The Basic Anatomy of Google Analytics
If you’re new to Google Analytics, the first time you set up your tracking code and log in to your dashboard can leave you scratching your head. “What information should I care about? Where do I find that information?” are probably two of the first questions you’re asking yourself. Well, we’ve become experts on Google Analytics for beginners, so we wanted to give you a brief overview of Google Analytics to help you understand where to look for information you want:
When you first log into Google Analytics, you’ll see some key metrics on your dashboard to give you a quick glance at your website’s analytics. It will show you the users, sessions, bounce rate, traffic channel, source, referrals and session duration over the past seven days, including how much the data has dropped or raised since the previous time duration. Toward the top of the page, you will see real time data of how many people are on your website and what they are looking at. The most helpful thing about the dashboard is each section asks a question such as “How well do you retain users?” and “What pages do your users visit?” and then the data underneath gives you the answer. Each section also clicks through to the page on Google Analytics that will give you an even deeper dive into that specific data.
This is where you can set up and manage reports, your dashboard, and alerts. For the dashboard, you can either start with a blank canvas or start with the starter dashboard. If you want a little more guidance on what information to include, click import from gallery and search thousands of preset dashboard templates created by exports. The custom reports set up is very similar to the dashboard and can provide you any type of data you want. Add as many or as few metrics as you want and if you’re feeling stuck, you can click commonly used metrics and start there.
When Google Analytics says real time, they mean it. Information is updated instantly, so you can not only see what people are doing on your website, but what type of user they are and where they are from. Take a deep dive into any type of information you could want to know, including pageviews, referrals, active pages, social traffic, keywords, locations, events, and conversions. It’s also very beginner friendly, so if someone is just dipping his or her toes into analytics, it’s easy to navigate.
This tab in Google Analytics includes any information about users grouped together based on their attributes. You can view a lot of really great data to give you an idea of who exactly is using your website, such as users, sessions, sessions per user, and pages per session. But it doesn’t stop there – you can look at what percentage view your site on desktop versus mobile, what browser they use, where they live, and what language they speak. This information is extremely beneficial for any business because you can learn who your audience is and then target them using data-driven marketing methods.
This is arguably one of the most important tabs because it provides all the information on how people find your website. To get started, check out what channels people are using to get to your website, such as organic search, paid search, and social media, and then you can drill down into that information to learn what source within each channel is giving you the most traffic. For example, social media may bring a large amount of traffic to your website, but by looking deeper into it and seeing Facebook is bringing 80 percent of that social traffic, you know you should focus in on that network. You can also view your Google Adwords, Google Search Console, and campaign data in this tab, giving you both a paid and organic look into how people are finding your website.
Very simply, information on the behavior tab tells you how users behave on your website once they get there. There is some overlap with audience, such as pageviews and bounce rate, but there’s a lot of unique page-specific information in the behavior tab. You can see what pages are receiving the most traffic as well as what actions they take on that page. You can even view a flowchart that shows where people start and what pages they go to from each page, allowing you to identify any trends in user behavior. If you have a site search, you can see what people are searching on your website and then make decisions on marketing the pages people are most interested in.
This is where you can set up goals or actions you want people to take on your website and track how many people accomplish that goal. There are many different types of goals you can set up, such as form completions, email list sign ups, clicks to certain links or pages, time on page, purchases, money spend, downloads, and much more. This information is great for traditional websites and ecommerce websites alike. You can set up as many goals as you want and then dig into specific audience information to learn more about your ideal customers.
Want to learn more about Google Analytics for beginners? We’d love to help! Sign up for our Google Analytics course, either in-person or online, and we can help you learn more about how analytics can make big positive changes in your business!