Google Analytics, also commonly referred to as GA, is one of the many services offered by the search engine giant, Google. It is primarily a resource that is used by digital marketers and business owners to measure the performance of their sites using statistics. For a walkthrough and explanation of what Google Analytics is, check out this video.
The tool goes even further and records the amount of time a visitor spends on your website or on a given webpage. GA also records the geographical location of the user, whether or not the user is eventually buying anything or contact you about a service.
There are various ways Google Analytics tracks user activity on a website. Right from the advertisement links to referring through social networks, every source, route and access of a user is recorded. It records the data in real time and offers a quick real time snapshot for business owners and digital marketers to review.
Marketers can access the analysis made by Google Analytics by using the dashboard of the application, where a summary of the assessment is displayed or they can view comprehensive reports based on different aspects of the website, such as; traffic, page views, and even visitor behaviour that detail everything extensively.
Google Analytics has multiple utilities. It can be used to gauge the popularity of a website, the ranking on search engines, the performance in regards to sales and activity and to understand if your marketing strategies are effective.
GA is also useful for understanding if the content in your blog is engaging, if your ads are getting results an conversions and every other aspect associated with a website’s performance resulting from digital marketing. This article is designed as a guide to help you get started with Google Analytics.
Setting Up Google Analytics
Setting up your Google Analytics account is quite simple. The first thing you need is a general Google account. This can be your Gmail account or some other account. If you don’t have any type of Google account then you have to create one.
Ideally, if you don’t have an email address with your domain name, you should go to the G Suite Accounts page and create an email address with your domain name included in it. This is only $5/month, which is a small price to pay for a branded email address.
Once you have a general Google account, you should go onto the Google Analytics page. Here, you will be asked a few simple questions and there will be several checkboxes. Most of the checkboxes are self explanatory and if you are a little confused as to whether you should go for ‘custom’, ‘advanced’ or ‘standard’ configurations, it is better to go with ‘standard’, especially if this is the first time you are using Analytics.
It’s a good idea to choose a domain name for the account name. While you can use any name you want, having a website URL as your account name can help you easily track which Google Analytics account is for which website. If you have multiple websites you can create different profiles for each one later, from within your Google Analytics account.
For optimal results, you should let Google know about all of the domains that you want to monitor and collect analytical data on. Additionally, you may or may not choose to share your Google Analytics data with third parties and other Google products and services. For a more visual look at how to set up your Google Analytics account, watch this video:
Types of Google Analytics Reports
Google Analytics has numerous types of reports ranging across various parameters. The types of reports Google Analytics can generate and display for you will depend on your preferences. For instance, you can opt to display standard reports, custom reports or advanced reports.
You may recall that you were prompted to choose from standard, custom and advanced options when you were signing up for your Google Analytics account. The standard Google Analytics reports are what the service typically offers. With custom and advanced options, you can have any type of report generated from the data that the tool records.
The first and basic kind of reports you would get from Google Analytics will pertain to the activity on your website. It will offer you a real-time record of the traffic on your website, which will include the active users or viewers of the site and their origin.
The origins or ‘traffic sources’ can be advertisements, social networks, emails, links posted on directories, search engine results or a direct feed which is a user directly entering your website address into the browser.
As you receive this real-time analysis of traffic, Google Analytics keeps recording the data as well for your future reference. From your dashboard, you will have access to statistics, graphs and all of the details about the traffic in real time.
Google Analytics also records new traffic, returning traffic, conversions and the time frame that viewers are staying on your website. You will get to know precisely where, when and how a viewer has accessed your site, how long they have remained and if they took any action.
This will provide you with a comprehensive analysis and reports on how the links are generating traffic, which webpage is triggering more traffic and which part of the website content is not being explored by the viewers. With custom and advanced options, you can get any type of report you need to analyse different areas of your site’s performance.
Google Analytics e-commerce section covers everything that you need to know about online sales, conversions and tracking of every user activity through the site. The powerful dashboard offers you a glimpse into these reports, a kind of a snapshot and infographic of all current information available, with additional data stored in your Google Analytics account. You can access this data anytime for any type of assessment needed.
You can also choose which type of reports you wish to have displayed on your dashboard. Apart from offering all the data attained, Google Analytics has reports that can simply provide you with a summary of every activity, so that you don’t have to analyse the entire database unless necessary.
Getting The Most Out Of Google Analytics
As we have discussed, the enormous amount of data and statistics that Google Analytics generates and offers can be overwhelming for even the savviest marketers and business owners. Most people who begin using GA have a specific objective in mind. While the obvious aim is to get more sales or to generate more revenue, the specific metrics can vary greatly among users. In order to get you more comfortable with the platform, we have constructed a video to provide you with a guided tour of GA.
