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How to Use Google Analytics: The Complete Beginner’s Guide (2021)

Google Analytics has its origin from a web analytics firm called Urchin which was acquired by Google in 2005. 

When you start a business, you employ certain marketing strategies to uncover customers’ interests and influence customer behavior so that they take interest in your product, and eventually, turn into an actual buyer.

With Google Analytics, this becomes much easier and more accurate. You can keep track of your website and mobile app users and their activities. 

If you don’t know how to use Google Analytics, this article will help you understand the process step by step. After this, you won’t need to make assumptions but you will have all the statistics in front of you to give you a clear picture of your efforts and theirs

Google Analytics allows you to use free tools to analyze data for your business in one place, so you can make smart decisions.

Why Is Google Analytics Important for Your Website?

Google Analytics allows you to keep a record of many important statistics.

For example, you can monitor the effectiveness of your online marketing strategies such as Facebook or email marketing campaigns. 

It helps you figure out whether your onsite content was useful for the buyer and whether or not it triggered any purchase decision. 

You can also measure things like user experience and see if they stick around and check out your site, or leave after viewing a single page (referred to as bounce rate).

These stats tell you what’s working well and where you need improvement. By using the analytics data, you can figure out the problem and make simple adjustments to further optimize your site. 

How to Install Google Analytics in Your Website

Installing Google Analytics on your website is very easy and can be done using various tools.

First, you need to get a Google Analytics tracking code for your site. This code is provided after you sign up for Google Analytics. You can install this code on all the pages of your website in the head section.

 If you’re not sure how to do this, just follow the specific steps below.

Steps to Install Google Analytics

STEP 1: Go to Google Analytics

STEP 2: Sign up for a Google Analytics account using your Gmail account.

Image Credit: Business 2 Community 

STEP 3: You can track your mobile app or website in Google Analytics. Let’s assume that you want to track your website.  

STEP 4: You will need to fill in all the required information including your website name, URL, etc. 

Image Credit: https://www.spyropress.com/

STEP 5: You will be provided with a JavaScript code after providing all the information required. 

Image Credit: https://www.spyropress.com/

STEP 6: Copy and paste the code directly into your website template.

STEP 7: You can ask your website developer to install this code to the head section of all the pages of your website. Some website builders have a specific page or field where you can simply enter this. 

STEP 8: If you have a WordPress blog, this can be done easily. Go to the Appearance tab and select the editor. You have to select a theme and find header.php. Paste the code. Save this. 

STEP 9: Several plugins such as Enhanced Ecommerce, MonsterInsights, ExactMetrics, or Analytify can also be used to embed the code on your website or your blog. 

STEP 10: This code collects all the information about user activity on your website. Other information that it collects includes browser, language, operating system, traffic source, etc.

Google Analytics Reports

Once you sign in to your Google Analytics account, you’ll find a lot of useful information regarding your website under the reports section.

Real-Time Reports

Imagine that you own a management website and you recently published content on an upcoming event. Now, you’re curious to find out what’s happening at the moment on the site. 

With real-time features available on Google Analytics, you can do this easily.

You have to click on the “Real-Time” tab under Reports in the dashboard and to monitor activity as it happens on your site.

Here, you can see actions that took place within the last five minutes and view details about the number of people visiting your site now, which pages they’re using, and which content they’re clicking.

Image Credit: www.monsterinsights.com

Let’s look at the different real-time reports below:

Locations

This data is very important if you are running an eCommerce business or selling anything internationally.

With location reports, you can get more information on your visitors’ general locations, by country. More details according to the country can be filtered in case you want to see which city they belong to.

This data helps with market research decisions, such as where the marketing campaign needs more attention and where you have been successful. You can also click anywhere on the map to learn more about country-specific details.

Picture Credit: https://www.megalytic.com/

Traffic Sources

Let’s assume that you have started a promotional campaign on Facebook and you want to know if that campaign is working to attract customers to your site.

You can figure this out by clicking on the traffic sources report. You can find out the number of visitors coming from a particular source. These reports can guide you if investing in that campaign was worth it or should you go for another marketing strategy.

Picture Credit: https://www.megalytic.com/

Content

You can improve your website content by looking at Google content reports. These reports give a clear picture of which pages current visitors are navigating more. Here, you can see how many active users are there on each page of the website.

For example, if you have hired a writer for your blog, you can get an idea of how many views their content gets compared to other site content.

Picture credit: https://cdn2.hubspot.net/

Events

This lets you create custom events for the user such as video plays, ad clicks, and downloads for user interaction on a website.

Then using this feature you can track what’s on the top amongst events. Are they downloading more or watching videos in real-time? More details regarding the specific event action can be figured out using real-time event reports.  

