How do I get started with Google Analytics?

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics (GA) is a small piece of JavaScript code. This is added to your website in the background and can track every interaction the user makes.

It’s really important to use this or a similar statistics package so you can learn the behaviour of a typical user.

This is my preferred choice of analytics package. Although it can seem a little daunting and complex to a beginner. If you would like a lot of data and have the time to analyse and act upon it, you can make informed decisions with your website changes. It really maximise your websites performance.

To get started, request that your website designer follows the steps below..

  • Create or sign in to your Analytics account:
  • Set up a property in your Analytics account. A property represents your website or app, and is the collection point in Analytics for the data from your site or app.
  • Set up a reporting view in your property. Views let you create filtered perspectives of your data. For example, all data except from your company’s internal IP addresses, or all data associated with a specific sales region.
  • Follow the instructions to add the tracking code to your website template so you can collect data in your Analytics property.
  • Now grab yourself a cup of tea and be patient as it can take 24 – 48 hours for the metrics to start showing within your account.

How do I navigate the Google Analytics dashboard?

Now you have GA installed on your website the next step is to sign in to your account. An overview of your websites performance will be shown as the dashboard.

The ‘reports’ section is very useful and displays data for the following categories…

  • Real-Time (what is happening on your site right now such as the number of visitors, locations and pages they have visited)
  • Audience (displays demographics including age and gender)
  • Acquisition (the source of your website traffic i.e. organic search engine results or social media campaigns)
  • Behaviour (the behaviour of your visitors which includes how long they stick around and the bounce rate)
  • Conversions (when a goal is set up i.e. an enquiry form or download, the metrics will appear here)

The above information from the reports is really valuable.

You may find out that 75% of your visitors are normally male millennials which mostly use mobile phone devices.  Then you can really optimise your website content to suit your audience. You will also know which channel needs more focus to gain more traffic.

Which metrics should I focus on?

  • Acquisition overview
    This report provides insight in to the source of where your traffic is coming from, each source will have a different level of conversion. If your number is low for a particular source, i.e. direct visitors, is your website URL easy to spell and simple to remember?
  • Social overview
    Measures the impact of social media, do you need to create more website content with a social media campaign?
  • Bounce rate
    How quickly a visitor leaves your website without performing any actions. If you have a high bounce rate, do you have poor quality traffic or poor usability?
  • Traffic sources
    Focus on your top sources, this is also beneficial to determine if it’s worth continuing to pay for that annual subscription to that online directory.
  • Page views
    When used with other traffic sources, you can determine why a page has had a large number of views. Are you offering high quality content or is it because your visitor can’t find what they are looking for?
  • Exit pages
    This is very beneficial in determining at what stage your visitors are leaving your website so you can investigate further and take action.

Summary

Analytics can be a difficult subject to get your head around with it’s own technical jargon and complexity, however it is so valuable to get the most out of your website and to be able to grow online.

The above doesn’t even scratch the surface when it comes to GA but the above will get you started on installation and delve in to the first steps of measuring your websites performance.

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