A Beginners Guide to The Google Analytics Reports and Tools

  • By: Cris M.
  • May 2, 2013
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If you are embarking on a wed design & development project, you would have to be living under a rock (or not interested in the marketing of your site) to not have heard of Google Analytics. It is certainly the most broadly used analytics tool on the web, and an indispensable tool for a lot of webmasters.

Google-analytics
Google Analytics

Whether you’re an interested webmaster, or embarking on a professional online marketing career path, Google Analytics is one of the first things you should be learning about when it comes to the visibility and reach of your site. We have prepared this article as a quick overview of what is available to you, as a curious website owner who may be close to launching a website soon. If your website has already launched, it is even more important to dig into analytics!

Although Leading Edge offer digital marketing on new Leading Edge site, and advanced SEO and online marketing services which go above and beyond what a normal end user can achieve, we also believe in empowering customers for basic analytics tasks which they can do themselves, and this can be used to track progress and all kinds of other metrics. This article is not a comprehensive look at everything Google Analytics can do (that would be a very large article!), however it should give you a reasonable introduction and guide to some of the lesser used yet useful features and reports.

What can Google Analytics do for me?

Google Analytics is used by most users on a regular basis for viewing fundamental website statistics which track the performance of your website. A lot of users don’t venture far from the default dashboard reports – however currently Google Analytics is capable of generating up to 85 different reports! These reports can help you analyse all possible data scenarios, from basic stats like visits to your site and number of page views, through to what content gets the most hits, time spent on different areas of your site, and the performance of marketing campaigns such as AdWords, Adsense and email blasts. This may sound daunting but the interface is really a joy to use (after all, it’s made by Google) and it will not take long to adjust and harness the full power of GA. Let’s get started.

The Google Analytics tracking code

The analytics architecture works by tracking pages on your site through a small snippet of JavaScript, which is linked to your Google Account. Generally customers will provide their web development company with the snippet, as this needs to be tied to your Google Account, if you wish to track the stats. To do this:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics
  2. From the Analytics Settings page, select the profile to retrieve the tracking code – in most cases there will only be one (unless you have multiple sites or another complication)
  3. From the Settings column, click Edit.
  4. At the top right of the Main Website Profile Information box, click Check Status.
  5. Your tracking code can be copied and pasted from this page, and provided to your web design company.

This code must be installed on every page of your website for the data in your dashboard to be complete and comprehensive. Leading Edge can install this for our customers in a brief matter of minutes, when asked. If you’re technical, the code snippet is generally best installed just before the closing </body> tag in each HTML page.

The dashboard

Once you log into Google Analytics, you’ll be redirected to the dashboard, which provides a centralised view of all the normal, popular reports which everyone loves – such as visitors, content, traffic sources etc.

Dashboard
Dashboard

For a brief overview of the interface, a good place to start is this video which Google have created:

 

Reporting

For a basic report, you will select a date range, and optionally a comparison date range so you can compare the statistics from one time to another, to track any kind of marketing campaign you may have initiated. You can graph by day, week or month.

This is the most basic level of reporting and you can really get as complicated as you like, but often it is not necessary to go beyond the basic level.

Reporting
Reporting

To view more information see: Get the most out of your reports

Metrics

Metrics are another important concept to learn about – a metric is simply a measurement. Examples of a metric are number of visits, pages viewed per visit, and average time on site. Metrics can be graphed by clicking on the ‘score card’ for the metric, and the above report information then applies.

Metrics can be reported and grouped for ease of use viewing later. Use the tabs to toggle between different kinds of metrics.

Conclusion

The above information covers only the very basics of setting up and starting to use Google Analytics for your own purposes. The whole system is fantastic and extends to social analytics, mobile analytics, as well as conversion and advertising analytics which can be linked to your AdWords and Adsense campaigns.

Activities
Activities

If you wish to find out more and harness the full power of analytics, you need only to follow the links in this article, or do your own research online, as there are plenty of resources available for free.


Related Resources

What’s next for GA – infographic
Social Media Marketing Strategy for Increasing Brand Awareness
Top Reasons for SEO


What is your experience with GA?
What would you recommend to beginners?


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