Picture Credit: https://webmasters.stackexchange.com/

Conversions

First, we need to understand what conversion means in regards to digital marketing. 

In online marketing, when a user visits your website and achieves a goal, this means a conversion has occurred. For example, they convert from just a visitor to a lead, a potential customer, or an actual customer, in case they ended up buying your product or service. 

The conversion reports give you an idea about the goals that your active website visitors are completing.

The details about active users who have already accomplished a goal can also be figured out by looking at conversion reports. These reports are useful when analyzing a particular product or service and whether it’s being sold as a result of your newest marketing strategy. 

Picture credit: https://www.monsterinsights.com/

Audience

The next section under reports is the audience. As the name suggests, this section shows your website users under various categories. The audience reports provide a deep insight into the various characters of your users.

Almost everyone wants to know how many people have searched your site or purchased something within a certain timeframe. Audience reports are useful from this perspective.

Active users

As evident from the name, this tab helps you have a look at the number of active users for your website. It helps you see the following metrics about active users.

  • Active Users in 1-Day 
  • Active Users in 7-Day
  • Active Users in14-Day 
  • Active Users in 28-Day 

Just like any enterprise, big or small, you want to stay updated about the level of user interest over a certain period.

Let’s say the statistics you get are aligned with your expectation—this means you are doing well. Otherwise, you might have to reshape your strategy.

For example, if you see that you have some active users in 7 days but this rate is consistently declined after a month. You may conclude that there is less interaction on the part of the marketing team on social media channels etc. 

Picture credit: https://www.optimizesmart.com/

Lifetime Value

Lifetime value helps you understand not just what users do immediately after click, but what they do over an extended period of time. This can help you understand what your visitors bring to your business from a more long-term perspective. (Currently, “lifetime” is limited to the 90-day definition that Google sets.)

Let’s understand this with the help of an example. You have started an email marketing campaign, through which you have generated a certain number of visitors. Have they made the buying decision at the end? This is how you measure the lifetime value of customers. 

Another amazing thing is you can see a comparison between the lifetime values of users coming through different marketing channels. Such as you can see if people who have used social media are high-value customers or those who got the information through email marketing. 

Once you know which method remained more successful, you can rethink your marketing strategy.

Picture credit: https://support.google.com/

Cohort Analysis (Beta)

A cohort analysis is the examination of the behavior and performance of user groups that share some common attributes or characteristics.

For example visitors of a particular day. This analysis will help you examine how a single day email campaign worked for you or to know how the behavior of a certain group changed over week or month

Picture credit: https://yoast.com/

Audiences

Audiences in analytics are users that you can be grouped based on any combination of attributes that you may think meaningful for your business such as current shoppers or you can create other audience groups such as users who have purchased a product anytime, or within 12 months.

This is up to you how you define your audience. You can go for a maximum of 50 audiences published to an analytics account or 20 audiences published a single property within the account.

 User Explorer

Sometimes you want to know the aggregate behavior of users to make a marketing decision but it can also happen that you are interested in knowing your user individually.

For example, you may want to know about a user who makes huge orders. You may also need this data to analyze how to resolve a particular user’s problem. You can find statistics regarding each user’s average session duration, goal conversion rate, or bounce rate.

Picture credit: https://mirasvit.com/

Demographics

Demographics play an important role in market research.

This report gives you all the details about the gender and age of the users. This may be helpful knowing if your product is much popular with men or women. You may also analyze which age group is making more purchases is helping to make advertisements, redefining content, and better marketing.

Picture credit: https://www.hallaminternet.com/

Interest

If you want to know in-depth about your user’s interest, you can see this using Google Analytics interest reports. But before that, you have to turn on the remarketing and advertising reporting feature.

After that, you can easily view data based on multiple ways such as what is their broad lifestyle. Value shoppers, food, and dining lovers. Then you can also see product-related interests such as which products they mostly look at gadgets, clothing, etc.

You can use this information for designing your marketing campaign in a manner that highlights the interest of the user. You may also introduce a new product or service seeing which interests your user the most and is it possible for you to come up with it. 

Picture credit: https://www.truconversion.com/

Geo

Interested to know where your user belongs to and which language they speak?

You can find that using geo reports. This information will help you see if your product/service is popular in one region as compared to the other. You can develop a new strategy for the locations where you did not get any suitable response.

Behavior

You might want to know if, amongst your users, some are returning and getting engaged with your content.

This report can help you determine if new users are returning to your site to engage with your content or how many times they are coming back and where they are getting engaged. 

