A Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics

September 1, 2020

Google Analytics is a powerful tool for marketers to analyze the performance of their website or app. Marketers can better understand the behaviors of the users who interact with their site or application. Standard metrics show you the number of users interacting with your site, the number of sessions and pageviews they create, and which web pages they visit. With the help of Google Analytics, you can determine what your users are most drawn to in your website and if they take the actions you desire them to take. These interactions that you track can help you make important business decisions that align with the preferences or interests of your target audience.

For those who are beginning with Google Analytics, it can seem complex or intimidating at first. Google Analytics can indeed be complicated at times. It is not possible to completely master this platform as there will always be something new to learn. But if you are starting with Analytics on your own, this article can help you understand the basics of Google Analytics so that you are comfortable enough to use it and navigate through various reports. Also teach you to analyze the user behavior as well as overall performance of your website.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics or GA is a free web and app analytics tool offered by Google to give you in-depth knowledge about the performance of your website or app. This allows businesses to not only measure the performance of their website or app but also their overall digital presence. You can see which marketing activities are successful in driving traffic to your website.

GA also lets you integrate Google’s marketing and advertising platforms like Google Ads, Search Console, and Data Studio, to provide you with enough tools to track your marketing activities and linking them back to your website. Because of all these readily available tools, GA is a popular choice for many marketers.

Why use Google Analytics?

If you have a website or an app for your business, you need Google Analytics. Irrespective of the industry you belong to, GA can help you understand your customers and enable you to create better experiences for them. Here are a few ways in which GA can assist you.

Analytics makes it easier for you to track a customer’s interaction with your website or app. With this, you can determine what is working and what is not. Also track the various channels that helped drive traffic to your website.

Use Google’s machine learning to get new insights from your data like which users are likely to convert or which customers have more revenue potential.

Google’s other marketing and advertising platforms can be integrated with GA. Which lets you see the data from all these platforms and get a complete picture of  your digital efforts.

GA can make your data more accessible to you. With reports, you can easily collect, compare, and present data. Data is available in the forms of a list, graphs, pie charts, spreadsheets, and more to help you interpret it. Choose and display metrics that are more relevant to your business goals.

Analytics collects data in real-time, helping you monitor an activity as it is happening on your website or app. Real-time reports are updated continuously, allowing you to track the effects of any new campaigns or site changes on your traffic.

How to set up Google Analytics?

To set up Google Analytics you will need a registered Google Account email address and password. If you don’t have a Google Account make sure to create one as it is required for Analytics. Once you have registered for Analytics you can start setting up your account step-by-step. GA has a hierarchy involved when setting up your account. Let’s take a look at this structure.

Organization

The organization is the highest level in the hierarchy, representing a company or business. It is recommended for a large-sized business, but it is not mandatory. 

Account

An Account is a way in which you can name and organize how you track one or more properties.  This is not optional, and GA requires at least one account. In each account, you need to have at least one property to track. If you are tracking a single website, then you will have one account for your website. Each analytics account can have up to 50 properties and a single property can have up to 25 views. Users in each account can have access to at least one account, whether it’s the one they created or were given access to.

Property

A property is your website or app. Each property can have up to 25 views.

View

Views determine which data from your property is included in the reports. You can create more than one view for a given property. It is a good practice to have a master view that has all your unfiltered data. You can copy this view and then apply filters as per your requirements to the copied view. Having a master view will ensure that you have a backup to all the data in case you need it.

Now that we understand the structure of Analytics, let’s take a look at all the steps involved to up your Google Analytics.

Create a GA account

First, create a Google Analytics account and then sign into it.

Create a Property

To create a property, go to Admin and select ‘Create Property’. Name this property and enter the website URL, industry, and reporting time zone.

Add a view

Similar to the above step you will find the option to create a view in the Admin settings. Name the view and answer the other questions to set it up. You can add up to 25 views to a property.

Set up the Analytics global site tag

In the Admin settings, under Property, you will find the tracking information which includes the tracking id and further down the global site tag. A global site tag is several lines of code that you need to paste into each webpage you want to measure. Copy the entire content and paste it after the <head> tag on each page of your site. This is what helps GA collect all the data from your website.

