageviews you’ve had on which pages, how long people have visited, and how frequently they’re bouncing (navigating away) from the site.
In the default report for Audience > Behavior, you can look at the following metrics:
- New vs. Returning = In the given time frame you’ve selected, how many visitors are new, and how many have returned to the site? Keep in mind this can refresh if the visitor refreshes their cookies, and you can also set how long to track a particular user in Google Analytics settings.
- Frequency & Recency = How many sessions does an average user have during a given time frame?
- Engagement = This metric is all about how long, on average, a session lasts for your visitors. This can help you figure out whether most visitors are even on your site long enough to carry out desired actions.
Depending on what you’re looking for visitors to do, there’s no hard or fast rule for what the right metrics look like. If you want to make sure your patients are getting everything done that they need to do in one visit, you’d want to see that most session counts are 1 or 2, for example. However, if you have a regular blog with health advice that you’re trying to promote, you’d want to see frequency counts go higher. It all depends on what you’re trying to achieve.
Google Analytics also allows you to see the typical ways visitors enter and move through the site, in an area of reporting called “Behavior Flow.” From there, you can see the most popular landing pages (the page people first visit on your site), followed by the subsequent pages they visit afterwards, along with metrics of who drops off.
The tool automatically groups pages, but you can also create content groupings of your own or filter to see behavior branching from specific pages. For example, if you wanted people to book an appointment with you, maybe their flow would look like this:
Home page >> Book an appointment >> Confirm Details >> Book Now
If all of those steps have dedicated URLs, you could analyze the flow to see where people are dropping off. Pairing this kind of reporting with a tool like HotJar can help you form even stranger conclusions about where people are being confused or when they leave your site.
Again, you can set up so many different types of reports and view data in so many different ways on Google Analytics that this is just scratching the surface.
Discover patient demographics and device usage
Now that you know where your visitors live, how often they visit, and what they do once they get to your website, it’s time to dig more into demographic details. Audience demographics in Google Analytics include age and gender. Demographic information is collected by a few different cookies, and is a good estimation of the ages of people who come to your site. This can be a good way to see at a glance whether you’re attracting people who look like your current or desired patient base.
Google Analytics also includes interests reporting. You can evaluate visitor interests from affinity categories (similar to TV audiences), in-market segments (product-purchase interests), and other categories (which go into slightly more detail). You could use affinity categories or other interest areas to build your target personas or run advertising in relevant venues.
Don’t overlook device information, either. Device information, paired with ages, can tell you a lot about the habits of your visitors. In general, we see younger visitors using mobile devices more often to navigate to websites. If you have younger visitors coming to your site via mobile, it’s essential that you take the time to make everything mobile-friendly (which is just a good idea for search engine optimization anyway). Otherwise, you’re turning people away who may find your site hard to use.
Better understand site behavior using event tracking and goals
Behavior reporting can tell you in more high-level terms how many pages someone visited, how often they return, and how they move through pages, but event tracking takes behavior analysis one step further. One way you can set up event tracking is by using Google Tag manager, which is the easiest way to go.
Event tracking is especially handy for tracking actions on your website where the visitor stays on the same page. Examples include clicking play/pause on a video or clicking a button to download a PDF. If you’re wondering whether people downloaded the report you wrote in diabetes, you can figure that out with event tracking.
When we talk about desired actions, one easy way to report on them is to create goals. Goals can be created using pre-made templates or can be totally custom. You can set goals for destinations, durations, events, or to track other successful behaviors. Here are a few examples of goals you could set up:
- Destination goal – Visitor hits the /thank-you page after downloading a PDF report
- Event goal – Visitor clicks “play” on an on-page video
- Duration goal – Visitor spends 5 minutes on the blog
Improve your website’s SEO health by adding Google Search Console
Now that you’ve learned all kinds of new things using Google Analytics, it’s time to beef up your SEO game. Just like adding HotJar to your website to get a better feel for how people are behaving on particular pages, you can add or connect other tools to Google Analytics to improve your site performance. Google Search Console is a free tool you can use to assess site health from an SEO perspective. You can use it to see common search results, assess web friendliness, and check your overall vitals.
Set up Google Search Console
Setting up Google Search Console is just about as easy as setting up Google Analytics. After you sign up, you have to verify that you’re the owner of the site you want the tool to assess. This can be done by uploading a file to your website, using the Google Analytics tracking code, or by a few other methods. Once your site is verified, Search Console will start tracking.
Find out how people find you
The search results performance report will help you figure out the keywords patients use to find your site. This isn’t something you can find in Google Analytics any more, so connecting to Search Console is key to getting this information.
Search results include the keywords people enter to find you, the pages they land on, the countries they come from, and where your content appears in search listings outside of the norm (like videos, job listings, etc.). You can also filter data using different parameters to really drill down.
Using Google Search Console to improve your website traffic
Seeing what keywords people use to find you can help you understand whether you’re getting relevant traffic, as well as what other keywords you should be trying to target to bring more visits to your website. For example, if you’re a dentist in Phoenix, but you don’t see any searches like “phoenix dentist,” “dentist near me,” or “dentist in phoenix” in the results, then your site isn’t ranking high enough for these keywords. That’s a clue that you may want to go back and revise some pages to incorporate those keywords more, and add other contextual keywords to signal to Google that you should be known as a Phoenix-area dentist.
The same could go for identifying irrelevant traffic. If you’re a doctor who wrote one article mentioning salads, and now a bunch of people are coming to your site looking for salad recipes, it’s not going to be relevant traffic most of the time, or a good fit for them. You may want to de-emphasize or remove a post that’s bringing irrelevant search traffic to your website.
There’s so much more you can do with Google Search Console if you have the skill, but hopefully this gives you a taste of what is possible, and how you can quickly identify opportunities for improvement.
Growing your business as a private practice physician can be tricky, but without understanding how your site is doing, you won’t know how to improve it with more health marketing. Google Analytics and Search Console, along with other complementary tools, can help you benchmark, plan, and grow your traffic in a smart, data-driven way.