Google Analytics is a popular tool for tracking website data. What exactly is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics, a free website analytics tool offered by Google, provides insight into how visitors find and use your site. Google Analytics allows you to track ROI (“return on investment”) for online marketing.
You can sort and sort visitors using dozens of “dimensions”, such as where they come from, what browser they use, etc., and also with “metrics”, like which page they clicked on, and what form they submitted.
Integrating Google Products seamlessly with your Ads account and Search Console is possible. Tracking codes can be used to tag and track any advertising, PR, social, or other campaign on any website/platform.
You only need to install a little “tracking code” on each page of the website with a unique tracking number. *
*Installation varies depending on your website software. You can either paste the code directly into your theme’s header or use a plugin. You can use the built-in embed option if you are using Wix, Squarespace, or Google Sites. Some customization options may not be available on all platforms, such as Wix vs. WordPress. Google Tag Manager can be used to install the Google Analytics code as well as other tags from Facebook, Twitter, and other data sources.
*Quick aside: All the screenshots in this post were taken from real Google Analytics data. These screenshots were taken from multiple websites I own. Each website has a different date range and I have blocked any sensitive data.
What data does Google Analytics track?
UTM parameters can provide more detailed information about traffic sources. These tags are added to your URL to give Google Analytics more information about your links. They include the source of the content and the social channels that generated the most revenue.
What is Google Analytics measuring?
Dimensions and metrics are the building blocks of Google Analytics reports.
Dimensions refer to the attributes of your data such as the source city, page, or social media channel.
Metrics refer to the quantitative measures for these dimensions. If you want to know how your ads perform in Paris (the dimension), then the number of sessions that you have recorded would be your Metric.
Every report in Google Analytics is made up of dimensions and metrics.
What can you do using Google Analytics?
Google Analytics allows you to make data-driven marketing decisions. Google Analytics allows you to justify spending more money on advertising, find out where you should advertise, and determine the types of content that you should be posting.
Google Analytics classifies data in the ABCs
You can also use it to analyze your Audience and Real-Time traffic. These will be broken down further.
The acquisition is the process of obtaining website traffic/website visitors. To put it simply, acquisition reports can be used to track how traffic arrives at your site.
The Overview tab in your Google Analytics Dashboard gives you a comprehensive snapshot of acquisition, behavior, and conversion data for top traffic sources by channel (referrals, direct, organic, social search, and more).
This gives you the most crucial data straight up front: the number of sessions purchased, the bounce rate of those visitors, and conversions for your best channels. This provides an easy and quick way to determine how your top channels perform.
Acquisition reports can be a great way of determining which avenues work best to bring traffic to your site, and to make sure that certain actions are taken. You can look at many types of traffic by using other views.
Let’s say, for example, you want to find out which search engine drives the most organic traffic. You can drill down using the Source/Medium view to see which sources and mediums have the most customers (e.g. google/organic vs. Bing/organic).
You can also look at the Referral view to see which referral sources drive the most traffic to your site. This information can be used to help you decide where content should be promoted. If you discover that Pinterest is driving significant traffic to your site then publish content there.
The Social tab focuses on social referrals. This tab focuses only on social media traffic. This tab will allow you to see the networks that people are using to engage with your content. This tab will allow you to identify the best content for each community. You might find that your entertainment content is more popular on Facebook than your business-related content on LinkedIn.
Google Analytics integrates well with other tools. This is the best thing about Google Analytics. You can integrate the Acquisition section with your Ads account to track how your campaigns are doing in terms of acquiring customers.
You can use the Ads section of this site to check how keywords perform and identify search queries that drive traffic. This information can be used to create targeted campaigns that are based on the most searched topics and queries.
To see the performance of your landing pages, you can integrate with Search Console. Is it possible that certain pages are great at driving people toward your site but not in Google search results? Is it possible that certain keywords are driving you to the top of search results but not generating a high click-through rate? Integrating your Search Console data into Google Analytics will allow you to see all this data and optimize the site for increased CTR.
The Campaign view can be used to track visitors who visited campaigns you have created using UTM parameters. These results only apply to campaigns you have created using UTM codes. They do not include ad campaigns that automatically sync.
The Behavior reports allow you to see what your visitors do on your website. These user behavior reports can be used to assess the performance of your website and determine if visitors are actually taking the actions that you desire.
The Overview will appear again when you access the Behavior tab. This view shows you a graph that displays the traffic to your website during the period you are looking at.
Pageviews, unique pages viewed, average time on the page, bounce rate metrics, and percent exit metrics will also be displayed. These metrics show how users interacted with your site. These are just a few examples:
- Pageviews: Total pages viewed.
- Unique Pageviews: The number of people who have visited a page more than once during a visit.
- Average Time on a Page: This is the average time that users spend looking at a page.
