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How To Use Google Analytics: A Beginners Guide

posted on 20-3-17-Tue 06:47
Advantages of Google Analytics
Getting Started With Google Analytics
How To Use Google Analytics
Report Types

Google Analytics is an analytics tool with all the processing power of Google behind it. Websites and blogs can use the analytic tools in the suite to measure the performance of their campaign, traffic and user data. At a glance, here are the things it can do for you.

Advantages of Google Analytics

How to use google analytics

  •  Evaluate goals

Every business should have a set of online goals. These goals could be accomplishing simple tasks like getting several likes on a post, conversion rate, etc. It will depend on the website what the goal values should be, and setting up the same in the analytics tool will help you quantify where you stand in terms of fulfilling the target.

Hitting or missing goals could make or break a business. Google Analytics removes manual intervention behind tracking goals.

  •  Segmenting customer base

Not all customers are the same. Every group of customers will use the website for a different reason and expect different things out of it. If you are a designer clothing shop, your high priced items should be targeted to a certain income and age demographic who could afford it, and your budget clotheslines should be targeted to a different segment of customers.

When you know the segments, you can create more targeted ads to add value to your marketing strategy.

  • Know search words

When people land on your website, they have searched for a specific term that has brought them here. Also, based on your industry, there will be popular keywords that people use to search for products, services, or content that your website creates.

Google Analytics can tell you which search words are attracting how many visitors, so you can add these keywords to your website and optimize for SEO, attracting more customers. In simpler terms, if you sell fruit-flavored soft drinks, only adding ‘soft drinks’ to the website will not gain as much attention as adding more customer-centric keywords such as, ‘peach iced tea’ or ‘lemonade’.

These specific keywords will give you better visibility when people search for a product that you sell.

  • Measure campaign performance

If you spend a lot on campaigns to acquire customers, you must track certain metrics that can tell you how effective a certain campaign strategy is.

If an email campaign is created to attract customers, you need to know which emails are successfully bringing people on your website, and which emails need improvement. You can decide the performance of a campaign and decide if they are worth spending money on.

Now that you know the various advantages of Google Analytics, let's dive deeper, and explore how to use Google Analytics.

Getting Started With Google Analytics


Step #1

How to use google analytics

Visit the Google Analytics home page. You will see the link where you can create a new account. If you already have an account, log in. If you are creating a new account with the ‘Sign up’ on the right of the screen, you will be presented with a setup screen for the account.

Step #2

How to use google analytics

In the next step, you will define the various properties of the Google Analytics account. You can use your brand name as the account name in the screen below. If you have multiple websites for your brand, you can add the details here.

In the Google Analytics account, the account name is the highest in the hierarchy inside which you can set up multiple tracking codes from multiple accounts.

The properties are basically ‘views’ that you can set up for the website. The traffic received by your site will be filtered with these views or filters and presented in the dashboard. For example, consider that you have added multiple views in the account as subdomains, one for the blog and another for the store. Or it could even be for various locations, one for the UK, another for the US, etc.

On the next page, you will add the name of the website which is the name of the property inside the account. Add the website URL here and make sure to specify which protocol you are using form the dropdown option. Normally, http:// is the nonsecure protocol and the https:// is the secure protocol

Specify the industry from the Industry Category dropdown. This will specify what industry your website belongs to. The use of this will be prevalent in the benchmark reports that you will create. Benchmarking is setting up metrics of a website in comparison with the heavy-hitters in the industry.

Next is setting up the time zone. This is crucial because the data will be correlated to the daily and hourly reports in the account with this time zone.

Step #3

How to use google analytics

This step is a bit more technical and crucial to the entire set up process. You need to get the tracking ID from Google Analytics and add it to the website page. You will find the tracking ID inside the property overview, as below. This tracking ID should be added to the source code of the website. You can copy the code from Google Analytics and send it to a developer, or add it yourself.

We have described how to add the tracking code for other websites below.

Add tracking Code


In WordPress, you have to navigate to the Appearance section, then go inside Editor and find the header.php file.

Inside this file, you will find the closing of the header tag - </head>.

The tracking code that you have copied above should be pasted above this tag. Once you have done that, you can save this code by clicking on the Update File button.

