July 15th, 2019 | Updated on August 27th, 2021
You have created an excellent website. But, if you don’t know who will visit your website, which pages they will visit, how long they will stay on the site, and when they will leave the site, then you are probably wasting money and effort on getting the attention of the wrong people. Similarly, if you own a blog, you must know which posts can become famous and how many blog visitors will become loyal customers. Answers to these questions will help you optimize the website and make it effective.
Here Google Analytics can come to your help. It gives an insight into the website traffic to improve your site performance and increase the conversion rates.
What Is Google Analytics?
In simple words, Google Analytics is a web analytics service that gives analytical tools and statistics that you can use for SEO and marketing objectives. This service is part of the Google Marketing Platform and is offered free to any person who has a Google account.
You can use Google Analytics to track your website performance and collate visitor insights. It helps organizations find sources of user traffic, gauge the success of marketing activities, follow all the goal attainments, notice any patterns in user engagement and find other information of the users like demographics etc. Retail websites can use Google Analytics to find and analyze customer behavior analytics and use it to improve on the marketing campaigns, get website traffic and retain their visitors.
Why You Need Google Analytics
If you have a blog or a website, then you need Google Analytics, a powerful indispensable tool, that provides valuable information about your website and visitors. Setting up Google Analytics helps you find many answers to your queries such as:
- How many people visit my website per hour, day and month?
- Do I need a mobile-friendly website?
- What traffic sources are sending traffic to my website?
- Where do my visitors live?
- How do new visitors come to my site, and why do they leave?
- What marketing tactics drive the most traffic to my website?
- How well does my site perform in regard to my stated Call- To -Actions (CTAs)?
- How many visitors have I converted into leads or customers?
- Where did my converting visitors come from and go on my website?
- How can I improve my website’s speed?
- Which blog content do my visitors like the most?
Google Analytics provides all these answers and allows you to understand what improvements can be made to maximize conversion.
In this post, we’re going to walk you through step-by-step some very basics of Google Analytics from the absolute beginner’s point of view.
How To Install Google Analytics
To get things going you must first set up a Google Analytics account. For those who have a primary Google account, you must use that to do so.
1. Set Up Your Account And Property
Now that you have a Google account, create and set an Analytics account of your own.
You can click the signup button and enter all the details for the website. You will be asked to create a property and view so that Google Analytics can track you. Your setup should look like this.
2. Set Your Data Sharing Preferences
At the bottom of the form, you have the data sharing preferences, and here you need to check or ignore what all details you want to be included.
These are the services for which Google requests data access at that time:
- Google products & services: In the first box, they would ask if you would want to help improve Google’s products and services.
- Benchmarking: In the second box you are asked if you would be okay with sharing anonymous data with Google.
- Technical support: Here, you agree that the customer service representatives can see your data in case of any system error
- Account specialists: Here, you give Google marketing, sales, and other representatives access to your data which they can use to improve their products and other services.
In case you do not want to be part of any of them, you must uncheck that box and then click on “Get Tracking ID.” Finally, read and accept terms of service.
3. Add Your Tracking Code to Your Website
You have to add the tracking code to every website page. Or, you should add at least to every different page that your website has. Once you add the code to the header or footer, you will add code to the whole site.
The tracking code will be added after the < head > tag of the header file. In case you built your site through HTML files, you will add a tag to those files. If you are using a CMS like WordPress, you will get the option to install GA using a plugin. Search WordPress plugins for ‘Google Analytics’ and choose from the options available. Just follow the instructions and install the plugin.
Once your GA account is set up, and the tracking code added, you are all set to use Google Analytics. Analytics usually track the data right away. There are some other features that you should also set up.
Should You Add GA Code To Every Page Of Your Site?
That means a lot of work to do if your website has more than 50 pages. Also, if you create new pages, do you add the tag every time? Well, the answer to this question is no. You only have to add the title to every page template. If you have one type of page all through your website, you have to add the tag to that page only. Subsequently, the tag gets applied to every page.