- Bounce rate: A percentage of single-page visitors. (For a detailed lesson on bounce rate, and how to use it see here.
- Percent Exit: Percentage that users exit from a page/set of pages
The Behavior Flow view is located after the Overview tab. This view shows visitors the most common path from entry to exit when they visit your website. This will show you where people are most likely to drop off and enter your site.
Understanding Site Content
The Site Content section reports on visitors’ interactions with pages or pieces of content on your website. Google Analytics provides several reports on this: All Pages (or content drill down), Landing Pages (or exit pages), and Content Drilldown (or content drill down).
All Pages reports show the top pages on your site, based only on traffic figures. This report will show you which pages are performing well on your site.
You can use the Content Drilldown report to find areas on your site that have folders such as /blog or /news. This report will reveal the top content folders on your site as well as the best pieces within them. To see each folder’s performance, you can simply “drill down”. This will give you a better view of the performance of each section on your site.
The Landing Pages report will show you the top landing pages. This is where visitors go to your website. This report will allow you to determine which pages have the highest conversion rates based on your goals. This information can be used to optimize your campaigns and direct more traffic to pages that have higher conversion rates.
This is what Exit Pages are all about. This data will help you see where your site is failing. These pages will help you see where your website is failing users.
Understanding Site Speed
Next, the Behavior tab discusses site speed. This section deals directly with loading time. This section will help you determine the areas of your website that may require optimization due to slow loading speeds.
The Overview tab shows you a snapshot showing the average load times for all pages on your website. This can also be broken down by browser. These are some definitions that you should know. (Note: All times are in seconds).
- Average page load time: This is the average time taken for pages to load
- Average redirection Time: This is the average time it takes to redirect before fetching a webpage.
- The average domain lookup time
- Average server connection time: This is the average time it takes to establish a TCP connection on a page.
- Server response time (or average server response time) is the average time it takes for your server to respond to a request from a user. This is a significant factor for hosting companies.
- Average page download time
The Page Timings report will show you the time it takes for your most visited pages to load, compared to your overall site load time. This report can be used to identify pages that need optimization due to slow loading speeds.
Check out my guide to optimizing slower pages.
Next, you’ll find the Speed Suggestions Report. This report guides you from Google about how to optimize certain pages on your website. You also get detailed information about each page.
Do not get lost in this – start with the pages that receive the most traffic. These are the pages that matter.
User Timings is the last. This feature requires additional code to be included on your website, in addition to regular Google Analytics tracking code. This feature will allow you to track how quickly certain elements load on a page, such as a video. You can then see how it affects user experience.
Understanding Site Search
Site Search is another feature in Behavior reports. It shows how people use the search function on your site.
The Overview tab will show you the overall metrics of visitors who used the search box on your site. You can also see which search terms they used and the landing page they visited. This information can be used to search for keywords that you could use in Google Ads.
The Usage report displays the number of searches where the search box was used and those that were not. This report will allow you to see if your search box is increasing metrics such as bounce rate or conversions.
The Search Terms view provides detailed information on the search terms that people use to find your site. This includes how often that term has been used, the number of pages that it triggers, as well as the percentage of search refinements and exits. This data can be used to assess how easy it is for users to find the information they are looking for on your site.
The Pages report is the final report. This report is a copy of the search terms report but it doesn’t focus on the term. Instead, it focuses on the pages where the searches originated.
Understanding the Events
Events can be used to track specific interactions on your site, such as clicks on external links or video plays, downloads of resource files, and so forth.
This section needs a special tracking code to function. It will automatically work if you use a WordPress plugin such as MonsterInsights.
The Overview report provides a summary of all interactions that you are tracking. These interactions are tracked according to the event tracking code that you have set up. This is where you will see information about video plays and newsletter sign-ups.
The Top Events report focuses on the events that have the highest interaction. Let’s say that you have several video downloads. This section will show you which video is downloaded the most. This will allow you to determine what your audience is interested in, and then you can create more content.
The Pages report, under Events, shows you which pages are most popular for your events. If you have multiple pages with assets you can see which pages perform best and which pages receive the most event traffic. This will help you optimize your pages and focus more on your efforts (and the events!) You should focus on pages that perform well.
The Events Flow report will be next. This shows visitors’ paths when they interact with your event. This report will allow you to see the location of visitors arriving and departing.
Experiments are last but not least. Google allows you to run experiments such as A/B testing to determine which landing page is most effective for your goals. Experiments are a great way to determine which pages perform best and which pages should be modified to achieve these goals.
Google Analytics Conversions section focuses on understanding how visitors convert to your site. This is crucial for improving your conversion rate.
Four sections are used to break down conversion reports: goals, eCommerce funnel, multi-channel funnel, and attribution. Let’s look at what each section entails.