One thing that all GA users have in common is for the process to be as simple, convenient and time efficient as possible. However, when it comes to exploring all of the data GA provides, it can be extremely time consuming and even confusing.
To help alleviate this, let’s go over some simple things that you can do to get the most out of Google Analytics:
– First, determine your objectives and set the parameters clearly. As we have mentioned before, GA will offer you data about traffic, real-time activity, new or returning users, geographical locations of users and where the traffic is coming from.
Now you may not require all of the data provided to know for certain whether or not your website is getting enough traffic or if your marketing strategies are paying off. You may only need to know the amount of time viewers are spending on your website, the number of viewers filling out a form or those who are buying a product.
Furthermore, you may only need to find out the specific keywords that are generating more traffic and not necessarily the source of all traffic. To get such an outlook, you can use filters, custom configuration or advanced segments of GA to get
exactly the details or data that you want to access.
– As previously discussed, there are many widgets and gadgets that can be used for GA. Some offer better, more comprehensive analysis of reports and some applications offer a more interactive summary of the analyses provided by GA. So be sure to take advantage of the different widgets and gadgets and using them can be very helpful.
– Setting up email reports or updates is very important, especially if you want to be regularly updated with specific reports. The email alerts can be configured to your own personal preferences. For instance; daily, weekly or in frequencies that you want and you have the option to merge different profiles or accounts or keep them segregated.
When it comes to making the most of your GA account keeping things simple is much more helpful than trying to figure out everything that the extensive GA reports provide. Having a clear objective of what type of results you are looking to achieve will help you to get the best results possible.
How Google Analytics Collects Data
Google Analytics records every activity on your website which helps you discover exactly how your website is performing. With GA the performance of a website is assessed in many ways. Typically, a business is only interested in the end result; lead generation and sales. How GA helps is by assisting the business owner determine whether their digital marketing strategies are performing well, or whether a change is required.
Google Analytics records the traffic to a website from social media, other sites, search engines, directories, advertising platforms or even people accessing a website by directly entering the URL onto a browser. Here’s how GA collects data:
After you complete the sign up process, you will get a ‘tracking code’ from Google Analytics. This tracking code needs to be inserted in your website for Google to start recording data.
It is usually placed within the head tag in the code of the webpages you want to track. If you use WordPress, there is a great plugin called MonsterInsights, which will make it easier for you to add the code to your site. The process is fairly simple and Google provides you with detailed instructions, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself then you can ask your website designer or hire a designer to do the job for you. They should know exactly where to place the tracking code so that it will work properly.
Once the code is in place it will begin collecting data and you can login to your Google Analytics account and start observing the analysis in real time on the dashboard. Before we get into types of Google Analytics reports, here is a guided tour of the platform.
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Google Analytics Widgets & Gadgets
The Google Analytics dashboard usually offers all the necessary reports you will need to keep track of your website’s activity. With the custom and advanced options, you can also create reports that meet your personal and business preferences. Find out more about custom dashboards by watching this video:
However, you may wish to use a mobile application or a different type of interface to view the reports generated by Google Analytics. For this, there are several widgets and gadgets which can be used to access Google Analytics available directly from the official website. Some of them are made by Google, but many are developed by a third party, independent developers who offer them to consumers.
Some gadgets are specifically aimed at certain phones or tablets. For instance, there are widgets that offer you various types of info-graphic such as bar charts, comparison graphs, heat maps and many forms of visualisation. You can get a Google Analytics gadget that runs on Mac OS or mobile operating systems. These gadgets are typically created with the user interface and specifications of the targeted phones, laptops, tablets or operating systems. Thus, as a user you can get a perfect application to access your GA account from anywhere.
However, widgets and gadgets are not solely for the purpose of changing the outline, layout or design and to make it easier for you to access the reports. They can also make the task simpler. Widgets and gadgets can save enormous an amount of time. For instance, you can get a gadget that pulls together reports from various profiles or different accounts. This will bring multiple reports from various website’s that you own within one application and you don’t need to visit each independent account or every profile to get the summaries of analysis.
Some widgets and gadgets even go beyond the extent to which Google Analytics records data and offer analyses. Specific applications can assess different reports and offer a systemic analysis based on the data provided. There are widgets that can display the statistics of Google Analytics on your website or on a specific webpage. With widgets and gadgets, using Google Analytics can become even more powerful, time saving and extremely convenient to use.