If you have two types of pages, code will be pasted into two header modules and so on. You must understand dimensions versus metrics to use Google Analytics.
4. Set Up Your Site Search
If you want to set up Site Search in Google Analytics for a Word Press website, you have to select “Admin” in the Google Analytics account, and then proceed to click “View Settings.”
Now find “Site search Tracking” and put it on. Beneath the “Site search Tracking box,” you have the “Query parameter” box. You must go to your website and use its search box to look for a keyword. There would be a URL generated. See if there is an “s” or “q” after the question mark (for example, https://fitsmallbusiness.com/?s=a%2Fb+testing, has an “s” after the question mark).
Go back to the Google Analytics tab “Query parameter” box. In the box type “s” or “q” into the query parameter box. Click “Save.”
5. Set Up Your Goals
To start you need to click on “Admin”, then go on to “+New Goal.”
Here you get a pop up where you need to mention the goals for tracking. The choice would be from revenue, engagement, inquiry or acquisition metrics.
Click on “Continue” to move to the “Define Goal” section. Under the “Name” text box add your goal. Here you can also choose what goal type you are looking at.
Click “continue” again and mention the goals which would be different as per your requirements.
In this process you can at maximum set up 20 goals and these are the ones that Google Analytics would start tracking.
Familiarize Yourself With Google Analytics
How Does Google Analytics Generate Report?
Main Features Of Google Analytics
Google Analytics comprises features that help users identify any patterns and trends in how their websites are used by visitors. These features allow data collection, monitoring, visualization, analysis, reporting, and integration with other apps. These features are:
- Data visualization and monitoring tools like dashboards, scorecards, and motion charts. They show the data changes as time passes.
- Data Filtering, funnel analysis, and manipulation
- Data Collection Application Program Interfaces (APIs);
- Predictive analytics, intelligence, and anomaly detection;
- Segmentation for the study of subsets, such as conversions;
- Custom reports for advertising, acquisition, audience behavior, and conversion;
- Email-based sharing and communication; and
- Integration with other products, including Google Ads, Google Data Studio, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Google AdSense, Google Optimize 360, Google Search Ads 360, Google Display & Video 360, Google Ad Manager, and Google Search Console.
Inside the Google Analytics dashboard, users can save profiles for different websites. They can also see the details for default categories or select metrics to show for each site separately. The categories you can track are keywords, content overview, visitors overview, map overlay, and traffic sources overview.
You can view the dashboard on the Google Analytics site. It is also available through the widget or a plugin that you can embed into other sites. Independent vendors also provide Customized Google Analytics dashboards for use.
Important Metrics Of Google Analytics
A metric is a standard of measurement. Google Analytics allows users to track around 200 different metrics to see how their websites are performing. Some of the most popular metrics are:
- Users: A unique or new visitor of the website
- Bounce rate: This is the percentage of visitors that viewed a single page. Visitors should trigger at least one request to the Google Analytics software.
- Sessions: Visitor interactions that happen in a 30-minute activity session.
- Average Session Duration: Average duration of a visitor on the site.
- Percentage Of New Sessions: Rate of visits that are first-time sessions.
- Pages Per Session: Page views per session
- Goal Completions: It is the number of times a visitor completed a particular action. You can also call it conversion.
- Pageviews: This is the total number of page views
Familiarize Yourself With Google Analytics Reports
Google Analytics has quite a number of reports using which you can grasp what your customer’s behavior is like. This includes details like who they are, where they live and what they want.
Real-time Reporting: Here you get an overview of the conversions, content, and sources from where traffic is coming. Click on the report dimensions to choose pointers about which you want to assess your target.
Audience: Turn on the demographics and interests in Google Analytics, going on create the details of your audiences. Now you can get reports that would tell you all about their behavior and how they convert.
Acquisition: These reports tell you how the leads came your way and about the campaign, ads, social media, etc. Basically, you know which campaign produces the best results for you.