Like the other sections, the Goals section begins with an Overview tab. The overview will give you a summary of all the goals completed on your website. This is also the total number converted.
You need to establish clear goals to succeed. If you run an eCommerce company, for example, you would prefer to track sales than fill carts. This gives you a better view of conversions. You can make sure that you are setting yourself up to win by setting specific goals (and accurately).
Next, you will find the Goal URLs Report, which displays the URLS where people convert. This is the primary view, which shows only the goal completion page (i.e. The thank you page following a sign-up. You can see the page leading to this goal by using the secondary dimension drop-down.
The Reverse Goal Path report is similar to the Goals URL but shows you the three previous steps to achieving your goal. This report shows you the conversion paths and how many steps it takes to reach that stage.
Next, you can take a look at Funnel Visualizations. You must set the Destination Goal to track multiple steps during the conversion process. What you will see is the average conversion path and where people are falling off. This will help you identify obstacles to conversions, such as a complex checkout process or broken cart pages.
The Goal Flow Visualization report can be used in the same manner.
Understanding the eCommerce Section
The eCommerce section is next and is for businesses that sell products through their website.
The Overview report will show you your eCommerce conversion rate and average order value. It also shows unique purchases.
You will also find a few more detailed reports. The Product Performance report will give you an overview of how each product is performing. This report will show you which products are performing well and which ones are struggling. You should look for trends in price and seasonality.
The Sales Performance report can be used to view the total revenue that you have earned. This report provides a breakdown of your sales performance each day.
Next, you will see the Transactions Report, which breaks down revenue and shipping costs for each transaction that occurred during the period you are measuring.
You also have Time to Purchase. This shows how long it takes for a visitor to buy an item from your site. This data can be used to determine if there are any obstacles in the buying process.
Understanding Multi-Channel Funnels Section
To get a complete picture of the customer’s journey through your site, use Multi-Channel Funnels. This section allows you to see the other actions that a customer takes to convert, instead of focusing on the referral’s last visit as Google does.
The Overview report provides a summary of all marketing channels that contribute to conversions to your website. This report will show you which channels are converting the most traffic. You might want to spend more time on social media than you do on paid.
Next, the Assisted Conversions Section — This shows how many conversions a channel indirectly influenced. Your blog might have 50 assisted conversions. Although it wasn’t the last touchpoint, 50 people visited your blog and converted at a later date.
The Top Conversion Paths report will show you the most popular conversion paths. This report shows you the most common paths that conversion users take. You might find that your customers find you via organic search and then return to your site to purchase a product.
The Time Lag report will show you how long it takes for someone to convert. This report will tell you how long it takes for visitors to convert (in days) after they visit your site for the first time. This data can be used to optimize your conversion rate.
Similar to time lag and page length, the Page Length report tracks how many interactions visitors make with your site before they convert.
Understanding the Section on Attribution
Google Analytics Attribution section only has one report: The Model Comparison Tool. This tool can be used to analyze the differences in conversions after you have changed attribution. Let’s say that you believe an ad should be converted if it was the first interaction with a user. Change the attribution to the conversion and you can see the changes in your conversion numbers.
This will allow you to see how different marketing channels affect your overall conversions.
You can learn more about your website’s audience by using Google Analytics’ Audience section. This section focuses on demographics and other attributes that are related to your traffic. While most reports are easy to understand, the Mobile & Geographic reports will prove to be the most helpful.
This report will allow you to see who’s on your site and what they are doing, in real time. This report is ideal for anyone who wants to monitor site performance and/or conduct sales.
Google Analytics: Problem-Solving
Google Analytics is a problem-solving tool, but it’s not the only solution. Analytical paralysis is very common, and data overload is something that can happen. Use problem-solving skills instead.
First, do not enter your Google Analytics account searching for a solution. Instead, you should be looking for solutions. Is the site loading slowly? Is there a problem with customers leaving the site at a particular point? These are all issues you can spot with Google Analytics. Only then can you determine the root cause and the best way to solve it?
Google Analytics can also go wrong. It is important to know where Google Analytics spam originates and what you can do about it. It is also important to know how to remove irrelevant information (or simply wrong information) from your view, so you can focus on what is most important.
You now know the basics of Google Analytics. It’s time for you to get started. These are the next steps to get you started.
- Verify that Google Analytics is properly implemented. Google Tag Assistant can verify this. Use an analytics plugin if you use WordPress. Every setting in Google Analytics should be checked carefully.
- If you have a problem with your website or have questions, describe the dimension and metric that will help. If you want to know if people find a page via organic search, then you will need to examine organic traffic (also known as Pageviews and Channels).
- Once you know the problem/question, you can dive deeper into analytics to get the root cause. You can use data to find out why people are not finding your page via organic search.