Do you know the source of visitors who visit your site? Do you know what people want from your site? Do you know how long visitors are staying on your site? Does it seem like they’re bouncing too quickly, meaning nothing is catching their attention before they leave?
Maybe you need to mix things up a little. If you don’t have this readily available to you data, it will be tough to answer these basic questions. In this Google Analytics tutorial, we’ll answer these questions as well as explain the benefits of using google analytics.
Google Analytics is a comprehensive tool for any aspiring website owner or marketer because without it you would be like Ray Charles trying to steer a boat through the open ocean.
He has no idea where he is going but keeps heading in circles without ever getting to his destination. So, if your primary goal is to make money online, don’t be Ray, invest some time into understanding how Google Analytics works.
Why Do You Need Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free tool offered by Google that assists you with analyzing your website traffic and collecting important info about your website visitors. This free tool can offer you the answers to all of the previously mentioned questions posed at the beginning of this post, and therefore, allow you to see how your website is in fact performing as well as save historical data for your website.
When you understand what works and what does not work, you will understand precisely what actions are required for you to take in order to optimize your website and every piece of content you offer on it with the purpose of engaging your visitors and giving them the info they require.
Given that Google Analytics gives you a clear idea of what modifications you have to perform in order to fully optimize your website and increase your overall conversions, it goes without stating that you need Google Analytics to stay ahead of the curve.
With the information it offers about your website traffic, you can be sure that it will assist you in making every internet marketing project lead to real advantages that will result in the enhancement of your bottom line.
When you gain access to Google Analytics as a total newbie, it might appear intimidating in the beginning, however, this guide will walk you through all the important things you need to know.
By the end of it, you will definitely master how to utilize this very helpful tool to optimize your website’s efficiency.
How Does Google Analytics Work?
To get started with Google Analytics you need to have a Google Analytics account set up. Then you need to add a special tracking id that Google Analytics creates for you and place it in the header of your website.
Every time a user visits a page, the tracking code will collect information in the background, as to the who, what, when, where, why, and how of user interaction on the pages of your site.
The tracking id will provide a lot of metrics and data points that will enable you to understand if someone is enjoying a piece of content, not enjoying a piece of content, buying a product, or not buying a product.
As an online marketer, Google Analytics does give you that depth of knowledge and allows you to genuinely make data-driven decisions, which I guess is the Holy Grail of what everyone wants to achieve online
The 5 Benefits of Google Analytics
As a beginner, Google Analytics can be quite intimidating at first. That is because it displays a lot of information that you would think you need a Ph.D. to understand. You don’t. Once you start sinking your teeth into the basics, you’ll quickly see the benefits of Google Analytics.
The first benefit is that it helps you better understand your site, your product, and your service. When I first got started, I focused solely on creating site content.
I thought the more articles I posted the more traffic would come to the pages that had my affiliate link. My rationale was that Google wanted to see the quantity, but I was wrong. Google wanted to see quality vs. quantity.
The second benefit is that it gives you a better understanding of the visitors coming to your website. Google Analytics provides detailed demographics about the people coming to your website.
For instance, if the main operating system or mobile device that people are using to access your product is the top-of-the-line iPhone, then you know that your target audience is probably quite affluent.
They have disposable income, and maybe there are products that you haven’t necessarily thought of that should be tailored to that specific audience.
The third benefit is that it helps you determine what content is working and what is not. This kind of ties into the first benefit I previously mentioned.
In my case, I had visitors, but they were quickly leaving. Once I became more familiar with Google Analytics conversion tracking, I realized that I was writing content that I liked, but it wasn’t really what my visitors liked.
By looking at the page timings and behavioral data that were collected on the different pages on my site, I could tell what content was engaging and what wasn’t.
The fourth benefit is it helps you make data-driven decisions. Many successful organizations used data to make informed decisions to achieve desirable outcomes. Customer surveys, product testing, or sales reports are some of the methods they use. You can achieve this with Google Analytics by noting the trends over time.
You can then leverage the information you see and tweak whatever you need to on your site to drive more traffic.
