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Using Google Analytics

Your website is all set up, but now you want to know who's looking at it. It’s time to learn about Google Analytics, which is an online program that tracks statistics on website traffic. This program can seem daunting, but we'll walk you through to help the basics so you can get a general idea of how Google Analytics works. Google Analytics is a powerful program, and there's a lot it can do for you that we won't cover here, this but should be a helpful starting point to understand your site's data.

In a previous help article, we walked through how to use Google Analytics to install a Google tracking code on your site. If you haven't done that yet, please go to the article Create a Google Presence and complete the steps set up a Google Analytics account, create a property, and install a web tracking code on your website, before going on to this help article.

Watch the video tutorial or continue reading for written step-by-step instructions:

In order to simplify Google Analytics, you will want to understand the different features of your property. A “property” is just a term Google uses to refer to your website's file within Google Analytics. Some users have multiple sites (or properties) that they track through one overall account, so each website that you want to track will appear as a file within the program.

Once you log in to Google Analytics, you will be taken to your property homepage, which has “My Dashboard” at the top. (If you can't see your dashboard, click on “Dashboards” on the left navigation bar and then under “Private” click “My Dashboard.”) On the left side of your property is a navigation bar that will bring you to all the different data information that pertains to your site. The following topics explain what each section on the navigation bar is for.

Dashboard — The “Dashboard” shows some basic statistics for your website. If you are just starting out with a new website, more than likely, you will want to begin by understanding the data behind all of these boxes on this page. The dashboard is a summary view of many of the other features within Google Analytics. At the top of the dashboard, there are two boxes talking about users. These two boxes, or “widgets” compare new users to total users that came to your website on a specific day. Next, the dashboard has a couple of widgets about “sessions.” A session is a metric that tracks all the activities a user does on your site in a specific period of time (i.e. 30 min). The dashboard also discusses the bounce rate (a 100% bounce rate means that users who go to your site only look at one page before leaving the site). Finally, there are also widgets for revenue and goals. If you want to customize your dashboard, you can click the “add widget” button at the top of your dashboard and select what metric you want to be displayed.

You can also delete widgets from your dashboard by clicking the “x” button at the top of a widget box.

By customizing your dashboard, you can create a quick, one-page view of analytics that will help you judge the health and popularity of your site.

Shortcuts—“Shortcuts” allows you to place any “bookmarks” so that you can quickly access them later on. This feature is helpful when you need to mark data that you frequently access.

Intelligence Events—This tab will give you a very broad overview on sessions (what a person looking at your website does and how long it takes them to do it), but this feature can also be configured to give more information on specific types of sessions. You can also use Intelligence Events to set up custom alerts, such as when users from a different country are trying to access your site. This can be useful for sites that are selling things or looking for a certain type of action from the user.

Real Time—The “Real Time” section shows real-time information about everything currently happening on your site. This feature gives an overview of where users are, what sources brought them to your site, and what page of your site users are currently on. This data is useful for event tracking or seeing how your site is being used at different times of the day.

Audience—“Audience” is a very important tab for most website owners. It helps you understand many different aspects of the audience visiting your webpage. It gives you day, week, and month tracking data of sessions on your website, and lets you know additional information including how users got to your site, and also user demographics, interests, geography, and behavior. This is useful for everyone that is looking to better understand how people use and navigate their site.

Acquisition—“Acquisition” allows you to view the ways that users arrive at your site, and then the actions each user takes. This information is presented in the form of “goals” attained. You can set a goal for any kind of action you want a user to take. Once you set that goal, the “Acquisition” tab will keep track of how many people complete that action. For example, it could be that the main reason you want a user to visit your site is to eventually contact you with the website's “Contact Information” form. Anytime a user clicks that “submit form” button, your goal count rises. Google Analytics uses the term “conversion” as any action that a user does (i.e. like clicking the “submit form” button). So, your goals are based on the actions that you want users to do, and when they do it, you achieve a conversion. This information is very useful for seeing your users’ engagement on your site, and it will also help you understand what paths users take before they finally commit to your product/service.

Behavior—This section focuses on people’s behavior on your site. The information in “Behavior” can let you know how many pageviews you are receiving, the bounce rate of your site, and other metrics such as site speed and user flow. The behavior section will also allow you to create experiments to test different methods of advertising and communication on your site by monitoring user behavior.

Conversions—The conversions panel allows you to focus on just the data surrounding your conversions, or the users that do actions on your site, such as submitting a form or clicking on a link. Setting goals and tracking e-commerce data will enable you to focus on specific features of your website and how they can be improved over time. If you are selling something, this information makes sure that you are selling your product effectively and efficiently.

We hope that you will take some time to play around with these different elements of Google Analytics. Even though you may feel that Google Analytics is complex, we promise that the information contained in these analytics is really helpful and can help you evolve your site into a compelling user experience. For more help on Google Analytics, we recommend taking a look at Google Analytics Academy, which is a free collection of online courses on how to use Google Analytics more effectively. Google also has a Help Center for this program that offers in-depth tutorials. Good luck!

Want to learn more about Google Analytics click here for a link to the Google Analytics Youtube channel.