Getting started with Google Analytics
What is Google Analytics & what to use it for
Google Analytics (GA) is a free analytics platform helping track and report site movements. It is very simple to implement and integrate with the website (there’s a step-by-step guide on GA) and it is the most popular free analytics tool used online to help marketers understand what is happening on their website, who their visitors are and how to improve the site traffic and revenue.
It will give you answers to the following questions:
- Where are the visitors coming from – region, country, city?
- How many people visit the website? And what time of the day?
- What devices are they using?
- How many visitors return to the website?
- How long do people stay on the website and what pages they click into the most?
- What channels do they come from? What websites send traffic to my website?
- What marketing and advertising tactics drive the most traffic to the website?
- Which pages are the most popular?
- How many visitors convert into leads or customers?
- Where did converting visitors come from and go on the website?
- How can one improve website’s speed?
- What blog content do people share, engage with and like the most?
Google Analytics basics
If you know how and where to search Google Analytics will offer you a wealth of information useful to improve your brand’s performance online and even offline.
Assisted Conversion – (within ‘Conversions>Multi-Channel Funnels’ reports) – Channels that later led to a conversion, i.e, if a user visited the website from Twitter and later on from an ad campaign via Google AdWords, Twitter would be counted as an ‘assisted conversion’.
Attribution – (within ‘Conversions>Attribution’ reports) – it lets you control how credit for a particular conversion is given to the marketing channels that led to the action taking place.
Avg Session Duration – (Acquisition reports – Behaviour column) – Provides a top-level view of how long users are spending on your website.
Bounce – A bounce is a single pageview after which a user leaves your website.
Bounce Rate – (Acquisition reports) – Bounce rate is the percentage of sessions with a single pageview.
Conversion – A conversion is reported whenever a user completes a goal or makes a purchase during a session. Each goal will report a maximum of one conversion per session, while every transaction is reported.
Cost-per-click or CPC – (Acquisition reports) – traffic from linked Google AdWords accounts and campaign tagged URLs where the medium has been defined as ‘cpc’ or ‘paid’.
Dimension – One of two types of data that Google Analytics collects, a dimension is an attribute or characteristic of your users and their interactions with your website. Dimensions are typically presented as a row of information within your reports. Examples of dimensions include page path, which provides information about the pages people have viewed and marketing channel which provide information about how people found your website. You’ll find the dimension presented in the first column inside the standard Google Analytics reports.
Direct – Direct traffic includes people who typed your website’s URL into their browser. Direct sessions will also include other cases where Google Analytics is unable to identify the source of the click.
Goal – Goals are defined by a GA administrator and used to track desired actions on your website.
Goal Value- An optional dollar value can be set for each goal inside Google Analytics. The goal value can be used to report on an actual dollar value, a calculated value or a symbolic value for each conversion.
Landing Page – (Behaviour>Site Content>Landing Page) The first page viewed during a session, or in other words, the entrance page.
Medium – (Acquisition>Channel>Source/Medium) – One of the main dimensions (along with source, campaign and channel) for reporting and analysing how people found your website. Medium tells you how the message was communicated. For example, ‘organic’ for free search traffic, ‘cpc’ for cost-per-click and ‘referral’ for inbound links from other websites.
New User – A first time visitor in the selected date range. Since users are based on the Google Analytics tracking code and browser cookies, it’s important to highlight that people who cleared their cookies or access your website using a different device will be reported as a new user.
Organic Traffic (Acquisition>Channels) refers to people clicking on a free link from a search results page.
Pages Per Session – the average number of pageviews in each session.
Pageview – A pageview is reported when a page has been viewed by a user on your website. In the Google Analytics pages report, by default, your pages are ordered by popularity based on pageviews.
Referral (Acquisition>Channels) A referral is reported when a user clicks through to your website from another third-party website. The referrals report allows you to see all of the websites (by domain) that are sending you traffic. You can also drill-down into the referrals report to view the ‘Referral Path’ which allows you to see the individual pages linking to your website.