Lastly, Google Analytics helps you optimize your site so you can get better conversions. Conversions are simply you getting the visitors on your site to do something.
One way to do this is by placing a Call-to-Action such as “click here”, “sign up now”, “join for free”, etc. When the user completes that specific action you can track it, and hopefully, it will lead to an affiliate commission or new subscriber to your email list.
How do I install Google Analytics?
In order to install Google Analytics on a WordPress blog, there are several key steps you need to perform in order to get the most out of it. They are:
- Set up your account and property
- Install your tracking code
- Set your goals
- Set up site search
- Add additional accounts and properties
- View Google Analytics data
Set up your Google Analytics account and property
The first thing you’ll need when setting up Google Analytics for your site or blog is to actually have an active Google Analytics account. If you already have any of the services such as Gmail, Google Drive, or Google Calendar, then you are good to go.
If you don’t have any of these services, then you can sign up for an account by going to Google.com/anayltics. At the welcome page, click the “Start measuring” button to set up your free Google Analytics Account.
After you have created your new Google Analytics account, you need to sign in. Once you are signed in to your account you will be taken to the new account set up page. This is where you will provide an account name.
Type in a name for the account that you have created. For this tutorial, I am going to create an account for my fictitious website called RoadCyclingJunkie.com. Whenever I create a new website, I use the name of the website when creating a new Google Analytics account. So I’ll put that name in and then click “Next“.
The page will then collapse, displaying the “Property setup” section. Here you will enter the name of the property. I’m going to go with Road Cycling Junkie (I just dropped the .com). Select the country, time zone, and currency for your situation. Then click the “Show advanced options” link.
This will expand and show you the “Create Universal Analytics Property” option. The reason for this is because Google Analytics is currently using a new tracking code that is called Google Analytics 4 (G4). G4 has become the default Google Analytics tracking code.
Previously it was Universal Analytics (G3). The chief difference between the two is that G4 properties are aimed at web analysis and app analytics. The Universal Analytics properties focus primarily on web analytics.
You will notice that there is a toggle switch to the right of the section. You want to activate it, and when it turns blue, you will see the section expand again. You will now see that you can select either to create just a G3 property or both. For the purpose of this tutorial, we will select both.
After making the selection hit the “Next” button.
The page will collapse again to the “About your business section” Select the industry that is appropriate for your business. Choose the number of employees your business has and check the options on how be using Google Analytics. When done, click on the “Show advanced options” button.
A Google Analytics “Terms of Service” dialog box will appear, check the boxes, and accept.
Voila, you just created your first Google Analytics account!
Install Google Analytics tracking code
After creating your account a window will display the details of your new property or “Web Stream“. At the top, you will see the URL, name, and measurement ID (Google Analytics tracking code).
Depending on what type of website you have or the theme you are using will determine how you will need to install your tracking code. You could either install the tracking code manually or with the help of a plugin.
For this tutorial, I am using the Astra theme, which is a WordPress theme. If you are using a web builder such as Wix or Squarespace, you’ll need to follow the instructions on their support page for how to install the tracking ID.
I will also be using a plugin. Plugins take all the guesswork out of manually installing your Google Analytics tracking ID with a simple point and click. I am not savvy enough to edit the header and script of my theme or using the Google Tag Manager, so I’ll stick with the safe route.
The plugin I am using is called RankMath. You could also use the Google Analytics plugin by MonsterInsights. Since I am using the RankMath plugin, I can not use the G4 tracking code, I have to use the Universal Analytics tracking code.
To get it, simply go back to the property you created in your Google account. If you have not done so, close out of the “Web Stream” display, and you will see the Google Analytics interface or dashboard for the property.
Once at the Google Analytics dashboard, scroll up to the upper left, and next to the Google Analytics logo you will see the name of your property “-G4”. In my case, it’s “Road Cycling Junkie – G4“. Next to the name, there will be a dropdown arrow. Click that and it will expand to a new window revealing the Google Account for my website and the tracking ID for both G3 and G4.
Now you understand why I had you create both during the setup process. As you can see, I can now retrieve the Google Analytics 3 (the UA- prefix) tracking ID. This is the one I will use for the RankMath plugin.
