Getting to Know Google Analytics

Missy Hildebrand | August 20, 2015 Comments
analytics_image
If you’re new to Google Analytics (or not quite sure what it is), then this post is dedicated to you. Many organizations still aren’t using Google Analytics to its full potential to measure traffic and performance. It’s very common to see these companies spending massive amounts of time and money just to try and get people to look at their website. The problem is they forget to take the time and track their efforts and see what actually works and what doesn’t. With various activities going on, such as posting on social, sending email blasts, and more, it’s important to measure the results in order to spend time and marketing dollars on what’s successful and generating the best outcome. Not only does monitoring performance reveal where to attract users, it helps identify what happens after they land on your website.

What are they doing?
Can they find what they need?  
What parts of your site need to be strengthened?

Enter Google Analytics.


Google Analytics


Google Analytics is one of the most powerful, free tools available for monitoring and analyzing traffic on your website. It provides you with an enormous amount of insights on who is visiting your site, what they are looking for, and how they are getting there. Anyone looking to expand their business on the internet needs to be using analytics to drive growth.

It’s easy to convince people they need Google Analytics, but it can be extremely daunting for them to dive in, use it, and understand it. To help calm those pre-analytics jitters, we’ve outlined the key areas and reports and how to use them.


INTERFACE OVERVIEW

Date Change & Range:
Within the top right, you can click on the dates to change the range of the data you are reviewing.  You can even compare site performance between dates; month over month, or year over year.

Google Analytics


Segmenting:

Segments enable you to isolate and analyze subsets of your data. For example, you may want to segment data by a specific marketing channel, demographic, or behavior.

Google Analytics


The Data Table:

Simply stated, this is where the data resides or is displayed. This data can be broken out by single or primary dimensions. Secondary dimensions can be added to see data for each chosen combination.

Google Analytics

Within the Data Table is the Table Filter.  This enables you to focus on only the segments you deem significant. By default, the tool is set to include only the rows of the table where the value of the primary dimension contains requested information. You can use the Advanced Settings to set other rules for filtering even further. Additionally, Google Analytics lets you visualize the data in different ways, including:
    • Pie Charts
    • Performance
    • Comparison
    • Pivot

    STANDARD REPORTS IN GOOGLE ANALYTICS

    Audience:
    The reports under Audience tell you nearly everything you want to know about your site visitors. You can learn where they come from and what language they speak (geo > location and language), how often they visit (behavior), the technology they used to view your site (technology and mobile), and, if you have enabled demographics, their age, gender, and interests.

    Acquisition:
    Acquisition reporting tells you how your users arrived at your website, or what drove them there. By viewing this data, you can see the traffic broken down by main categories (channels), and the specific sources (source/medium). When breaking down the channels on an individual level, you can see the performance of your social media efforts, email marketing, as well as PPC campaigns if you’ve connected your AdWords account.

    Behavior:
    If you want to see how your content is performing, take a look through the Behavior Reports. Here you can view the top overall pages (all pages), which pages your users tend to enter the site from (landing pages), and which pages they leave your website (exit pages). Also, if you have setup Site Search, you can see which terms are being searched for within the site as well as the pages they reach during that search.

    Conversions:
    Goals are an excellent way to measure site performance. If you have setup goals within your Google Analytics account, this is the section you want to review. It provides information on how many conversions your website has received and which URLs they happened upon. In addition to that, you can review the path that visitors took to complete those conversions.


    OTHER HELPFUL POINTERS

    If you ever get stuck or forget what certain areas of Google Analytics do, you can hover over a variety of the areas to get more information. For example, in Audience Overview, hovering over the different metrics will give you a definition of the data and how it was determined.

    Also, don’t forget about the graduation cap icon in the upper right hand corner of the interface, underneath the date range. By clicking this icon, the interface expands to provide thorough overview of whichever section you are currently viewing. 

    IN CONCLUSION

    This is the very tip of the iceberg. It’s crucial to spend time looking at your analytic data to help plan a strategy for solving any performance issues as well as acquisition opportunities. 


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