Do you want to learn to measure and analyze everything that happens on your website? Know where your visitors come from, how your users behave within your website, performance of web traffic? Then you are minutes away from learning how to track and measure the performance of all your digital marketing. In this Google Analytics tutorial, I will explain step by step how to take advantage of this great free web analytics tool so that nothing escapes you.
1. What is Google Analytics and what is it for?
Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool that offers many possibilities to analyze the traffic of our website and its performance, offered by Google.
Analysing the traffic that reaches your website, to know if you are doing things well, badly or regularly is essential. The good thing about the Internet is that everything can be measured. And by measuring and analysing, you can act accordingly to improve. That’s how it works.
Although from time to time, Analytics changes its interface, modifies the names and introduces new functions that you have to get used to, in general, it is a very simple and intuitive tool, making it perfectly suitable for beginners.
Their reports are very complete and visual and all the information is very well organized so that you can access what interests you at all times from its menu in the left sidebar.
1.1. Is Google Analytics mandatory to use for a website or app?
Absolutely YES. Analysing your traffic is essential and Google Analytics is a very complete tool. This is a free SEO tool and comes from Google itself. And you already know that all the information that comes from Google, should not be overlooked. Among many other things, with Analytics you can know:
- How are the users of your website (audience)
- Where are visits to your website coming from (traffic sources)
- How your users behave on your website (what pages they visit, where they enter, where they leave, etc.)
- What is the performance you are getting from your traffic (conversions on your website)
1.2. Basic Concepts of Web Analytics
Before entering the subject, if you are not familiar with web analytics, there are a series of basic concepts that you should be clear about to correctly interpret the data that the Google Analytics tool offers you:
- Active users: A while ago they were called unique visitors, now active users and who knows tomorrow. Active users are the people who access your website. The same user can carry out several sessions (visits).
- Sessions: are the total visits recorded on your website in a certain period.
- Page Views: indicates the total number of pages that users have visited during their browsing sessions on your website.
- Unique Page Views: Represents the number of sessions a page has been viewed at least once.
- Bounce Rate: indicates the percentage of users who have left your website after visiting a single page.
- Organic traffic indicates the traffic that reaches your website from search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.).
- Social Traffic: indicates the traffic that reaches your website from social networks.
- Referral Traffic: is the traffic that comes to you from other websites through referrals with links.
- Direct Traffic is the traffic you receive when users directly enter a URL in their browsers.
- Not Provided: these are the keywords that Google does not provide us with and that affect the vast majority of organic traffic.
- Objective: are the milestones or goals that you can configure to measure conversions on your website about traffic.
2. How to start using Google Analytics
Now yes, let’s go through the tool with a step by step guide. First, create an account (if you don’t have one) and register the website.
2.1. Create an Analytics account
Here is what you need to do to create your account:
- Create an account by going to analytics.google.com.
- Login with your Gmail account, if you don’t have one create it.
- Click on the start measuring button.
- Enter the requested information as shown in the below screenshots, including whether you want to track a website or mobile app.
- Click the “Get Tracking ID”. Copy that code to your clipboard.
That tracking code is what you must insert on your website so that Analytics can start collecting data from your traffic.
2.2. How to place Google Analytics tracking code?
The tool can be installed in multiple ways on our website, the best known are through code or with the Google Tag Manager tool, but there are special cases for CMS that only need to install a plugin and insert the property value.
Method 1: Insert the code directly into the template
Copy the analytics code and insert the code between the <head> tags of our website. That is it! It will start to track visits. It is very easy and simple to do.
Method 2: Google Analytics with Google Tag Manager
To install with Google Tag Manager, we must first create an account and proceed to create a user-defined variable, being the type of variable Google Analytics configuration and giving it the value of our tracking ID.
Then we will create a new tag where the tag configuration will be Google Analytics: Universal Analytics and fill it with our created variable and in page view mode.
To finish activating, we will select the default activator, which is the All pages activator, which will make the Analytics code run on all pages.
After finishing, save the changes and publish the changes with submitting.
Method 3: Google analytics with CMS installation
For the installation in CMS, we can follow the previous methods or we can make use of some plugin. In general, I am in favour of using plugins that are installed with Google Tag Manager, since from here I can later incorporate new custom events without having to go after the developers and even scrape the information that each page shows.
Method 4: Integrate Google analytics with WordPress
Here I recommend the Google Tag Manager for WordPress plugin since it has several integrations with the main most used WordPress plugins, saves a lot of time.
