Beginner’s guide to Google Analytics

The internet has made our lives so much simpler. Shopping, ordering food to take care of the midnight hunger pangs, booking a cab to go places, anything and everything is possible. The Internet has become a way of life; it takes care of all our needs. Most of the businesses operate online, and almost everyone has a website. A website is like your portfolio for the world to view. It tells people who you are and if you are a business, then it showcases your products and services. It is a medium to connect with customers.

Why do you need Google Analytics?

Do you manage websites for others? Do you have a website or an online business? Having a website helps you reach out to your target audience in an effortless way. You can put forth your products or services for the world to view. Whether you are a business owner or a marketer you want all the information and data that you can get from your website to make informed decisions which can impact the way you are conducting business and reach out to your target audience.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a web analytics platform by Google. It helps you understand the way a visitor or a customer is interacting with your website and gives you data on a customer’s journey on your website. It measures the traffic, conversions, analyses the performance of your ads and also gives you an insight into how visitors are using your website.

It is a tool that measures and analyzes which web pages are most popular and get the most traffic, whether your landing pages are effective and meeting your goals, during conversion it will tell you how many converted and how many left and at which stage of the conversion process.

This gives you an idea of what Google Analytics is and why would you as a website owner need it. Let’s show you how to get started with Google Analytics.

How to create a Google Analytics Account

You can create a Google Analytics account with your Google account. You can use the Google account which you use for Gmail, Google Calendar, YouTube or any other Google service. You may want to create a new one specifically for this purpose. Tip: Don’t give control of your Google Analytics account to anyone else. It contains precious data about your website or business. You will not want anyone to hamper your precious data or run away with it if you part ways.

You can go to Google Analytics and sign up for free. After you sign-up the below page will open, and you will be required to fill out information and provide the URL of your website.

The data sharing settings are always enabled unless you want to check them off. Post which you can click on ‘Get Tracking ID’ button to get your tracking code. You should install this code on every page of your website.

If you have just one website, you can create one account on Google Analytics. If you have more than one website, you can create separate accounts for each website or club the accounts into either business or personal categories to help manage them better. You can categorize your accounts in the account name section when you are creating a new account.

Once your account is set up follow: Admin> Property Settings> Tracking Code this will help you get your tracking ID.

Depending on which platform you have used to set up your website, you can install the tracking ID accordingly. If you developed your website using WordPress you can download the ‘All in One SEO’ or ‘Yoast SEO’ plugin to install the tracking ID. If you developed your website using HTML, you would add the tracking code before the </head> tag on each page of your website. Each platform is different, and you will have to search and check the process of uploading the tracking code which best suits the platform you are using.

Once you are done setting up the tracking ID for all the web pages of your website you may want to set up goals for your website. Admin>View>Goals. A goal is something you want to achieve. Example, goals on your website could be when a visitor fills the contact form and lands on the thank you page, or if you sell products, then your goal could be to track the visitors who landed on the thank you page post making a purchase.

Below are examples of some goals you could create.

You can choose one of the pre-defined goals under revenue, acquisition, inquiry or engagement section or customize your own goal.

You can customize your goal. For example, if you want Google Analytics to track how many visitors reached the thank you page post making a purchase or filling the contact form. In the type section, you will choose a destination.

Under goal details, destination section enters the URL of the thank you page and change the destination field drop down menu to ‘Begins with’. Save and create a goal to complete the setup. You can create up to 20 goals for your website.

Once you set up it may take Google Analytics up to 24 hours to start showing data from your website.

When you log in to Google Analytics, the first thing you will see will be the Audience overview report on your dashboard. Google Analytics has over 50 reports.

Audience overview report:

On the top right are buttons to save, export or share the report. Below that is a drop-down menu to choose the dates for viewing data within the specified period. You can also choose to view data on an hourly, daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

If you hover your cursor on any point, it will show pop-ups of data on the graphs. This will give you more details and depth into your data.

Audience overview report shows how many users, new users, sessions, number of sessions per user, pageviews, number of pageviews per session, average session duration and the bounce rate of users, which can be further divided into new and returning.

Below this is the section on Demographics, system, and mobile. For example, under demographics, if we click on the language, it shows us the language the users are browsing in.

Demographics> Country> United States> shows us data of users our website is getting from various parts of the United States. If there is a question mark icon on any report, you can hover your cursor above it, and it will show a pop up explaining what that tab is about.

Most of the reports are designed similarly. They are easy to understand and navigate through.

Lifetime Value Report:

This report is available under the audience section and tells the marketer how valuable the users are its receiving from various channels on its website. This can help the marketer compare whether the users from social media are more valuable for its business or the ones that come from organic search, paid search or email campaigns. The lifetime value data is shown for a period of maximum 90 days in either increment of days, weeks or months. The report provides a total of six metrics, and you can choose either one or compare any two, depending on your business goals.

