How To Use Google Analytics: A Newbie’s Information

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  • The standard version of Google Analytics is a free online tool that Google provides for understanding, analyzing and improving your website traffic.
  • It’s easy to create a Google Analytics account and track your website’s performance as long as you can edit your website’s HTML tag.
  • There are numerous reports available to show you real-time performance, page performance over time, your conversion rate for ecommerce campaigns, and much more.
  • You can find more stories on the Business Insider homepage.

The name alone is intimidating to some people: Google Analytics. It might be helpful to know Analytics is the name for the branch of mathematics devoted to analyzing data and is commonly used to work out meaningful patterns that can be used to generate statistics and predict future trends.

However, you don’t need to know or do any math to use Google Analytics – all of this is done for you in the background.

What can you do with Google Analytics?

Google Analytics – commonly abbreviated as GA – is a free tool that Google provides for understanding, analyzing and improving your website traffic. It contains graphics and data that help you understand information about your site. Here are just a few examples of the information you can learn using GA:

  • How many unique visitors click on the website and certain pages on it?
  • How many total pageviews are given to certain pages (and the site in general)? Pageviews are different from Unique Visitors because the same person may click on a page multiple times.
  • How long visitors spend on each page during their visit.
  • What is your “bounce rate”? In other words, what percentage of your visitors leave the website after viewing a single page instead of following links to other pages.
  • Information about your visitors’ demographics, including where they come from and the type of browser or mobile device they use to visit.

It’s important to note that only the website owners and managers can see GA data, so strangers, visitors, and competitors, for example, cannot access your Google Analytics page (at least not without your permission or credentials).

How to create a Google Analytics account

First, you’ll need to create a Google Analytics account for every website you own or manage.

1. Go to Google Analytics home page and sign in to your Google account if necessary.

2. If you don’t have a GA account yet, click on “Sign in”.

3. Follow the setup instructions by entering your website name and url, additional details, and clicking “Get Tracking ID”.

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To get a Google Analytics account for your website, fill out the simple one-page form.

Dave Johnson / Business Insider

4th The next page will give you a tracking code to add to the tag on every page of your website that you want to monitor in GA. You can add this tag manually in an HTML editor (according to Google’s instructions). If you’re using a web service like Wix or Squarespace, the webpage editor can do it for you automatically.

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You need to update your website with this tracking ID.

Dave Johnson / Business Insider

After creating your account, you can allow others to see your GA page:

1. On their Google Analytics pageClick the gear icon in the lower left corner to open the admin page.

2. Click on “User Management”. You should see your own credentials.

3. Click the blue plus sign in the top right corner of the screen.

4th Click Add User and enter the email address for each person you want to add to the GA account. You will each receive an email inviting you to GA with your own password. You can always come back here to withdraw your permission.

A quick tour of Google Analytics

Once you have a working GA account, you can always log in and see how your website is performing. Here are some important starting points:

  • The Home tab shows a brief dashboard of your website’s performance, including traffic, the number of users on the website at that moment, and where your traffic is coming from.

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The home page of your Google Analytics report summarizes the general health of your website.

Dave Johnson / Business Insider

  • The Real Time tab is rich in valuable information, especially if your website is news-focused or publishes timely information. It shows you minute by minute who is on your website and which pages on the website are currently trending and where that traffic is coming from.

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This is an exciting page to leave open in the background if you want to monitor your site’s traffic by the hour.

Dave Johnson / Business Insider

  • The Behaviors tab is important for understanding which pages are performing well (and which are bad). The Site Content section of the Behavior tab is a favorite with site editors and content managers because it shows traffic for each page of the site for any length of time you might want to see.

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The Behavior tab tells you what your most valuable pages are.

Dave Johnson / Business Insider

  • The Conversions tab provides information about the performance of ecommerce campaigns. This is where you can set goals and see if the traffic results in actual revenue.

Learn more from Google

Google offers a wealth of online guides and tutorials for Google Analytics. If you want to learn how to use this tool, then this is where you should start Google Analytics AcademyThis is a collection of videos and articles that will introduce you to all aspects of the website.