The Basics Of Google Analytics For Beginners

  If you're a business owner or a member of a marketing team, you probably know that businesses depend upon data. Tracking trends and patterns is what allows you to get ahead of the dips in the market, and make informed decisions on the direction of your company.

Those same rules that apply to business apply to owning a website. In order to deliver the best possible experience and ensure that customers from around the world are able to access your site, you need to understand from where traffic is coming from and how to leverage that information to your benefit.

Setting Your Site Up With A Tracking ID

Google Analytics won't start collecting data from your website until you've implemented a tracking code into your website's files. The tracking code is basically a block of JavaScript code that will collect data about the html that visitor used to get to your site, any cookies that the visitors has collected during their browsing history, and information about what type of browser the person is using.

The importance of this information provides you with information on how to conform your web-site to the target audience, especially in terms of design. If customers are visiting your website from an eCommerce directory, you may want to modify those links so that the customers arrive at a landing page instead of a home page. If more customers are using smartphones and tablets instead of laptop browsers, you may have to redesign the site so that it is responsive and can be easily read from a small screen.

google analytics tracking code

In order to track each individual page on the website, you will need to add a tracking code before the </head> code of your template. If you are using a site like WordPress or Joomla! that depends on templates, you may just have to add the tracking code on the main HTML index file. Keep in mind that it can take upwards of 24-hours for Google to begin collecting information and importing that data to your dashboard, so don't expect to see measurable results right away.

Tutorial: How to Add Google Analytics to Blogger

Researching the Data

Once you insert the code into your site, it will begin tracking data from anyone who visits your site. This data is then sent back to the Google servers and stored in your Google Analytics profile. From there, you can determine what type of information that you want to look at.

The two features of Google Analytics that are often most useful to new users is the ability to track where customers are coming from, and the ability to see keywords that have been effective in drawing in audiences.

google analytics overview

Traffic Origins

Open up your Google Analytics dashboard and click on 'Acquisition'. You should see a few options, but you want to pull 'All Referrals' so that you can the entire list of visitors.

Next to the referral path will show a few links with a number of how many people visited your site from that link. From here you can click on the link and find out the reason for the traffic. Maybe someone has written a review on the service, you can check to see if the advertisement campaign you are operating is producing results.

google analytics all referrals


Within the same 'Acquisition' directory is another option called 'Search Engine Optimization'. Click on this link and then click on 'Queries' to look up a list of keywords being used to describe your site. The dashboard will display an overview of up to 1,000 words or phrases used on Google that brought new visitors to your site. You can use this information to modify your posts and producing content to increase the results of certain key phrases that you feel would benefit your customer outreach.

search engine optimization, ga queries


Underneath the audience tab, you can also track demographics. This little option will allow you to view the age, gender, and interests of individual users and segments of your visiting population. Say for example you run a senior care facility for the retired and want to put together a A/B split test to determine which advertising campaign works best. After adding the campaign to a landing page or section of your site, you can look back and find out if retired citizens are the ones responding to your ads, or if you are just bringing in traffic from younger generations who may not be interested in your services.

google analytics, georgraphical summary

Custom Campaign Tagging

Custom campaign tagging is more of an advanced feature, but once you get used to the Google Analytics interface, you can use this to separate your campaigns and easily filter through data. Maybe you just want to find out who is coming to your site from your email newsletters, and not from the general site. Google Analytics will allow you to post special links to your content on those channels of communication and then view these results under the acquisition tab and then campaigns.

Determining What Works, and What Doesn't

Using the tools that Google Analytics provides at your disposal allows you to really determine what type of experience you want to provide your customers. Within the first month of use, if start to see trends or patterns in data that you feel you feel you can improve upon, you can use this information as a guide to edit your sites design and layout.

Getting used to the program might seem overwhelming at first, but once you jump right in and start playing around all the features, you'll get the hang of it in no time. Google Analytics really is an important tool that every website owner should have.