Google Analytics is an excellent tool because it offers incredible reporting features for free. First-time users find that Google Analytics isn’t the most accessible tool to use. Don’t worry. You won’t need to be an expert to master Google Analytics. In this blog post, we’ll walk through an overview of how Google Analytics works without diving into all the complexity.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a tracking platform for websites. It’s just one of Google’s tools (including Google Search Console and Google Tag Manager) to measure and understand your audience.
After all, if you have no idea who’s visiting your blog, how can you expect to stay competitive in your industry? Google Analytics is an excellent resource because it helps you connect the dots from your website to your audience.
- Once you have Google Analytics setup, you can see all kinds of data:
- How many different views your pages get
- Track visitors on your site in real-time
- Where visitors come to your pages from
- What visitors are doing on your site
- How people interact with different page elements
- How much time visitors are spending on your site
- Measure your lead conversion and acquisition
- What are visitors doing when they leave your site
- Evaluate your marketing strategy
Setting up Google Analytics
To use Google Analytics, you first need an account with Google. Setting up Google Analytics is pretty straightforward. You’ll go through a three-step process, click the signup button, get your tracking code, and install it on the site.
There are a few ways to add Google Analytics to your website, and how you set up your Google Analytics account matters! This video shows you how to create a Google Analytics account in the new Google Analytics 4. Don’t have GA 4? No worries, this video a tracking ID the old school way too.
Understanding the Interface
In this video, Krista Seiden gives an overview of the newest version of Google Analytics (Google Analytics 4). This overview video is a great way to learn about some exciting new things launching, making the Google Analytics 4 property the future.
Once you’ve installed the Google Analytics tracking code on your site, you can switch gears and wait for a while. It usually takes 24 hours for the platform to collect enough data for you to view your first reports.
In this next section, we’ll be going through all the major types of reports you can access in the Google Analytics Dashboard.
When you first log in to Google Analytics, you’ll see what we call the Overview Dashboard. From there, you can navigate to all the major dashboards.
The major dashboards are the Real-Time Dashboard, Behavior Dashboard, Audience Dashboard, Acquisition Dashboard, and Conversion Dashboard.
The first option you’ll see on the left-hand menu is the Real-Time dashboard. While this dashboard looks somewhat like the Overview Dashboard, it’s pretty different in that it only shows what visitors are doing on your site, right now, in real-time.
The Real-Time dashboard constantly updates as new visitors come to your site. You can see how users are viewing content, see insights into what they are doing, and see what locations they are viewing your site.
Ready to dig deeper into your traffic sourdes? With this dashboard you can dig deeper into your traffic sourdces, discover your top-performing campaigns, find keywords that are working well, view visitor behavior, and more. We find that one of the most valuable reports is viewing traffic by Channels, comparing this month to last month. Doing that allows you clearly see which channels are really performing well.
What are users doing when you visit your site? To see this data, you’ll need to navigate down to the Behavior Dashboard. You can see things like session duration, page views, bounce rate, site speed, site search, and monitor experiments.
Since site speed is one of the most important metrics to pay attention to, we suggest going through the Site Content Report to see how fast your site is loading different pages. From there, you can begin to see major issues on your site and make plans to address them.
You’ll see a variety of different information such as page views, time on site, and the percentage of visits that are shorter than one second. Knowing things like how popular your pages are very useful.
Which content gets the most views? Which content keeps users attention the longers? Looking at these reports will tell you what type of content you should create in the future.
The last and final dashboard is the Conversion Dashboard. This is where you can see how visitors make conversions on your site. Conversions are simply user actions that you deem important under the Goals section.
You’ll be spending most of your site in the Goals section of this dashboard. Here you can find reports of how often visitors are triggering conversions. You can see total goal completions and how specific goals stack up against other goals.
Tracking Your Competition
With these dashboards, you can understand what’s going on with your site. It will help you develop your content, sharpen your marketing, and make other improvements across the board.
However, there’s more to tracking traffic than what Google Analytics offers. One of the critical tools you can use to track traffic is SEMrush. Because Google gives you limited insights, SEMrush is your tool of choice if you want to dig deeper.
SEMrush’s Traffic Analytics tool allows you to track your competitors’ metrics. This tool reveals a ton of great information about your competitors, your niche, trends, top pages, audience insights, traffic journey, and much more.
You’ll find the top pages feature most useful because you can understand how different areas a competitor’s site is doing. Seeing how many unique visits per page compared to your content is quite enlivening!
Market Explorer is another excellent SEMrush tool because it gives you an overview of your entire industry. After you choose major competitors, you can see details like where a competitor’s traffic is coming from, growth quadrant, share of visits, total traffic trends, domain vs. market growth, and traffic generation strategy.
It’s time to get going with Google Analytics! Get ready to dive into layers and layers of tangible data on your site! This data allows you to get vivid insights you can use to develop your business further. Start using this data to tweak marketing campaigns, improve site content, speed up your site, and much more.
If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and install the tracking code on your site.
If you need help, please call us at 828-348-7686, email us, or use the contact form to send us a message.
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