Behavior: The reports on behavior tell you how the visitors to your website navigate around and what goes on in their mind at that moment.
Conversions: Conversion reports are those which would help you understand how the conversions happened and which product is the most sold. You can also find under the header goals, e-commerce, attribution, and multi-channel funnel reports.
What You Need To Know About Google Analytics Audience
The GA audience is a user group that has some similarities. These similarities could be anything. If you are looking for New York customers, you will have a “New York” audience. GA can come with different built-in audiences. You do not have to set them up. Once you have got the tracking code installed, GA will break down the visitor data into the audience reports.
You can create custom audiences. For example, if you want “New York millennials,” you can make a custom audience that includes a) residents of New York b) between ages 25-34. You can easily create an audience. The tricky part is to find out what you want to achieve and then choose the user characteristic that will help.
Google Analytics Segment
A segment is basically a subset of your data, just like a pizza slice. Here each piece is like a segment.
You may create your segments based on:
- Users (e.g., These are users who bought something from the website before also or users who signed up for a session of consultation)
- Sessions (e.g., all the sessions that you generated from a particular marketing campaign, also the sessions where the customer viewed your pricing page)
- Hits (e.g., All the hits which ended in sale over $85, also hits where a particular product was added to the cart)
Google Analytics Audience Report
The GA audience report provides an overview of the property you are looking at. Check your report every day to know what is trending.
Beneath “Overview,” you’ll see “Audiences,” and menus for “Demographics,” “Interests,” “Geo,” “Behavior,” “Technology,” “Mobile,” “Cross-Device,” “Custom,” and “Benchmarking.”
Go through all the sections to understand what they say about your visitors. Each section will describe an audience.
The Active user’s report shows the total number of users who came in the last day, last week, two weeks, and four weeks. Each is demarcated with a separate title to show the difference.
What’s The Value Of This Report, You Ask?
If you are getting more one-day users and less long-term users, there is a problem with retaining customers. You have to find why that is happening. You can look at the report through different segments to see the difference in retention.
The Lifetime Value report will tell you how valuable the users are to the company. For example, you can see lifetime value for users garnered from email marketing versus those who came from organic search. You can now decide which channel to invest in.
The lifetime value is capped at 90 days. The acquisition date range you can adjust, and it shows the users you got in that time frame.
For example, you are looking at transactions per user for the users you got before Christmas. Adjust your date range, and then you can see average transactions per use for that cohort for the next 90 days.
This is probably the most powerful report in GA. This report groups the users through one characteristic, i.e., “Acquisition Date.” This is when the user first came to the website.
You have several options from there.
Pick the cohort size, i.e., day, week, or month.
Now choose the metric, i.e., what you wish to explore. You can break it down into per user, retention, and total.
Per-user is the total count of metrics divided by the size of the cohort. If you have chosen transactions per user, you can see an average number of transactions per user.
Retention is user retention or the number of customers who came back that day, week, or month divided by total users in that cohort.
Total: Is the total number of sessions and transactions for that cohort size.
The left-hand column will show your Cohort type. In this case, it is acquisition data broken down into the cohort size.
The first row will show the total number of users in that cohort. The row below it will show the activity on that day, week or month.
Row shown in light blue shows the cohort size selected. Data will go back only three months maximum.
The row that is outlined in yellow will show the value for the chosen metric. In this case, it will be Goal completions per user.
Now see the first row. Here you can find the average goal completions for the cohort in the month that it was acquired is 1.09. The average goal completion for the cohort in the second month is 0.09, and in the last month, it is 0.02.
Have a look at the following three rows. It shows the average goal completion per user in the first month increased from December to January and then from January to February.
This is usual. Now, if the report showed average goal completions for users for February 1-28, 2019, was 4.07. This is almost four times high as December and January.
To know further, you must right-click on the cohort you are interested in. Click on the column you want, like day, week, or month analyzed. Give the cohort a name. Change its view to “Any View” and then click on “create.” You can now compare the cohort to any other segment of any report.
