Google Analytics: What is it and How to Use it
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free tracking tool used to analyze the traffic on your site. It can tell you how people find your site, how they use your site, and helps you measure sales and conversions. This means that you can see how visitors interact with your content and then make changes if needed to get more people on your site. If you’ve ever used Jetpack’s stats module, Google Analytics works similarly and is a natural upgrade from that plugin. Here’s just a brief glimpse into some of the features that Google Analytics has to offer. Check out their features page for more.
- Event tracking- see how visitors use your site/pages and track video plays, downloads, ad clicks, and more.
- Product integrations- integrate seamlessly with other Google products such as AdWords.
- Benchmark Reports- see how you compare with other companies in your industry.
- Audience Reporting- target your audience by seeing their demographics, language, interests, and more.
- Custom Reports- create custom reports based on what you want to know and then share them with your team. The dashboard can be reconfigured to your needs by the use of drag and drop widgets.
- Site Reporting- see the path that visitors take when they’re exploring your site. You can even see what people are searching for on your site so you can see what they’re really looking for.
As you can see, Google Analytics can be a powerful tool to help grow your business. It’s also pretty simple to get setup.
How do I get started with Google Analytics?
Setting up Google Analytics just takes a couple of steps.
- Go to the Google Analytics Sign Up page and follow the instructions. It’s free!
- Set up a property in your Google Analytics account. Here’s a how-to guide.
- Add the tracking code given to you by Google Analytics to your WordPress site.
Google does provide its own thorough instructions that you can follow step-by-step.
How do I add the Google Analytics tracking code to my WordPress site?
Once you’ve created a new Google Analytics account and you’ve set up your property, you can then add the tracking code to your site. This can be done by the use of plugins. Some plugins are just simply for adding the tracking code to your WordPress site, while others will add the tracking code plus give you some stats from Google Analytics right on your dashboard. Even though some plugins will show you statistics, do keep in mind that you will always find the best and most recently updated information and data by logging directly into your Google Analytics account.
Here are a few options for Google Analytics plugins.
- Google Analytics– this plugin adds the tracking code to your WordPress site and nothing more. Simple and straightforward.
- Google Analytics Master– this plugins adds the tracking code and will also display some statistics including last week’s statistics, today’s statistics, and quick statistics.
- Google Analytics by MonsterInsights– this plugin has over 1 million active installs making it one of the more popular Google Analytics plugins. You can add the tracking code and this plugin will display some limited statistics right on your WordPress admin dashboard for easy access.
After you’ve setup your Google Analytics account and added the tracking code to your WordPress website, you’ll want to wait a couple of days for Google Analytics to start tracking the traffic on your site and gathering usable data.
How do I read the information that Google Analytics gives me?
Now that your Google Analytics account has gathered data on your site that can be analyzed, you’re probably a little overwhelmed and wondering what everything means. Since Google Analytics will provide you with a ton of data, we’ll break things down a bit to help you understand and read the information given to you.
Like we’ve mentioned before, you can certainly view some of the limited and simplified statistics through a Google Analytics plugin, but it will most likely benefit you more to login to your Google Analytics account to view the most detailed information.
When you’ve logged in to your Google Analytics account, you will want to click on “All Web Site Data”. The All Web Site Data page will display a lot of information on it and this is where it can start to get overwhelming for people new to Google Analytics. But don’t worry, we’re here to help you out.
The first thing you’ll want to know is how to do is set a date range. This will allow you to see data about your site for any date range you’d like and you can also compare data from different date ranges. In order to set the date range, the menu for this option is in the upper right corner of the dashboard. Select your date range and click apply.
Your Website Audience
After you have set your date range, you can start learning about your website audience (visitors). To see this data you will want to go to Audience>Overview which will be on the left hand side of the analytics view. This is where you will find information like how many people have visited your site and how many times pages have been looked at. There will be a lot of terms on this page that you might not understand at first so we’ll define them here for you so that you can start analyzing your website audience yourself.
- User- this is any computer that visits your site and that Google determines is a unique visitor. For example, if one person visits your site on their laptop and then on their phone, Google will count that as 2 users. This is also true if someone accesses your site on the same device but uses 2 different browsers.
- New Visitor- the first time someone visits your site they are labeled a new visitor.
- Returning Visitor- after a visitor has gone to the site at least one time, they are now labeled a returning visitor.
- Pageview- a pageview counts every time a user looks at a page on your website.
- Session- a group of interactions within a certain period of time. If a user visits your site and goes to 3 different pages over a period of 5 minutes, this is considered 1 session and 3 pageviews are counted.
- Pages/Sessions- average number of pageviews during 1 session.
The data available on the Audience Overview page is very detailed but these definitions will definitely get you on your way to being able to decipher all of that information.
In Google Analytics, you can also compare data with each other in order to spot trends and relationships between data. At the top of the audience report you will see a graph that allows you to change different aspects of it via dropdown boxes/menus. You can change things like what you want to compare, the date range for how long you want to compare them, and how you’d like the graph to be displayed (in hours, days, weeks, or months). Using the audience report graph can sometimes make it easier to see relationships between data rather than just looking at the raw data.
On the Audience Overview page, you will also notice that there are audience demographics data below the user and pageview information. This is where you can see things like what language and country visitors are viewing your site from and what types of mobile devices people are using to access your site. To view even more audience information, you can look around at the other Audience submenu options.
Best Performing Pages
In order to see which of your pages are performing the best, you will want to go to the Behavior menu (not the Audience Behavior) and then select Site Content>All Pages. Now you can see which of your pages have the most traffic and you can spend time optimizing those pages first.
Another option that you have with Google Analytics is being able to track how well your site is converting visitors to meet your site’s goals. You can track things like how often visitors sign up for a newsletter or play a video or download a file. This a more advanced topic in Google Analytics but if you’re serious about growing your business online, this is something you will want to consider. You can go to Conversion>Goals>Overview and then setup your first goal to start tracking it.
As you can tell this has been just a brief overview and glimpse into Google Analytics and all that it can do. While the learning curve with Google Analytics can be steep, the payoff is worth it! If you’d like to learn more about Google Analytics, Google offers free courses and will cover more than just the basics. You can go to the Google Analytics Academy to learn more.
If you have any questions about Google Analytics or you’d like help setting up Google Analytics on your WordPress site, we have instructors that are ready to help you. Give us a call at 877-844-9931 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to schedule a class.