Now the question is how you can use this data? You can relate it with the recent updates on your website such as a more simplified procedure that helped them check the product again or maybe the ultimate purchase. 

Picture credit: https://jesperastrom.com/

Technology

This report helps you see what technology visitors are using to visit your site. For example, you can see what browser or operating system they’re using.

Mobile

Using this report under the audience section, you can see the number of visitors according to the mode they are using to access your website—desktop computers, mobile devices, or tablets. Even you will be able to see the specific models of phones or computers.

Now, what should you do with this data?

You can see if your website is friendly for certain devices and what else you can do to add more devices so that more visitors can come. 

Picture credit: https://learndigitaladvertising.com/

Cross-Device (Beta)

This feature helps you connect data from multiple sessions to see the conversion process from beginning to end. This report provides you the tools you need to organize data across multiple devices into an understandable form.

You can get to know how unrelated data, interactions, and sessions are connected in some way or the other. 

Picture credit: https://www.datadrivenu.com/

Custom

Using this feature you can make a comparison between different user groups.  You will be able to find in-depth details, regarding your user experience with your website. Such as how many mobile users are new to the site. 

Benchmarking 

This data allows you to make a comparison with the others in the industry. This comparison can be made on certain categories such as channels and devices. This is helpful to know if everyone else is following certain channels that you have not yet fully utilized and you need investment in that area.

Picture credit: https://www.datadrivenu.com/

User Flow

You must also want to figure out what users do after they visit your website and what is the pattern of their movement throughout their visit. This report can help you see how the user started his journey on your website and where he got stuck. This will help you readjust your user flow. 

 Picture Credit: https://lisdaikhwantini.com/

Acquisition

Acquisition refers to how you have acquired certain users on your website. This shows which channel your audience used to find your website and what actions they have taken. 

For instance, users might have followed a Facebook link to reach your website. 

Using this information,  you would like to strengthen more performing channels.

Picture credit: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/

All Traffic

All Traffic shows sites that are sending more users to your website. Once they reach your website, you can figure out pages per visit, goal completion, or bounce rate.  This section is further subcategorized into Channels and Medium. 

Google Ads

Google Ads is a product that you use to promote your business and help sell your product or services. It also raises awareness and increases traffic to your website.

If you are using Google Ads, it’s important to understand this performance data. For this, you need to link up your Google Analytics account with Google Ads. You will now be able to view data regarding your campaigns, keywords, search queries, and more.

Search Console

To turn on this report, you have to connect the Google Search Console with Google Analytics. After this, you will be able to learn more about your organic search performance.

Using the data such as related to landing pages, queries, devices, and countries you can make a lot of improvements.

Social

This report helps analyze how people find your content on social media and what their reactions are.

User Flow

This information is used to identify certain platforms where the audience is interacting with marketing content and it measures how the interaction impacts their site behavior.

Campaigns

This report is very important to get a clear picture of how a certain campaign is performing as compared to the others. You can sort data based on all campaigns, paid keywords, cost analysis, and organic keywords.

Behavior

As the name suggests, you can find out that this report will provide you sufficient information about your user behavior, like site search, the content that they viewed, and more. 

Behavior Flow

This report shows the flow of actions that users take on your site. For example, if you had posted some details about your services or products, did it instigate them to make a purchase?

Site Content

This data helps you to figure out if the content on a certain page performed well. You can see that certain titles of blogs were more attractive than others and that’s how you can see how you should design your new content. 

Picture credits: https://www.socialmediaexaminer.com/

Site Speed

Slow loading times and poor site performance, in general, can lead to abandoned carts and other problems. If visitors can’t quickly get information on what they’re looking for or easily make a purchase on your site, they’re likely to take their business elsewhere.

You can see how your content loads and is it troublesome for a specific user to load the information. This can help you improve your website for certain mediums and devices. 

Picture credit: https://www.seroundtable.com/

Site Search

Using this report you can see which information the user is looking for with the help of the search function. This will help you sort things more clearly and concisely. Maybe you have to highlight calls-to-action in brighter colors or make content easier to read.

Picture credit: https://www.practicalecommerce.com/

Events

As mentioned earlier in the report, an event is anything that shows an independent interaction between users with the content such as with a video, a download, form, etc.

If you sort this tab with top events, you will be able to see Top events and pages. You will also be able to see what is the event flow. Where the visitor ended up after a particular event. 

Publisher

These reports present the data related to your site monetization and need a connection with Adsense. You will also be able to view publisher pages and referrers. 

Picture credit: https://www.monsterinsights.com/

Experiment

Using this tab you can see if a certain part is performing better than it was in the past because you have redone that.  However, now Google Optimize is used as its replacement. 

