If you’re running a website and wanted to know which content is performing well, you need to find a way to track how people are visiting and engaging with your content to help you optimize your content strategy for a better conversion.
Google Analytics is a powerful data analytics service that makes it easy for anyone to manage their website and track its growth. Just like most of Google’s products, it’s free and can be synchronized with other Google accounts like AdWords and AdSense, provides data such as number of page views, average time on site, bounce rate, percentage of new sessions or visits, visitor demographics (based on age, sex, location, etc.) and many more.
In today’s blog post, we’re going to share a beginner’s guide on how to get started with Google Analytics so you can use it to monitor your content performance. So, are you ready to get started? Here’s a summary on the basic things you need to learn about Google Analytics:
- How to Set-up a Google Analytics Account
- How to Set Up Properties
- How to Set up Web Tracking Code on Your Website
- Navigating Around Google Analytics
- Optimizing Your Digital Marketing Strategy Using Google Analytics
- Tips on How to Understand Google Analytics Report Better
How to Set-up a Google Analytics Account
Before you start using Google Analytics to track data from your website, you need to set up an account first.
If you don’t have one yet, create through the Google Analytics website. On the top right-hand corner, click on Sign In, choose Google Analytics dropdown option. Make sure to follow the rest of the sign-in procedures.
How to Set Up Properties
With Properties, you can create reporting views, manage permissions for different users, link other Google accounts such as AdWords and AdSense, and manage other website data.
You can add up to 25 Google Analytics account. To add more, you have to discuss that with whoever is managing your Google Analytics account. Here are the steps:
1. Sign in with your Google Analytics account and select the Admin tab on the top right.
2. Under the Account column:
Choose the account or website you want to add the property from the dropdown menu. You can also configure different settings for each account under the:
- Account Settings – account ID, data-sharing settings, etc.
- User Management – assign permissions to certain users
- All Filters – creating report views
- Change History – to view the changes made in the last 180 days or more
- Trash Can – where you can delete or restore files.
3.Under the Property column:
This is where you will configure settings for our property in terms of tracking details, linking with other Google Products and enable other reporting features.
- From the drop-down menu, choose “Create New Property”. You need to have an Edit permission on this account to be able to see this option and choose the right account under the Account column.
- Choose “Website” or “Mobile app”.
- On the “Website Name” field, enter the website or mobile app name.
- Enter the “Website URL”. Always follow the correct URL format by using the protocol standard (either http:// or https://).
- Choose “Industry Category” and “Reporting Time Zone”.
- Then click on “Get Tracking ID”. This will create a property. You still need to set the tracking code for Google Analytics to track data from this account.
- Once the account is set-up, read and follow the full instructions here on how to add the tracking code to your website. You have the option to either use the Google Tag Manager or insert the tracking code directly to the HTML in each web page.
How to Set up Web Tracking Code on Your Website
To effectively track your site activity, you will have to place a tracking code on your website. Other than placing the tracking code script manually, you can also utilise Google Tag Manager to add scripts and more to your website easily.
Once you’ve successfully set up the tracking code on your website, it will display different Google Analytics reports like visitor demographic, traffic referral, user demographic and many more.
It may take up to 24 hours for data to show up after the tracking codes have been installed. To be able to set up the tracking code, you can choose between 2 methods: Google Tag Manager and directly to your website. Here’s the step-by-step process on how to set up the web tracking code on your website for each method chosen.
By default, you will be routed to the Home Page right after logging in to your Google Analytics account. It will give you a basic data overview like Sessions, Average Session Duration, Bounce Rate and Goal Conversion. Click on the corresponding All Website Data link to be able to view a particular website’s reporting page.
On the top right just below the date range, there’s a search box you can use to search for a particular domain name. This is useful if you have several websites on this account.
The date range allows you to view data over specific period and compare the current period to the previous period. Since data is produced based on the timeframe indicated, this is easier to view for when you want to check which website is getting more or less traffic and bounce rate.
Do you want to know which content on your website performs well? Understanding how your visitors navigate and engage with your content helps you plan on how to optimize content for better conversion. This is how the main reporting page looks like:
Let’s discuss each one of them.
Dashboards – this is where you create customized views of your data with the help of some widgets. It gives a concise snapshot of your data without having to manually click on each report tabs. Click on the +Add Widget button to add widgets on your dashboard or add widgets while browsing the report through the Add to Dashboard link.
