If you aren’t yet familiar with the benefits that Google’s free analytics tracking program offers, it’s time to get with the program!
Google Analytics is a comprehensive web data tracking suite that – once installed – allows you to monitor the number of visitors your site receives, as well as how these users move through your site. Going further in-depth with the data that Analytics provides, you can even use this powerful tool to determine which of your site’s pages are the most popular, how often your articles are being shared on social media websites and even how many of your visitors are converting into buyers.
Over the course of this article, we’ll cover all of the different things you can do with Google Analytics – as well as a number of resources that you can use to get more information on the specific topics that interest you. Be sure to bookmark this page so that you can come back to this ultimate resource again and again as your specific Google Analytics needs change.
Setting up Your Account
The first step to getting the most out of Google Analytics is – as you might expect – setting up an account.
In general, the process is quite simple. You’ll need to register for a Google Account (if you don’t already have one), identify the site on which you’d like to install Analytics, confirm that you own the website through one of four different verification measures and then install a small snippet of tracking code onto your website.
The following resources will walk you through the process of signing up with Google and installing the necessary tracking code on your site, depending on the specific website platform you’re using:
- “Get Started with Google Analytics” – Google Help
- “How to Set Up Google Analytics” – Sprout Social
- “How to Use Google Analytics for Beginners” – Mahalo
- “Google Analytics Tutorial: Setup” – Portent
- “How to Install Google Analytics in WordPress” – WP Beginner
- “How to Put Google Analytics on a Drupal Website” – Chron.com
- “How to Install Google Analytics on Joomla 2.5” – CMS Teachings
Basic Analytics Monitoring
Once your Google Analytics account is set up correctly, it’ll begin generating data based on the visitors your website receives and their activity on your site. When you first log in to your Google Analytics account, you’ll see the Standard Dashboard, which contains a broad overview of the following traffic metrics:
- Traffic trends – This blue-lined graph is the most noticeable feature of the Standard Dashboard and represents a visual overview of your site’s traffic trends over the last thirty days. To change the period that’s displayed, click on the dates in the upper-right hand corner of the graph and select your own parameters.
- Visitor stats – Below the graph, you’ll see a number of different visitor stats, including your site’s visitor count, number of unique visitors, page views, pages per visit, average visit duration, bounce rate and percent new visits. Each of these metrics provides important information about your site’s performance, so take some time to study up on what each measurement means and what it can tell you about visitor behavior on your site.
- Demographic information – Finally, the last thing you’ll see on the Standard Dashboard is a collection of information on your visitors’ demographics, their languages, the systems they’re using and how they’re accessing your website from their mobile devices. Again, pay attention to these statistics, as they can give you valuable information on how to better target future website updates to your audience’s preferences.
For more information on how to interpret the information generated through basic analytics monitoring, take a look at any of the following resources:
- “Getting to Know Your Google Analytics Dashboard” – WebShare Design
- “Beginners’ Guide to Google Analytics” – Flyte
- “Google Analytics Tutorial: Basic Stats” – Portent
- “Web Analytics Demystified” – Avinash Kaushik
- “The 8 Google Analytics Features Every Site MUST Have Enabled” – KISS Metrics
- “Basic Google Analytics Checklist: Getting Started with Google” – More Visibility
- “What Basic Google Analytics Can Tell a Marketer” – Peg Corwin
- “Understanding Basic Google Analytics Terminology” – Koozai
Google Analytics Tips and Tricks
Once you’ve familiarized yourself with the Standard Dashboard and the information contained in this area, you’ll want to start looking for ways to take your interpretation and usage of web data to the next level.
All of the following articles contain tips and tricks that will help you to get more out of your website’s statistics. Take a look at these resources once you feel confident in your ability to understand and utilize the most basic Google Analytics features:
- “11 Google Analytics Tricks to Use for Your Website” – SEOMoz
- “How to Rock Your Google Analytics: 5 Tricks to Help You Out” – Econsultancy
- “Google Analytics Tips and Tricks” – Dejan SEO
- “Hacking Google Analytics: Ideas, Tips and Tricks” – Six Revisions
- “5 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Google Analytics” – Analytics Results Blog
Using Google Analytics Goals
In particular, one of the more advanced features found within Google Analytics that you’ll want to adopt as quickly as possible is Google’s “Goals” program. Goals allow you to measure instances in which specific actions are completed on your site. There are currently four different types of Goals you can set up, including:
- URL destination goals (for example, a goal event that triggers whenever a new buyer reaches your site’s “thank you” page)
- Visit duration
- Event goals (as in, goals that trigger whenever a specific event – like a PDF download, a shopping cart checkout or a specific video being viewed – occurs)
One of the most powerful ways to use Goals is to determine the number of website visitors from different traffic sources that turn into paying customers, as gathering this information will allow you to make better informed decisions on how you’ll allocate your marketing budget in the future.
