Google Analytics for Beginners

22 March 2021
by Archie Williamson
5 mins
Google Analytics for Beginners

Google Analytics is a free data analytics tool used by webmasters and marketers to analyse the behaviour and habits of people that visit a site.

Google first launched the service more than 15 years ago and it has since developed into a feature-rich offering that allows users to track simple key metrics such as traffic, session duration and bounce rate, and generate in-depth, bespoke reports.

Google Analytics is the single most widely used web analytics service because it is a one-stop shop for website performance. By using it, you will gain a complete overview of your website and whether the pages within it are accomplishing their purpose.

The value of this cannot be overstated, especially if you are focusing on content creation in 2021. You will be able to see if that new blog post or video is actually driving people to your site and keeping them around long enough to convert.

All of these insights can then be used to improve and optimise your web pages to help you achieve your core marketing and SEO objectives. Think of it as a vital feedback loop that will transform your decision-making and ensure your site, copy and content is in the best possible condition.

How to set up a Google Analytics account

Google Analytics is a free service but you will need to set up a Google account to gain access to it. When you have logged into your account, you can sign up for Google Analytics by inputting some basic information about your site and configuring data sharing settings.

You will then be presented with the option to track and measure data for your website or your iOS and Android apps, or a combination of both. You must then enter your website name, URL, industry category and reporting time zone.

Now that Google has your important details, you will be able to click on a ‘Get Tracking ID’ button. This JavaScript code needs to be added to every page on your site so you can track the data correctly. You can do this manually or use an appropriate plugin for your site.

Tracking internal site search

Google Analytics eliminates a common blind spot for general analysis by allowing you to keep track of what visitors are searching for on your site. When someone uses your search function, you will be able to use the service to see:

  • The most common queries.
  • The total number of queries.
  • The pages most commonly navigated to in search.
  • The pages that are used as a jumping-off point for search.

To set this up, all you need to do is toggle site search tracking to ‘on’ within Reporting View Settings and then copy and paste the query parameter for your site’s search in the box below that. You will now be able to keep tabs on every single search.

Setting up the right goals for your business

Google Analytics makes it easy to run the rule over important metrics and your key performance indicators (KPI) with goal templates. There are three types of templates: predefined, custom and smart.

Predefined templates cover the most common goal categories, which are revenue, acquisition, inquiry and engagement. Google recommends creating at least one goal for each of these categories.

Custom templates can be tailored to your specific requirements. There are four goal types within custom templates, with each of these recording a conversion based on a user’s action. They are destination, duration, pages or screens per session, and events.

For a destination-based goal, a conversion is recorded when someone visits a URL of your choosing. For duration, the same occurs when a threshold for time on site is exceeded. Pages and events also have their own parameters that trigger a conversion.

Making sense of the dashboard

Now you can sit back and eagerly await the first mass of data that can be analysed. Google needs around 24 hours to collect enough data to surface metrics and populate reports in the dashboard. There are half a dozen types of dashboard: Overview, Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behaviour and Conversion.

The Overview dashboard is the home page and here you will see data presented as graphs, tables and other visual indicators, within “cards”. There are several links on this page that can be clicked on to view a more complete report. Dig into these to find the data you need.

Using reports to improve strategies

If you are considering partnering with an agency for more advanced SEO services, you should supplement their efforts by conducting your own search analysis using Google Analytics to improve your returns and results.

Each dashboard is a window to a range of reports that can help you to improve your content marketing strategy. The Content Efficiency report, for example, will list metrics such as page views and bounce rates, giving you the ability to see what blogs and articles are the most engaging for audiences.

You can also use Google Analytics to overhaul your SEO efforts. If you navigate to the Acquisition report, you will be able to see how much organic traffic your site is getting, with a breakdown of sources and mediums.

The Queries section within Google Analytics is also useful for SEO. Here, you will be presented with a list of keywords that are driving traffic to your pages. You can then sort them based on the number of impressions, clicks, average position in search, and click-through rates.

With all that done, you will have barely scratched the surface with this unique and invaluable web analytics tool. After getting to grips with the basics, you should experiment with some of the other features on offer to find new ways to support your marketing campaigns and update the content on your site regularly.

If you want to create blogs, articles and other content formats to improve your SEO, boost your site performance and rank on the first page of Google, contact us today to talk about our full suite of services.

Digital marketing

Have a question?