Our amazing intern Madi Atkinson kicks off this month’s analytics series with an introduction to Google Analytics.
What is Google Analytics – and do I need it?
You’ve probably heard of Google Analytics, but may have no clue what it does or if you should be using it. Today I’ll be explaining the basic functions of Google Analytics and some of the key benefits that it offers to users.
Google Analytics (GA) is a free web tool that measures website traffic. It’s easy to sign up for and only requires a Google account. One great feature of the tool is that it can be used on any type of website – personal or professional, business or blog, it will help anyone collect and analyze data on their site. If you use a website of any kind for your business or personal life, GA is an incredible tool to have running on your site.
What does it measure – and how?
So, you know you need it, but what exactly does it do? Once signed up, GA tracks various metrics of traffic on your site. These include measures of your audience, user behavior, acquisition methods, and conversion rates.
Your audience is measured by a few things, the main one being users on the site. GA tracks users and even identifies first-time visitors (new users). While on the site, GA tracks which pages a user visits, how long they spend on each page, how many pages an average user is likely to visit, and how long the user spends on the site in total. Additionally, within the audience breakdown, one can see geographic locations of their users, the language used, the device used, and basic demographics (age and gender).
The user behaviour that GA tracks goes hand-in-hand with audience factors. Which pages are users spending the most time on? Which pages see high bounce rates? GA tracks all of these things along with similar trends, like how the site is behaving for users, which terms users are searching on the site, and how users interact with the site. These interactions are called events, and include things like clicking on links, adding products to a virtual shopping cart, or filling out forms.
While understanding how users interact with your site is incredibly important, understanding how they reached your site is equally important. The acquisition tool breaks down the channels by which users reached the site, such as through paid search, social ads, display ads, or many more sources. Within each of these sources, GA further details how users behave on the site, showing factors such as bounce rate or session duration.
Finally, GA measures conversions. If your site sells products or services (e.g. hotel rooms, packages etc), this tool can be used to measure how successfully your site obtains conversions, and how users behave when purchasing your product.
Google Analytics is a tool that everyone can be using to learn more about their website traffic. It is free to use, easy to understand, and provides valuable data that businesses can use to grow and achieve their goals.