Google Analytics: A beginner’s guide
If you own a website or a blog and want to know the answers to questions like ‘how many people are visiting my website?’, ‘where they are from?’ and ‘what website content is getting the most interest?’, then you need to use Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a programme created by Google to help answer questions like these and to help you keep on track of your website stats.
Setting up your account
If you already have a Google account you can set up the analytics from there, but if you don’t, you will have to create one.
Once you have set up your account, you can go to Google Analytics (Links to page) and sign in using your Google account details. You need to fill out your website information. If you have multiple websites, you can have up to 50 different website pages signed up with one Google account, so you can follow how each of your different websites are doing all from one place.
Once you have put in your website information it will ask you to set up your Tracking ID, where you will then need to agree to Google Analytics terms and conditions to obtain your code. This code will need to be copied and pasted onto every page of your website. Once you have completed this and Google has gathered your website data you will be able to start discovering your website statistics.
On your Google Analytics account, on the left-hand side of the report of your website you will see a ‘Visitors’ tab. In the overview section it gives you the number of visits, unique visitors and page views, as well as average time visiting your site, bounce rate the percentage of new visits.
Visits – The number of times a user went in your website to look around
Unique Visitors – The number of people who visited your website for that specific time frame
Page Views – The number of pages a visitor has looked at for the duration of their stay
Pages/Visit – The amount of page views divided by visits
Average Visit Duration – The average time spent on your website by users
Bounce Rate – The number of users going to your website and preforming an action such as pressing the back button or clicking the X button that takes them off your website within a certain time frame
% New Visits – The percentage of new people visiting your website within a specific time frame
There is a sub category in Visitors where you are able to view more detailed reports on various factors such as language, country/territory/ city, by browser or by operating system and service provider. This gives you a sense of where your visitors are from and what systems they are using to view your content.
The next sub category allows you to see your visitor’s behaviour. You can look into how frequently and recently visitors are returning to your site and the user engagement. The engagement report shows you the duration of their visit and their page depth (how many pages viewed).
On the left-hand column menu, you will also see a tab called traffic sources. Here you can see how well your SEO is doing by viewing where your traffic is coming from and the areas it is lacking. Ideally you want your traffic to come from different sources, so keeping an eye on this tab will help you determine whether this is happening and what area you need to improve to get more visitors from.
On the overview of this page you can see how many people are viewing your content, showing both pageviews (recorded every time a page is loaded) and unique pageview (only logged once per browsing session). Other available stats in your content section show you information about the pages viewed and how many times.
The final tab you can find is Goals. This is a useful tool to keep on track of how well your website is meeting your target goals and where you want your company to be in the future.
To set up your goals on Google Analytics click on an empty goal and fill in the form. There are four goal types:
- Destination URL – to keep track of specific URLs
- Visit Duration – to track how long people stay on site for a certain amount of time
- Page/Visit – tracks number of pages each visitor sees before they leave
- Event – a certain determined action is triggered e.g. video play, ad click, etc.
In the goals details you can enter your goal URL which is where you want your visitors to go more on your website. You can also change the match type, with the options being ‘Exact match’, ‘Head match’ or ‘Regular Expression Match’.
- Exact match is if your goal URL is the exact same as your website URL you put into Google Analytics originally.
- Head match is if you have pages you want to track that are similar but have slightly different URLs, this will take information from the parent URL.
- Regular expression match is a pattern used to match text, which can contain characters and metacharacters, which are used in Google Analytics to capture portions of data field. You can use this feature to exclude a range of IP addresses so that they will be tracked by Google Analytics.
Goal Funnel is an extra feature available on Google Analytics and if you choose to use it you can track where your visitors are coming from and where they are going.
These are just a few basic elements of Google Analytics, there are many more useful applications offered with it ready to be explored. Google Analytics is a great way to discover how your website is performing and what can be done to make it better, so if you aren’t already using it, we recommend you sign up today.