The RankMath plugin has easy-to-follow instructions. So all I need to do now is connect Google Analytics by granting the plugin permissions. Once this is done, it can access Google Analytics and it will see the Google Analytics code for the property. Give it about two days and you should start to see the Google Analytics data display in your theme’s dashboard.
Set Your Goals
After placing your Google Analytics tracking code using the plugin, you will want to configure a minor (however, very beneficial) setting for your website’s property. These will be your “Goals” setting. To get to this area, click the “Admin” link at the bottom left of the toolbar of your Google account.
Scroll over to the last column on the right and you will see the link to set up a goal in the menu. My fictitious website is going to have videos embedded in the article I’ll be posting. These videos will be about three minutes long. So I want to create a goal to see if website visitors will watch at least half of the video.
The average session duration on a page is a very useful metric that is tracked by Google Analytics. You can find it under the Behavior reports for your property. I am going to create a goal that tracks the time of at least 1:30 for my videos. This way I will if the website visitors find my videos engaging enough for them.
To do this I will click on “New Goal“. Under goal setup, I will choose custom and continue.
Next, I will name the goal. I am going to call it “1.5+ On-Site“. Once I have done this, I will select duration under “Type” and continue.
In the Goal Details section, I will set the duration of 1:30 and save.
My goal is now complete.
This a really quick example of how you can use Google Analytics data to track what website visitors do. These steps will help you if you also want to track other comparable goals or web analytics. You can set up a maximum of 20 goals for your entire WordPress website.
To make the most out of Google Analytics, be sure that a) you are setting up accounts and b) those accounts are tied to important components for your personal or business use. This example was for the average session duration on a particular page.
You can expand these goals collect information about page load time, which operating systems are used by your visitors, the exit page that a website visitor leaves your site, and so much more. Creating goals will all depend on the purpose of your website, so have this in mind when you are ready to create them.
Set up site search
Site Search can provide valuable insights into what your existing audience members want on your website. This can help you identify gaps in your site content, opportunities for new products and services, and even ways to improve users’ search intent on your site.
Before you can use this Google Analytics feature, you’ll need to make sure that your website has a search function. This is where people can search within your website. Typically, It is located on the top of your website at the bottom of your pages, or even on your 404 error page.
The most common website platforms like WordPress, Joomla, and Squarespace all come with their own built-in search functions. But you also have the option of setting up a custom solution using amazon cloud search or bing custom search.
Once you’ve added a search widget to your website, the first thing you want to do is head to your website and perform a search. For my example, I am using my countertop dishwasher review site to demonstrate this process.
I typed in review and this is what I got:
Once you’ve found your search term in the URL, you should look to the left of the term and you will see an equal sign, and to the left of the equal sign, you should see a character or a word. In my case this is “?s”. This is the query parameter that’s driving our search function. We can now head into google analytics and configure the site search reports.
Configure Search Report
Next, go to the “Admin” section and select view settings to the far right of the page. When you do, the page will adjust to show the view setting s area. Scroll down towards the bottom and enable “Site search Tracking”.
Underneath that, you are going to put in the query parameter that you copied earlier. My parameter was “?s”, yours could be something different. Also, make sure you place a check in the box for “Strip query parameters out of URL“. By selecting this site search setting, you will see the search terms that website visitors used on your site under the “Behavior” report section of Google Analytics
Add additional Google Analytics accounts and properties
If you want to set up a new Google Analytics account, go to your Admin menu. Then click the drop-down under the Account column and select “Create New Account“.
Additionally, if you wish to make a new website under your Google Analytics account, you can do that by navigating to your Admin panel, selecting the drop-down under the Property column, and selecting “Create New Property” in the menu that appears.
Just follow the steps outlined in the above paragraphs.
After you have installed the Google Analytics tracking code on your site(s), created a few goals, and configured your site search settings, I recommend waiting about 1-2 days before you start seeing active users and any other valuable data for your site.
This is because Google Analytics will need time to process the exact data to create reports. So you will not get traffic information or users flow to your site immediately.