Any other website

Adding the tracking code is simple. It can be done by pasting the above-copied code inside the content management system if you have one. You have to locate the global footer section in the content management system. When you find the footer section in the site, you can paste the code inside.

You should paste the tracking code for every property you have added in the Google Analytics application, without that it won’t be able to start tracking website metrics.

Learn About Your Audience

  • Active Users

You can track historical data of user activeness in the app to make sure your site is not fading out of interest.

  • Lifetime Value

Different users are valuable for your business for different reasons. You can acquire a lot of users through various campaigns, however, not everyone is going to spend the same amount of time on your website.

The users from paid searches can have a longer lifetime than email for example, and so you should decide on which marketing campaign to spend more effort in to acquire users that are going to stick with the brand.

  • Cohort Analysis

Lots of users can be banded in the same group based on the common characteristics they share. The users who were acquired after a special event from your company could be grouped in a cohort because they have similar interest patterns. And this report can let you categorize the users for better targeting in the marketplace.

  •  Audience

Understanding audience behavior is crucial to the creation of an effective marketing strategy. With Google Analytics, you can create an audience and export various data points for the exploration of behavior.

  • User Explorer

View the behavior of individual users as opposed to a group of individuals through client ID.

  •  Demographic

Know the grouping of your audience via factors like age and gender. With these factors, your entire marketing strategy will vary based on language, graphics, etc.

  •  Interests

Understanding the interests of users will let you explore other avenues and categories of products or content that can keep the engagement rate high. You can also create customized marketing campaigns to target the interest of groups.

  •   Location

Keeping up with location and language trends lets you target relevant content and identify opportunities. If you have a lot of UK customers, but the conversion rate of French customers is also very high, you can create ads specific to targeting this category.

  •   Technology

Users can reach you through tablets, PC, Mac, or phones, through various browsers on different versions. Knowing the technological details will keep your implementation plans on track without inconveniencing your users.

You can specialize your content based on the browser versions to give the users a good experience. Overall, your development and release will become seamless with this data.

  •  Behavior

You can track the level of engagement with users, how many new visitors are coming to your website, and how many of them are returning. Returning users make up a majority of the transactions.

  •  Benchmarking

Through benchmarking, you will be able to set standards for your website and compare that against the benchmarks set by the professionals in your industry. You can also understand what realistic goals for a company of your scale are and set targets that you can meet while measuring your performance against your competitors.

  • User Flow

Watch flows of how people behave when they are on your website. The general way they navigate when they are going towards becoming a customer from a visitor and the step where they fall off is important to understand where people are facing issues. When you can see the movement of the mouse, you see whether people have to scroll and lot with much difficulty in finding the buy or subscribe button.

Set up Site Search

You can use the site search for understanding what specific actions users are performing through the website.

  • Login to your Google Analytics account.
  •  Click on the Admin tab and select the view column to see settings.
  •   Inside, you will find the ‘site search settings’, and you can turn it on. You will need to add specific queries to the field. You can use keywords that you want to track or any specific search query here. You can add up to 5 parameters.
  •  If you have added a query parameter, decide if you want the analytics to remove the parameter from the website URL.
  •  The next option is to turn site search categories on or off. This is for sites where users have filter options to refine the search. If they are selecting phones, and then iPhone 5, the site search URL will look something like this: ?q=phones&sc=iPhone&5.
  • If you do not want the categories, keep this off, or turn it on if you use filters.
  • You can add all the category parameters that you are using, such as sc. Remember to not add any of the symbols, and only stick to using characters. This way, when you see the report for URL queries, you have a clean looking report that is not riddled with category parameters. Once you have excluded these parameters form the site search view, it will be automatically excluded from the master view.
  •  You can save the page and exit.

Voila! You have successfully set up a site search

Set Up Your Goals

Goals are the parameters that measure the performance of your online marketing strategy and site popularity. You can set up several goals as below:

  • URL Destination Goals

These goals track what URLs are getting triggered by users. Suppose you have a thank you page or contact page. They have separate URLs that identify them as contact page, and when a user navigates to this location, you will be able to see the URL trigger.

You do not have to set up the complete URL. You can only add the directory which comes after the domain, like /contact.

