How to Use Google Analytics: Introductory Guide For Beginners
This post was last updated on June 23, 2020.
Scientia potentia est. This well-known Latin phrase, meaning knowledge is power, is applicable to all aspects of life. When it comes to professional success, knowledge will allow you to create a website that sends the right message, and figure out how to optimize your site to reach the right audience. This is where website analytics tools come in, allowing you to track your site’s online performance and make educated choices on how to improve it.
As one of the most comprehensive web analytics tools available, Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful source of knowledge. With this platform, you’ll be able to learn everything about your site’s performance, visitors, and its untapped potential. In this introductory guide, we’ll cover everything about how to use Google Analytics, from what it is, to which data it includes and more.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool used to track website traffic. Also known simply as GA, this powerful service provides in-depth reports that allow you to understand your site’s performance and find the best ways to drive traffic to your website.
In addition to traffic-driven data, such as number of visitors and bounce rates, Google Analytics also offers a detailed record of your audience’s demographics - including their location, age and interests.
Due to the sheer amount of information tracked and analyzed by the platform, using Google Analytics requires a significant commitment to implement and maintain. If you’re looking for a more general overview of your site’s performance that is easier to digest, you might want to look into other website analytics tools.
How to use Google Analytics
In order to use this service to track your website’s traffic and performance, you’ll need to create an account on the platform and integrate it into your site. Here’s how to use Google Analytics on your Wix website:
Fill in your site’s information and get a tracking ID.
Click the Admin button at the bottom of the page and select Tracking Info.
Click Tracking Code and copy your Tracking ID.
Go to Marketing Integrations in your Wix account.
Under Google Analytics, click Connect.
Select Connect Google Analytics and paste in your Tracking ID.
Click the IP Anonymization checkbox and then save.
Understanding Google Analytics reports
At first sight Google Analytics may appear quite intimidating, as it features a seemingly endless amount of numbers, graphs and data. However, once you get acquainted with the platform you’ll realize that all this information is neatly stored under five types of reports, easily accessible through the sidebar on the left.
When you first log into Google Analytics, you are immediately presented with a series of basic metrics such as users, sessions and traffic sources. You can customize the time range of this data, as well as other information you might want to see on your Home tab. Furthermore, this page includes a graph of the number of active users on your site in real-time, plus a breakdown of the page views per minute.
Now that you’re familiar with the platform’s dashboard, let’s take a closer look at each type of data offered on the different Google Analytics reports.
You can take a closer look into your site’s real-time stats on the aptly named Realtime report. This allows you to see not only how many users are on your website, but also which pages they’re visiting, where they came from, the keywords they searched for to find your page and their geographical locations. Of all five types of reports in Google Analytics, Realtime is widely considered the least valuable. Unless you run a news-focused site or want to optimize the posting times of your blog, you’ll likely spend little time on this tab.
An audience is a group of users with shared characteristics, such as age, location or device. Google Analytics has numerous preset audiences that are automatically tracked as soon as you connect your site to the platform. However, you can also create custom audiences based on your business plan’s requirements.
The overall view of the Audience report offers a general look at your site’s performance over a certain period of time. On this page, you’ll be able to see the amount of visitors to your site, how much time they spent there, what language they speak, which browser they were using and more. Here’s a breakdown of the less straightforward data and what it represents:
Users: The number of users who visited your site at least once
New Users: Amount of visitors who reached your website for the first time
Sessions: Total number of visits your site got over the selected time range
Number of Sessions per User: Average number of times users visited your site
Pageviews: Total number of pages visited (including repeated visits on a single page)
Pages / Session: Average number of pages visited during a single session
Avg. Session Duration: Average time spent on your site per session
Bounce Rate: Percentage of single-page sessions without interaction
In addition to this overall view, the different categories of the Audience report provide a range of critical data about your website’s visitors, which will allow you to determine whether you’re successfully reaching your target market. For example, if your brand targets millennials in Austin, TX, but your Audience report says most of your visitors are 55-64 year olds from London, you might need to make some changes to your website’s SEO or communication tone.
Knowing where your audience is coming from, in terms of traffic source, is arguably as important as understanding what kind of visitors you’re drawing in. The Acquisition report breaks down your traffic by source, allowing you to see the platforms in which your site is performing best and which areas you should improve in.
Here are the seven main traffic sources that Google Analytics tracks and what each of them entails:
Direct: This refers to visitors who reached your site by typing in your domain name on their browsers. This type of traffic requires a loyal audience, which you can entice with initiatives such as creating an online community.
Organic Search: Organic visitors reach your site after finding you on search engine results. Ideally, this should be your main traffic source as it will allow you to reach a broad, relevant audience at no cost. You can improve your results and optimize your site by performing thorough keyword research.
Paid Search: If you advertise on Google or other search platforms such as Bing and Yahoo!, the visitors you attract from your ads will appear here.
Referral: Backlinking connects external websites to your site. Users who get to your page through these connections are known as referrals.
Social: With the right social media marketing strategy, you can convert most of your social followers and visitors into users. This traffic includes both paid and organic leads generated on any social media platform.
Other: This section includes all visitors that Google Analytics wasn’t able to place into any of the traffic sources listed above.
The Behavior report drills down into all the data regarding user actions and the way they interact with your website. In this section you’ll be able to see how each page of your site is performing, including how much traffic it gets and the average time users spend on it. This data will enable you to determine which areas of your website are not up to par and to reassess your website content strategy.
There are various strategies for creating content that will engage your visitors for a significant amount of time. One example is starting a blog that is focused on your business or relevant topics within your industry. This practice will not only add significant user value to your website, but can also improve your SEO and increase your organic traffic.
While the data offered in the Conversions section can be highly valuable for those looking to optimize their small business marketing strategies, this report is commonly overlooked. The reason behind this is that it requires a much greater degree of commitment and knowledge of the platform. Once you feel comfortable with the rest of the reports, you can explore the Conversions page and use Google Analytics to set goals for your site and target specific objectives.
By Judit Ruiz Ricart
Blog Content Expert