Conversions

You want to know that you have emailed about a certain offer to around 1000 people and under that campaign 20 have made the purchase.

This is what conversion reports tell you. You can easily judge if your business is adopting a robust marketing technique or you should go for an alternative option. 

Goal

Goals are specific actions that you have created and intend to track. You can set detailed goals to see certain actions and factors that contributed to these actions. 

Picture credits: https://learndigitaladvertising.com/

Ecommerce

The Ecommerce shows you purchase activity on your site. You can find out various things such as 

  1. Product and transaction information
  2. Average order value
  3. Ecommerce conversion rate
  4. Time to purchase, and other data

To view eCommerce reports, you will have to enable Ecommerce in your reports and add code to your site/app to collect eCommerce data. 

Picture credit: https://www.megalytic.com/

Multi-Channel Funnels

After enabling the eCommerce snippet to the site, you can dig details about assisted conversions and top conversion paths.

Picture credit: https://www.wordstream.com/

Using Google Analytics to Improve Your Website

If you are running a small business and want to expand if you are an international business and improve your presence in certain geographic locations, you can do that using Google Analytics.

This is similar to how you conduct market research, gather statistics, and see the feasibility of doing business. After installing Google Analytics on your website you can get access to certain data that help you improve. For example

  • You can study the bounce rate. If you see that a large number of visitors are only viewing one page and are now moving toward conversion, maybe you can use some more interesting call-to-action tabs or insert some more interesting features to motivate them to move forward.
  • You can also discover sources of traffic that remained highly effective and you may use those platforms for your future campaigns.
  • You can optimize your website for various devices by seeing reports 
  • You can create more interesting content based on reports generated on the previous content. 

Adding More Users to Your Google Analytics Account

Yes, adding the relevant people working for you in your Google Analytics account is possible.

This can be done at two levels. You can add users to the account level or property level. The level determines how much access new users will have. You can do this using the following procedure

  • Sign in to your Google Analytics account. 
  • Now click on admin and navigate to the desired account or property
  • Click User Management.
  • Once you find the Account permissions list, click +, then click Add users.
  • Enter the email address for the user’s Google Account.
  • Select Notify new users by email to send a message to the user.
  • Select the permissions you want.
  • Add

Google Analytics FAQs

Some of the frequently asked questions about Google Analytics include:

Why do I need Google Analytics?

You need it because you want to see the traffic on your website and the facts regarding your customers.

Using this data you can design your marketing campaigns. Otherwise, you might be wasting money on thinking something is useful when, in actuality, it’s just not paying off.

For example, you have outsourced your email marketing campaign, but Google reports showed you that this campaign had not generated valuable customers for you as much as you expected. You would certainly rethink such investment again and make a wise decision.

How can I set up a Google Analytics Account?

It’s a straightforward process, but you will have to be careful in feeding accurate information from the beginning. The steps for setting an account include:

  • Create your account following the procedure mentioned at the beginning of this guide
  • Set your goals
  • Link your Google Search Console
  • Link to Google AdWords
  • Set Up e-commerce analytics

What is the difference between Google Analytics and Google Ad Conversion tracking?

Google Ads conversion tracking tracks your traffic from Google ads campaigns but Google Analytics can track traffic from all the sources and mediums including Google Ads.

What is a Segment?

Similar to that of the term segment used in marketing, it is a subset of your data or a specific category of users. For example, users from a particular city are one segment. People who actively read your blogs can be another segment.   

What is the Goal?

In Google Analytics, a goal is a configuration setting that helps you to track the valuable actions of users and conversions. Setting goals is important to measure how well your website is fulfilling your target objectives. 

Summary & Takeaways  

Google Analytics is a modern tool that equips you with all the necessary data to make business decisions.

It is a cost-effective and easy way to generate accurate and timely reports. Using these reports you can improve your website and target new markets and demographic groups.

You may think about new initiatives based on the trends and interests of your user. When running a traditional marketing campaign becomes costly and gathering data on its effectiveness is even more difficult, Google Analytics is the smartest option. Go for it.

Don’t think that you need a course or years to learn this. Read a good guidebook or watch some online tutorials and soon you’ll be an expert in using Google Analytics.

Want to know how to use Google Analytics? This post is a complete guide for digital marketers and those who want to learn about this amazing tool.

By Kevin Frei

Kevin Frei is an entrepreneur, paid media specialist, and intermittent nomad from Arizona. Ethical Digital is his third startup after GoMusicals.com and an online traffic school company. An avid traveler and economics hobbyist, Kevin's goal is to revolutionize the way service companies are organized so that more people can achieve the dream of professional (and locational) independence.

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