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Google Analytics for Beginners: Comprehensive Guide

  • What is Google Analytics?
  • The benefits of Google Analytics for marketers
  • Most commonly tracked metrics for websites
  • Other uses and functionality of Google Analytics

Google Analytics (GA) is one of the many tools available to help people understand trends and patterns in visitors’ engagement with their website.

The web analytics service provides valuable insight into metrics such as conversion, engagement, demographics, and other useful data about your audience to help you determine what drives traffic to your site.

If you’re using GA, are you making the most out of the data it can give you about the traffic on your site?

Whether you’re entirely new to Google Analytics or you’ve already explored its features, this comprehensive guide on GA will explore how to use it to improve your website’s metrics.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free analytics service offered by Google for tracking website and app performance. It allows you to track how many users have visited your site, how they found you, average time spent on a page, bounce rates and much more. It is crucial to monitor these metrics when optimising your websites for the search engines, as they all represent important factors in Google‘s website ranking process.

GA helps you capture and understand user behaviour as they interact with your site, giving you insider, back end, and real-time access to what your visitors are searching for.

It’s also part of a range of free supporting tools that the tech giant offers, such as Google Search Console (GSC), Google Keyword Planner (GSP) and Google Adwords.

Why is Google Analytics an important tool?

Google Analytics is one of the most powerful tools for tracking user behaviour and is provided by the best search engine in the world, with Google holding 92.18% of the global search engine market share as of 2020.

The service also allows you to focus on the data related to your business measurement needs due to the range of metrics it analyses.

Furthermore, it’s completely free!

While it can be a challenging tool to get your head around, there are hundreds of online tutorials and resources available that will walk you through the platform.

Once set up, head over to your GA dashboard and start getting familiar with the platform, which will help you gain a rich understanding of how people engage with individual applications or pages on your site.

The more you know about your visitors, the better equipped you’ll be to make decisions that will boost traffic and generate sales.

However, please note that you’ll need to wait for the data to gather as the analytical service cannot go back in time.

The new Google Analytics Interface

Google Analytics works by recording a website’s data in real-time and presenting that information to analysts, marketers or administrators in the form of tables, charts and graphs.

In the dashboard, you’ll be able to access basic traffic data, which you can alter via date to reproduce results based on your needs.

After you’ve created your GA account, insert different URLs to the service and choose which one to analyse via a dropdown menu.

As you control the data included in your reports, you can also filter by:

  • Date
  • Internal traffic
  • Campaign tags
  • Domain name
  • Page URL
  • Search term

Filters permanently modify the data included in your report, helping you produce more accurate reports should you require.

The interface shows a list of report options on the left-hand side of the screen, which is where you can access deeper reporting on real-time traffic, your audience, acquisition, user behaviour and conversion.

On the right-hand side of the screen, you’ll see a blue box with real-time metrics about:

  • Number of site visitors
  • Pages viewed per minute
  • Most engaged with pages on your site

If you’re looking for specific information, you can type it into the search bar in the top left-hand corner of the page.

The new Google Analytics 4 interface is built with artificial intelligence (AI), which uses “modelling” to extrapolate from existing data and make assumptions about visitor behaviour to deliver a “more comprehensive understanding of the user journey across devices.”

It appears to be more focused on the consumer shopping journey rather than individual page metrics.

What are the commonly tracked Google Analytics metrics?

You can track an abundance of metrics using Google Analytics, from average session duration to the devices used during each session.

Still, to avoid becoming overwhelmed, it’s best to analyse the data concerning your marketing goals.

Nonetheless, we’ve outlined some of the most popular metrics.

Tracking content performance

Google Analytics can help you track your content’s performance under the “Audience” tab, which will deliver insight into general trends and your audience’s interests.

Suppose your audience is visiting a set of pages more than others or are spending more time on one particular page than another; you can use that data to inform future marketing and content creating decisions.

You can determine the value of individual pages to your users by accessing the “Behaviour” tab and following through to “Site Content“.

Tracking conversion rates

Look no further than the Google Analytics conversion tracking metrics to gain a better understanding of how your website is performing in terms of traffic growth and conversions.

