Google Analytics has been a marketer’s best friend since its launch in 2005. This in-depth tool provides a wealth of information about a website’s performance. Marketers use this data to make informed decisions about their promotional strategies, website design and content, and business objectives. Although, if you’ve never used Google Analytics before, it is a bit overwhelming at first.
To begin, follow these simple set-up instructions from Google. Once you acquire your tracking code, there are a few ways to add it to your website, as WPBeginner demonstrates. You can paste the code into the header and footer HTML of your website or install a plugin such as Yoast SEO which does the heavy lifting for you.
After you complete the Google Analytics set-up, you’ll need to become acquainted with the platform. Let’s review the different areas of Google Analytics and what you need to know to get started.
When you first log into Google Analytics, you are presented with a quick overview of your website’s performance. This report displays data from a specific period of time. You can adjust the time period in the top right-hand corner of your screen at any time.
This dashboard shows you the following data:
- Bounce Rate
- Session Duration
- Active Users
- Acquisition Sources
- And More
This area of Google Analytics is used for getting a quick snapshot of how your website is doing overall. You can adjust the Overview dashboard to display the metrics you need, as well. To further learn about your website performance, head to the left-hand column and explore the other sections and reports.
In the left-hand column menu, you’ll see Real Time. Click here if you’d like to learn more about the users on your website at that moment. In this dashboard, you can see users’:
- Traffic Source
- Website Pages They’ve Visited
Marketers use this section of Google Analytics for a multitude of reasons, including:
- Campaign Testing
- Tracking Code Verification
- Media and Events Monitoring
Although you may not have a current need for real-time analytics data, it may come in handy one day!
To learn all about your website visitors, click on the Audience tab in the left-hand menu. This dashboard provides an inside look at the users who visited your website within a defined period of time. Again, you can always alter the time period of data.
The first option presented is the Audience Overview. This overview dashboard provides a quick glimpse at your audience information. Within the Audience section menu, you can drill down this information further and discover vital visitor details, such as:
- Geographic Location
- Browser/Device/Operating System/Service Provider Used
- Engagement Behavior
- And More
Use this information to guide decisions about your website content, design, and marketing initiatives. For instance, if your audience tends to be middle-aged women who prefer to use laptops, you wouldn’t create a mobile app targeted towards millennials. This wouldn’t make sense for your target audience.
In addition, you can use this data to determine if your marketing strategy is attracting the right audience. If your website should be appealing to millennials, yet you’re appealing to an audience in their mid-50s, something is off!
Next, use Google Analytics to learn how users access your website on the Internet.
The Acquisition reports on Google Analytics show you where your website traffic comes from. These sources include:
- Direct Traffic
- Referral Traffic
- Social Traffic
- Organic Search Traffic
- Paid Search Traffic
- Email Marketing Traffic
- Affiliate Traffic
- Other Traffic
Acquisition reports also include the source and medium of each channel. The source refers to where the user accesses your website. For instance, a source for Organic Search traffic could be Bing.com. The medium includes categories of traffic within that particular source such as “CPC,” indicating that a user clicked on a pay-per-click ad.
The data found in this section of Google Analytics provides excellent insight into the effectiveness of an online marketing strategy. You can determine which areas of your strategy need to generate more traffic, which are performing well, and where new opportunities exist. As an example, if you notice website visitors from Facebook aren’t staying on your site as long as those accessing your site from search engines, you may need to rethink your social media content strategy.
Additionally, you can get insight into your social media and search campaigns during set-up in Google Analytics. This can be found in the Social and Search Console sections of the Acquisition menu, respectively.
After you know who is visiting your website and how they found your website, you can also identify what they do while on your website.
With this information, you can learn:
- Which pages of your website interest your audience the most.
- Where potential customers leave your website.
- How long users spend on your website.
- How users navigate your website content.
- What keywords and phrases users search for while on your site.
- Which pages users spend the least amount of time on.
And this only scratches the surface.
To discover which pages receive the most visitor traffic, navigate to the Behavior menu on the left-hand side of Google Analytics and click on Site Content. From here, click on All Content and sort the data by Pageviews in descending order. Additionally, by sorting the content in ascending order you can see which pages are less frequented by visitors. Low pageviews could be the result of a myriad of reasons including user intent or the context of the page (e.g., a Thank You page after a form submission).
Also within this particular view, you can see where users spend the most time on your website. Rather than sorting the data by Pageviews, choose to sort your website pages by Average Time on Page also in descending order. Again, the pages with the least amount of time spent may be due to factors including the page content, navigation position, or overall relevance to a user’s experience.
Use your audience behavior information to steer your marketing strategy in the right direction and provide users with the content they want from your website.
Lastly, the Conversions area of Google Analytics helps you track your website and marketing goals. In the Goals section of the menu, you can add and track the progress of various website objectives such as form submissions, reservations, page visits, media views, and more. Other goal opportunities within Google Analytics include revenue tracking for eCommerce companies.
To add your goals to your Google Analytics account, click on Admin in the left-hand menu. From here, navigate to the 3rd column of options on your screen and select Goals. Follow the instructions to set your specific website goal.
Customizing Google Analytics Reports
Is there specific information you need from Google Analytics on a regular basis? You can create custom reports within Google Analytics by clicking on the Customization menu, again on the left-hand side of the platform. Once you click on Custom Reports followed by New Custom Report, follow the steps to produce the reports and data you need.
You’ll be able to easily access these reports under the Custom Reports tab in Google Analytics at your leisure.
Armed with all this information from Google Analytics, you are ready to make smart decisions regarding your website design and content, marketing goals, and other business objectives.
Have you used Google Analytics before? What would you recommend a beginner know about the platform? Share your thoughts in the comments below.