Google Analytics is a free tool offered by Google to help you monitor and improve your website through data.
Google Analytics is Google’s flagship website analytics platform. It collects and compiles data regarding user behavior and traffic patterns to help website owners reach their e-commerce and engagement goals.
The information it provides helps website owners better understand their customers, which leads to greater returns on investments through more efficient marketing tactics when used properly.
Do I Need Google Analytics?
If you’re a website or business owner, the answer is likely yes.
Google Analytics is free, after all, and it’s many insights are invaluable. Learning how customers or potential customers find and engage with your site allows you to identify what’s working and what’s not.
You’ll see what pages bring the most visitors in, where your customers are coming from, how long a user spends researching products before they hit the buy button, and so much more.
How Does Google Analytics Track Data?
Each time a user visits your site, the code generates information about their visit, like duration, the browser used, and the traffic source.
This information is automatically compiled on the Google Analytics platform, where you can view it in its raw form and within a series of reports.
Data can be streamed in real-time and is also stored so you can review previous dates or compare to current ones.
What Does Google Analytics Measure?
Google Analytics measures a series of user dimensions and metrics.
- Dimensions can be thought of as data categories, like traffic sources or type of operating system.
- Metrics are quantitative measures, like the number of users on a given page within a specific time frame.
Some of the most helpful include information on:
- user acquisition
- user interaction and behavior
- marketing funnels
In marketing, customers and potential customers traverse through a funnel, starting with their acquisition and ending with a sale or conversion.
Customer acquisition refers to how your site receives traffic. Analytics helps with this by showing the total number of users to your site and how they got there, i.e., the traffic source.
The traffic source might be a search engine like Google or Bing.
Alternatively, your traffic could be coming from social media or paid advertisements. Knowing where your customers come from can help you better serve them and help you locate new ones.
Reports can tell you how long users spend on any given page, and which pages they’re most likely to visit. It will also provide a bounce rate or percentage of single-page sessions.
Understanding what users do once they reach your site can help you optimize your user interface, which leads to more sales or conversions.
Conversions, depending on your site and marketing goals, could refer to:
- newsletter sign-ups
- requests for services
- outreach for more information
- product sales
- other measures of engagement
Google Analytics makes conversions particularly easy to track by allowing website owners to create specific goals.
You might, for example, want to increase the number of newsletter sign-ups. Typically, after signing up for a newsletter, a user will end up on a “Thank You” page.
By setting the URL for the “Thank You” page as a goal in Google Analytics, you can track how many new sign-ups you receive and what sort of behaviors generally lead to those sign-ups.
Do most of your new sign-ups come from users on a particular page or within a typical time frame? Knowing the answers to those questions, and others like them will help optimize your site and create more customer conversions.
How Do I Install Google Analytics?
Installing Google Analytics is very straightforward, even if you’re not on the tech-savvy side of things.
Start by setting up a Google account if you don’t already have one. If you already use Gmail or other Google services, the same account will work with Google Analytics.
Once you have a Google account, you can go login.
You can input this manually if you now how, or you can use a plugin, like Yoast SEO, which has an embed form for the Google Analytics tracker. If you use a site builder, like SquareSpace or Wix, they’ll have a code embed option you can use to keep things simple.
And, should you run into any trouble, a quick search of “your website platform + google analytics installation” should provide instructions.
Once installed, Google offers a free Analytics Academy. There, a series of tutorials teach the ins and outs of Google Analytics so you can maximize its capabilities.
How Often Should I Monitor It?
How often you refer to your analytics has everything to do with your site’s content and traffic levels.
Bigger e-commerce sites with quick sales cycles will want to check their analytics daily, so they can react quickly to changing consumer behavior.
Smaller sites with less traffic may do better checking in once or twice a week.
Though it’s tempting as a smaller site to check the analytics daily, doing so can cause a common marketing problem — reacting to noise rather than sound.
When determining marketing tactics from analytics reports, it’s crucial to make decisions based on overall trends (sound), not one-off issues (noise). If your site doesn’t receive a ton of traffic, you may not have a large enough sample to see “sound” and can end up reacting to “noise” instead.
With larger e-commerce sites, this is less of an issue, though it’s still important to pay attention to sales cycles.
A sales cycle refers to how long it takes a customer to research and buy your product.
If you sell something expensive, like cars or computers, customers might research for a week or ten days before buying. There’s no use running daily conversion reports then, as they won’t paint a very accurate picture.
Grow With Google Analytics
It’s easy to install, simple to use, and provides a myriad of insights. It can, quite literally, give you information on where to focus on your SEO to increase your traffic, and how to increase the value of your traffic to your business.
This makes this tool invaluable and something every website owner should get to know.