The Acquisition report will break down the traffic by source, organic, direct, referral, email, social, display, paid search, affiliate, and (Other). The (Other) category comes into use when they don’t know how to categorize a traffic subset.
Go to All Traffic. You can now click into channels.
Click on the category to explain the source in detail.
Basis the category, you can see landing pages, sources, or keywords.
To see information in visual form, click on Traffic > Treemaps.
The next report is Source/Medium, which breaks down the general category of traffic into search engines or domains.
It will be better that you get deep insight into how people are landing on your site. You may notice that 70% of referrals come from LinkedIn while only 5% comes from Pinterest. It is high time that you shift your priorities to LinkedIn. The last report is Referrals that reveal specific URLs that led people to the website.
Through this report, you review all blog posts, web pages, landing pages on the website.
Let us start with Site Content > All Pages. It will show the top trafficked pages for that view and segment. Always keep an eye on the most viewed URLs, as that is useful when you are analyzing the traffic growth or fall.
Suppose total traffic to the website dropped 10% every month. Go to Site Content > All Pages. And change your date range to the current month in comparison to last month. Now you can see differences in page views by the URL:
With this information, you can find which pages got less traffic.
Helpful tip: If you want, you can change “Sort Type” from “Default” to “Absolute Change.” This will show the results sorted by the highest difference in percentage than the total views.
You can also add Page Titles like a secondary dimension to see the name of each page along with the URL.
The report will break down the website structure by the subdomain and then subfolder. To get an idea, we take an example for XYZ.com; you can see data for domains that are:
- community.xyz.com…and so on.
If you click into blog.xyz.com, you can see aggregated data for the following:
You have got the idea now. This report is for those who wish to manage complex properties.
A landing page as per Google Analytics is the first page when the session begins. You can also consider this as a visitor’s first connection with your website.
You can analyze the report in different ways:
In the first method, if you wish to know the sources bringing users to a landing page, you may add Source/Medium as the secondary dimension.
For the second method, you can see which users came from any specific platform or source. You can add the system segment that is required to get the information.
Maybe you want to see landing pages that Mobile and tablet users see. Choose the Mobile and Tablet traffic. If you want to know which users actually purchased something, you can choose Made a Purchase” segment. Here, you can see many other options.
This report will show the last pages that the users visited in the sessions before they exited the site.
Supposing you wish to go out for friends. You search for “Italian restaurants near me.” The first response looks excellent, and you click on it. You see the money, and that has got great pizza reviews. Now, you clicked on the press page, which takes you to a review page. You see a great review, and you decide to visit. This review page is your exit page.
You have to analyze the exit pages to find why the users are quitting your site. Sometimes this report could be misleading as the customers may have left only to come back on later.
As the name suggests, the report tells you how quickly the website is loading for users. The faster it uploads, the better it is, as Google’s algorithm takes page load time onto the account.
Site Speed Page Timings
The report shows the average page load times for every URL. You can use this information to trace which pages are taking time to load and how you can increase their speed.
The metrics you should consider are page views and average page load time. But you can also look at:
- The Avg. page load time and bounce rate: Change your sort type to “Weighted” as it shows you the blog posts with the highest views ranking first.
- Avg. page load time and page value: This will tell you how much the page contributes to the total revenue.
If you look at them together, you will find slow-loading pages that are helpful for your growth; you need to fix them first.
You can add a “landing page” as a secondary dimension to see which website pages get the referral traffic.
Google Analytics Conversion Reports
If you own a website, you have a goal for your customers.
Ecommerce store owners want the visitors to subscribe to the mailing list, make an account, add the product to the cart and complete the sale.
Media companies would want their customers to stay on the website for a long time or view a fixed number of pages.
B2B businesses expect that visitors should not leave the site without downloading the eBook. They also want visitors to sign up for a webinar or maybe book a sales call with the rep.
