Web analytics is the measurement, collection, analysis, and reporting of web data to understand and optimize web performance. Analytics helps us identify patterns, understand what the traffic on our websites and apps means, and how to use that data to build a business. We spend time, money, and digital strategy guiding people to our website—analytics shows which methods are working and where to improve.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics (or GA) is a free tool within the Google Marketing studio platform that collects and tracks user data, compiles it into useful reports, and provides valuable insights to improve your website and/or app’s performance. The program works by installing a tracking code onto each page of your website and Google collects information about how the visitor interacts with it. Integrating Google Analytics into your website or app can help you understand what’s working and what isn’t when it comes to digital marketing strategy.
More than 29 million websites use Google Analytics, and for good reason: you can use the service to track just about everything. Google Analytics can be useful simply for yourself, if you’re a business owner, or even if you’re part of a marketing team within a larger company. Google Analytics allows you to tailor the data you choose to track depending on your goals.
Why Use Google Analytics?
Why use Google Analytics? The question should be why not? It isn’t enough to just create a website and hope for the best. Google Analytics is a highly customizable, in-depth tool that offers insights to help your business thrive. And did we mention it’s free? Although it can feel overwhelming and complicated at the beginning as well as take time to set up and maintain, once you have everything in place, the information GA provides can be well worth it.
The data that GA collects, stores, and reports on can help marketers learn what strategies are working and what aren’t. It can measure marketing efforts, both on and offline. It can help you make better, more savvy business decisions. The information Google Analytics provides can also identify specific problems or shortcomings on your website. The data you’ll get is specific, targeted information.
You can use Google Analytics to measure the customer experience from the moment they enter your website and/or app to the time they leave. You can track valuable information such as how they found your site, who purchased something, what pages your visitors looked at, how they moved through the site, and so much more. And while it’s important to know where your website and business is thriving, it’s also critical to understand where you’re falling short and losing customers. Using Google Analytics can help with that, too.
Get Started With Google Analytics
If you’re ready to set up Google Analytics for your website or app, there are a few steps to get started.
Set Up Your Google Analytics Account
If you don’t already have one, start by signing up for a Google account. Once you have your Google account and password, you’ll use that to register for an Analytics account. Once you’ve established your Analytics account, you will add in the name, URL, and industry of the website or app you want to track. You can choose what you want to measure, based on your goals. This will be different for every company, business, or brand. Following the steps GA provides, you’ll then add a unique ID tracking code directly after the head tag of your site. Next, visit your Google Analytics portal to ensure the code is working and you have begun to track data.
Using Google Analytics, you can create custom dimensions and metrics to gather the information you choose. This can be anything from types of customers to page views to conversions to devices your visitors are using. You can even combine metrics, for example how long a visitor is staying on the page and where they are located. Being able to customize these metrics helps businesses get extremely specific data points, which in turn can help shape decisions and future strategies.
Use Google Analytics to Meet Your Goals
It’s important to set up goals so you know what to measure. Since Google Analytics doesn’t automatically track actions on your site, you choose what information you want GA to collect and share with you. Goals will vary depending on the type of industry and website.
If you have an E-commerce site, your goals may be selling products or services, so the data you’d want to collect might be the actions visitors to your website take—for example signing up for email subscriptions, making a booking, filling out contact forms, downloading a report, or completing a purchase.
If you have a purely information-based website, your goals may be for lead generation, or simply to help customers find information. If this is the case, you can have GA provide data on which specific pages of your website or app are getting the most traffic and tweak your website using the information to ensure your visitors are as well-informed as possible.
If you have a media site or a blog, your goal might be measuring engagement and frequency (how often users visit pages and how long they stay). If you’re using your website or app purely for branding purposes, you may want to collect data that measures awareness, engagement, and loyalty (for example how often are users searching or company name). Another goal might be seeing more of your target audience (users of a certain age range, location, or gender) visiting your website or app.
No matter your goals, setting up the right parameters in GA will help you see if you’re meeting them or falling short, and how to tweak the future strategy to get the results you desire.
The ABCs of Google Analytics
The ABCs of Google Analytics stands for Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions. The information contained in these reports gives you an idea of who the visitors to your website and/or app are, what they do on your site, and what actions they complete. The other two reporting options are Real-Time and Audience. These show real-time activity on your website and demographic data on its visitors.
A is for Acquisition
The Acquisition Report shows where visitors on your website are coming from and can help you discover which of these sources drives the highest quality traffic that ultimately leads to conversions. For example, GA can let you know if visitors found your website through “organic search,” which means they typed keywords into a search engine. “Direct” traffic means someone typed your website address into the address bar. “Social” means they found you through a social media platform. “Referrals” means they clicked on a direct link to your page from a different website. Many roads lead visitors to your site, and examining the acquisition report can help you determine which ones have been the most helpful.
