What Is Google Analytics? How to Gain a Better View of your Users

When it comes to running a website, data is power. The more you know about who accesses your site and how they behave, the more you can make decisions which will benefit your business. This is where Google Analytics comes in.

Want to understand where your visitors are coming from? How do they interact with your site? How much profit are your campaigns bringing in?

Today, we’ll look at how to gain these insights using Google Analytics.

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What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free suite of tools to help you analyse how users use your site. Specifically, it offers you three main streams of data:

  • Acquisition data – Information about how and when users enter your site,
  • Audience data – Information about who accesses your site,
  • Behaviour data – Information about how users spend their time on your site.

Each of these can be broken down into individual pages, various groups of users or time periods. These help you gain important insights about which users to target, and how to optimise your site to better meet your goals.

Using Google Analytics

To add Google Analytics to your site, you have to set up an account with Google. You will then be given a tracking code to install on your site. The instructions for that are fairly simple.

Once you have that code installed, you can start analysing the results. 

It is important to understand the reports, and know what they mean, in order to use the data table effectively.

Mobile Analytics are available now, to make all this even easier. This just means you can access your statistics with your phone, making real time reporting even more important AND you can always know exactly what is going on with your website no matter where you are.

How much does it cost to use Google Analytics? The good news is that it is free to use. 

There’s also a premium version with a monthly fee. This is generally for larger businesses that have huge websites, but there may be applications where it would be useful for smaller sites.

Why is it Important to Use Google Analytics?

The basic reason to use Google Analytics is simply to see how your website is doing. This means: how well are your ad campaigns are working, which will tell you how well your company is doing.

One great advantage of the internet and Google Analytics is that you can tell what impact your ads are having. When people buy ads in newspapers, they are there in print, but you don’t know the impact. 

A paper may have 100,000 readers a day, but perhaps only three spotted your ad and none of them were interested in what you were selling. Or perhaps 100 saw it and half of those are on the way to your business right now!

There is just no way to know.

But with Google Analytics you can have a much better understanding of your digital ads. You can tell how many people saw the page and how long they looked at it. 

If you have a banner with links to another page, you can see how many people clicked on that. It may not tell you how many people intend to purchase your goods or service, but it will tell you how many people were interested enough to look.

You can also tell where visitors are from. For example, are these people in your town? With Google Analytics you’ll have an answer to that question.

Another advantage is you can tell when something is not working. If you have a campaign running and it is showing no results you can make adjustments to try to change the level of interest.

What Insights can I get from Google Analytics

This all sounds good in theory, but what can Google Analytics actually tell you about how your site should be. For non specialists, it can be hard to make the leap from raw data to actions.

With that in mind, here are some key metrics to look out for, and what they can tell you.

Demographics

Demographics information can be accessed in Google Analytics under the audience tab, if you have configured Search Console access. Specifically, you can view information about your audience’s:

  • Age,
  • Gender,
  • Location,
  • Estimated annual income.

Of all of the data available in Google Analytics, this has the broadest purpose. That is, demographic has important design and marketing implications. For instance, it can affect how you handle UX or target ads.

Integrate Search Console with Google Analytics for best resutlts.

Integrating Search Console allows you to view demographic information in Google Analytics.

However, demographic data is helpful in just about every other aspect of your business. For instance, you may identify a new group of potential customers you had never even considered.

Acquisition Channels

Acquisition channels are essentially how your customers find your site. In Google Analytics, this can be broken down into:

  • Organic traffic – Users from search engines,
  • Paid traffic – Users from Google Ads,
  • Social – Users from social media,
  • Referral – Users who have clicked on a link to your site from another site,
  • Email – Users who have clicked on a link to your site from their email inbox,
  • Other – Users who come from any other channel, for instance a mobile app, or unrecognised ad network.

Attracting users is often expensive, so it’s important to know where your site traffic actually comes from. This allows you to target investment towards the channels which offer you the best ROI.

