Analytics Beginner's Guide

For those who are not tech-savvy, the word “Analytics” might send chills down their spine. After all, the root word is “Analysis” and the implication is that it must be too technical or complex for beginners to understand.

The truth is, learning Analytics is not that hard. We came up with this article to show you that you don’t have to be tech-savvy to understand Analytics. If you are a beginner, you have to start out with the basics which are what this beginners’ guide to Google Analytics is all about.

What Is Google Analytics?

A quick Internet search will yield a list of the best online Analytics programs you can sign up for. While these are all good and can definitely help you in managing your online business, Google Analytics is the best place for beginners to start.

Google Analytics is a service provided by Google, the biggest search engine on the Internet, to help you monitor business performance. Thanks to Google Analytics, you have access to real-time data that can pinpoint which strategies are delivering results and which ones are not.

Before Google Analytics, businesses were hesitant in allocating resources for marketing and promotion because it was hard to measure results. Now, you can identify which processes and tactics are generating the highest ROI.

Here is a short list of the features you can find in Google Analytics:

  • Monitor user activity on your site – Session duration, bounce rate, and pages per session to name a few.
  • Measure inbound traffic to your website.
  • Can be integrated with Google Adwords.
  • Identify poor-performing pages.
  • Provide and create reports on user demographics.
  • Provide sales reports and a summary of site transactions.
  • Real-Time Analytics gives you information on users that are presently on your site.

Google Analytics takes away the guesswork in running a business. You no longer have to ask “What went wrong?” Analytics will show you where the weak links are in your business development strategy.

For example, blogging is one of the most popular components in a content marketing strategy. According to a study, 23% of time spent online is dedicated to reading blogs.

Blogging is a strategy that is used to achieve the following Digital Marketing objectives:

  • Enhance industry reputation as a valuable resource
  • Increase number of followers
  • Generate Leads
  • Drive more inbound traffic to the website
  • Increase website’s search rankings

Let’s say your objective is to use blogging to drive more inbound traffic to your website. According to Google Analytics, the current blogging strategy is under-performing.

You can use the data provided by Google Analytics to find out the following information:

  • Which blog topics have generated the highest engagement levels? This includes the number of shares, likes, and comments.
  • Which blog topics have the lowest engagement levels?
  • How long do people stay on my blog page?
  • How do the majority of my readers access my website? Mobile device or PC?
  • What are the demographics of my audience?

Let’s assume that your distribution of blog topics is 80% related to your company and 20% on practical issues such as How-To and List-Type articles.

According to Google Analytics, more people are enjoying your articles on the practical application of your products and services than on content about your business.

Perhaps you can do a switch and publish practical application blogs 80% of the time and limit company-related blogs to only 20%.

This is a rather simplistic explanation. The point we are trying to make is that with Google Analytics, your Digital Marketing campaign will have a fighting chance. You have data-based evidence that can help you find ways to make the processes more effective and deliver a good ROI.

If you are not using Google Analytics, you are literally in the dark.

How To Set Up Google Analytics

Setting up Google Analytics is easy. All you need is a Google Account. This can be for Gmail, Google+, YouTube or from the search engine’s other services. You should be the only person to have access to your Google Account.

Very important tip: Do you have a Digital Marketing team? Do not agree if someone suggests using his Google account to set up and manage your Google Analytics. If this person leaves your team, he will have direct access to your Google Analytics.

1. Opening Your Google Analytics Account

Is your Google Account set up? The next step is to go to Google Analytics and click the button “Sign in to Google Analytics”. Once you have done this, the screen will show you the 3 steps it takes to set up Google Analytics. Make sure you completely fill out the information that is required of your website.

Google Analytics uses hierarchies to get your account organized. Using hierarchies is important especially if you want to open additional Google Analytics accounts under your own Google account. Google allows you to have as many as 100 Google Analytics accounts under your Google account.

Setting up hierarchies is also important if you have more than 1 website or “Properties”. Google Analytics allows 50 properties per Google Analytics account. However, you cannot move the properties. This means you cannot transfer one website to another Google Analytics account.

2. How to Install the Tracking Code

When you are done setting up Google Analytics, click the “Get Tracking ID” button. Once you click “Agree” to Google Analytics’ terms and conditions, you will receive the Google Analytics code.

The code should be installed on all pages of the website. How the code is installed will depend on the website you have. If you are not sure, ask your webmaster or developer. We have done this for several of our clients.

3. Define Your Goals

Once the tracking code has been installed, it is time to configure the “Goals” setting. Click on the Admin link which is located above your Google Analytics. From there, click on “Goals” which is located below the “View” column of the website.

Why is setting up Goals important? It will advise you if your page has accomplished something important for your business. Let’s say you are running an e-commerce website and a visitor made a purchase.

When the transaction is completed, the visitor who is now your customer will find himself on a landing page that has a “thank you” message.

