Google Analytics: Getting to Know the Basics
It's one of the biggest SEO tools- do you know how to use it?
Chances are, you’ve heard of Google Analytics, and if your website is running on WordPress, then you know it can be very simple to place the Google Analytics code on your site and install any variety of support tools and plug-ins to help you see its data quickly and easily – or it may not feel so simple, in which case we’re here to help! Either way, whether you’re DIYing your SEO or whether you work with Road Warrior Creative or another agency, it’s important to understand one of the biggest tools in the search engine optimization game: Google Analytics.
Google Analytics Is Free
What’s the number one reason we recommend and use Google Analytics? Not only does it provide a wealth of data on your website visitors and traffic, but it’s free! While a premium, enterprise version does exist for those online businesses engaged in significant amounts of e-commerce and visitor-ship, the average small and mid-size business will find lots of worthwhile information available in the free program, and for small businesses on a budget, that can make a difference.
Why We Love Google Analytics
Most people love Google Analytics because it allows them to see how many visitors come to their website in any given time period. However, Google Analytics does so much more than that, and it’s when you dive deeper into the data that you can start to make better business decisions about your website.Google Analytics can tell you so much more than just how many people visited your website. Click To Tweet
In addition to knowing how much traffic your website gets, you can also get information about where your visitors are from, how they found your website, and what they do once they land on it. Here are a few different reporting features you might want to check out…
The Audience Report
The Audience report provides information about who your visitors are – how many have visited within the date range you set, how many are new visitors compared to those who have visited your website previously, where they are from, the language they speak, what technology they are using, and how they navigate throughout your website.
Behavior Flow Charts
The Behavior Flow report can help you to see the most commons ways that visitors navigate through your website. Knowing this can be helpful when updating your content or emphasizing new products or services. It can also help you to find places on your website where visitors get confused, lost, or decide to leave.
The Traffic Source Report
The Traffic Source report will tell you where your visitors are coming from and how many you have. Sources and mediums that you may see in this report include (none), which is basically anyone who comes directly to your site; organic, which is all traffic from non-paid sources such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo; referral, which are visitors coming from other websites; and specific campaigns (email, advertising, RSS blog feed, etc).
Site Content Reporting
The Site Content report will give you data about the performance of your individual web pages, how the pages interact with each other, and what visitors do on them. By looking at the “time-on-site” and “bounce rate” categories for each of your pages, you can see if any pages are not engaging visitors as they should be. Additionally, if you turn on the “In-Page Analytics” feature, you can see what visitors click on for each of your pages individual pages – this feature is particularly helpful if you’re thinking of making navigation changes.
Google Analytics is Actionable
If your business relies on your website to sell items online or generate sales leads, Google Analytics can help you with e-commerce tracking and conversion goals. Setting up goals and the Conversions report requires Admin access and some familiarity with Google Analytics, however, these skills can easily be learned through Google’s online training classes as well as the Help features within Analytics.
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Learning Google Analytics
If you are the business owner or marketing manager who likes to truly understand the tools that are used to measure your website's success, then learning Google Analytics is imperative. Luckily, Google provides free online courses through their Analytics Academy.
Analytics Academy Courses
Google offers free online courses on:
- digital analytics fundamentals;
- how the Google Analytics platform collects, configures, and processes data;
- enhanced eCommerce analytics;
- mobile app analytics; and
- the Google Tag Manager.
Not sure where to start? We recommend working your way through the Digital Analytics Fundamentals course, here. This overview video explains how the course works and what you'll learn:
Take Time To Explore
If you’re new to Google Analytics it’s worth your time to look through all the different menus to see what kind of data is available. Like most software, Google Analytics is constantly adding new features and offerings, so make a plan to check in regularly. Not only will that help you to become comfortable with it as a business tool, but you’ll also be able to routinely track your website’s performance, and having a basic understanding of how the platform works will make sure you understand any reports you may be receiving from marketing agencies that you may work with.