With Google Analytics, you can measure all this and many other metrics.
A goal is a conversion that you defined. There are usually four types of goals.
Destination: This goal is accomplished when the user reaches a particular page, like a product page or thank you page, or confirmation page.
Event: The goal is accomplished when a previously defined event is executed (Like watching a video or sharing something on social media.
Duration: When the user’s session lasts longer than the set time, this goal is achieved.
Pages/screens per session: You achieve this goal when the user views a particular number of pages. The first two are majorly helpful while the rest two are not so useful.
You should now find out how you are doing goal-wise across the board. For example, if you are looking at the goal completions from each device. It may show that the mobile visitors sign up for blog newsletter less than those who access from the desktop or tablet. This could be because it is difficult to sign for the newsletter through a mobile. Understand the details and find out solutions.
Knowing that you have completed a goal isn’t enough. You have to know where it happened. Imagine you have embedded the same form in three separate places on the site. A user named Jane from Michigan has filled the form, but how will you know which page she filled it out on.
The Goal URL’s report will show you all this. It will break down the conversions by “Goal Completion URL” After identifying the goals, now read the instructions for creating, sharing, and editing them.
Reverse Goal Path
Reverse Goal Path allows you to see the last three pages that any user visited before completing the goal.
This is useful in case the goal is not sequential. Like, you have a contact form that is visible in many places on the site. Or, it could be that there are two paths that lead the users into buying an eBook. With the report in hand, you may get an idea of how people reach the end destination.
You can filter down to a specific goal completion location or goal.
For example, if you wish to see which blog posts generated leads from downloads, you can add “Goal Previous Step – 1 containing blog.hubspot.com” to the filter.
In the case of sequential goals, you have to go to the Funnel Visualization report. You can go to the eCommerce example of before. The last goal, in this case, is “Arrived at the order confirmation page.” The goal before it or Goal #3 could be “Clicked checkout.” Before that or goal #2 is “Added something to cart.” Goal #1 could be “Looked at product listing page.”
At every stage, you will see the user drop off. That will help you in finding the places where you must improve the conversion rates. Maybe you are losing many users during checkout. Change the flow and allow check out as a guest so that the chances of abandoning the cart to avoid account creation are reduced.
However, to get this level of detail, you will have to map out all your goals as a series. If all the goals are leading to one objective, i.e., “Arrived at the order confirmation page,” then you cannot reverse engineer the user’s progress.
This Funnel visualization report requires you to take the first step in the goal path. If you say yes to GA that the goal has to be completed, FV will show the sessions where the user finished goal #1. Also, if the user skipped 1st Goal and went to goal #2, that session won’t show.
Goal Flow gives more freedom than Funnel Visualization does. It shows all the sessions that led to the end goal. This is regardless of whether the user completed his goal #1 or not.
Another difference from FV is that Goal Flow shows the loopbacks, i.e. when the user goes back to the previous page or refreshes the current one.
If the user skips a step, FV will backfill it, but Goal Flow will not do so.
If you edit an existing funnel or create a fresh one, the FV will show all data from that moment. Whereas, Goal Flow will just show the data from the past. You may toggle the dimension and level of detail of the report and the segment to make it more granular
This particular report is helpful if you a) use Google Ads and b) do not measure conversions. Google uses Machine learning to find out your best sessions and then convert these themes into Smart Goals.
Once you get the Smart Goals, you could use them in the Google ads and optimize the performance of the ads.
Even in the marketing community, the Smart Goals are controversial because the data is minimal. Businesses will be served better if they set up their own conversion tracking.
Types Of Google Analytics Dashboard
The links to specific Analytics reports are present on the left side of the dashboard. The right side of the overview dashboard will give you the first insights into the data.
The Graphs, tables, and other pictorial representations of data are shown on ‘cards.’ They will be the panels on the right-hand portion of the home page. There will be simple options that are attached to these cards to change what they will show. You can change the type of data displayed and the period for how long it will be displayed.