The GA dashboard offers a general overview of how your website is performing and converting, providing insight into:

  • Weekly and monthly traffic figures
  • Number of sessions per channel
  • The keywords driving traffic to your website
  • Average user session duration

For a more in-depth review of your conversion rate, set goals and sales funnels in GA, which will allow you to see the journey the visitor took before reaching the checkout page, including whether they exited before completing the purchase.

Tracking mobile performance

With time spent on mobile phones increasing year on year, you should consider checking how well your website performs on mobile devices.

Discover this metric in the “Audience” tab under “Mobile”, where data is narrowed down via device categories.

You can also set up tracking to collect, monitor, and analyse your site’s performance via mobile apps.

Tracking users

When a user – another term for “unique visitors” – visits your site, GA assigns them a unique client ID stored as a cookie in their internet browser.

Data for this metric allows you to track the number of users landing on your site, their journey on your website and how long they spend on each page.

However, the user report section provides a basic overview of user behaviour. If you want to delve deeper into what your unique visitors are doing, it’s best to go to the “Audience” section.

Tracking where your traffic originates from

Under the “Acquisition” tab, you can access data on how people find your website, including whether they arrived at your site directly, from social media or via the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Knowing where your visitors are coming from can help you make smarter decisions about your marketing efforts and focus your strategy moving forward.

How to create custom reports in Google Analytics

Once you’re comfortable with web metrics, you might want to create custom reports in Google Analytics to help you identify specific figures more effectively.

Custom reports are also helpful if you need to present data during team or company meetings. Not only for their visual element but because they can be tailored to provide a more specific view of your traffic performance.

To create a custom report in Google Analytics, go to “Customisation”> “Custom Reports”> “+ New Custom Report.”

Once you’ve created your custom report, you can name it and the tabs you might want to make if you’re looking to analyse different variables in the data.

Scrolling over the question mark in the dropdown will allow you to learn more about each metric. If you’re happy with your custom report, make sure you save it so that you can rerun this report at a later time should you require it.

Other Google Analytics functions

Here are some other features that Google Analytics boasts that marketers and businesses should consider using when analysing user/traffic behaviour.

Analyse your site search

GA allows you to analyse your site search data via the “Behaviour” tab to help you identify the types of keywords users are entering when they search for content on your site.

Knowing what words and phrases people are typing into your search function can tell you a lot about homepage, navigation and overview pages to allow you to plan for and create more relevant content.

Identify problem pages

Measuring content is extremely important in digital marketing, as it indicates whether your site is thriving or underperforming and helps you identify weaknesses for you to fix.

GA can show you which pages on your site are performing well and which are decreasing the value of your site. Identifying those pages will allow you to take steps to improve them by re-optimising the page or deleting it altogether if the content is no longer relevant.

To assess page performance, go to “Behaviour”, then “Site Content”, and re-order the pages by popularity – the ones with the lowest number of views will more than likely need to be reviewed.

Set goals to identify where people are exiting your site

Abandoned carts are not a new issue in the e-commerce world, but if you can identify where your visitors are exiting your site, you could make improvements to help conversion.

Create goals using a sales funnel, which is a marketing term that refers to a set of steps you think a potential customer may take when they land on your site. For example, if you sell Football tickets, they may land on your product page, then visit the basket, shipping and confirmation page, so you want to set that path as a goal in Google Analytics.

Once you’ve created your funnel, click through to “visualise your funnels”, which will show you the customer journey through to the end goal, including what pages that they dropped off your site.

Suppose you notice that a pattern is forming, then you might want to make updates to your site to improve the checkout experience.

Google Analytics: Most Frequently Asked Questions

Have you still got a few questions about Google Analytics? Then, take a moment to read some of the most frequently asked questions.

What basic reporting can you do on Google Analytics?

With this “freemium” web tool, you can learn about the number of visitors on your website, page views, conversion rate and the type of devices used to access your site.

How can I learn how to use Google Analytics?

Learn more about Google Analytics by watching or reading tutorials offered by the tech giant itself.

Do I need a Google Analytics tracking code?

Yes, without a tracking ID, Google Analytics will not be able to collect data about your website.

Is Google Analytics free?

Most of the features on Google Analytics are free.

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