If you’re new to digital or online marketing, you have probably been told to get yourself a Google Analytics account. I can guess that in one way or another you’ve at least have heard the term “Google Analytics” thrown around a few times. Though you may not know what it is and what it can do for you yet, I’d like to help you learn a little bit more about it.
*update May 20, 2023: these are the instructions for Universal Analytics which will be sunsetted on July 1, 2023. These instructions may not work in GA4.
Hello and welcome to Hovel Sweet Digital! My name is Katie and I help small business owners and entrepreneurs learn how to successfully track their digital marketing efforts. There is a lot to learn when you’re beginning your first blog or selling your first product. And I want to help you become a successful entrepreneur from the start.
I have had a career in digital marketing since 2012 and have been a WordPress user since 2009 (showing my age here, haha). I am a data-driven marketer who likes to make practical decisions. And Google Analytics informs my decision-making process.
If you haven’t set up Google Analytics yet – don’t worry! Enter your email below and I’ll send you a FREE Google Analytics Setup Checklist to help you.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a web analytics service, offered for free by Google. It allows you to track and report hits on your domain. All of this data is stored in your account and you can view many, many various reports about all of the collected data.
If you’re a total newbie, then I recommend getting started with the Google Analytics for Beginners course here. Google offers the course and a certification for free. What better way to learn than from the big G?
Please note that Universal Analytics, which is what I am referring to in this article, will be going away on July 1, 2023. If you’re using Universal Analytics, please remember to migrate to Google Analytics 4 before then.
Why Do I Need Google Analytics?
Have you been writing a blog for a while? Are you a small business that is selling goods on a WooCommerce store? Have you created any sort of digital space for yourself that you have paid good money in order to do? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you need to setup and learn how to use Google Analytics.
Google Analytics records and tracks every time someone visits your website. Yes, Google Analytics knows who visits your website, how they’re getting to your website, what they’re looking at on your website and more. All of these metrics are important to know if you’re going to be setting digital goals for yourself and your business.
You’re probably saying to yourself, “Wow, that’s creepy that you can track all that information on a person visiting your website.” But, trust me, all major businesses do this. They gather the information, analyze it, and make decisions that benefit their business. And you can too!
How to Understand Google Analytics
If you do not have Google Analytics installed on your website already, we’ll need you to get started there. Data cannot flow into the account without the code installed on your website. Please check out How to Install Google Analytics on a WordPress Website here.
After the code is installed, each and every time a page is loaded, the code sends a hit back to your Google Analytics account. You can verify that it is installed correctly by loading your website in a new tab, then checking if your visit is being recorded under the Realtime traffic report.
Now that you’re recording visits, keep on doing what you’ve been doing. The recording starts as soon as you the tracking code installed. From this point forward is how Google Analytics will be collecting data. It is not able to retroactively track any visits to your website.
Google Analytics offers four main reports:
The Audience Report
The Audience Report records information about the users that are visiting your domain. This includes how many users are visiting, what date they’re visiting, the geo location of where they’re visiting from and more. You’re also going to see valuable data regarding which pages are visited the most, which can be a big driving factor or what blog topics to keep writing. If your audience is very interested in one section of your website, then make a plan to write more posts regarding that specific topic. See, data-informed decisions.
Reviewing the Audience report allows you to understand who your audience is. Is you audience only in the United States or do you have a lot of visitors coming from South America? Being able to review this data will inform you that maybe you need add Google Translate on your website to better assist with international visitors.
How old is your audience? What browser are they using to access your website? What other interests does your audience have? All of these questions can be answered by the data collected through Google Analytics.
The Acquisition Report
The Acquisition Report refers to all the methods of how your audience is coming to your domain. This is probably one of my favorite reports for tracking traffic from your email and social media marketing efforts. As you can see in the image below, there isn’t any “Email” listed as the channel so I will write more about this in the future.
If you using Google Ads for PPC marketing, then make sure you connect it to your Google Analytics account. The Acquisition Report can tell you about how users are navigating your website after they click-through from your ad.
The Behavior Report
The Behavior Report tracks how users are engaging with your content. This report is going to tell you which pages are visited the most and which pages are visited the least. My page data is going to look different than yours in this image, but I’ll let you know how to have some fun with filters in a future post.
The Conversions Report
The Conversions Report is exceptionally useful if you have an online store. You have to setup ecommerce tracking first within your Google Analytics account. Then the sales information can feed directly into it.
If you don’t have an online store, you should set up Goals for yourself to track. In the photo above, you can see that my goals are tracking an “engaged visitor” and a “reader”. I regard a reader as someone who visits for a minimum duration of 10 minutes. An engaged visitor visits at least three difference pages. Those are two examples of a goal, but you have to decide what goals matters for your own business.
If this was just all too much information, then take your time to digest it all! I hope you can leave with more knowledge about what Google Analytics is and how Google Analytics can help you make data-driven decisions within your business. If you have any questions feel free to email me or comment below!
Google Analytics is super important to gather data. My site has been all messed up and I really need to get that fixed!
Oh no! I hope you get it sorted soon.
A weel written detailed analysis for every blogger and those who have a website. I do or die with google analytics so i can shape my offering for my audience. Thanks and I Love your graphics.
Learning a bit about google analytics has been so helpful as a blogger. I wish I had known about it sooner!
Yes! A little bit of knowledge goes a long way.
This is great information. I always steer my clients to Google Analytics it’s the best for a reason.
I have it. But I’m still learning on what everything does. But I like that it keeps my stats up to date so I know.
I swear by Google analytics I have been able to manage my business thanks to the analysis tool and understanding the trends and what is working.
Goggle analytics is so important on a blog to attract more advertiser. Improving your stats is aa lot of work, glad we have some group of bloggers that help us on our goal.
This post is really informative. Google Analytics is perfect for bloggers.
This sounds incredibly helpful. I love that it’s free!
Thanks for explaining all these details about google analytics. Now I know why it’s so important!
Informative post especially to new to GA. I keep track of everything on my blog’s activity on my GA.
Google analytics is such a great tool. I refer to it all the time for my blog!
Wow! This apps from google is really awesome, there’s a ton useful feature it has and it’s very detail. You will definitely know where your lacking and what needs to improve.
Yes, once you know how to read the data, you can make a plan!
I’ve been using Google Analytics since I started blogging many years back. I love that I get to know where I get my traffic from, etc.
I think I check my analytics about once every 2 hours LOL! Love using this great tool.
oh my gosh, I can’t imagine checking it that much!
I have had Google Analytics installed on my site for so long and am still learning so much about it. Thank you for these insights.
This is an eye-opener. I wish I knew about Google Analytics sooner and I have learnt about the goals, I saw it on my app but I just didn’t understand what it was for.
I’m still learning so many new things you can do with it!
Google Analytics is key for a blogger. Analyzing traffic is so important.
I always get a little dazed and discouraged when I look at Google Analytics. I need to start understanding it and learning from it. Thanks for these explanations!
I’m glad that you’re dedicated to getting into the details!
I’ve only recently started using google analytics for more than just checking to see my numbers. I’ve started updating posts that are ranking.
Yay! I’m excited to know that you are using data to improve your rankings.
Thanks for this impormative post you’ve share. Im glad now that i know this google analytic thing.
Google Analytics is really an important thing for me. Thanks for sharing this. I will definitely let my friends know.