Landing Page

The landing page is the piece of content which attracts visitors to your site. Analytics also offers a breakdown of key information about each page, including:

  • Impressions,
  • Clicks,
  • Session length.

These are important for both SEO and UX.

For instance, if your site has a low number of impressions, there is likely a problem with its optimization for organic search. By contrast, high impressions but low clicks indicates a meta data optimisation issue.

Finally, a high number of clicks but a poor average session length indicated good SEO and meta data, but poor user experience once the user lands on your site.

How Does Google Analytics Work?

Most website owners, or business owners, don’t want to be digital gurus. Still, it is good to have a basic understanding of what is going on.

As we’ve explained, a code is put on your website and that code is used to record all the traffic on your site. That information can be categorised and put into various forms to give you an idea of how your website is doing.

The code used is in the form of JavaScript, which can communicate in the HTML language used to build websites. 

JavaScript allows your computer to send and receive messages to other computers, which allows Google Analytics to work.  

When you go to a website, the code asks your computer to accept the JavaScript and then asks your browser to send back some information about what you are viewing.

The good news for consumers is that this information is collected anonymously, meaning that no specific information about the user is shared. It will not tell, for instance, exactly where you are, or any information about the individual user.

What is Google Tag Manager?

Google Analytics has been around for awhile. In 2012 Google introduced Tag Manager, which took it to a new level.  

A tag is a very small piece of code added to a page, and it has triggers that define when and where the tag is used. Information is then stored and used by the computer and it, basically, just makes things simpler.

Before tag manager you had to get into the code manually and make any changes you needed, to change what information you were gathering.

The Tag manager gives you an interface so you can create these tags automatically, without having to delve into the code itself.

The benefits of Tag Manager could be substantial for your business:

  • It is free
  • You can use it yourself
  • It makes Google Analytics easier to use AND you can do more
  • You can track more than ever
  • There are no known security issues
  • It has a built in error check and version checker and can be tested before it is live.

What is Google URL Builder?

You use a google analytics URL builder in order to track each campaign. This allows you to analyse each campaign separately in order to identify how effective that campaign was. 

This is done through ROI calculation where you compare the amount of budget spent to the number of views generated. Another useful variable to analyse is the nature of the campaign and the major demographic it attracted. 

This allows you to observe the preferences of each demographic in your target audience. All of these statistics will allow you to create much more effective future campaigns. Not only that, but it also allows you to identify which medium is most effective in generating hits for your website.

Google Analytics URL Builder

Now let us walk through the steps of creating a custom campaign URL through a google analytics URL builder.

Google Analytics URL Builder

Using this tool from Google Analytics, the creation of a custom URL is simplified. The required data is as follows:

  1. Website URL – Which is your business’s website that you are aiming to generate traffic for.
  2. Campaign Source – This is the source of your generated traffic otherwise known as the referral website.
  3. Campaign Medium – It is the type of advertising medium used (email, banner, etc.).
  4. Campaign Name – The custom name that you give to the campaign as a unique identifier.
  5. Campaign Term – Your primary keywords for this campaign.
  6. Campaign Content – A brief description of the ad so that can be uniquely identified.

Here are some tips to ensure proper generation of a campaign URL:

  • Be sure to use consistent capitalization as it is case sensitive. (“PROMO1” is considered a different campaign than “promo1”)
  • Try to use single words for your tags since spaces are replaced by “%20” to avoid breaking the URL
  • It is good to also unify the names of mediums used across campaigns for easier filtering and comparison later on

This tool is great for generating URLs for simple campaigns with only a few sources. However, when several sources are available it might be easier to create one URL as a template then modify it accordingly. 

Now, let us identify the parameters included in a custom URL generated for an email campaign.

Google Analytics: A Free Boost for Your Business

Google Analytics can give a free deep-dive into what’s happening beneath the surface of your business website.

The best way to start? Simply take a look and include regular checks in your routine to grow your confidence with this essential tool.

Good luck!

What is Google Analytics?

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