Getting Started

To use Google Analytics, you will need to set up an account with your email address, then create the Tracking ID and code for your website.

The set-up process can take a few minutes, but don’t let it put you off learning how to use this invaluable tool.

First, create a google account by visiting https://accounts.google.com/signup

Next, visit the Google Analytics Solutions homepage and using the drop down menu on the right hand side, click ‘Google Analytics’.

Google analytics guide for beginners

From here you can sign up to Google Analytics by clicking “sign up” on the right hand side:

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Set up your account by giving your account a name this would normally be the name of your business.

Then set up a ‘property’ by giving it a name, this is typically the name of the website you want to track.

From here, paste in your website URL/address and select which industry your business resides within, and change the reporting time zone to suit the location of your business.

I would recommend keeping all the data sharing settings the same.

Next, click ‘Get Tracking ID’

tracking ID google analytics

Read the terms and conditions, and if you’re happy with them, click ‘accept’.

You should now see your Tracking ID and tracking code.

Google analytics tracking ID

For some websites, such as those built on WordPress, you won’t need to use the tracking code, but you will need your tracking ID.

Paste the tracking code just above the closing </head> tag, this needs to be added to the HTML on each page of your website.

If you have a WordPress.org or Joomla website, you will be able to get a ‘plugin’ for Google Analytics For WordPress, for example, there is a plugin called ‘Google Analytics by Yoast’ and another called Google Analyticator that just require you to enter the UA code and they’ll do the rest. Have a look at the reviews and decide which plugin you’d like to use.

Note: it is possible to set up Google Analytics on a free WordPress.com site, but it is much more complicated and the data you get is limited.

To find plugins on a WordPress website, login and navigate to the ‘Plugins’ menu, then click ‘add new’.

Google analytics

Search for a specific plugin by name, or search for ‘Google Analytics’

Then click ‘Install Now’ once you’ve chosen your desired plugin:

Analytics wordpress plugin

Next, click ‘Activate Plugin’.

Then, go back to the Plugins Menu, click ‘Installed Plugins’ and click ‘Settings’ underneath the name of the plugin you just installed:

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Now a screen should appear, giving you the option to add your UA code.

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Once added, click ‘Save Settings’ and you’re done!

You should get data almost immediately. Exciting stuff…

Google Analytics Terminology

Dimensions & Metrics
To quote the official Google documentation –

“Every report is made up of dimensions and metrics”.

Using the example of a web browser, dimensions would be – Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer etc.

If we were measuring visitors to a city, the dimension would be the name of the city, e.g. San Francisco, Berlin, or London.

Metrics are the unit of measurement. Metrics would be the number of sessions or the number of visitors.

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Image Source

Bounce Rate
The percentage of visits, whereby the visitor only views one page on your website, then leaves, usually going back to Google or from wherever they found your webpage. The bounce rate is an indication of how relevant the visitors are, and how relevant and high-quality your webpage is. If you have a high bounce rate, you may need more specific landing-pages, and/or higher quality content.

Landing-Pages
The entrance-page. The first page of your website that a visitor comes to.

Sessions
A session is set as default to 30 minutes. One session is therefore defined by default as one visit to a website that lasts less than 30 minutes – regardless of the interactions that occur during that 30 minute time frame, it will still be classed as one visit.

User
An individual person who visits your website, identified by a cookie.

Pageviews
The number of times a user(s), visit a specific page on your website. If a page reloads, this will be counted as an additional page view. If a visitor navigates away from a page, then navigates back to it, this is also an additional page view.

Unique Page Views
All of the times a page was viewed within a single session, is counted as one Unique Page View. So even if a visitor, goes to a page ten times within one session on the site, it will be counted as one unique page view.

Direct Traffic
Direct traffic is generated when a user types your website’s URL directly into their browser’s address bar. This is a good measure of how well people know your site and brand.

Referral Traffic
Traffic which comes via a link on another website

Organic Traffic
Traffic which comes via a search on a search engine such as Google. Organic traffic is generated when people click the ‘natural/organic listings’ rather than the adverts at the top and down the right hand side of a Google search engine results page.

Paid Traffic
Traffic which comes from paid ad campaigns such as Google Adwords

Reporting with Google Analytics

Now you’re set up, log back into Google Analytics and let the fun begin.

For best practice, the first thing I would recommend doing, is creating a ‘Master’ view. This ensures that if you add any filters and/or block IPs, you have an original to fall back on.

Click on ‘Admin’ towards the top of the page, then on the right hand side, click the ‘VIEW’ drop down menu, and click “create a new view”

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Name the view ‘Master’ or something similar, and click ‘Create View’.

This can then be saved as a backup and to compare to the data across other views, if you apply filters etc. This will enable you to check whether the filter is working and determine whether it’s having an effect, should this be different to the master view.

Some people actually set up 3 Views, for each property.

www.website.com view 1 – All Website Date . Master or ‘raw’ view. No filters
www.website.com view 2 – Report View, filter out your IP, Dev’s IP, Home IP
www.website.com view 3 – Test View, filter our your own IP. Test all your new goals, settings etc. here before applying to the Report View.

NOW, the actual fun can begin. Click back to the ‘Reporting’ tab/area:

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We’ll stick to the basic reports and functions on Google Analytics, to avoid overcomplicating things….

Date Picker
Use the Date picker on the top-right, to see data over a specific date-range. Click on your desired date within the calendar or type your range in the box.