View Google Analytics data
Once you start generating Google Analytics data, you can gather more information about how people are browsing your website. Logging in to Google Analytics will automatically take you to the Audience Overview report.
Additionally, Google Analytics provides a list of your websites if you have more than one. You will also be taken to the Google Analytics Audience Overview landing page for that website. This is the first of over 50 reports that are available to you in Google Analytics. You can also access these reports by clicking on the Reporting link at the top.
What Type of Data can you see With Google Analytics?
There are a lot of data you can see with Google Analytics and it’s not just about traffic. You can also use analytics to measure your campaign performance, create custom reports on conversion rates, how long visitors stay on your site or what pages they visit the most. The data is all there for you to analyze and learn from. So what are some of the things that can be found in Google Analytics?
- Website Traffic Sources
- eCommerce Data and Goals
- Data Sources
View the most popular content on your site, and see who’s sharing it. Find out if you need to change anything or promote a post more often. If you have videos on your site you can also see which ones are popular and how long they’ve been watched.
Identify what channels are driving traffic to your site (social media, paid search, and advertising) and measure conversion rates by source or campaign objective. You can set up a variety of goals to measure with Google Analytics, including the demographics of your site visitors, how they found you (from which search engines or social media), etc.
With this data, you will know how many visitors come to your site and what they’re looking for. Learn which landing pages get the most views, where people enter your site, how long they stay on a page, and more. You can even see which browsers or operating systems (OS) people are using to view your website.
Monitor conversion rates by source or campaign objective to identify which tactics work best for you. Then, use reports to determine which pages visitors go to before they make a purchase. This is great if you are running Google Ads or Marketing campaigns and are looking for the best conversion rates.
eCommerce Data and Goals
With Google Analytics, you can see which products your visitors have been viewing or searching on your site with eCommerce enabled. Set up a goal to track this data so it’s easy to measure how well the different items in your store are doing. You can also set up goals based on what people do once they get to the checkout (viewing cart, adding product to cart, completing purchase).
You also have the ability to connect google analytics with other sources like google ads or google analytic so that another source is added and captured further along in the process. This allows for a more complete understanding of how your content, traffic, and conversions are doing on google search engines.
Google Analytics Metrics
Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics service. Once you install the Google Analytics code you can start collecting data. The data collected from this process includes a variety of metrics, that for a beginner, might be completely intimidating. I totally understand, so I am going to highlight the key metrics that you should pay attention to.
The most important metrics to pay attention to are:
- Pages / Session
- Average Session Duration
- Bounce Rate
- % New Session
- Goal Conversions
Sessions are an important Google Analytics metric to pay attention to because they show how many people have visited your website. Sessions are often broken down into time periods so you can see how many sessions took place in a day, week, month, or year.
Sessions are also important because they show how many people have visited the website and, in turn, interacted with it. A higher session count could point to happy customers who find the products or services you offer valuable enough that they come back again and again for more information on them.
This metric shows how many unique users have come to your website. You should pay attention to this because it can help you better understand the demographics of who is viewing your site, where they are from and their interests etc.
The more specific information about visitors, the easier it will be for you to make decisions on what exactly needs to be changed on your site in order to better cater it towards different types of visitors.
This metric shows how many pages a person has viewed when they have come to your website. This is important because you can use this information as an indicator for the type and quality content that people are most interested in consuming from your site, as well as how to make your site more attractive for future visitors.
Average Session Duration
This metric shows the average amount of time that a person spends on any one session while they are visiting your website. This number is important because it tells you how engaged people are with what’s being shown on your page and if there might be something wrong with your site that needs to be fixed.
This metric shows the percentage of visitors who only visit one page on a website before leaving. A high bounce rate can mean there is something wrong with your site, or people are not finding what they are looking for quickly enough and giving up in frustration. It also might indicate that the content you are putting out there is not interesting enough for visitors.
% New Sessions
This metric shows the percentage of new sessions that happen on a website, and it can be used to show how effective your site is at bringing in new people rather than continuously just catering towards returning customers.
The goal conversions metric is the most important google analytics metric to measure because it shows how successful your site has been at converting visitors into customers. For instance, if you have five goals that you have set up for your website and each of them has a 20% conversion rate.