For more detailed instructions on how to set up this type of Goal – as well as all of the other types listed above – take a look at the following resources:
- “A Beginner’s Guide to Setting Up Google Analytics Goals” – Search Engine Land
- “A Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Goals in Google Analytics” – Search Engine Journal
- “Google Analytics Tutorial: Setting Goals” – Local Search Masters
- “4 Google Analytics Goal Types That Are Critical to Your Business” – KISS Metrics
- “Google Analytics In-Depth Goals and Funnels” – Six Revisions
- “Conversion Tracking versus Google Analytics Goals” – Search Engine Watch
- “How to Track Email Conversions in Google Analytics” – Smart Passive Income
- “5 Goals Every Blogger Should Set Up in Google Analytics” – ProBlogger
Advanced Google Analytics
After you’re comfortable with Analytics’ beginning- and intermediate-level features, take things to the next level with the instructions found in the following advanced articles.
In particular, pay special attention to the resources listed on “advanced segments,” as this allows you to observe the way visitors from different traffic sources interacts with your content. As an example, setting up advanced segments for traffic that arrives on your site from different guest posts will enable you to determine which specific audience is engaging with your content at a higher level – helping to inform your future guest posting decisions.
Complete instructions on this technique and many more can be found at the resources listed below:
- “Advanced Google Analytics” – CIL 2012
- “The Power User’s Guide to Google Analytics Hacks, Tips and Tricks” – Wordstream
- “Advanced Google Analytics Tips and Tricks” – SEOMoz
- “Google Analytics Advanced Segments” – Google Help
- “Top 15 Most Useful Advanced Segments in Google Analytics” – Koozai
- “Advanced Content Tracking with Google Analytics: Part 1” – Analytics Talk
- “Advanced Content Tracking with Google Analytics: Part 2” – Analytics Talk
- “Advanced Google Analytics for Social Sites” – iFinity Software
Google Analytics Reporting
Google’s basic reporting features enable you to easily print off attractive records of your on-site activities, which can then be shared with other members of your team or stored for future reference when observing visitor behavior over time.
In some cases, though, you may find that your reporting needs go beyond the default templates offered by Google Analytics. If you’d like to customize your reports – or even schedule them to be created and delivered automatically – take a look at the following resources on this important topic:
- “7 Time-Saving Google Analytics Custom Reports” – Search Engine Watch
- “How to Use the New Google Analytics Social Reporting Tool” – Social Media Examiner
- “Automate Google Analytics Reporting Using Google Apps Script” – Google Analytics Blog
- “Schedule Your Reporting in the New Google Analytics Blog” – The SEM Blog
- “5 Steps to Calculate Social Media ROI Using Google Analytics” – Search Engine Watch
- “5 Ways to Use Google Analytics to Track Social Media ROI” – Business 2 Community
Google Analytics Integrations
Finally, be aware that Google Analytics isn’t just a standalone program that can be used to measure on-site visitor activity. In fact, the program can be integrated with a number of other Google tools and other third-party products in order to provide a more robust web data and reporting environment.
In particular, two popular integrations you’ll want to pay attention to include the ability to combine Google Analytics data with information from Google AdWords and Google AdSense. Pairing up Analytics and AdWords will allow you to monitor the behavior of your PPC visitors, while also enabling you to make better decisions about the keywords you target with your campaigns based on measurable ROI data.
At the same time, integrating Google Analytics and Google AdSense can help you to improve your ad effectiveness by measuring where your paid clicks are occurring and which pages of your website generate the most ad income. If you rely on Google AdSense as a revenue channel, setting up this integration is an absolute must.
For more information on the different integrations that are available with the Google Analytics program, take a look at any of the following resources:
- “Link Google Analytics and AdWords” – Google Help
- “Using Google Analytics to Improve AdWords ROI” – Jake Intel
- “A Primer on Google Adwords Remarketing Using Google Analytics” – Search Engine Land
- “Using Google Analytics with AdSense” – Google Help
- “Using Google Analytics to Track Google Wallet Orders” – Google Help
Hopefully, this guide has given you all of the information and resources needed to help you add Google Analytics to your website or to take your usage of this popular program to the next level. If you have another Google Analytics article or resource that you’ve found to be particularly useful, please share your recommendations in the comments section below so that other beginning and experienced users can benefit as well!