You can also click ‘Compare to’ to compare one date-range to another. This is good for month on month, or year on year comparisons:

date picker analytics

Dashboards
‘Dashboards’ can be found at the top of the left hand side menu, this is where you summarise your important data. They are also great for sending to clients or business-partners, to report on the website’s performance.

To set up a new dashboard, click ‘+New Dashboard’ on the left side-bar menu, give the dashboard a name and click ‘Starter Dashboard’. This will give you the fundamental reports that you should need to begin with.

If you want a specific dashboard/report, to show Social Media traffic for example. The easiest way to do this is to click ‘+ New Dashboard’ again – give it a relevant name and click ‘Import from Gallery’ on the right hand side. This will allow you to use a template, which is recommended for any beginners to Google Analytics.

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Search for a dashboard – for example ‘Social Media Dashboard’

Choose the dashboard that suits, the user rating is a good indication as to whether other people have found this useful. Once you’ve found the right one, click ‘Import’ situated towards the top of the page.

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From here, select the ‘view’ you wish to add the dashboard to. This should be your ‘working’ view, not the ‘Master’ view, then click the ‘create’ button.

You should now have a rather blank looking dashboard, assuming you’ve only just set up Google Analytics. Here’s what the Social Media dashboard looks like in my account:

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There are several ways in which you can edit the dashboard.

  • Add a segment
    This changes the data plotted on the graphs and tables in the dashboard. For example, if you click the ‘+ Add Segment’ button and choose ‘Tablet Traffic’, the graphs and tables will show data related to visits from people using tablets.

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You can delete graphs and tables from the dashboard by hovering over them with your mouse and clicking the “x” in the top right corner.

New graphs and tables can be included by clicking ‘+Add Widget’ which is located above the dashboard.

Email the dashboard as a pdf, by clicking ‘email’, add the recipient’s email address and choose whether you want to send this as a one off, or repeat weekly or monthly etc.

Alternatively, you can click ‘export’ to download a pdf version of the dashboard which can be emailed from your computer.

Audience Reports
Overview Report

On the right hand side, just above the main graph, you can pick to show data by the hour, day, week or month.

From here you can view the number of sessions, users, pageviews, pages viewed per session, bounce rate, percentage of new sessions and average session duration are all available from this report.

If you hover over the label on each widget/metric, you can see a definition. For example, the screenshot below shows Google Analytics definition of ‘Users’.

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When comparing two date-ranges using the Date picker, Google Analytics will display the percentage increase (in green) or decrease (in red), that has occurred between the two dates:

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As with the dashboards, clicking ‘+Add Segment’ allows you to plot additional, specific data on the reports. You can also remove the ‘All Users’ segment if the data becomes too crowded.

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Other reports within the ‘Audience’ menu, include ‘Geo’ which shows the language and location of visitors to your site.

The ‘Behaviour’ reports, show how people interact with your site and how often and likely they are to return to your site.

‘Technology’ reports give information about the browsers people use to visit your site – Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari and Firefox being the most common. Look out for high bounce rates for any particular browser – this could mean that your website is not optimized and does not provide a good user experience for people on a certain browser.

‘Users Flow’ provides a visual representation of which pages your users land on and maps their journey through the site, concluded with which page they leave from. This gives you a good indication of how your site is being used by your viewers.

Acquisition Reports
Overview
The ‘overview’ report gives a summary of where your website traffic comes from.

In this report, the pie chart on the left hand side, shows that 76.4% of traffic to the websites comes via the organic listings on search engines:

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Behaviour Reports
From the behaviour reports we can determine

  • Which pages are the most popular?
  • Which pages people visit first?
  • Which pages people leave from?

Overview
This report shows ‘what visitors do’ on your website.

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You can click ‘Select a metric’ above the main graph to add any additional metrics that you’d like to view within the graph.

Clicking the text below ‘Site Content’ will change what displays on the right-hand side. Clicking ‘Page’ shows the relative URL/web address of the pages on the right hand side.

The table on the right hand side, by default, will show the most popular content/pages on your website in terms of pageviews.

Site Content -> All Pages
This report gives a breakdown of your site’s most popular pages, in terms of pageviews and all the related metrics such as average time on each pages, the number of users who enter and percentage who leave from that page.

Conversions Reports
Goals –
What is it that you want people to do on your website; make a purchase? Submit an enquiry?

To set up a goal, click the admin button/tab at the very top of the page. On the right hand side, under ‘VIEW’ click ‘Goals’.

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From here, click the ‘+ NEW GOAL’ button highlighted in a red box and set up a relevant goal for your website.

If you want to track enquiries – click ‘custom’ and give the goal a name such as ‘contact’, select the ‘Goal Type’ as ‘Destination’. For ‘Goal details’ choose ‘Equals to’ and enter the URL that appears when the contact form on your website has been submitted. If you wish, you can allocate a value to the goal – then click save.

The Goals Overview report, will show you how many goals have been completed within a set date range.

The Goals Funnel Visualization report will show you which pages people visit, before completing a goal on your website. If people visit a specific page first, before submitting an enquiry, it might be worth allocating some time to investigate why this is to give you a better understanding of what drives your users to a conversion.

And that’s it!

A complete guide to Google Analytics would need its own website, so although I’d love to go on, I think this is a good point to conclude my beginner’s guide. If you’d prefer to watch a video explaining Goggle analytics, click here.

Have fun!