Google Analytics is one of the most excellent tools available in the market to understand the traffic on a website. However, it can be challenging to figure out what the various reports mean and how they correlate to your business. Here is the Google Analytics 101 — a guide to everything you need to know.
Why Use Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is an easy-to-use and exceptionally full-featured tool. Google has been continuously improving Analytics, and, based on a report by TechCrunch, it is currently utilized by more than 50% of the prime 10,000 websites in the world. Even websites that use other analytics tools usually depend on Google Analytics as a backup tool or for comparison purposes. The feature that it integrates with different Google programs, like AdWords and AdSense makes it much more valuable. Weighing in the fact that most web admins already use at least some Google products, it makes sense to use Google Analytics, because it can integrate well with other platforms.
A Brief History of Google Analytics
Google Analytics was developed initially from the Urchin on Demand software that Google acquired in the spring of 2005. Urchin is currently at version 7 and still produced and accessible through value-added resellers.
The first Google-branded alternative was released in November 2005, and in 2006, additional ideas from Measure Map (developed by Adaptive Path) were integrated into Analytics when Google acquired them. From the beginning, Analytics was accessible only by invitation because the demand for the tool was very high. It wasn’t entirely available to all users until almost a year following its initial announcement – August 2006.
Setting Up A Google Analytics Account
Before you start using Google Analytics, it is necessary to create a Google account. Once you have the access to your Google account, you can go to Google Analytics to set up your new account￼ for free.
Step 1: Set Up Your Account And Property
Go to the Google Analytics tool and click the Sign into Google Analytics button. You will then receive three steps that you must exercise to set up the Google Analytics tool.
Once you click the Sign-Up button, you will fill out the data for your website.
Google Analytics allows hierarchies to create your account. You can have up to 100 Google Analytics accounts under one Google account, and up to 50 website properties under one Google Analytics account. Under this, you will have the choice to configure where your Google Analytics data can be shared.
There are no right or wrong ways to set up your Google Analytics account—it’s just a subject of how you want to develop your websites. You have the option to rename your accounts or websites. Note that you can’t move a website from one Google Analytics account to another.
Step 2: Add Tracking Code To Your Website
Once you are done, you will click the Get Tracking ID button. You will see a popup of the terms and conditions of Google Analytics. As soon as you agree to it, you will receive your Google Analytics code.
The tracking code must be installed on every page of the website, and the installation will be based on the type of website you own. For instance, if you have a WordPress account on your personal domain, you can utilise the Google Analytics by Yoast plugin to install the code quickly no matter what framework or theme you use. If you have a website developed with HTML files, you will have to add the tracking code before the </head> tag on all of your website pages. You can achieve this by applying a text editor program (such as Notepad for Windows or TextEdit for Mac) and then uploading the data to your web host using an FTP application such as FileZilla.
Step 3: Set Up Goals
Once you are done with the installation of the tracking code on the website, you should consider configuring a small setting in your website’s profile. It is called goals setting, and you can locate it by clicking on the Admin link at the top of your Google Analytics account and then click on the Goals section below your website’s View column.
The Goals settings will tell Google Analytics if something major has occurred on the website. For instance, if you have a website where you produce leads by a contact information form, you would require to generate a thank you page that visitors see once they have submitted their data. Similarly, if you have a website wherein you retail products, you would want to create a confirmation or a final thank you page for visitors to see once they have finished a purchase.
To create a new goal, click on the New Goal button, and choose the Custom option and click on the Next Step button.
You can name your goal something that is easy to remember, select the Destination, and then go ahead with the Next Step button.
Later, enter the confirmation or thank you page’s URL following the .com of the website in the Destination section and switch the drop-down to “Begins with”.
You can then change the value and insert a specific money value for that conversion and click on the Create Goal button to finish the setup.
If you have other similar conversions/goals you would like to trace on your website, you can repeat the steps. With this, you can generate up to 20 goals on your website, but it is best to create ones that are highly relevant to your business. These goals comprise email list sign-ups, lead form submissions, and marketing completions. Depending on your website and its plan, the goals may differ.
This is the simplest way of tracking conversion in Google Analytics. You can analyse the information and documentation in the Google Analytics guide to study more about setting up of goal tracking.
Step 4: Observe The Google Data Analytics
Once you begin receiving Google Analytics data, you can learn more about the website traffic. Every time you log in to your Google Analytics account, you can visit the Audience Overview report. Though, if you own more than one website, you will see the list of websites to choose from first, and then to the Audience Overview report for that particular website. This is the beginning of over 50 reports that are accessible to you in Google Analytics, and you can further obtain these reports by clicking on the Reporting link at the top.
