Google Analytics (GA) is a powerful tool to see exactly what is happening on your website. It provides insight into how visitors are using your website, which pages they are visiting, where they are coming from and where they leave your website. It is a free tool from Google and is easy to set up and install on your website.
To get the most out of your website and your marketing efforts, it is critical to familiarize yourself with the data and insight found in the GA dashboard.
What kind of questions can the data in Google Analytics help you address?
How many people visit the website?
How many are first time visitors and how many are returning for another visit?
Where are visitors coming from to get to your website?
Which pages are being visited the most?
How much time do visitors spend on the website and how many pages do they visit per visit?
If you have an on-site search tool, what are visitors searching for on the website?
Getting Started with Google Analytics
The first step to get started with Google Analytics is to set up an account and attach it to your website. You can use this guide to assist with this.
Once you have set up Google Analytics, it will immediately begin collecting visitor data and you can view this data in real time on the GA dashboard.
This guide will help you see some of the most useful dashboards and tools in Google Analytics.
A Brief Tour of Google Analytics
Getting to know the different sections of the report section will help you to understand what is going on with your website.
The first report is “Realtime” which lets you monitor user activity as it is happening. The overview section shows the number of users on the website currently. It also tells you what devices they come from (which is helpful to understand desktop versus mobile usage). It shows the top active pages and what percent of users are currently on it. There is a map showing the top locations visitors are coming from.
The location tab breaks down further where visitors are coming from. It shows what percent of active users are in each country. Clicking on the country breaks it down further to the city. Traffic source shows how the visitors are getting to your website. Whether that be directly typing it in, using a search engine, clicking on an ad, social media, etc.
The content section breaks down what pages are the most popular and the percentage of active users that are on each page. The conversion section tells you what percent of users are completing the conversion you have set up (example: checkout, complete purchase, etc.).
The “audience” report gives you insight on the people visiting your website. The overview shows data on users, sessions, page views, bounce rate, and more. You can learn about the demographics, interests, and location of website users.
The users flow sections are a graphical representation of your visitors’ path through your website. Starting from the source, through various pages and on what page they exited the website. The lifetime value section shows how valuable specific users are to your business based on lifetime performance across multiple sessions. The audiences section allows you to create audiences and apply them to reports to explore their behavior and how they have responded to your marketing. User explorer allows you to examine a single user and their behavior. The benchmarking section allows you to compare your data with industry data which allows you to set targets.
The acquisition report gives insight on users acquisition behavior conversion cycle, how you acquire users, their behavior on your website, and their conversion patterns. This report helps you determine which online marketing tactics are bringing the most visitors to your website.
Acquistion overview report allows you to measure the performance of various traffic sources through behavior and conversion analysis. If you are running Google Ads, check this section for campaign data. This will help to optimize ad spending. The search console section allows you to track pre-click and post-click data. The social section allows you to measure the performance of your various social initiatives. The campaigns section allows you to track the behavior of users as they visit particular landing pages.
The behavior report gives insight into what visitors do while on your website. This includes pageviews, average time on a page, bounce rate, percent exit, and most visited pages. The behavioral flow report lets you see the path visitors take on your website from the first page they land on right up to the page they exit from.
The site content section focuses on your site content. It shows what content is the most engaging. You can look at all pages, break it down to just content, or look at landing pages and exit pages. The site speed section breaks down each page's speed of loading. This is important because people are impatient and if some of your pages load slowly, visitors may leave your website. The site search section allows you to see what visitors are using your search bar for. The events section allows you to see what events users are doing on the website. An event is anything a user does on a page that doesn’t take them to a new page such as loading a video or downloading a file.
A conversion is a completed activity that is important to the success of your business. You can set and track goals. The overview shows how website is doing in meeting its goals, the conversion rate, abandonment rate and other information.
If you sell a product or service, it is important to set up the e-commerce section. This collects and measures data from transactions, purchase amounts, product performance, checkout behavior, and more. The multi-channel funnels allow you to explore how channels work together to generate sales and conversion. This section allows you to analyze your customers' conversion paths and the sequences of interaction that led to conversions.
Using the Data Found in Google Analytics
Understanding the usage of your website and making adjustments and improvements to your website is best viewed as a continuous process. Review data regularly, at least once a month, to see what is changing and where there are opportunities for improvement.
If you run promotional campaigns, make sure to include data from Google Analytics, to get a complete picture of how well the campaign performed. It’s easy to set up automatic email reporting of GA data. Consider setting this up for a monthly report and be sure to review it every month. This guide helps you to schedule regular email reports.