Your Go-To Google Analytics Guide

Google Analytics Guide

Ever wonder who’s visiting your website? Or how about where they’re coming from? Is your website giving them the information they need, or are they exiting your site and looking elsewhere? For questions like these, Google Analytics is the answer, and we have your beginner’s guide to analytics in this dynamic platform.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free website analytics tool offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. From tracking organic traffic to paid results, the insights you receive about your website from Google Analytics often tell you a lot about your user, their habits and how well your website is meeting their needs. Especially if you’re running Google Ads or social media ads, all of your digital marketing efforts point to your website. Understanding user behavior on your site, and how well your website is performing, will help you make important business decisions.

How Does Google Analytics Work?

When people wonder how to use Google Analytics, it’s helpful to first know how it works. When your website programmer installs Google Analytics on your website, it puts several lines of tracking code within the code of your site. This code records information about your users and numerous activities when they visit your site. Once the user exits your site, all of this data is sent to the Google Analytics server where it is aggregated.

What Can You Learn from Working with Google Analytics?

Google Analytics can help you make key business decisions with information, like:

  1. User demographics (age, gender and interests)
  2. Where users are coming from
  3. When users are visiting your website
  4. How long a user stayed on your website
  5. The first and last pages a user visited on your website
  6. The most common path users take to go through your website
  7. The most popular pages on your website

Much of this information can inform your marketing decisions. For instance, if people are often coming to your website through Facebook, it may be time to focus more marketing dollars on this social media network. Or if you notice people are spending a long amount of time on your contact page but not filling out the form on that page, it may be time to redesign this page for better conversion.

Analytics Reporting Segments

Google Analytics is comprised of five reporting segments:

  1. Real-time
  2. Audience
  3. Acquisition
  4. Behavior
  5. Conversions

Real-time reporting covers analytics and data in real-time as users are actively on your website right now. You can see what pages they’re viewing, where they’re going, what keywords they used and more. You can see where they are located in the world, the traffic source, the actions they’re taking and if they are converting — all in real time.

For audience reporting, this gives you detailed background information about your audience, such as demographics, behavior, the pages they visit more often and those they don’t like as much. You can use this information to better target them and then capture them as a lead. You can also see mobile reporting, which you can use to compare with your desktop traffic and conversation rates.

Acquisition data tells you about how you acquire new website traffic, such as traffic sources, which may be organic, direct, social or referred. By understanding where your website traffic is coming from most often, you can leverage that source to obtain more traffic or even pay more attention to sources that may be lacking.

Behavior reporting collects information about behavior patterns and trends. This is more technical than audience and acquisition data, but gives valuable insight on how people are behaving on your website. Behavior flows show common pathways users take on your site and the pages they visited first and last. Within behavior reporting, you can also see how well your content is doing. This is helpful if you’re utilizing content marketing and blogging, so you can see your top performing articles.

Conversion reporting is specific information relating to user conversions on your website, which may be filling out a form, making a purchase or signing up for your newsletter. Using generated event codes, you can input the conversion as a goal, and track the performance of that goal.

Google Analytics Audit

This Google Analytics guide is very basic, and it can be hard to navigate. Luckily, there are experts in analyzing these analytics. They do this for a living! An experienced digital marketing and web design agency can help teach you how to use Google Analytics, install it on your site, monitor it and evaluate it after a period of time. Based on the findings, they can provide suggestions or recommendations on tweaking your site or content for optimal performance. Experts in Google Analytics will know how to decipher the information and turn it into meaningful feedback that can inform your business decisions.

What Does It All Mean? (Common Definitions for Google Analytics)

Website traffic: the number of users who visit a website

Visitor: a unique user who is visiting your website.

New Visitor: if a visitor did not have Google Analytics cookies when they visited the first page of their session on your site, they are considered a new visitor, even if they cleared their cookies and came back to your site.

Returning Visitor: a user who already has Google Analytics cookies from a previous visit to your site.

Visit: a series of pageviews that a single user makes during their session on your website. The visit ends when the user closes the browser, clears their cookies or is inactive for a period of 30 minutes.

Hit: any time data is sent to Google Analytics, including pageviews, events and social interactions.

Pageview: a pageview is recorded every time a page on your website is recorded.

Pages/Visit: pageviews divided by visits, which calculates the average number of pages viewed per visit.

Bounce: a visit with only one pageview, no matter how long the visitor was on the page.

Conversion: a completed activity that your business deems successful, such as filling out a form to contact you or making a purchase.

Time on Page: the amount of time a visitor is on a certain page. This is calculated by subtracting the amount of time the user visited the page from the time they went to another page.

Time on Site: the amount of total time a user spent on your website (the sum of all the time spent for all pageviews).

Direct Traffic: this denotes the type of traffic that comes to your site by directly typing in the URL (or via bookmarks).

Referring Traffic: this denotes the type of traffic in which users are referred to your website, not by a search engine, such as a social media network or another website where your website URL is listed.

Search Engine Traffic: traffic that is coming from a search engine (both organic and paid search engine traffic is classified here).

Dollar Index: this measures how influential a page is to conversion. When this number is high, it means it has been viewed more frequently before the user converts or makes a purchase.

We hope our Google Analytics guide helped you navigate this expansive platform. When it comes to Google Analytics on your site, let an experienced digital marketing company take a look and determine the best web strategy for your business.  Appleton Creative is an award-winning, full-service digital marketing and advertising agency located in Orlando, Florida. Appleton works with local, national and international clients to deliver custom content, persuasive online ads and expertly crafted campaigns. By implementing valuable and shareable digital content strategies, Appleton can create the perfect social and digital marketing experience for your brand and audience. Your Internet advertising goals are worth a conversation: contact us at 407-246-0092 or

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