Session – A single visit to your website, consisting of one or more pageviews, along with events, ecommerce transactions and other interactions. The default session timeout is 30 minutes, which means that if someone is inactive on your website for over 30 minutes, then a new session will be reported if they perform another interaction, for example, viewing another page.
Source (Acquisition>Channels) – it provides the information on where the message was seen. Source can be used in combination with medium for more granular insights, for example, a source of ‘google’ and a medium of ‘cpc’ would be reported for paid clicks from your AdWords campaigns.
UTM Tag – UTM tags are the individual query parameters used to make up a campaign tagged URL. The UTM tags include utm_name, utm_source, utm_medium, utm_term, utm_content and the lesser known utm_id. UTM stands for ‘Urchin Traffic Monitor’ (Urchin was the precursor to Google Analytics).
Goals are an important step in the setting up process as they help you understand when something important has happened on your website. Whether it is signing up to a newsletter, new lead or submitting a CV, they will help you understand how many users started and finished the action and where they dropped off. You can set these up in the Admin Panel under the View tab.
This tab provides viewer with an information about what is happening with the website at the time of checking it. It’s a real-time data with no reporting per-se.
This report is all about the web visitors. It covers all the information available from Demographics, to interests, to geolocation, to languages to their online behaviour (i.e frequency of visits, type of device or a network provider.
This is your source of information on what drove visitors to your website. By going into Acquisition>All Traffic>Channels you will be able to see the traffic broken down by main channel categories and by going into All Traffic>Source/Medium you will see specific sources of the traffic (that’s where UTM code results will pull through too). Referrals are a place where you will see all the external websites directing traffic to your own website – You can decide based on that which referral websites, affiliates and PR efforts are the best ROI.
You can learn everything about traffic from social networks (Social). You can also connect Google Analytics to AdWords to learn more about PPC campaigns and to Google Webmaster Tools / Search Console to learn more about search traffic (Search Engine Optimisation).
By clicking into All Traffic>Channels>Organic you will be taken to the Keyword screen which will show majority of results as (not provided). This is Google’s way of protecting search engine user’s privacy. To ensure you better understand search terms that drive traffic to your website, use tools like Google Search Console, Authority Lab’s Now Provided Reports (paid), and Hittail (paid) can all help you uncover some of those keywords.
They won’t be linked to your conversions or other Google Analytics data, but at least you will have some clue what keywords searchers are using to find your website.
This is particularly useful when you want to drill down into your content performance as well as particular pages.
Behaviour Flow indicates the flow of traffic/website visits and show the most common one first. Site Content is an area that gives more information about most visited pages and their performance. You can always add Secondary Dimension to get more detailed view per your selected criteria (i.e channel, city, time etc). Landing Pages category provides information on most visited pages, and the top exit pages on your website (Site Content>Exit Pages).
If the Site Search was set up, you will be also able to pull information about most searched terms on the website (Site Search>Search Terms) and the pages they are searched upon (Site Search>Pages).
You can also learn how fast your website loads (Site Speed) as well as find specific suggestions from Google on how to make your website faster by going into Site Speed>Speed Suggestions. These are pulled from Google Developer Tools.
Once your Goals are set up, they will let you see how many conversions your website has received (Conversions>Goals>Overview) and what URLs they happened upon (Conversions>Goals>Goal URLs). You can also see what steps a visitor took to complete the conversion (Goals>Reverse Goal Path).
Multi-Channel Funnels are a great source of information on steps taken prior to the conversion. Top Conversion Paths (Conversions>Multi-Channel Funnels>Top Conversion Paths) gives the information on all the touch points and visits made to the website prior to converting.
To learn more about Google Analytics, take advantage of their free Analytics Academy.
If you want to be certified and test your knowledge, I encourage you to check out Google Analytics Certificate – this is available for Google Partners but it’s relatively easy to set yourself up as a partner. Courses are free and so are the certifications and they are valid for a year. Exam takes around 1-2 hours and I think they are worth it: