Google Analytics: A Beginner’s Guide in 2020

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Google Analytics is one of the many tools Google provides for our website. It helps us understand where traffic is coming from and what visitors do on our site.

Without this data, it’s difficult to understand how any digital marketing strategy is performing. 

Being able to track performance and analytics makes Google Analytics a valuable tool for any marketer.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool that tracks and reports all website traffic. It provides an in-depth look at your website’s performance. It integrates with the range of tools Google provides including Google Ads and Search Console. 

Why is Google Analytics Important?

If you’re not using Google Analytics, you’re missing out on a lot of valuable information. Being able to monitor your website allows you to review what’s working and what’s not. You can measure ad campaigns or simply traffic you’re getting for certain pages. So let’s briefly look at what makes Google Analytics so valuable.

Conversion Tracking

Knowing where your traffic comes from is great, but if you’re running an ecommerce site you care about conversions, too.

Google Analytics gives you the power to set up goals to track when users complete actions on your site. No matter how much traffic you’re getting, you need to know if your traffic is converting.

Customer Engagement

The more you know about your users, the better equipped you’ll be to make smart choices about your website. Google Analytics has many features to help you understand the behaviour of users as they interact with your site.

As a business, it’s critical to understand how people use your website. Understanding user behaviour helps you improve user experience, refine content, and build something useful to users.

Device Overview

With Google’s mobile-first indexing, your website needs to be mobile friendly to be able to rank well. Google Analytics allows you to monitor which devices your users are coming from. This gives you an indication of how well your mobile site is working and how you can improve.

How to Install Google Analytics Step-by-Step

Getting started with Google Analytics is simple. First, you need a Google account. If you use any other Google tool like Gmail or Google Drive, you already have an account. But, if you don’t, it’s easy to sign up for one.

Once you’ve created your account and signed in, you’ll move on to the account setup.

Google Analytics account creation page.

Here is where you add your account name. Your account name should be something that describes the account like “Personal Account” or “Team Account”.

Once you have chosen an account name, you will then select what you want to measure. Here you have 3 options but let’s say you have a website. It could be a blog or an ecommerce business.

Choosing if you want to measure analytics for your website, app, or both.

The last step in the setup process is to tell Google the details of your website you want to track. This includes the URL of your website and the website name. Your website’s name can be the name of your company or something simpler like “My Blog” or “My Website”.

Adding property details like website name and website URL.

Next, you will be given a tracking code to include on your website. You’ll need to copy and paste this code of every web page that you want to track.

Tracking code.

Your tracking code must be added after the < head > tag of the header on the page.

If you’re using a CMS like WordPress, you can also install a Google Analytics plugin. You only need to add the tracking code into the plug-in and it will automatically add it to every page.

Once it’s set up, it will take about 24 hours for Google to collect data from your website. When you sign in again, you’ll see something like this:

Main overview where you can see all traffic from the past week

This is an overview of Google Analytics for your website. It shows overall users for the past week, along with how you acquired them. It also shows current active users and users by country.

You can view different reports from the left side menu, which we’ll get into in a moment.

Google Analytics Reports

The left side menu provides you with six different reporting options. Clicking on each one gives you even more options for in-depth metrics.

Google Analytics left side menu with reports for Realtime, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions.

Let’s take a look at what you’ll find in each of Google Analytics reports.

Google Analytics Realtime Reports

The first option you’ll see on the left-hand menu is the Realtime reports. This looks similar to the main overview you see when signing in. The only difference is you’ll only see real-time data of users currently on your site.

Google Analytics Realtime Report overview.

You’ll be able to see which pages they’re visiting, which social platforms they’re coming from, where they’re located, and more.

While helpful, you’ll probably use this report the least. But, it can be valuable if you want to see how a new blog post is doing or how a one-day sale is driving traffic and conversions.

Google Analytics Audience Reports

The Audience reports are very valuable because it’s where you can learn about your site’s visitors. As an overview, you’ll get metrics on how many users, sessions, pageviews, and more you’ve received.

Google Analytics Audience Reports overview.

The great thing about Audience reports is the depth you can go into to find more about your audience. They include:

Demographics

Demographics provide in-depth information about the age and gender of your users. For example, you can see what age group is spending the most time on your site. This information is valuable in tailoring content or ads for your site.

Interests

Mostly used for remarketing campaigns, Interests reports will show your users’ interests. Google Analytics sorts users based on three categories: affinity, in-market, and other. Affinity includes broad lifestyle categories like “Media & Entertainment”, while in-market sorts by product-related interests. Other Category looks at more specific interests like “Soccer” and “Smart Phones”.

Geo

The Geo report provides information about the language and location of your users. You can use this information to better target certain audiences.

Behavior

The Behavior report is divided into three categories: New vs Returning, Frequency & Recency, and Engagement. New vs Returning allows you to see how many users are new and how many are returning. Frequency & Recency gives you insights at how frequent users are coming to your site. While Engagement looks at how long users’ sessions are.