You will be able to click any link to go to the full report. The format of all reports is the same as the homepage. These reports have cards with tables and graphs that you can edit to show information as you want to see.
There are basically five categories of a report. Every category has a dashboard. You may go to them by just clicking the necessary link present in the left-hand menu. Each one of them will give you a range of different reports to view.
This is the first option you see on the left-hand menu. It is pretty similar to the previous overview dashboard. The only difference is that it displays real-time data visualizations of the users who currently explore the site.
These Real-Time reports update as the Analytics keep receiving new hits. The dashboard will show you how the users are consuming the content and providing insight into the users. For example, you can click the ‘Locations’ option and see where the current site users are based.
The Audience Dashboard is where you can learn more about the site’s users. This includes not only those who are on the site now but all the users. Now open the overview part of this dashboard, and you will get a broader view of the Data Analytics.
For your particular period, you can see the number of users and sessions the site has had. You may also see details like how long the users remained on the website and the number of pages they visited. By choosing the other reports in Audience Dashboard, you can go deep into the user data.
For example, you could visit the Demographics section, as is visible above. This report will show how the site’s audience can be split by age and gender. This could be important information for any marketing campaign.
The Audience Dashboard tells you a lot of things about the users of the site. This report will let you know how the users found your site. Again this part of analytics will start with an overview report.
This report will display the different metrics and dimensions. These metrics could be divided into three categories, i.e., ‘acquisition,’ ‘behavior,’ and ‘conversions.’ The ‘Acquisition’ will tell you the users your site receives from different channels. ‘Behavior’ will inform what the users do, and ‘Conversions’ data shows how the users of other channels convert.
The other reports in the Acquisitions dashboard allow you to split the data in multiple ways. ‘All Traffic’ is a place where you can get more reports about the data that is shown on the overview report.
On the other hand, the other options will look only at the individual acquisition channels. For Example, the ‘Search Console’ reports will let you see how the users reached the site through organic search. You may find details like how many users will access the site from Google and which of the search queries they will use.
Some of the reports we discussed include the data on how the users get to interact with the site. The Behavior dashboard is where you can get in-depth data regarding this. The overview report will show information on the bounce rate, session duration, page views, and other details of user behavior.
These Behavior reports are also helpful for analyzing the performance of all the different pages on the site. The ‘Site Content’ report is more suitable for this purpose.
This report has a wide array of metrics that are related to various pages of your site. This will include metrics like page views, average time on page, and bounce rate. Most of them are there to tell how popular the pages are.
You can find out which page got full views and kept the user’s attention for long. These insights will tell the type of content you should try and create in the future. They will also let you know if you have to improve and delete some of the pages because of less response.
The last of all the Analytics dashboards is the Conversion Dashboard. This platform will show you how the visitors ‘convert’ when they use your site. This means you can know how frequently they perform the actions you wish for them to do on your site. Basically, the dashboard is linked to goals that you learned to set up earlier.
‘Goals’ is now the main section of the dashboard. Here you will find the reports into conversions for the goals that you may have set up. As a standard procedure, this overview report will show the total goal completions for the site and how they split into the different goals.
You may edit the overview report to make it focus on only one of your goals through the dropdown menu that is shown below:
How To View Only Organic Search Traffic
This happens quite frequently, companies see a decline in the website traffic and presume that the fall is due to the organic search traffic getting reduced. However, when they carefully analyze they come to know that the fall is not as much because of organic search but because of many other factors.
To have a look at your organic search traffic you need to first open your channel grouping report. This you can find at acquisitions –all traffic channels. Here you can have a detailed idea of which are the main traffic sources for your website.
When you click on the “Organic Search” header you get a detailed idea of the metrics related to organic search.
The report dissects your SEO reporting and provides you a very distinctive analysis of the same. Out of the report, you can find out crucial details like top landing pages for the search traffic, keywords which get the maximum traffic, search engines which give maximum traffic and top exit pages, etc.