We offer a free webinar and a free mini-course on Google Analytics, and we provide a space in the sign-up form for both where people can type in their most burning questions about Google Analytics.

This helps us to make sure we are providing information in the webinar and the mini-course that people want, but over time it also has ended up providing a sort of ‘Google Analytics Frequently Asked Questions’ compilation.

Here are three of the most frequently asked questions:

How do I set up goals? We get a lot of questions on goals, and nearly every time it is how to set up the goals in Google Analytics. All the questions are understandable – it’s a tough subject. Google has a pretty good help file on this.

There are several archived blog articles that can also be a big help with setting up goals. There is an article, “How to Set Up Goals In Google Analytics”, from way back in January 2006. There is another article on how to monetize your goals, and this article on how to choose which match type to use for your goals.

Filters. People want to know how to set up filters, what filters do, and more. We even get a lot of people who just write “filters” – just a one word comment, like a silent cry for help in the middle of the night! Ok, ok… maybe I’m being melodramatic, but filters can be a tough nut to crack.

Shawn Purtell, one of my co-workers, came up with a particularly great way to explain filters (I especially enjoy this example when it is getting late on a Friday).

Filters are like making a mixed drink! No, really.

You put your yummy mixed drink ingredients (I like apple martinis) along with your ice into a shaker. The mixed drink ingredients are like the data from Google Analytics, the ice is like the data you want to change in some way, and the shaker is the filter.

You pour the data through the filter, and out comes a delightful and consistent concoction of cool refreshment! All the bits you didn’t want are left behind, and you only end up with the bits you did want. Man, now I can’t wait for it to be happy hour.

For more info, you can check out this article by Michael Harrison, “Filtering Your Data”.

How do I get started? This is a very popular question, and sadly the answer boils down to ‘it depends’. The best way to get started is generally to have Google Analytics properly configured and then just start playing with the data.

The more often you look at the data, the more familiar you’ll get with the reports, and the more comfortable you’ll feel using it. It’s just a matter of time and using the reports on a regular basis. Don’t worry, Padawan learner, it will come with time!

To help you get started, you might want to check out “Google Analytics Link Tagging 101” and “Google Analytics Link Tagging 102”.