Method 5: Web analytics integration with Prestashop
I have heard the Google Tag Manager Enhanced Ecommerce (UA) – PRO Module plugin is quite simple to configure since it comes with the container that you have to import with everything created and you only have to insert the tracking ID in a variable.
Throughout this Google Analytics tutorial, we are going to cover step by step all the sections, types of reports, segmentation possibilities of traffic data, etc.
But you may be interested to know that with Analytics you can also customize your dashboards and reports and create shortcuts.
In other words, if you are very clear that you want to obtain data on something very specific, you can customize your dashboards and reports so that they group the information that you are interested in accessing as directly as possible.
4. Real-Time Reports
If you don’t have a certain volume of visits, you usually won’t see much information in this report.
But if you have a website with traffic, you can be amazed by how the number of users who are in real-time on your website fluctuates, what pages they are visiting, from which geographical areas and from which devices, etc.
In this main panel, we access the general information of what is happening on our website in real-time. The report is very visual.
- The number of active users in real-time
- Types of devices from which these users are accessing the web Pages viewed per minute … and per second!
- Main sources of social traffic
- Main keywords for which we are having real-time traffic
- Main active pages (with visits in real-time)
- Map of the main locations of users
We will next see the sections of this section, it will allow us to obtain much more precise data on all this that is happening on our website in real-time to unsuspected limits.
Here we can see the specific data of the locations of active users on our website in real-time.
We can know from which countries these visits are coming to us, the number of visits from each country and the percentage they represent of the total.
By clicking on each country, we will access the information by region or province.
4.3. Traffic sources
From here we can see from which traffic sources these visits are reaching us in real-time on our website: organic, reference, social, direct.
The tool specifies the exact number of visits that are coming to our website from each channel and specifies those that come from Google, Bing or Yahoo, Facebook or Pinterest, etc.
By clicking on any of these traffic channels, we can still further filter the data. For example, if we access organic traffic, it will present us with data about the access search engine and the keywords that users enter in real-time.
Here we will find many visits with keywords “not provided”, but now we will see how we can compensate for the lack of that information that Google no longer provides us in Analytics so as not to be totally “blind”.
And if we click on each specific organic traffic channel, for example, Google, it will give us the specific data of those visits.
Do you want to know what pages those active users are visiting on your website in real-time? Google Analytics also provides us with that information.
It tells us how many pages we currently have active and presents us with a list of those URLs, with the exact number of users who are browsing each of them in real-time.
By clicking on any of them, we can filter the results and access the data on each page to find out from which medium and specific traffic source those visits are coming in real-time.
Knowing the behaviour of the users on the website, that is, knowing the pages they are visiting, we can compensate for the lack of information on keywords of the “not provided”. How? Crossing the data from the “Traffic Sources” section that we have just seen with the information from this “Behavior” section and filtering the results.
Let’s see it with an example:
If in the TRAFFIC SOURCES section, we click on ORGANIC, from there we click on GOOGLE and from there on “NOT PROVIDED” and we go to the BEHAVIOR section, we will obtain the filtered results of the pages that are currently active with organic traffic coming from of Google.
Knowing the landing pages and taking into account for which keyword we have optimized each specific page, we can get an idea of the main keyword that those users have accessed from the search engine.
What we are doing here is analyzing the landing pages so as not to be blind with the keywords.
If we have created and tagged an event, for example, “ebook downloads”, in this section we can see the data of the visits that have made that event in real-time.
Later we will talk about creating Events in Google Analytics.
If we have a goal (or several) configured, for example, the number of registrations or subscriptions on our website, in this section we will be able to know if we have goals achieved in real-time.
Later we will also see how objectives work in Analytics and how they are configured.
5. Audience: Analyse who visits your website
Through the Audience report, we can analyse the users of our website and obtain very interesting data: ages, sex, devices they use, countries of origin, time spent on our website, the most popular pages, etc.
With this information, we can prepare the best contents for our website and communicate with our audience through the different channels we use.
The main panel of the Audience report provides us with various charts of the general information about our users, which in subsequent sections we can analyse in more detail:
- The number of users
- The number of sessions
- The number of page views
- The number of page views per session
- The average duration of each session
- Bounce Rate
- The percentage of new and recurring users
By default, the Audience report will take 100% of the sessions on our website as a reference, but we can apply or create segments to filter the results. We can select a segment from the list that offers us or create a new one.
We can select the period that we are interested in analyzing and selecting the metrics by day, week, month and even by the hour, etc. And we can compare the selected period with a previous one to see the evolution of our traffic.
5.2. Active Users
Here it shows us the number of active users within the period that we have selected and we can select to present the results of the graph per day, 7 days, 14 days or month.