Google Analytics will show you that the goal conversion rate for your website is 100%. However, since it shows you the sum of all of your goals, it means that you still need to make a lot of effort to make sure that your website performs better.
Google Analytics Reports
Google Analytics collects data on the different types of traffic and activity on your website and compiles it into useful reports. When you first come to your Google Analytics dashboard you will see the reports on the left-hand sidebar. You can click on any of the different tabs to see a list with all the data collected by that report.
All the information you gather about your website visitors are compiled into five different categories:
The real-time report displays the number of active users that are currently looking at your site content, the number of people who have been on your site in the last hour, and how much time they spent on your site. The real-time report updates every second so you can see exactly what is happening right now with your website visitors.
Out of the five categories listed here, I would say that the Real-Time report is not that all relevant. I say this because it only gives you a snapshot at that moment and in my opinion, it doesn’t tell you the full story.
Sure, you will feel good about yourself knowing that there are people on your site when you check the stats, but you won’t get any real tangible information. So, I recommend concentrating on the other four: Audience, Acquisition, Behaviors, and Conversion.
The Google Analytics Audience report provides you specific demographics about your visitors such as whether they are male or female if they used a computer, cell phone, or tablet to access your website plus the geographic location of where they are coming from.
This information can be used to make changes in your website content and layout, as well as the advertisements you use on other platforms like Facebook or Google Ads. All in all, this report helps you gain a better understanding of who your visitors are.
There is also an option inside google analytics for advanced segmentation that allows you to dig deeper into visitor data by adding another dimension (age range) and then seeing how men under 18 behave differently than women over 45-years old.
The acquisition report is a document that reports on how many people were acquired through different channels. The data in the report can be used to evaluate marketing performance and plan future campaigns. Acquiring customers costs money, so it’s important to know which channels are bringing in new prospects at a reasonable cost per lead (CPL).
The acquisition report probably gives you the most targeted information because this is how you can find out about the different methods used by your visitors to get to your website.
For example, it will tell you whether the traffic is coming from social media platforms, or directly from people entering the URL of your website into a browser and from which search engine was used. It might also tell you about the countries of origin, the number of visits, and conversions.
The behavior report is a great way to see what content or landing pages are being interacted with and how long visitors are staying on your site. It also provides information about how many visits, pages viewed per visit, bounce rate, average session duration, what exit pages visitors are leaving your site from, and more.
The data in this report can be used to identify problem areas for your website like low conversion rates or high bounce rates. Below I will discuss some of the key features in the behavior report that you should take advantage of to make sure that you’re getting all possible insights into your website’s traffic patterns.
The Google Analytics Conversion Report is a powerful tool that can be used to determine how well your website is converting.
The conversion report allows you to analyze what users are doing and see which areas of the site they are engaging in. With this information, you can make changes to increase conversions rates on your site.
The more visits, sessions, and pageviews there are, the better chance you have at generating revenue through these avenues. If there’s an opportunity for improvement, then it is up to you as a business owner or marketer to take advantage of that knowledge and convert visitors into customers.
Shortcuts and emails
Google Analytics provides you with shortcuts and sharing your reports through emails to others.
shortcuts allow you to bookmark any given reports in analytics that you want to be able to refer back to at some point in the future. They can be especially helpful for any complicated reports you need to refer back to.
For example, I have a shortcut for my organic traffic report so that I can always see how many people are viewing the site in google search.
I also have shortcuts to all of my goal conversion reports, which show me exactly what is working on the website and where we need to improve our efforts.
One important thing about shortcuts is that you can only have up to 20 of them. So, if you find that google analytics is giving you more information than you need or want about a certain part of the website and it’s slowing things down for your analysis, delete or archive older shortcuts so that there are fewer on the page.
Sharing your access to your Google Analytics through email is an option that you have if you are outsourcing to freelancers, but it is not necessary if you are a beginner. However, If you did want to do it all you need to do is go to your Google Account admin section.
Once there, select “Account Access Management” and add the email you wish to share. To revoke access, just click the three-stacked ellipsis button and select the remove option for any email that you have given google analytics privileges to in the past.
