It’s not everyday you get a personal Q&A session and training from Google Analytics (GA) team members. Last week, that’s exactly what #VegasTech got from GA’s Adam Singer (@adamsinger) and Linus Chou.

Hosted at state-of-the-art co-working space, inNEVation (@innevation) a dozen startup founders came to get a better handle on their Google Analytics knowledge. This is one of the benefits of being part of such an active tech community focused on continually improving their products.

If you’re not familiar with Google Analytics, it’s a Google product of free (and premium) web analytics, including: content, mobile, social and more. They’re disrupting an entire industry by giving so much away for free. You can measure sales and conversions and get insights into how visitors use your site, how they arrived on your site, and how to keep them coming back. Because it’s such a robust product, many times companies work with Certified Google Analytics Partners to help them set up and/or manage their accounts.

Startup teams already know the pains of limited resources and may not have the budget to afford a GA partner. That’s why the GA team dedicated a portion of their Las Vegas visit to educating the #VegasTech community. (Thanks Adam and Linus!)

Here are 10 of the most important takeaways and tips from the two-hour training session:

  1. If you’re only focused on your mobile site and mobile marketing, you’re losing out. Your website is still paramount to your online presence. In fact, to be truly successful, you “need a mix of ‘own’ (i.e. your website) and ‘rent’ (e.g. Twitter, Facebook) for a complete web experience,” says @adamsinger. For 2013, make sure your website is easy to find (via search), navigate (check your analytics) and to find again.
  2. Don’t underestimate social. It’s important to understand that social media influences micro conversions. These are all of the things that lead to a purchase later (versus right now). When you don’t spend time monitoring social behaviors and traffic, you’re missing out on micro conversion opportunities. The GA social reporting product allows users to: measure, track referrals, discover what people are sharing from your site and more.
  3. The best free tool no one knows about? THIS --> Insights for Search.
  4. On any public Google+ post, if you click "view ripples" you can see all of the public shares and comments. (To view Ripples for a public post in your stream, just click the dropdown arrow at the top of the post you’re curious about and click View Ripples. To view Ripples for a specific URL, open the Ripples dialog, and in the top corner, enter the URL you want to see Ripples for. You’ll see a visualization for all the public shares on Google+ of that URL.)
  5. Learn about Trackbacks. Trackbacks are like automated Google Alerts for all of your pages. It’s great for relationship building, SEO and micro conversions. GA’s Social reports allow you to view all backlink URL’s, post titles, and more right within the new Social reports.
  6. If you’re logged into @googleanalytics go here http://j.mp/12hhRmd for a completely customized dashboard. Sweet!
  7. Did you know there's a heat map overlay in the free version of@googleanalytics? Now you do. It’s nice to know where people are clicking the most on your site. Update accordingly to create the best possible user experience.
  8. Find out what your site sends to GA. “The Google Analytics team built a Chrome extension that is intended to help you debug your implementation. This extension loads the debug version of the Google Analytics Javascript for all sites you browse using Google Chrome. It prints useful information to the Javascript console. These messages include error messages and warnings which can tell you when your analytics tracking code is set up incorrectly. In addition, it provides a detailed breakdown of each tracking beacon sent to Google Analytics.”
  9. GA has a complete self service set of tools: Help Center, Google Analytics Blog, User Forum, YouTube Channel, Developer Resources and Analytics IQ.
  10. If you’re new to GA here’s a setup checklist and getting started guide.