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26/11/2020 Google Analytics: mastering the basics

We’ve praised the virtues of Google Analytics before as one of the best free digital tools that a business can utilise. With deep dives into your website’s data, Google Analytics can provide significant visitor and client insight when used correctly. 

That said, getting started with Google Analytics can feel daunting if you’re unfamiliar with the platform. This guide should help you understand it better and let you know how to get started.

What is Google Analytics?

Analytics is a free to use platform from Google that is used for tracking and understanding visitor behaviour. Part of the Google repertoire since 2005, it’s one of the longest running and most widely used tools for gaining insight into what happens on your website.

Why you need Google Analytics

As we mentioned before, Google Analytics can be tricky to implement. So why do we insist that it’s worth the work?

This platform can provide you with real-time, in-depth insight into your audience. That knowledge can help inform a whole host of activity from what you put on your website to how you interact with clients. It answers questions that you may not even realise were possible. 

Some of the questions that Google Analytics has the answers to are:

  • How many people are visiting my website?
  • How are those visitors finding my site?
  • Where do they live primarily?
  • Should I focus on making my site more friendly to mobile devices?
  • Which marketing tactics have been most effective at gaining new visitors?
  • Which pages on my site are currently the most popular?
    And
    Which pages on my site are the most popular now compared to a previous time period?
  • Has my website started gaining or losing visitors?
  • How many of those visitors have I converted into leads? Into clients?
  • Where did those converting visitors come from and what were they most interested in on my site?
  • How can I improve my site’s speed?
  • What blog content do my visitors enjoy most?
  • ...and many more!

 

As you can see, introducing Google Analytics to your business can provide invaluable peeks into your visitors’ behaviour and ensure that your marketing efforts are effective.

Read more: The 9 best marketing tools for brokers

How to set it up

Setting up Google Analytics can be done in three easy steps: 

  • Create your Google Analytics account
  • Add the tracking code
  • Set up goals

Let’s go through each of these steps with a quick explanation of how to do them.

Creating your Google Analytics account

Getting started with Google Analytics is very simple. You begin by creating an account. For this, you’ll need an account name, a website name, and your website URL.

Once you’ve completed that, there will be another set of terms and conditions before you move on to the next part. After you’ve reviewed and accepted these, you’ll be provided with your Tracking ID. 

Once you’ve got your tracking ID, it’s time to move onto the next step.

Add the tracking code

This is the code provided in the previous step. You’ll need to paste this into each page of your website. For smaller sites, this is a very manageable, manual task. For larger websites, there are other options. 

Many website platforms have plugins or extensions that enable you to change the header and footer of every page in one fell swoop. Alternatively, if you think that you will struggle to do this, it may be worth engaging with an agency or freelancer to do this for you. But be sure that you trust them with access to the inner workings of your website.

Set up goals

Setting up goals for Google Analytics is important because, although you and your team know how you’re measuring success, Google needs to be told. To start getting these goals set up, click into the admin button on the bottom left.

This will bring you to another window in which you will find Goals. Click there. This will then take you to the Goals dashboard. There, you should find a red button that says ‘+New Goal.’ Click that to start adding new goals to your account. You’ll also need to choose the type of goal that you want to set. These can include:

  • Destination - if your goal was for your user to reach a specific web page
  • Duration - if your goal was for users to spend a specific amount of time on your site
  • Pages/Screens per session - if your goal was to have users go to a specific number of pages
  • Event - if your goal was to get users to play a video or click on a link

Once you’re done, you can save your goals and Google will start tracking it for you.

Inside the dashboard

Getting used to using Google Analytics takes some time. The breadth of available information can lead to confusion if you don’t know how to understand and utilise it. Below are the three types of reporting you can do within Google Analytics and a quick overview of each. If you find that you need more information, there are many useful guides for Google Analytics beginners, such as this one from Moz or this one from SEMRush.

Audience reports

Audience reports are the tools you’ll use to get insight into the people who are coming to your website. They can help you understand who is interested in your business and whether or not they are your target audience. Particularly helpful for brokers can be the geographic information available.

To get started, though, you’ll likely want to begin with something straightforward like your Active Users report. This will show the number of users that have had at least one session on your site in a set time period, such as the ones in the image below: 

You can also find out demographics and interests for your users as long as you enable this in your property settings. The toggle for this should be toward the bottom of the settings page below ‘Advertising Features.’

To utilise the geographic reports, you’ll need to access ‘Location’ under ‘Geo.’ This report can anonymously show a user’s country and city based on the IP address of their browser. There is a visual tool, called a heat map, that can show you where the highest concentration of visitors come from. 

Acquisition reports

Acquisition reports are used to compare how successful different marketing activities are. They can help you get a clearer understanding of where to focus future efforts. Google Analytics does this by capturing different kinds of data when a visitor comes to your site, for instance, the medium or source of your site visitors.

Medium

Medium should be thought of as how a visitor got to your site. There are many different alternatives: Organic (visitors who found you through normal searches), CPC (visitors who clicked on a paid search ad), Referrals (visitors who came to your website by clicking on a link on a different site), and Email (visitors who came to your website via an email marketing campaign).

This information can help guide where you put more of your marketing effort or funding.

Source

The source of your visitors refers to the details of the medium that brought your visitors. It gives you information like which Referral links people are following or which ads they clicked on. This can help you see which links, ads or emails are the most successful at bringing in visitors.

Behaviour reports

The behaviour reports available in Google Analytics are designed to help you understand how visitors to your website are actually using the site. 



Ready to dig a little deeper? Google has a FREE course on Google Analytics for Beginners.

Now that you have your Google Analytics account up and running and you know how to use some of the popular tools, you’ll be able to use this platform to drive better decisions. Data-driven decision making is the key to succeeding in an increasingly digital world.

Read more: How to make winning decisions using data

 

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