We can take 100% of the sessions as a reference or add a segment, as we have seen before.
5.3. Lifetime value
In this section, you can determine the value of the users of your website to analyse the performance you are obtaining from your traffic. For example, you can see lifetime value for users you acquired through email or paid search. With that information in hand, you can determine a profitable allocation of marketing resources to the acquisition of those users.
You can also compare the lifetime values of users acquired through different methods. For example, you can compare users acquired through organic search and users acquired through social, or compare social to email, to see which method brings the higher-value users.
5.4. Cohort Analysis
A cohort is a group of users who share a common characteristic that is identified in this report by an Analytics dimension. For example, all users with the same Acquisition Date belong to the same cohort. The Cohort Analysis report lets you isolate and analyze cohort behaviour.
You can create custom audiences and view them in a group with multiple combinations.
5.6. User Explorer
Google Analytics assigns an ID number to each user. In this way, this section allows us to explore how users behave on our website at an individual level, indicating the number of sessions performed by that user, the average time spent on our website in each session, the bounce rate, etc.
By clicking on any of the user IDs, we can access a specific report of that user and know the sessions he has carried out in a day, at what hours, for what duration, the pages viewed in each session, from which traffic channel has accessed, if you have done it from a mobile device or a computer, etc.
In this section, we can know the segmentation of our traffic by age and by sex.
Google Analytics shows us the information of our users by age brackets: number of sessions, the average duration of visits, the rebound percentage of sessions, conversions, etc.
Likewise, the tool provides us with the same data by sex.
Google categorizes us based on our tastes and interests based on the pages we visit. And all this is known by the cookies that leave a trail of everything we do while browsing within your search engine.
Based on all this information, it allows us to obtain data on the interests of the users who visit our website based on different parameters that Google Analytics calls: affinity categories, market segments and other categories.
5.8.1. Affinity categories
Affinity categories represent the tastes and interests of our users based on the themes of the pages they visit the most. In this way, we can know if we are adequately targeting our public and we can also know what other tastes and interests the users who visit our website have.
In this section, Analytics provides us with a list of these affinity categories, with data on the number of sessions carried out by users in each category, the bounce rate, the duration of visits, conversions, etc.
5.8.2. In-Market segments
Market segments are the categories in which the users of our website have shown a greater predisposition to carry out an action or conversion, either because they have bought, made a registration request, etc.
5.8.3. Other categories
The “Other Category” section is a kind of mixture of the previous two since here the tool includes information on the market segments whose users have an interest and a greater predisposition to make a purchase or conversion in each specified category.
In this section, you can find out from which countries, regions, cities your traffic comes from and the language in which users have their browser configured (which you can interpret as their language directly).
Regarding location, you can find out the number of sessions by country in a given period and the quality of visits by country. By clicking on each country, you can access detailed information by city or region.
This section is a small preview of the full BEHAVIOR report that we will see later and where we can access much more information about how users interact on our website.
At the moment, here we can access information on the number of users who visit our website for the first time (new users) compared to those who are recurring and know the quality of these visits.
Here we can also know other information, such as the distribution of the duration of visits and the number of sessions and page views in each period.
In this section, we can find out the browsers and operating systems from which users access our website: the number of sessions from each browser, the page views, duration of visits, conversions, etc.
This must be taken into account when guaranteeing that your website is perfectly accessible in every way to users of any browser, both desktop and mobile.
By clicking on any of the browsers, you can even access the data by browser versions.
In this section, you can access the data on the number of visits that come to you from different devices and know the quality of these visits.
You can also know from what type or brand of mobile devices traffic is coming to you and know the data on the number of visits, their behaviour and the conversions for each of them.
Includes new Cross Device reporting and remarketing.
In this session, you can see the comparison between the current performance to the previous results and your industry’s average. This is an insightful tool which helps your business in knowing the trends, context to your business and to compare your indicators to competitors.
5.16. Users Flow
Here you can see the user path. The behaviour of the user from the landing page to the exit page
6. Acquisition: Analyze where the traffic to your website comes from
With the Acquisition report, we can know where the traffic is coming to our website and analyze the behaviour and quality of visits with data segmented by each medium and source of traffic.
In this main panel, as in the other reports, it presents us with a series of charts with general information that we can later analyze in greater detail and depth:
Right here you can see the data of the visits from each channel, their behaviour and their performance (conversions):
6.2. All Traffic
From here, we can filter the data of our visits by channels and obtain very valuable information on how each source of traffic is working for us.
We can know the organic traffic that is coming to us from search engines, the evolution of SEO traffic, the keywords that have caused these visits, landing pages, the exact sources of the visits (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.) and the behaviour of these organic visits within our website (average session duration, bounce rate, etc.).
