If you’ve done any research on tracking data on your website, you’ve probably heard about Google Analytics. But what exactly does Google Analytics do?
Google Analytics is a free website analytics service offered by Google that gives you insights into how users find and use your website. With Google Analytics, you can track ROI for your online marketing.
You can sift & sort your visitors with dozens of dimensions. You can seamlessly integrate Google Products like your Adwords account & Search Console. You can also use tracking codes to tag & track any advertising, social or PR campaign on any platform/website.
All you have to do is install a small amount of “tracking code” on each page of your website.
How does Google Analytics track data?
To get more in-depth information, you can use UTM parameters. These are tags that you add to the end of your URL to provide Google Analytics with more information about your links, such as what campaign your content is coming from and which social channel is driving the most revenue.
What does Google Analytics measure?
The building blocks of Google Analytics reports are dimensions and metrics.
Dimensions are the attributes of your data, such as the city where traffic is coming from, the page you’re measuring, or the social media channel you’re evaluating.
Metrics are the quantitative measurements for those dimensions. For example, if you’re looking at how your ads are performing in Paris (the dimension), the 2,000 paid sessions you’ve recorded would be your metric.
Metrics and dimensions make up every single report in Google Analytics.
What can you do with Google Analytics?
In short, Google Analytics helps you make decisions based on data. You can justify spending more on your advertising, discover where you should be advertising, and even determine what types of content you need to be putting out there.
Google Analytics categorizes data into the ABCs:
Additionally, you can use it to break down your Audience & Real Time traffic. I’ll break these down a bit more.
Acquisition refers to how you get website traffic. Simply put, you can use acquisition reports to see how your traffic arrives at your site.
When you first look under Acquisition, you’ll notice the Overview tab gives you an all-encompassing snapshot of acquisition, behavior, and conversion data for your top traffic sources by channel (referral, direct, organic search, and social).
This is giving you the most important data right up front — the number of sessions acquired, the bounce rate of those acquired visitors, and their conversions for your most effective channels. It provides a quick and easy way to see how your top channels are performing.
Acquisition reports are a great way to look at which avenues are best for bringing traffic to your site and getting certain actions to happen. Using the other views will allow you to look at different types of traffic.
For example, say you want to know which search engine is driving the most organic traffic. By using the Source/Medium view, you can drill down to see the individual sources and mediums acquired the most customers (such as Google/organic vs. bing/organic).
The great thing about Google Analytics is how it integrates with other tools. The Acquisition section can integrate with your Adwords account so you can track how your campaigns are performing in terms of acquiring customers.
Use the Adwords section to see how keywords are performing and to identify popular search queries that drive traffic to your site. Use this information to create more targeted campaigns based on popular queries and topics people are searching for.
You can also integrate with the Search Console to see how your landing pages are performing. Are certain pages great at driving people to your site, but are low in the Google search results? Are certain keywords driving you to appear in search results, but resulting in a below-average click-through-rate? By integrating your Search Console data with Google Analytics, you can see all of this data and optimize your site to increase CTR.
The Behavior reports all about seeing what visitors are actually doing on your website. By using these reports, you can asses the performance of your website content and determine if your visitors are taking the actions you want them to.
When you first access the Behavior tab, you’ll again see an Overview. This view gives you a graph showing the amount of traffic your website received during the time period you’re looking at.
You’ll also see page views, unique page views, and average time on page, bounce rate metrics, and percent exit metrics. All of these metrics describe how a user interacted with your page. Here are some quick definitions:
- Page views: Total number of pages viewed.
- Unique Page views: Number of individual people who have viewed a specific page at least once during a visit.
- Average Time on Page: The average amount of time users spend viewing a page.
- Bounce Rate: The percentage of single-page visits. (For an in-depth lesson on bounce rate and how to use it, see here.)
- Percent Exit: Percentage of users who exit from a page or set of pages
After the Overview tab, you’ll find the Behavior Flow view. This shows the path visitors commonly take when they visit your site, from entering to exiting. Use this to see where it is that people tend to enter and drop off.