Getting Started with Google Analytics
If you have a website for your business, it’s likely at some point you’ve heard someone mention Google Analytics along the way. You probably even have an account and have it installed on your website. But is that as far as it goes? Do all of those numbers and graphs scare you so you run the other direction thinking you don’t need that data anyways? Well then this article is for you. We’re going to break down Google Analytics into its simplest form and help you understand the basic metrics so that you can start measuring the success of your website efforts.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a website script that runs in the background of your site to track your website traffic and how your visitors are navigating throughout your site. As soon as a user lands on your website, Analytics is tracking their behavior to help you better understand your website’s audience and how they are interacting with your website content.
Why Do I Need It?
Sure, at first glance all of those numbers and charts may take you right back to 9th grade math class and immediately send you running for the door. However if you want to understand if your website and marketing efforts are actually working and are a return on your investment, then it’s vital to take the time to better understand Google Analytics metrics. The good news is, it’s not as difficult as it may look initially.
How Do I Set it Up?
Before you can dig into the metrics, you need to have Analytics installed on your website. It’s likely you already do, however if not, it’s simple to sign up and get started. First things first, you need to sign up for a Google Analytics Account (you can do that here). If you use Google for anything else (gmail, google drive, etc), then you can sign up under your existing account or create a new one.
Tip: While we typically create our client’s Analytics accounts when they don’t have one, we ALWAYS give our clients full administrative access and they are free to take their data with them if they ever decide to go elsewhere. However some web companies may have different policies so be sure to ask your company for administrative access to your account or set it up yourself so that you don’t have to start over in the future.
Once you are finished, you will click the Get Tracking ID button. You will need to agree to the Google Analytics terms and conditions in the popup that appears, then you will get your Google Analytics code (don’t let the word “code” scare you). You should also see an ID, that looks something like UA-01234567-89. Make sure to make note of both that and your code snippet.
Depending upon your website platform, the instructions to install the code snippet are going to vary, so we’ve included each of the platforms we work with below:
In the Home Menu, click Settings, and then click Advanced.
Click External API Keys.
In the Google Analytics Account Number box, enter your tracking ID for this site.
The best and easiest method to install Analytics on your Wordpress site without knowledge of coding practices is through a plugin. Click on the plugins tab in your Wordpress dashboard, and click install new. Search for the Google Analytics Plugin (this is the one we also use and trust) and click install). Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, click on the Analytics tab in your dashboard, then it will prompt you to connect to your Analytics account. Sign in, select your account and then you should be connected.
Alternatively if you simply want to install the analytics code on your site without the ability to view any of your metrics directly on site, you can also use the Google Analytics by Yoast plugin.
Click on Online Store, then Preferences. Then paste the code provided by Google into the meta box in your settings.
How do I view the Metrics?
After Analytics has been installed on your site and tracking for a few days, you can start to view your website metrics. There are a few ways you can view your analytics metrics dependent upon your website platform. The primary method is to login to your Google Analytics account at https://analytics.google.com/analytics/web/ where you can view all of your in-depth metrics.
However there are also a few methods by which you can get a higher level overview. If you are using Wordpress and have installed the plugin above, you’ll get a nice, easy to read panel on your home dashboard when you login to your WP site. You can customize the metrics by timeframe and more.
In Squarespace, just click on the Analytics tab and you are provided an organized panel full of the most useful website metrics and traffic.
In Shopify, currently there are no in app tools to monitor your Google Analytics in the platform, so you will need to login directly to your Google Analytics account. Shopify does however provide their own method of traffic analysis, which you will find under your Analytics tab when you login. It is important to note that these metrics are completely separate from Google.
Ok then, what exactly are all these Numbers?
If you login directly to the Analytics website, you’ll be directed to your dashboard where you’ll already begin to discover a wealth of information about your website audience.
Users - total number of users visiting your site for the selected time range
Sessions - total number of visits to your site for the selected time range
Bounce Rate - the percentage of visitors who navigate away after viewing only one page
Session Duration - length of time a user is on your site in a given session
Where your users are coming from?
Social - social media sites like Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram
Search - Google, etc. (you can dig further and discover the search terms users are using to find you)
Direct - typed your domain directly into the browser
Referral - linked from other websites or sources that aren’t social
Where are your users?
This gives you insight into the physical location of your users by country, state and city. Are your website visitors localized? Are you drawing from a larger market? This can be especially important if you’ve focused marketing efforts in a specific market or location, or if you are a business targeting localized market.
When do your users visit?
Time of Day - What are the most popular days and times when your visitors are landing on your site? This is important if you are publishing ongoing content so that you know the best times to push out your best content.
What are your top devices?
Are your visitors primarily coming from mobile devices? Desktop? If a large portion of your website visitors are viewing your site on a mobile device you should pay special attention to your mobile user experience.
What pages do your users visit?
This website metric helps you determine which of your website pages get the most traffic and which get the least. There are a number of reasons this information is important, but say for example you are an e-commerce shop. It’s important to know which of your products are getting the most views and if they are converting into actual sales right?
How are your active users trending over time?
Here you can determine how many visitors were active on your site over a given period of time, helping you understand the retention rate of your website. It shows how often the same visitor returns to your website over a certain time period.
While this is only a high level overview of the data you can find in Google Analytics, by familiarizing yourself with the basic metrics, you can begin to track your website’s performance and make more informed decisions about your marketing and website efforts.
Want to learn more? Take google course on Analytics: https://analytics.google.com/analytics/academy/course/6