  • Goal Funnels

Funnels divide your website into several segments, and when you set up goal funnels, you can see how users are navigating through these segments. How many people are dropping off in a segment, which is usually a very good indicator that there is either something wrong with the page design or something that users do not like that keep them from becoming customers.

You can track from the login to adding a product to the cart to checkout, and know where users are dropping off.

  •   Visit Duration Goals

The functionality and purpose of this goal are self-explanatory. When people visit a page, you expect them to spend a certain amount of time on that site so they can explore the content. If you have a support site, this is extremely useful because you can tell how much time people are spending trying to find a solution to their query, and your goal should be to make it as fast as possible.

Whereas if you have a shopping app, you want people to keep on browsing and look at your product as that will make it more likely to make a purchase.

You can add a condition for the goal, depending on what threshold you want to set the trigger on. You can choose to trigger a condition when users spend more than or less than a certain amount of time on the website.

You can also pinpoint the exact time by the second for the goal. You can use 5 minutes as the default which many users use. You should expect a good number of people to meet this goal, or the site needs some sort of improvement to make user retention higher.

  •  Visitor Goals

This is similar to the previous report and is somewhat correlated. But the visitor goals lets you dig deeper and see how much time people are spending on each page, as opposed to the entire site. You can see how many pages they have visited before logging off. This is a good option for websites that provide customer assistance.

You can add a condition for the goal, depending on what threshold you want to set the trigger on. You can choose to trigger a condition when users spend more than or less than a certain amount of time on the website.

Set up how many pages a visitor has opened up. For shopping sites, if a visitor is dropping off without opening 3 4 pages in the least, there might be some issue with the interface or website performance that is causing them to drop off.

  • Event Pages

You can set up various types of events, and when you have the complete list you can select any of them as a goal. There is a bit of coding knowledge required as there is some JavaScript setup for this functionality.

You can track events like, external links, anything people have downloaded from the website, how much time people have watched the embedded videos, how many times people opened up the links to social media sites, or if they are using widgets.

How To Use Google Analytics

Metrics descriptions

Google Analytics brings up a lot of data. If you look at the dashboard, it is almost cluttered with way too many data points, and that is why we think it is important to know which metrics are crucial and should be tracked above others.

  •  Users

You can see the details about users from the home page when you sign in the tool.

  • Bounce rate

Users abandon pages all the time. You can usually track them by looking at the number of requests they have generated. If they triggered a single request or looked at only one page before closing the browser, they bounced. There are always going to be users who bounce, but a high bounce rate is indicative of problems with the website.

  •  Sessions

The second a user logs on a page, and till the time they actively engage is what we call a session. The session tracking stops after the user has been inactive for over thirty seconds on a page. Everything a user does in this time counts inside the session.

  • Session duration average

You can set this up easily, and the default is usually 5 minutes. The session duration should tell the website how people are experiencing it. If it is a support website and users are spending over 5 minutes per session, this means they are unable to find answers for their queries within this duration.

You can calculate the average duration by the total session time by the number of users. You need to set industry-specific session goals.

·      New session percentage

When a user visits the website for the first time and spends a session, it is counted as a new session. Over a week or a month, you should target having a certain number of new sessions – which means you have new users who have started spending time on your site and could become potential customers. Lower session percentage is indicative of a decline in the website performance.

Report Types

The three major report types in Google Analytics are as below:

  • Browser report

This is important because users have different preferences when it comes to browsing the internet. If your website is incompatible with a browser, then you are losing money and customers.

  •   Site diagnosis report

 See the pages that have some flaws such as long load timing, or high rate of bounce.

  • Mobile performance report

 The site should be optimized for the website and you can confirm that with this report.

  •   Behavior report

Customers perform various actions, come from different sources, convert differently and perform different events when they are on your website. Quantifying this data will reveal insights into the primary use of this data.


Google Analytics offers way too much data for a free tool, and even though the aesthetics can seem a little overwhelming – with so much data flowing on the screen – it can become an essential tool in devising your market strategy.

The reports are succinct and give you the exact details and metrics that a website should focus on. You can make improvements on the technicalities of the website, focus on gaining customers, better their experience, and expertly channel funding on advertising avenues that generate the maximum benefit for the site.

Overall, this tool has all you need to build a robust marketing strategy and win customers.

We hope this article would have provided you with