Knowing where your website visitors are coming from and what traffic sources are driving conversions is crucial information to determine if your marketing strategy is working. It also informs you where to spend future advertising funds. For example, if visitors are coming from somewhere you’re marketing to, great! If they’re coming from another place, think about incorporating that location into your future marketing strategy.
B is for Behavior
Once you’ve figured out how visitors have arrived at your website or mobile app, it’s time to see how they behave on it. GA’s Behavior Report shows the performance of every page of your website and tells you what types of actions visitors to your site are taking. Some of the reports include what kind of device they viewed your site from, the top-visited pages on your site, the length of time visitors stay on the website, the number of pages a visitor views before leaving, specific actions visitors take on your site (such as button clicks and video plays), and bounce rate. This is why calls to action are so important—they give users chances to take action and allow you to track it. You can also see if visitors are new or returning, and even “exit pages” which are the last pages and actions users take when visiting your site.
C is for Conversions
Conversions are the heart of digital marketing. Google Analytics Conversion Reports tell you if the visitors to your site met the goals established at the beginning of your strategy if they’re doing what you want them to on your site. These actions will look different depending on the industry, the type of site, and your goals—and best of all, GA can help you set these up within your account so you have a clear view of what to track and why to make sure you’re in line with your plan.
A conversion can be several things: completing a purchase, signing up for an email newsletter, submitting a form, downloading a report, and more. Whatever parameters you have set up, Google Analytics can track and report them. Understanding how your site is performing can provide valuable insight into how to shape future strategy and content decisions and move forward to meet your goals.
Other Reporting Options
The real-time reporting option is just that: it provides insights about what is currently happening on your website. Getting up-to-the-moment information about who is on your site, where they’re located, which pages they’re visiting and even what social media platforms they came from can illuminate if marketing strategies are working for the day-to-day.
The GA Audiences Report gives you a picture of the characteristics of the visitors to your site. This important demographic data like age, gender, location, language, and even interests and preferences of visitors to your website or app works to help you drill down on your strategy and ultimately deliver a product that aligns your site’s demographics with your target audience.
One of the most rapidly-growing industries today is digital marketing. Considered part of the digital marketing sector, Google Analytics knowledge can be an asset to entrepreneurs and owners of businesses both large and small. Google Analytics offers companies a chance to extend their reach, do marketing research, and foster connection and brand loyalty. Using the data GA provides can drive sales, enhance communication, and create community. Figuring out what makes a website or app truly successful and then analyzing the data collected from your online marketing efforts can make your business more efficient more quickly than almost anything else.
Because of this influx in the digital marketing industry, there are ample career opportunities for those with a background in Google Analytics. Those with expertise in Google Analytics can find work as a Web Optimization Specialist. According to Indeed, the average base salary across the United States for this position is around $64K annually—though that number may change depending on location. Web optimization specialists analyze web traffic, data, and user behavior and make targeted recommendations to increase and improve user engagement. Web optimization specialists often work with web developers and designers.
Those with an understanding of Google Analytics along with managing digital professionals can consider looking for a job as a Marketing Manager. This position comes with a salary of about $63K across the country. Marketing managers oversee teams who work to grow a company’s business.
Another position where Google Analytics would be used daily is as a Digital Strategist. Digital strategists work on projects like websites, social media, SEO, and digital marketing. They look for opportunities for growth and help clients create content and plan for new website releases. On average in the United States, Digital Strategists can expect to make around $61K a year, again with numbers ranging higher or lower depending on location.
Learn Google Analytics
Whether you want to use this valuable tool to understand how people are behaving on your website or app, increase conversations and sales, or figure out where your digital marketing strategy could use a little help, Noble Desktop offers a variety of resources for anyone ready to use Google Analytics.
Google Analytics Tutorial Seminar
Check out Noble Desktop’s Introduction to Google Analytics seminar on YouTube. This seminar teaches you how to make better marketing decisions through a basic understanding of GA.
The seminar walks you through ways to improve your website’s results beginning with using GA to understand your data. Understanding where your website traffic is coming from, knowing what your top-performing marketing channels are, and gaining insight into your visitors’ behavior are just a few of the valuable insights GA provides. By turning this knowledge into action, you can increase leads and sales and gain a higher return on investment. Check out the free seminar today!
Google Analytics Classes & Bootcamps
Noble Desktop also offers several Google Analytics classes. These courses are available in-person at Noble’s NYC location, or students can attend live online Google Analytics classes from anywhere in the world. Noble’s comprehensive Google Analytics Bootcamp takes students on a deep dive into the tool, and participants come away from the program with a firm sense of how to analyze and track the success of their marketing campaigns with Google Analytics reports. Students will also understand key terms in Google Analytics as well as learn about the new GA4 interface. You can also find other Google Analytics classes in your area using Noble Desktop’s Classes Near Me tool.