The six metrics are as below:

  1. Goal completion per user
  2. Pageviews per user
  3. Revenue per user
  4. Session duration per user
  5. Sessions per user
  6. Transactions per user

The above metrics are based on cumulative data collected over a period of 90 days. You can also choose dimensions to show more in-depth data for your report. For example, the acquisition channel dimension will show the various channels from where we are acquiring users, like organic search, social, direct, referral.

For example, if you are using the revenue per user lifetime metric, then you would want to know which medium is helping you acquire the most revenue. Hence under dimension, you can choose, acquisition medium. The report gives an idea to the marketer about where he should be spending his money the most, which areas are most profitable and would generate the most revenue.

Cohort Analysis Report

What does cohort analysis mean? You may be wondering what this report is about, well, this report analyses data by breaking down users into subsets. With this report, you can compare different cohorts to understand how different parts of your business are performing. For the time being this report is still in beta stage and you can only choose cohort based on the acquisition date. Acquisition date is when a user visited your website for the first time.

This is how the report looks like.


Some important factors in this report:

Cohort Type: At the moment the only option available is acquisition date.

Cohort size: Shows cohorts based on either days, weeks or months.

Metric: What do you want to measure against each cohort? Is it pageviews, revenue generated, session durations, transactions, goal completions, etc.

Date Range: Between which date range do you want to measure your cohort.

The table below shows users acquired and retained between May 8, 2018 till May 14, 2018.

This helps the marketer think what he did best on May 8, 9 or 10 to retain users who kept coming back to the website. On May 8th 3.18% of the users returned whereas on May 10th 0.89% returned. The report shows groups of people from when they first visited your website compared to how they behaved over time depending on the metric you choose.

This report helps break down large numbers into smaller ones which are easier to understand and more actionable. You can check whether your metrics are improving or becoming worse over time and make the required changes.

The Audience Report – New

The new audience report focuses on creating an audience to get data. For example, you can create an audience like all users who completed a purchase in the last six months. This would put these users in one group. Or you could group audiences based on visitors who viewed a product page on your website. You can add these audiences on both Google AdWords and DoubleClick Bid Manager to amplify your marketing efforts. You can apply the audience you created to various Google Analytics reports, or you can add the audience as a secondary dimension in your report, as a dimension in a segment, or add it to a custom funnel. You are limited to only 20 audiences at one time.

The audience is measured based on acquisition, behavior, and conversions. The acquisition section shows us the volume of the users that are coming from that particular audience segment. The behavior metric shows how well the audience is engaging with the website. Lastly, the conversion metric tells us if users in that audience group are generating any revenue and helping us meet our goals. Depending on which audience group is performing best, as a marketer you can invest more in marketing activities and advertising accordingly.

Benchmarking Report

This report allows you to compare your business to your competitors. Google Analytics compares your data to industry data (data derived from companies that share their data publicly). You can set benchmarks against which data you would like to measure yours. You can choose from a list of 1600 industry categories and further refine data based on traffic size, location, etc. You can compare your data against metrics like sessions, new sessions, average session duration, bounce rate, etc.

Acquisition Report

Do you want to know the sources which are generating the maximum traffic for your website? Then, this is the report you need to look into. It shows which source is getting your website maximum traffic, whether its social, referral, organic or paid search. If you have conversion goals set up, it shows how well each source is driving conversions. Google uses top 7 sources to break down traffic. They are Organic Search, direct, referral, social, affiliates, paid search and display. The report shows user acquisition, behavior, and conversion from each source. You could also choose the ‘All Traffic’ option. It chooses the top sources of traffic from all channels for your website. The ‘All Referrals’ options show sources which are generating the highest number of referral traffic or All Campaigns, cost analysis, AdWords or Social options.

Behavior Reports

You have a lot of content on your website. Is there a way to know which content is performing the best amongst your users? Check out the Google Behavior Report for this. The report shows how users are engaging with the content of your website. Content on which page is attracting users more than the content on other pages.

Goals overview report

Remember the goals we set-up for our website in the very beginning when we were creating the Google Analytics account? Does that ring a bell? Well, this report analyses the goals we set. It gives data on goal completion and what lead the goal to be completed.

E-Commerce Report

This report tracks e-commerce conversions, number of transactions, revenue generated, average order value and unique purchases. Unique purchase is an interesting metric. If a customer buys 3 skirts, 4 tops, and 2 backpacks, Google Analytics will count that as 3 unique purchases and 1 transaction. This metric helps a company figure out which product its customers like purchasing in bulk. The report also shows the channels which are driving the most revenue and the performance of each product.

Multi-Channel Funnel Report

You visit a website; you browse products, sometimes you make a purchase and other times you don’t. This report analyses transactions. How much time passes before a user makes a transaction, what did the user browse before buying a product, what motivated the user to make a purchase was it a campaign, social media, online ad or was it organic. The time-lag and path length show how long did it take for a user to become a customer and what path did the user take to convert to a customer. Also, which channels helped drive most of the conversions.

Hope, you enjoyed reading this article and it helped answer your questions on Google Analytics.