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How to Use Google Analytics

Updated Oct 23, 2023

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As a business owner, you put endless work into getting your customers’ attention. However, if you’re not using an analytics tool to track website traffic, you’ll never know if all that work is worthwhile. With its robust web analytics and reporting features, Google Analytics can help you make the most out of your website visitors. It can be an incredibly valuable tool if you want to acquire new customers or learn what keeps your customers coming back. Read ahead for a guide on Google Analytics’ many features and how to get started using it for your business’s benefit. 

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics offers an easy and free way to track and analyze visitors on your website. You could have thousands of visitors every month, but those visitors are practically meaningless if you don’t know anything about them. Google Analytics can teach you what you need to know.

In addition to tracking the number of visitors, Google Analytics provides key insights into how your website is performing and what you can do to meet your goals. You can track everything from how much traffic your website is getting to where that traffic is coming from and how visitors are behaving. You can even monitor social media activities, track mobile app traffic, identify trends and integrate other data sources to help you make well-informed business decisions.

How do you set up Google Analytics?

Here’s how to get started with Google Analytics for your business website. 

Google Analytics Basics

If you want to skip the details and just get started, here’s a rundown of how to set up Google Analytics on your website:

  • Sign in to Google Analytics with your Google account.
  • Click the Admin button on the bottom left sidebar of your dashboard.
  • Select an account or create an account.
  • Click on the drop-down menu to create a property.
  • Click on Website and add your site’s name and URL.
  • Choose your time zone.
  • Choose your industry.
  • Click on Data Streams, then click Add Stream.
  • Your Measurement ID will appear in the top right corner.

Sign up for a Google Analytics account

To use Google Analytics, you will need a Google account. Go to google.com/analytics. Click on Sign in or Create an Account from within the left-hand menu. Fill in the required information ― account name, website name, URL, industry, time zone and data-sharing settings. Click on Create to finish setting up your account.

Set up Google Analytics on your website

A <script> tracking code or measurement ID is required to track your website. You’ll be taken directly to the Tracking Code section after setting up your account. The tracking code must be on every page you wish to track. 

Either copy and paste the code directly into your website template or check your web host, website builder or blog platform for a Google Analytics integration. For instance, there are several plug-ins on WordPress that will add the tracking code automatically to every page. Some website builders have a specific page or field where you enter your tracking ID. Others — such as Blogger and Squarespace — require only your Google Analytics web property ID or account number, a string of numbers prefixed with the letter G that identifies your website.

Add users

Want other members of your team to view your Google Analytics account? All you’ll need are their email addresses. Click on the Admin tab in the left sidebar, choose an account and click on Access Management. From here, you can add new users and set permissions. For instance, you can limit users to reading and analyzing traffic or give them admin-level access to do things like edit your settings. Adding users also makes it easy to present reports and collaborate.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway

Getting started with Google Analytics is free. The platform is easy to set up for anyone with a Google account.

What are the features of Google Analytics?

One of the best things about Google Analytics is that it offers a range of metrics that users can customize to fit their needs. All of Google Analytics’ features can be accessed and configured from the left sidebar.

Here are three features that matter most to small businesses.

Traffic sources

Find out where your visitors and customers are coming from. Click on the Acquisitions tab on the left sidebar and you’ll be able to view all traffic sources, such as channels, referrals and organic searches.

You’ll also be able to find which search terms visitors are using that led them to your website. Google Analytics automatically scans more than 20 major search engines, such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and AOL. It also includes searches from international search engines like Baidu as well as searches from major websites like CNN.

Custom reports

Custom reports allow you to configure metrics based on your own categories that are not included in the default settings. For instance, if you own an online store, this section allows you to track traffic based on things, such as size, color and product stock keeping units. You can also integrate external data sources, such as your customer relationship management software. Click on the Customization tab and create your metrics.

Social settings

It’s not enough to simply run a social media marketing campaign. It’s imperative that you track your results, too. Google Analytics can help by integrating social media into your tracking metrics. Although you can’t add your Google Analytics tracking code to your social media accounts, you can view social media data through an Audience Comparison or Explore report. 