Regarding keywords, we see that the vast majority (in this case, more than 97%) appear as “not provided”. But if we select the metric «landing pages» we will be able to access the landing pages of those organic visits.
In this way, just as we have seen in the «Real-Time» report, we can know why the main keywords have entered those visits from the page they have accessed.
From here we can know the traffic we receive directly, that is when a user has entered any of the URLs of our website in their browser. And know the behaviour of these visits.
Here it shows us all the traffic we are receiving from social networks in a period. It provides us with all the information on the number of sessions and the behaviour of these visits, segmented by each network or social media.
Referral traffic is the visits that come from the references with a link that have been made to our website on other websites or social platforms through link building.
The tool provides us with all the data of these visits, their evolution and provides us with the segmented information of the visits and their behaviour by each of the reference sources that have brought us traffic.
Other sources of traffic
Here the tool provides us with information on visits that do not come from any of the other main channels, such as the traffic that reaches us from an email marketing newsletter.
Here I am not going to stop long, because soon I will make a complete guide on Google Adwords.
For now, be sure that if you link your Adwords account with Analytics, here you can access all the data of the visits that have entered your website from your payment campaigns, user behaviour, clicks, impressions, conversions, search queries, keywords, etc.
In other words, you can get all the information you need to know how your campaigns are working for you and that you can assess their performance, optimize and improve them.
6.4. Search Console
I have already mentioned a little bit above to the Google Search Console and I have commented that this free tool, among other things, provides you with much more extensive information on the keywords that are taking you traffic in compensation for the “not provided” Analytics.
If you link your Google Search Console account with Analytics, which I recommend you do, you can access from here web analytics reports that include information provided by Search Console.
Once your Search Console account is created, to link the accounts, access the Analytics ADMINISTRATOR menu from the left sidebar.
- Click on the option “Property Settings”.
- Scroll down until you find the “Search Console” option. And click on the “Set Search Console” button.
In this section, Analytics groups together with all the information related to the traffic we receive from networks or social media.
The tool had already provided us with information about our social traffic in the CHANNELS section, but here we expand it and offer it grouped into a more specific web analytics report that includes more metrics and parameters.
From this report, you can measure and analyze your social impact, obtaining information on:
- The social sources from which visits come to you Landing pages from social networks
- Conversions: the performance of your activity on social networks
- Social plugins: the involvement of users with your website
- User flow: the behaviour patterns of users who access social media
7. Behaviour: Analyze how your content works
Do you want to know how your users behave when they browse your website? Where do they come in, where do they leave, what are the contents that you are generating the most visits, which ones are working the worst for you?
All this and much more is what we can learn through this web analytics report called BEHAVIOUR.
In this main panel, it presents us with general information on user behaviour on our website.
7.2. Behaviour Flow
Here we can see a map that represents the behaviour of the users from the moment they enter your website to until they leave: which pages have been accessed, which ones have continued browsing and which ones have left the web.
In this way, the map shows us the different routes that users have followed. By clicking on the arrows of the house icon, we can enlarge the map and access the number of dropouts after the first interaction, the second interaction, etc.
7.3. Site content
In this section, we can access the segmented data of the traffic and behaviour of all the URLs on our website.
Here is a list of all the pages of our website that have received visits, ordered from highest to lowest volume of traffic, with the following data segmented by each URL:
- Number of visits per page
- Number of unique page views
- Average time on page
- Entries: times that users have started their sessions on our website on each page
- Bounce% – Percentage of sessions that have started and ended on the same page
- Percentage of exits: percentage of user exits from each page
- Page value: average value of each page (in case you have configured a goal and you have given it a value)
In this case, we access the specific information on the pages through which visits to our website have entered:
- Sessions: total number of visits per access page
- Percentage of new sessions: percentage of visits made by new users
- New users: total number of new users
- Bounce Rate – Percentage of sessions on a single page
- Pages/session: an average of page views in each session (visit)
- Average session length: average visit time
- Conversions (only in case you have a goal configured)
In this section, we can find out which pages your users have left your website.
If you have a blog or content site, on many occasions the same landing pages will coincide with the output pages.
It is very common for a user to do a specific search on Google or access an article that has caught their attention from a social network and that, once the content has been consumed, it leaves where they entered.
That is why internal linking is so important, to lead our users to other pages that may also interest them and continue like this on our website. However, many times users are going to shot done.
If you have an e-commerce and you verify that the same page (for example, a product) generates visits but has a high percentage of exits without converting, you should quickly check what prevents users from continuing the process.
