Google Analytics is an analytics platform provided by Google, which tracks data from visitors and traffic to your website. It is the most widely used web analytics package on the internet. When you monitor and track this data, you can analyse it and make decisions which are based on fact, that will improve your website experience for your website users.
There are free, and paid versions of Google Analytics. For this blog, we are going to look at the free version – because pricing starts at £120,000 per year for the Premium paid version and we think the free version gives small businesses access to enough data and analysis capabilities without making your head spin too much!
First thing first, Google Analytics needs to be installed on your website. The steps to doing this are different depending on what platform your website runs on. However, Google have made the process very easy and streamlined, so don’t worry about this being a major headache to set up – it isn’t.
Google Analytics can answer a lot of questions for you about your website traffic. What is of most interest to you will be different for everyone. But the main questions are:
How much traffic am I getting in a certain time period?
How many users are new and how many are returning?
What countries and areas are my visitors coming from?
What devices are visitors using?
Where is my traffic coming from in terms of marketing activity (PPC, organic, social media etc)?
How many users are converting on my website?
What is my conversion rate and how is that changing over time?
Google Analytics is clearly laid out, and there are lots of videos and manuals online to help you if you get stuck (or drop us a line, we’ll be happy to help). You can find each of the reports to answer the above questions in the Google Analytics dashboard, you just need to select the dates you want to view the data for, and if you want to compare it to another date:
When you first log in to Google Analytics you will be presented with these options down the left-hand side:
Each of these will give you access to different data. We will provide you with a brief overview of each. We would provide you with a full in depth analysis of each but it would take years and we’re sure you would stop reading!
Real-time lets you know exactly what is going on on your website right now. Example data would be the number of active users, how many pages they’re viewing, what locations they’re coming from, the traffic sources they’re coming from etc.
Audience will let you find out a wealth of data about the audience that is visiting your website. Example data would be new vs returning users, age, gender, location, language, browser, device etc.
Acquisition will provide you with information on how you’re acquiring these customers i.e. your marketing channels. What source and medium they’re coming from, what websites are referring the users, what Adword’s campaigns they’re coming from, the search words they’re entering to find you in organic searches
Behavior lets you find out information on your website pages. What pages are getting the most views, what pages are users converting from, what searches are users keying in on the website, what is your website speed, speed improvement suggestions etc.
Conversions section provides information on your conversions. What goals are being met, the ecommerce performance in terms of sales and revenue, multi-channel information and assisted conversions (if some users are coming from more than 1 channel) and attribution of these conversions per channel
Once you have this data it’s important to be able to read it, and make decisions from it. It is easy to get lost in a sea of data and you need to be able to separate the noise into what is actionable. If you keep track on the data and record it, you will be able to see changes over time that should set off alarms for you. E.g. if you track the conversion data of each device, and you can see the conversion rate on your desktop and table is 4-5% but on mobile it’s 0.4% then there is probably an issue with your mobile website and this is something you should get looked at right away.
Also, be aware that if you want to measure conversions (trust us, you do) you need to set up goals in the account. Most will want to set up goals for a lead or a sign up, or for a purchase. You can set up to 20 goals in your Google Analytics account.
Hopefully this has provided you with a taster of Google Analytics and how you could use it for your website. It is a huge platform with endless capabilities and hopefully we’ve given you enough here to convince you to make use of it. As ever if you have any questions then please get in touch – we haven’t found a website yet that hasn’t been improved from diving into the Google Analytics data.