If you’d prefer to watch a video on how to get started on Google Analytics, here’s the link to a helpful video.
Basic Metrics To Understand The Traffic On Your Website
The Sessions metric gives you the number of interactions on the website over a particular period. One course can include many events and pageviews, as well as e-commerce purchases. The duration of one session is approximately 30 minutes so, if a website guest engaged in a session on the website and returned after a minimum of 30 minutes of inactivity, your report will consider it as a new session.
- Page Views
Page views are the easiest metric that you can analyze as it determines the precise number of pages on your website that have been viewed over a specified period of time. Thus, if someone discovers your website online, clicks through before viewing another four pages, then exits, you would have a score of five page views for that particular user. However, the page view metric counts repeated views of the same page, which can derange your numbers a bit.
- Individual Page Views
If you wish to discover individual pages that users are accessing on your website, and don’t desire to insert information where people visited the same page recurring times, you need to observe your unique page views. This report is extracted by looking at unique sessions in which a user is on the website. So, if someone goes back and forth between two pages many times throughout the same session, it will still only show as two unique page views.
- Goal Conversion Rate
Google Analytics includes the conversion rate of every one of your goals and gives you the total of their conversion rates. For example, if you have five goals for your website and each one of them has a 20% conversion rate, Google Analytics will show you that the goal conversion rate for your site is 100%. However, as it shows you the summary of all of your goals, it indicates that you still need to put in efforts to make certain that your website performs better.
- Bounce Rate
Bounce rate determines what percentage of your visitors revisit a particular page of the website for a limited amount of time without interacting or clicking on the content. A low bounce rate exhibits that the visitors are more interested in your website. If your bounce rates are high, then you must look at the pages that are making people leave your site immediately. The reason could be that the keywords are not relevant to the actual content presented. Alternatively, it may further not be clear to the reader where to go next on your site after they have completed reading an article. Other causes for high bounce rates could be technical such as lousy usability on mobile devices or slow loading times. Once you have performed modifications to your page’s layout, content, or functionality, observe your bounce rates to check if they decrease.
If you sell merchandise on your website, understanding which page generates the most sales can assist you to make arrangements that result in more revenue. The Revenue metric shows you how your site has created total income over a set interval and also gives you the option to see which particular pages are raking in cash.
Reporting Tabs To Monitor The Performance Of Your Website
- Real-Time Reports
Real-Time reports give you in-depth information about the visitors who are currently present on the site. Hence, as the name implies, you get the data in real-time. In the Real-Time Overview section, you can view the exact number of active users on the site, how many of the website pages are being viewed, the first keywords your active users are using, and a listing of your most active pages with the number of active users on those pages. Besides the Overview, you can compare the other tabs in real-time such as Traffic Sources, Location, Content, Conversions and Events to understand the corresponding data concerning your active users.
- Behaviour Report
The Behaviour report includes information gathered from the actions and behaviour of users visiting your site. You utilise this data to improve the content of your site and to meet the demands and requirements of your visitors further.
Use the Behaviour report to examine the following metrics:
- Most to least popular pages on the website
- The pages visitors are landing on via referrals or searches
- The pages visitors are exiting
- The specific path visitors are taking through your website, also known as the behaviour flow
- Page load times
Particular sections of the Behaviour dashboard may seem confusing, but pay close attention to the subsection Site Content.
- Acquisition Reports
The Acquisition reports show how the users came to your website. It will present you with a summary of your organic, direct, referral and social traffic along with email traffic. If you utilise AdWords, you can understand how your PPC (Production Planning Control) operations are working. All you have to do is proceed to the Admin tab and link your Google Analytics account with your AdWords account. The SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tab in the Acquisition reports tells you which keywords your visitors searched to arrive at your website. However, to make use of this tab, you require to have a Google Webmaster account and link it to your Google Analytics account.
- Conversions Reports
The Conversions reports show the actions your visitors had taken before they converted. The reports will give you their complete path towards conversion, as well as tell you how many conversions have taken place on the site. There are four different reports in the Conversions tab mainly E-commerce, Goals, Attribution, and Multi-Channel Funnels. The E-commerce reports will provide you with an insight into the action of your customers. The Goals reports enable you to plan and track your conversions. The Attribution reports let you distribute credit for conversions to particular points on the conversion range. Lastly, the Multi-Channel Funnels reports show how your marketing channels are performing to lead to conversions.
Google Analytics gives an extensive collection of tools that enables you to get the data and metrics you must know about before starting a website. The information provided above will help website beginners to get a great jump start to understanding how their website is functioning.