If the page that has a high number of exits is the paid one, I won’t even tell you. So take advantage of this data.
7.4. Site speed
That the pages of your website load quickly is essential because it is something that will directly affect your traffic. If your website does not have adequate speed, it will take its toll on both Google and your users.
Although there are other more specialized tools to analyze the speed of a website, this Analytics report is quite useful because it indicates the average loading time of the pages of your website, assigns them a speed score and allows you to access recommendations to improve the loading time of each page.
To do this, the tool performs a load sampling and provides us, to begin with, with information on:
- The average page load time (in seconds)
- Average redirect time
- Average domain search time
- Average server connection time
- Average server response time
- Average page download time
In the PAGE TIMES section, we can access the comparative data of the loading time of all the URLs of our website about the average loading time of our website.
The SPEED SUGGESTIONS section seems quite interesting to me because it shows us the loading time of each URL, makes suggestions to improve its speed and assigns a Page Speed score to each page (the higher this score is, the less room there is for improvement ).
If we click on the suggestions that it indicates in any URL, we will directly access the PageSpeed Insight tool, also from Google, which will perform an analysis of the URL in question. This analysis takes only a few seconds.
As a result, it will provide us with a report of things that we must or can improve, depending on their severity. These suggestions are indicated for both the desktop version of the page and the mobile version.
7.5. Site search
This will only be useful if you have an internal search engine from which users can search and access other pages within your same website.
If this is your case, the data you can obtain in this section will give you more information about how your users behave and will be very useful for you to know if you have well optimized your search engine and your pages for the searches of your users.
Specifically, in this section the tool will provide you with the following information about searches on your website:
- Number of sessions with searches
- Number of sessions with unique searches
- Average page views per search
- Percentage of search outputs
- Percentage of visits that have performed internal searches
- Terms users have used to conduct internal searches
- Pages through which your users have done internal searches
Events are actions that users perform on our website but cannot be measured through URLs as we do with traffic. Examples of Events could be the download of an ebook or any other document, the download of an infographic or the reproductions of a video that we have embedded in our website.
To measure this series of actions, which are also important, we will have to create and label these events.
Once an event has been created and tagged, Google Analytics will be able to collect data and show it to us in a report.
8. Conversions: Analyze the performance of your objectives
It’s okay to know our traffic, but much better is knowing if that traffic is working for our goals.
8.1. Create and analyze goals in Google Analytics
With Google Analytics we can configure one objective (or several) and know how it is working about the traffic we are receiving on our website. That is, we can measure and analyze the performance of our traffic.
What is the purpose of your website?
- If you have a blog, that goal might be to get subscribers to your mailing list
- If you have an eCommerce, that goal will be related to transactions (sales)
- If you have a service business, that goal might be getting quote requests
Whatever your objective, in Google Analytics you can configure and measure it. You can create up to 20 different objectives.
- To do this, from the ADMINISTRATOR menu in the left sidebar, access “Objectives” in the third column:
- Click on Create Goal.
The first step will be to configure this goal. To do this, you can directly select any of the options provided by Analytics in its objective template, or choose a custom configuration.
We are going to select the interaction objective of «Register to receive a newsletter».
The next step is to describe the objective. To do this, we will give our objective a name.
Last step: target information. Here we will determine the destination URL by which the objective will be measured.
In this case, we will indicate that this page is the “thank you for subscribing” page since it is where those users who have already completed the registration process that we have set as a goal will land.
In this section, you also have the option of assigning an ECONOMIC VALUE to your objective and establishing a CONVERSION FUNNEL to set the route your users should follow until they reach the established destination page. In this way, you can analyze the entry and exit points that affect your objective.
Once you create, configure, and verify your goal, Google Analytics can start collecting the data.
From there, in the Overview panel, it will give us the information of the objectives achieved, the value of the objective (if we have assigned it), the conversion rate of the objective and the percentage of abandonments.
In the URL OF THE OBJECTIVE section, it will show us the data of the objectives achieved by each established landing page.
In the INVERTED OBJECTIVE ROUTE section, it shows us the data of the pages that our users have visited before reaching the destination page and meeting the determined objective and the number of conversions for each of these pages.
8.2. Electronic commerce
This section only affects you if you have an e-commerce website. And as the topic is very self-explanatory, we will make a more specific guide on web analytics for e-commerce. How about? If you’re interested, you can say that in the below comments section.
And… we are now at the end of this Google Analytics guide!
Have any doubts? Comment below and I will clear them.
Are you looking for any other tool guides? Let us know them in the comments and we will explain them to you in the upcoming guides.