Shortcuts – If you want a quick access to your frequently-viewed reports, use this tool to create shortcuts. Each time you save reports as shortcuts, it will create a shortcut link automatically to your Home tab.
Intelligence Event – Use this to set-up email alerts for specific events. Alerts can be set up for when there are change in goal conversion, bounce rates, or other metrics.
Real-Time – Curious on who’s visiting your website? Click this tool to check out data right now. You can view it according to Location, Traffic Sources, Content, Events, and Conversions.
Audience – To know more about the type of audience that you have, the Audience reports will give you insights about your audience based on demographics, geo-location, behavior, technology, mobile, etc.
Acquisition – Go to this page when you want to make a comparison for traffic from channels such as organic search, referral, direct, social media, email and marketing campaigns.
As you go beyond the standard reports, you’ll find a wealth of data that can enrich your website’s analytics. But, we’re not going to dig deeper into on all reports but rather focus on metrics that will make a significant impact with your digital marketing strategies.
Optimizing Your Digital Marketing Strategy
While Google Analytics is replete with so many features, functions, and data that you can mine for your business, it will surely leave anyone, experts included, overwhelmed. As an example, the Audience tab contains so much data about your audience that it may intimidate the users.
The key here is to focus your attention on the Overview. That alone can provide you with plenty of information that will be beneficial to your digital marketing strategies.
Most people using Google Analytics would ask: “What metrics should I target for my business?” To answer that, there is no one metric that can exactly tell you the right or wrong way in measuring data. Every business has their own goals, so how data is measured and analyzed will be different for everyone.
What that being said, we’ll share with you some of the key metrics that we at Vodien are looking at when measuring success with our own brand, on a monthly basis:
- Average Session Duration
- Bounce Rates
- New Visitors vs Recurring Visitors
- Site Speed
- Social Referrals
- Ecommerce Conversion Rate
- Total Revenue
- Number of Transactions
- Time to Purchase
- Path Length
- User Technology (Desktop vs Mobile)
These are just some of the few metrics that we are monitoring on a monthly basis. Depending on your type of business, you may be looking
Based from our experience, when we are monitoring these metrics every month, it’s very simple for us to visualize what and what isn’t performing with your efforts. Write down what metrics matter the most to your business and make sure to track them in Google Analytics.
Tips on How to Understand Google Analytics Report Better
Numbers may tell you different things so how do you use Google Analytics to make precise conclusions instead of seeing it from a biased point of view of what’s really happening? Here are our tips to make sure that analyzing the data will be accurate.
1. Look at it from different angles – There are times when one view may look misleading, so we suggest that you try viewing Google Analytics from different angles by: Sessions, Unique Sessions and Page Views. Sessions is always a staple option.
However, if you see a huge drop in bounce rate, would that mean that visitors are viewing more pages from your site? Sessions may not accurately answer that but Page Views can. Do you want to know how many are your unique or returning visitors? Unique Sessions should give you pretty accurate answers.
2. Gather your most important data first – If you want a quick run-through of your most important reports upon login, then you need to set them up in the Dashboard.
Create multiple dashboards, with each one containing different widgets. To create a new one, just go to Dashboards from the main menu bar, choose New Dashboard and add your favorite widgets.
3. Check your traffic sources – It could be that most of your audience is referred by social sites or through organic search. Whatever the results show, understanding where your traffic sources are coming from to help you streamline the process and know where to focus your energy on.
4. Take note of the outliers – When one of your content goes viral, you would know it because it will show a sudden spike in traffic. This is nice and all but it would be inconsistent to use this as a standard metric to measure against your next month’s traffic. Make sure to take outliers into account when doing your reports to help explain the peaks in your data.
5. Compare Metrics – Judging your company’s performance solely on conversion rate paints an inaccurate picture. Refer to our conversion rate article to learn how you can better base performance.
Now It’s Your Turn
To get you started, you can look at some popular custom reports shared by other analytics users, to view important metrics at one glance. You may refer to the following links for more:
- Crowd Source Google Analytics Insights
- 12 Awesome Custom Google Analytics Reports Created by the Experts
Be sure to use A/B testing for your landing pages, website, product offerings to see which combination better attracts your target audience and provide better value!
If you have used Google Analytics in the past, we welcome any tips that can help our readers understand Google Analytics better. Make sure to share them in the comments below.