You can access an Audience Comparison report under a Traffic Acquisition report and customize your settings to view only your social media traffic. If you prefer to create an Exploration report, click Explore and then Free Form in the left side menu to generate your report. One advantage of Explore reports is that you can duplicate past reports, whereas you’ll need to manually recreate audience comparisons each time.  

Did You Know?Did you know

If a report with the metrics you need doesn’t exist, Google Analytics features a range of customization options.

What Google Analytics terminology should you know?

Here are a few terms you should know:

  • Account: Where each property lives in your dashboard. You can set up multiple properties in one account or have multiple accounts for different properties.
  • Property: The website or mobile app you want to track
  • Measurement ID: A unique code added to your site that allows Google Analytics to track it
  • Conversion: Visits that turn into customers or potential customers
  • Channel/traffic source: Shows where your traffic came from, such as referrals or links from other sites, search engines, social media and emails
  • User engagement: Amount of time a user spends actively viewing or running your website or app in the foreground.
  • Bounce rate: Percentage of visitors that view only a single page and then leave.
  • Event: Specific visitor behavior, such as when a visitor clicks on an ad, watches or stops a video, downloads a file and more.
  • Landing page: The first page a visitor sees when visiting your website.
  • Organic search: Visitors who visit your site from a link on a search results page.
  • Segment: A way to filter data, such as by category and types of visitors.

And the types of reports you shouldn’t miss:

  • Acquisition: Shows you where traffic comes from, such as search engines, social media, email marketing campaigns and links from other websites. You’ll find this under the Acquisition tab.
  • Conversions: Tracks how many visitors are converting into newsletter subscribers, shoppers and actual customers. Click on the Conversions tab and choose a type or category of conversion to view a report.
  • Lifetime value: Tracks visitors throughout their lifetime, from their first visit to conversions, return visits, future purchases and beyond. This can help you figure out what turned these visitors into customers and what made them keep coming back so you can implement changes. Lifetime value is located under the Audience tab.
  • Landing page: Shows you which pages are the most frequent landing pages so you can track down where those visitors are coming from and what’s working on those top pages that’s attracting customers. You’ll find this across different reports under the landing page column, after you click on Engagement under Reports. 
  • Active users: Monitors how many visitors are active on your site within a specific time period, such as the past week, 14 days or month. This will show you what pages the most active users are visiting so you can figure out what’s keeping their attention and apply it to the rest of your website. You can find the active users report in the Audience tab under Active Users.

What are the benefits of using Google Analytics?

The metrics that Google Analytics helps you track can give your business a leg up in understanding your audience. Here are some of the advantages to keep in mind when considering if it’s worth it to use Google Analytics. 

Gain insight into your customers’ behavior 

Google Analytics gives you a full view of the consumer journey. Use Google Analytics visualization and reporting features to see what’s bringing customers in and where they’re spending the most time on your website. 

Achieve visibility into areas that could improve

Just as Google Analytics can show where you’re doing well, it can also tell you where you need to refine your products or website content. If traffic is dropping off significantly or you’re seeing a low conversion rate, this may be a signal to overhaul the pages in question. 

Set KPIs for larger goals 

The more data you can measure, the easier it is to set key performance indicators (KPIs) against your larger company goals. For example, let’s say you’re looking to gain new customers. In that case, you can use Google Analytics to track any increases in website traffic from your social platforms. You can then determine which social content is driving these increases and make plans to keep repeating your successes.

Help your business grow with Google Analytics

Google Analytics comes with a range of features to measure the data you need to expand your business. As a tool with mostly free features, all you’ll need to get started is a Google account. Track your customers’ journey with Google Analytics and see what you’re doing right and what areas you need to improve.

Sara Angeles
Sara Angeles
Staff Writer at businessnewsdaily.com
Sara is a Los Angeles-based tech writer for Business News Daily. A graduate of the University of California, Irvine, she has worked as a freelance writer and copywriter for tech publications, lifestyle brands and nonprofit organizations in the Southern California area and throughout the U.S.
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