22 Oct Google Analytics for Beginners
Google Analytics is an amazing tool for beginners and experts alike. It’s free, relatively user-friendly, and it’s arguably the most valuable marketing tool to use in your business. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through the basics of Google Analytics, step by step.
The Case for Google Analytics
If you don’t have Google Analytics on your website, you’re missing out. That’s the bottom line. Google Analytics is free software that – even if you don’t know how to use it yet – can make a difference when it comes to search engine results. If you don’t know how to use Google Analytics and you know you’ll never want to learn, we still recommend that you install it. It’s lightweight and powerful, and most content management systems don’t require you to code to install. Plus, as your business grows, you’ll be able to ask for help deciphering months or years of data that’s truly invaluable in aggregate.
How Do I Get Started?
When you’re convinced that Google Analytics is the way to go, it’s time to create an account. Like we said before, Google Analytics is free software. All you need to do is sign in with your existing Gmail or GSuite account to get started. Here’s the link to sign in and create your account.
The next steps: properties and tracking code. Once you’ve signed into your account, you’ll be prompted to add a “Property.” A property is just one view of the data in your account. In this beginners guide to Google Analytics, don’t not make it complicated! Name your property after your business and enter your URL or link to your website. This property is general and will collect all data from your website.
From here, you’ll get a tracking number that looks like UA-XXXXXXXXX-1 (where X’s stand for numbers).
- WordPress: Many themes have an area under “Theme Options” where you can input your tracking number with no coding required. You can also install a plugin to manage Google Analytics. If you’re comfortable with copy/pasting code, you can also edit your theme header.php template and copy/paste the Google Analytics script.
- Shopify: Go to Online Store > Preferences and scroll to the section on Google Analytics to paste your tracking number.
- Squarespace: Go to Settings > Advanced > External API Keys, then paste your tracking number
Always remember to save your changes! To test if your tracking number is working, open the front end of your website and scroll down the page. Click back to your Google Analytics dashboard, and you should see at least one Active User on your website.
Now That I Have Data, What Am I Looking At In The Dashboard?
The Google Analytics dashboard can be a one-stop-shop if you want a general overview of your website traffic, and you’re not interested in drilling down. On your dashboard, you can view your website traffic trends, traffic sources, and traffic by device over preset (ex. 7 days) or custom time periods (ex. Year to Date). If you’re only looking for the big picture, you don’t have to dive deeper than your dashboard.
Top 3 Things to Track Over Time
- Bounce rate – We’ve defined it here
- Traffic volume – Users and sessions
- Acquisition – Where your website traffic is coming from (ex. Instagram, Organic Search)
Beyond the Google Analytics Dashboard
When you’re feeling more comfortable navigating Google Analytics, it’s time to explore new sections.
1. Acquisition > Overview, Search Console > Queries
In this section, you can view which keywords and search terms people are typing into Google in order to access your website. You can see the total time your website appeared for that term (Impressions) in a specific timeframe as well as how many times it was clicked (Clicks) and your average search position in results for that term (Average Position). This view is an in-depth look at how your SEO is working. For more on SEO, click here.
2. Behavior > Behavior Flow
Under Behavior, you can find a visual representation of how people interact with your website. This is called the Behavior Flow. Behavior Flow tracks the URLs of each page of your website, and how visitors navigate from one page to the next. In this view, you can see where people are dropping off of your website, if people are finding valuable pages that convert into sales or consultations, and how many pages they visit before leaving. You can use this information to improve your bounce rate and increase conversions on your website.
When You’re Ready for More Digital Marketing
Link your accounts. The best way to see all of your marketing data in one place is to link your Google Search Console and Google Ads data with your Google Analytics account. Are you thinking of running a Google Ad campaign? Collect traffic data in Google Analytics. Want to send a newsletter? Traffic data and traffic sources will pull into your Google Analytics account.