A Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics
April 3, 2017
April 3, 2017
Estimated Reading Time 7 Minutes
Regardless of your business’ product, service or industry, measuring your site’s analytics is essential to simply surviving in the crowded online marketplace. But fear not, Google Analytics is here, and has the answers to some of the most important analytics questions and queries you have (or should have!) about your site and visitors.
This must-have tool is effectively an all-in-one calculator for your website.
It’ll measure visitors, work out percentages, compare figures and basically do everything you can think of relating to website traffic and visitor actions.
Viewing and Understanding Data
So you’ve got your site, set up a Google Analytics account and installed your tracking code (we can do all this and provide support should you need a help in hand), now you want to start understanding and making sense of all that useful data previously mentioned. First things first, you’ll be taken to the audience overview of your site.
These are fairly self explanatory and offer a good way to familiarise yourself with Google Analytics and its workings. If you’re unsure of these terms, simply hover over the word to find out more. As you’ll find out, these terms are pretty important and crop up again and again throughout the site, so it’s crucial you’re accustomed and familiar with them. Graphs and charts are also available in this section, as well as time frame comparisons and data range filters.
Scroll a touch further down and you’ll find further key visitor data, such as language and location information, operating systems and service provider details. Clicking into any of these will give you a more detailed report and further insight.
By clicking on country then United Kingdom for example, you’ll find further details of location by region and cities. Scrolling further down on these will give you some handy figures on particular data from those areas.
Heading back to the overview page and to the left hand side, you’ll find further breakdowns and demographics. These go into pretty deep detail, and cover just about all the actions, behaviour and traffic information you can think of.
These reports are split into four main breakdowns with further sub headings and reports within each.
These four are:
- Audience – who is on your site, broken down and measured in: sessions, users, pageviews, pages per session, average session duration, bounce rate and new users. This then section then goes into further detail including demographics, interests, behaviour and more.
- Acquisition – how your visitors got there, generally through four sources: direct, organic, referral and social.
- Behaviour (what content visitors interact with).
- Conversion (we’ll talk about this below).
There’s also a ‘Real-Time’ report which can be found above ‘Audience’ (just out of shot of the above screen grab), which effectively shows you what’s happening on your site right now. The basics of these reports are pretty self explanatory, but offer invaluable insight into your visitors.
Setting Up Goals and Conversions
Some of these reports require further set up or enabling before Analytics will begin to track and retrieve data, but this is without doubt worthwhile in order to get the best out of this service and influence your future decision making.
One such example is ‘Goals’ and ‘Conversions’. These will tell Google Analytics when something important has happened on your website. For example, if you have a website where you sell products, you will want to find (or create) a final thank you or confirmation page for visitors to land upon once they have completed a purchase. This will signal to Google Analytics and yourself when they have completed your intended goal.
- To set this up head to ‘Conversions’, ‘Goals’, then ‘Overview’. Now click ‘Set up goals’.
- Choose the Custom option (unless one of the other options are more applicable to your website) and click the ‘Next Step’ button.
- Name your goal something you will remember, select ‘Destination’, and then click the ‘Next Step’ button.
- Enter your thank you or confirmation page’s URL after the .com of your website in the ‘Destination’ field and change the drop-down to “Begins with”.
- Then toggle the value and enter a specific value for that conversion (if applicable) and click ‘Create Goal’ to complete the setup.
If you have other similar goals or conversions you would like to track on your website, you can follow these steps again. You can create up to 20 goals on your website, but make sure that the ones you create are highly important to your business. These goals (for most businesses) include lead form submissions, email list sign ups, and purchase completions. Depending on your website and its purpose, your goals may vary.
That’s your lot!
So that’s a whistle stop tour of Google Analytics complete. Of course, we could be here for hours going into the geeky greatness of this essential tool but as starter guides go, we’ve tried to cover all the basics to at least make you aware of what Google Analytics can do for your site and business once set up.
It’s not hard to imagine the impact Google Analytics can have on the way you think about your site and the decisions you make.
In effect, Analytics provides the chance to jump into the shoes of your site’s visitors, seeing what content they like and don’t like, what avenues they go down to get there and so much more besides.
Whether it’s ensuring your site is fully mobile responsive, translating your pages into other languages, or any of the other thousands of options you might not have previously thought about, the impact of Google Analytics on improving your site is endless. In such a crowded marketplace, visitors want to be made to be feel welcomed and wanted. While this should tie in with your wider marketing plan, ensuring your core visitors (and potential customers!) are catered and tailored to is essential to online success.
Our Digital Marketing team use Google Analytics on a daily basis as part of our wider strategies, so we know the ins and outs of setup, monitoring and reviewing data with this essential tool.