4. Put Up Your Site Search

The next step is to set up your “Site Search”. This feature enables Google Analytics to track and monitor searches that have been conducted on your website. By doing so, it will help you stay on top of the issues your site visitors are looking for.

Research is a very important aspect of building a business. With Site Search, you can get valuable information on the online behavior of your customers. The data can help you create an accurate Buyer’s profile.

The first thing you need to do is to run a search on your website. Keep the tab open because you will need its URL. Go to your Google Analytics Admin page and click on “View Settings” from the “View” menu. Scroll down and click “On” when you come across “Site Settings”.

Go back to your URL and enter the query parameter which is usually given as “s” or “q”. Enter the letter in Site Settings.

5. Thinking of Setting Up New Accounts?

If you want to set up multiple Google Analytics accounts all you have to do is go to the Admin page and click on the drop-down menu under the “Account” column then click on the “Create New Account” link.

The procedure is similar when you want to add another website to your Google Analytics account. Except that you will click on the drop-down menu under the “Property” column then click on “Create New Property” link.

computer graphic - curious about the website services we offer

How To Use Google Analytics

Whenever you log in and you only have 1 website, Google Analytics will open to the Audience Overview report.  If you have multiple websites registered, Google Analytics will first give you a rundown of which of these Properties you wish to view analytics on.

There are more than 50 reports that you can access in Google Analytics. Likewise, you can get these reports by clicking on “Reporting” which is located at the top.

What are the types of reports that you can find in Google Analytics?

1. Audience Reports

How well do you know your audience? If you are in the dark about the people who visit your site, the Audience report should shed light on your target market.

The Audience report will provide you key insights on the visitors who frequent your website. These insights include:

·        Demographics

·        Interests

·        Location

·        Language

·        Behavior

·        Technology used

Why are these data important?  Having detailed information about your audience will give you a basis on how to fine-tune your content and how the message is delivered.

For example, you own a business that sells consumer products. The data in Audience reports show that the majority of your visitors are women aged 18 to 34, interested in hair care products, and who access your site from a mobile device.

You should probably publish more content about your company’s shampoo and conditioner products and how to use them properly. Then you should check on your website’s level of mobile responsiveness.

2. Acquisition Reports

If you want to learn more about the visitors who make up your site traffic, the Acquisition reports will give you all the data you need. The reports are quite detailed and specific. Your site traffic is organized into categories and the specific sources are identified.

You will get valuable information about the traffic that originated from your social media networks so you can pinpoint which platforms are generating the visits and which ones are not.

Are you running a PPC ad campaign? You can get inputs on how your campaigns are performing by simply connecting Google Analytics to AdWords as well as to Google Webmaster Tools/ Search Console.  

3. Behavior Reports

As Bill Gates once said, “Content is King”. According to studies, people spend nearly 8 hours per day reading and viewing content.

If your website consistently delivers great content, good things will happen – more traffic, enhanced reputation in the industry, higher search rankings, and better sales conversions to name a few.

The Behavior reports will let you know which types of content people are reading on your website. You will find out which ones are generating buzz and interest. Thus, you will be able to channel more resources to these types of content and realize better ROI.

4. Conversions

The Conversions report will show you how many of your Goals have been accomplished. You will find out the URLs your site visitors came across and learn the path they took to finish the conversion.

You can get specific data on the conversion from Google Analytics. For example, you can learn how many conversions were made from a specific location or from a social network.

Again, these types of information will help you fine tune the process. You can focus on the strategies that deliver the results and improve the ones that fall short on their goals.

Conclusion – Why Should You Learn How To Use Google Analytics?

A website is a great investment for a business. It does not matter if you are a brick-and-mortar type of business. Having a website will open up new doors of opportunity for you. It will help enhance your presence on the Internet and make you more accessible to a wider audience.

However, a website will not accomplish these goals on its own. You will have to implement techniques, tools, and tactics to increase awareness and create inbound traffic to your website.

These techniques, tools, and tactics can be found in a process known as Digital Marketing. A typical Digital Marketing toolbox will include the following:

  • SEO or Search Engine Optimization
  • SEM or Search Engine Marketing
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content Marketing
  • PPC or Pay Per Click Advertising

Although these tools have been proven to deliver results for a Digital Marketing campaign, there is no guarantee that they will help you achieve your business goals. Like all tools, their effectiveness depends on how they are used and on who wields them.

As we mentioned earlier, Google Analytics will give you an empirical basis to identify which of these tools are generating the best results and which ones are under-delivering.

It does not mean once you pinpoint the processes which are falling short of targets that you should discontinue them right away.

Google Analytics will allow you to find ways to improve upon these processes so that they will no longer become the weak links in the Digital Marketing strategy.

If you want to learn more about Google Analytics, give us a call. We can have it installed for you and at the same time, manage your Analytics so you can focus more on your business.

learn about web design - desktop, tablet & smart phone on desk - in blue - larger