Verify that global site tag is working

To verify that your global site tag is installed properly, visit your website, and check the Real-Time Reports in Analytics to see that your visit was counted.

Reports in Google Analytics

Reports can be found on the left sidebar of your screen. Six reporting options organize your data to make it more accessible to you. Every report is made up of dimensions and metrics. Dimensions are aspects of your data. For example, the dimension City indicates the city, like “New-York”. And a session will come from this dimension. Metrics are quantitative variables of the data which show how your website is performing. For example, the metric sessions show the total number of sessions. 

You can also create custom dimensions and metrics. Custom dimensions and metrics are the ones you can create yourself apart from the default ones provided by GA.

Let’s take a look at the different reports provided by GA.

Real-Time Reports

Real-Time report gives insight into the activities happening on your website as they happen. It shows you how many visitors are on your site, which pages they are viewing and which channels they are coming from etc. This reporting option has six reports which are Overview, Location, Traffic Sources, Content, Events and Conversions. You can use this report in the following ways: 

  • See immediately how much traffic you are getting from a new blog or social post
  • Find out if one-day sales promotion is driving traffic and conversions
  • Monitor if any new or changed content on your website is being viewed
  • To verify if you have installed the global site tag correctly on your website or app

Audience Report

Audiences are users that you group together based on certain aspects that are relevant to your business. The audience reports provide insight into the characteristics of your users. This section has fifteen sub-sections under it, with different reports that gives you more information on your users. These are some of the main ones that you can look at:

Active users: This shows you the number of users who have visited in the last 1, 7, 14 and 28 days. This can show you the level of user enthusiasm for your site or app.

Lifetime Value: The Lifetime Value report shows you how valuable your audience is to your business. With this information you can determine how much you want to spend on marketing efforts to acquire these users.

Cohort Analysis: This report group users based on a certain characteristic. For example, users with the same Acquisition Date are grouped in the same cohort

Demographics: This can help you understand the age and gender of your audience, and this information can be used to tailor your content, marketing and advertising campaigns.

Acquisition Report

Acquisition report shows you from which channels your users come. These channels are Organic, Direct, Paid, Referrals, Social, Email, Display and Other. You see an in-depth report for each of these channels and see the user behavior. You can monitor the bounce rate to analyze if the users are engaging with your website or just leaving quickly. It also shows you the conversions in each channel. Acquisition reports show you which marketing channel is sending more users to your website and are they converting. If you have launched a paid ads campaign, you can use this report to determine how many users this channel is sending to your website. Based on these reports you can see which marketing efforts were more successful in driving traffic to your website.

Behavior Report

Behavior reports give you an insight into what your visitors do on your website and how they interact. It tells you what pages they visit and the actions they take. The Site Content report gives you feedback on all your web pages, landing pages, blog posts on your website. You can see the landing pages your users come to, how much time they spend on it and do they convert. You can also look at the Exit Pages, which shows you the last pages the users visited before exiting.

Site Speed report tells you how quickly your site loads for users. Through this report you can see the slowest-loading pages so that you can work on improving the speed. Site speed is integral to your user experience; hence, you need to monitor this report to know if there are any improvements you can make. Site search report can show you which search terms your users are searching for. If there are search terms that are used multiple times, you can create new content based on them. This will provide the users with the information they are looking for and they will engage with your website.

Conversion Report

Conversion report helps you track goals that you have set. These goals can vary according to your business requirements. Ecommerce businesses would want users to subscribe to their mailing list or complete a purchase. B2B businesses would want their users to download an eBook or sign up for a webinar. A goal is a conversion that you have defined. GA makes it possible for you to define your goals and track them. In this report you can track all your goals, compare the date ranges and see goal completions by segments. You can also see the pages where these goals are being completed.

When it comes to Google Analytics you cannot hope to grasp everything at once. As you start using this platform, you will get familiar with it and keep learning as you go forward. This guide has given you some basics of GA that can help you get started. Make sure that when you create your account you configure the right settings at the beginning. These settings are important as they determine how Google will collect data for you. Once you have set up everything correctly, GA can seamlessly make all the data available for you to analyze.  

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