Technology

This report lets you learn more about how users are viewing your site. Users can be divided into browsers and operating systems. You can also see which network they use to connect to the internet.

Mobile

The Mobile report helps to organize users by device type. You can see how many visitors viewed your site with a mobile phone, tablet or desktop. You can also sort the data based on the device brand.

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports

The Acquisition report provides insights on how your audience finds your site. This report breaks down your traffic by source: organic search, direct, referral, paid search, social, and display.

Google Analytics Acquisition Reports overview.

Acquisition provides other reports that let you look at your data in a range of ways. It looks at any traffic through ad campaigns, organic search traffic and social.

Google Ads

If you’re using Google Ads, this data is important in understanding how your ads are affecting your site. You’ll want to link your Google Ads account with Google Analytics to see this data. Once you do, you’ll see insights on campaigns, keywords, and search queries related to your ads.

Search Console

This report is vital in understanding how your site performs in organic search. You can see data like user queries and the number of times your site URLs appear in search results. It also provides post-click data about site engagement like bounce rate and ecommerce conversion rate. This combination of data is valuable in optimizing your site for the most profitable traffic.

Social

The Social portion of the Acquisition report will tell you how people are interacting with your content on social media. This information helps identify social media platforms your audience is already interacting with your content. It also measures how social media is impacting users’ site behaviours.

Campaigns

The Campaigns report is directly related to any paid campaigns you have. Once Google Ads is integrated, you’ll see how your campaigns are performing. You can sort data by paid keywords, organic keywords, and cost analysis.

Google Analytics Behavior Reports

The Behavior reports provide data about the behaviour of the users on your site. It tracks the type of actions users take like using the search function, how they view content, and how fast pages load.

Google Analytics Behaviour Report overview.

The overview report shows you information on page views, session duration, and bounce rate, and other user behaviours.

Behavior Flow Report

The Behavior Flow report visualizes the paths users travelled from one screen or page to the next. This can help you discover what content keeps users engaged with your site. The Behavior Flow report can also help identify potential content or usability issues.

Site Content

Here you will find a list of all the pages of your site that have been viewed during a specific period. This data helps determine how each page is performing. It collects data on how many pageviews it has, average time on page, and it’s bounce rate.

Site Speed

This report is pretty self-explanatory: it tells you how quickly each page loads. This data can be sorted by browser, country, and page. It also provides suggestions to optimize your site speed for a specific page.

Site Search

The Site Search report shows how visitors use the search function on your site. This helps to determine which keywords visitors are using and which pages they’re looking to find. You can use this information to optimize your pages or create content.

Events

Google Analytics defines an event as “user interactions with content that can be tracked independently from a web page or a screen load”. Events include downloads of a PDF, views of a video, and form submissions. This means you can set up special tracking for a particular page to see how users are interacting with it. You can then decide if your video or content needs a refresh.

Publisher

If you monetize with Google AdSense or AdExchange, the Publisher report gives you data on impressions, clicks, and revenue.

Experiments

Now available on Google Optimize, you’ll have the following capabilities:

  • A/B testing including redirects
  • Multivariate testing
  • Cookie targeting
  • Geotargeting
  • Browser, operating system, and desktop versus mobile targeting

Google Analytics Conversions Reports

This section of Google Analytics is all about the goals for your website. It shows how visitors convert when on your site.

For an ecommerce business, you want people to subscribe to their mailing list or make a purchase.

A B2B business wants visitors to download a PDF, sign up for a newsletter, or call their business.

In the end, a conversion is a goal you set out for your business.

Goals

Here is where you’ll find reports into conversions for different goals you have created. This shows your total goal completions for your site.

Ecommerce

The Ecommerce reports allow you to analyze purchase activity on your site or app. You can see product and transaction information, average order value, ecommerce conversion rate, time to purchase, and other data.

Ecommerce reports can be sorted by:

  • Overview: Summary of Revenue, Ecommerce Conversion Rate, Transactions, Average Order Value and other metrics.
  • Product Performance: Revenue, Purchases, Quantity, Average Price, and Average QTY by SKU and Category.
  • Sales Performance: Revenue by Date.
  • Transactions: Revenue, Tax, Shipping, and Quantity by Transaction ID.
  • Time to Purchase: Days to Transaction and Sessions to Transaction.

Multi-Channel Funnels

There are many ways you communicate with your audience. So, it can be hard to track when this is working and how.

The Multi-Channel Funnels reports show how your marketing channels (i.e., sources of traffic to your website) work together to create sales and conversions.

For example, many people may purchase on your site after searching for your brand on Google. However, they may have been introduced to your brand via a blog or while searching for specific products and services.

The Multi-Channel Funnels reports show how previous referrals and searches contributed to your sales.

Final Thoughts

Google Analytics provides highly valuable data you can use to grow your business.

It can help you understand what’s working, what’s not, and why. You can learn how to better adjust your marketing campaign or improve site content, for example.

And the best part, it’s free!

Google Analytics provides concrete insights you can use to develop your business and website more efficiently.

Now that you know how to leverage this data, you can start with your own business.

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