When I first started using Google Analytics I was completely overwhelmed by all the information it provided. Because of the information overload, I purposely stayed away from using it.
Unfortunately, knowing what I know now, I missed out on a lot of important information for my first couple of websites.
This brief introduction is the first of a 5 part series that explains how to use Google Analytics for your online business. It is my goal for you to learn the basics of Google Analytics so that you don’t make the same mistake I made in choosing not to learn it when I first started out.
That’s all for now but come back soon as I will have Part 1 – The Real-Time Report available to help you become more proficient in using Google Analytics.
Until then, be safe!
What Is The Best Way To Learn Google Analytics?
One of the best ways to learn google analytics is by using these free tutorials created by Google.
Can Google Analytics Track Video Views?
Yes, Google Analytics can track video views. However, this is not something that Google Analytics tracks by default. Google Analytics tracks movement from page to page that your visitors are viewing while on your site.
This is commonly known as pageview interactions. The reason why watching a video while on a page is not a default action is because watching a video doesn’t change the URL. The video is embedded so It doesn’t trigger a new pageview.
However, you can track the video views by setting up something called event tracking to set it up. It’s really not that hard and you can do it using the Google Analytics Tag Manager. For the purpose of this article, I will not go into great detail.
One suggestion I do have is that if you are using videos from YouTube, I would use the analytics provided by YouTube as it specifically tracks video views for videos hosted on your personal account for YouTube.
Can Google Analytics Track Facebook Pages?
Google Analytics can track Facebook pages as well as ads, but you need to need to use UTM codes to set up the tracking. UTM is an acronym that is short for Urchin Tracking Module and it is used by online marketers to help them figure out where traffic is coming from.
UTMs are parameters that are appended to the end of a URL that you can create yourself. You can set these parameters by using the Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder. With this tool, you can create a special URL that adds the parameters that will allow Google Analytics to track the source, medium, and campaign link under the Acquisitions tab in the Google Analytics reports.
Can Google Analytics Track Instagram?
Short answer: Yes, but not automatically.
Google Analytics can track Instagram traffic in two ways. First, by unifying the referral into a format that it can see as one complete link. What I mean, is that if left to its own, Google Analytics will split incoming Instagram traffic into two separate URLs, instagram.com and l.instagram.com.
The l.instagram.com is known as a link shim and it is the security protocol that social media sites use to protect against spam content. So, when Google sees it, it is not getting the true referral, which can lead to inaccurate traffic information from Instagram. By unifying the link Google will see it as a full Instagram traffic source.
The second method is using the Google Analytics Campaign URL Builder as referenced in the above section about connecting Facebook pages.
How Do I Get Certified In Google Analytics?
The most straightforward place for a beginner to start might be the Google Analytics Academy, which includes a range of training courses that cover everything from the basic fundamentals to advanced topics in Google Analytics.
What’s great about the courses offered is that you can use your existing account to practice a lot of the fundamentals. You get the benefit of not only video instruction, but hands-on practice in a real-world environment.
How Much Does It Cost To Get Certified In Google Analytics?
You can get certified in Google Analytics for that low, low, price of absolutely nothing! Certification is completely free. All you need to do is go to the Google Analytics Academy website and take the beginner course.
The course is comprised of four units the introduction, the GA interface, basic reports, and campaigns and conversions. As you progress through each unit, you have to answer ten check on learning questions to move on to the next one.
When I first started using GA, I was completely lost. I tried learning GA by watching YouTube videos (which is totally legit), but once I discovered the academy training I was able to understand a whole lot more.
Is Google Analytics Certification Worth It?
They say that knowledge is power, and when it comes to analytics, a certification is your way of demonstrating how deeply into the subject you’ve roamed. This can be helpful in more ways than one, as nearly every online business relies on Google Analytics these days for most of their digital business intelligence.
How Do I Share My Google Analytics Data With Someone?
Yes, you can. Simply go to the admin section of your account and in the first column, select “Account Access Management” to grant permissions to other users. Just enter a valid email and choose the level of access you want to allow. That’s it!