Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics service. It’s free and can track, analyze and report on all your website’s activity, giving you a complete picture of your online audience and their needs. As a small business owner, Google Analytics gives you access to the same type of reports large enterprises with dedicated marketing teams use every day.
Analytics is foundational to your website and online marketing activities, as you can see in the Performance-Driven Website Hierarchy of Needs. We always make sure Google Analytics is properly set up when designing or redesigning a website for a client. But even though analytics is critical and very powerful, for many new or casual users like small business owners, Google Analytics can be a bit confusing and even intimidating.
We’re going to offer a number of blog posts that will attempt to simplify Google Analytics so that even the most novice of users can understand and take full advantage of its very powerful features. So without further delay, let’s take an initial look at Google Analytics, how you can setup Google Analytics and become familiar with some of the terminology.
Setting Up Google Analytics
Setting up Google Analytics is pretty simple. You’ll first need to create a Google Analytics account and then place the tracking code across your entire website (usually, especially with WordPress websites, you only need to add the code once.) We configure Google Analytics for all our clients during their web design project, but if you’re not a client Google provides some pretty good setup instructions here.
Google Analytics Glossary Of Terms
Before looking at reports you should become familiar with some of the terminology.
- Dimensions—A dimension is a descriptive attribute or characteristic of an object that can be given different values. Browser, Exit Page, Screens and Session Duration are all examples of dimensions that appear by default in Google Analytics.
- Metrics—Metrics are individual elements of a dimension that can be measured as a sum or a ratio. Screenviews, Pages/Session and Average Session Duration are examples of metrics in Google Analytics.
- Sessions—A session is the period of time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc., within a date range. All usage data (Screenviews, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session.
- Users—Users who have had at least one session within the selected date range. Includes both new and returning users.
- Pageviews—Pageviews means the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
- Pages/Session—Pages/session (Average Page Depth) is the average number of pages viewed during a session. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
- Avg. Session Duration—The average length of a session.
- Bounce Rate—Bounce rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e., visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).
- New Sessions—An estimate of the percentage of first-time visits.
- Goals—Goals let you measure how often users take or complete specific actions on your website.
- Conversions—Conversions are the number of times goals have been completed on your website.
- Campaigns—Campaigns (also known as custom campaigns) allow you to add parameters to any URL from your website to collect more information about your referral traffic.
- Acquisition—Acquisition is how you acquire users.
- Behavior—Behavior data helps you improve your content.
As we walk through this Google Analytics blog series, we’ll refer back to these terms often.
This post is just an introduction to getting setup with Google Analytics. Analytics is such an important piece to your website and online marketing campaigns that configuring and knowing how to use Google Analytics should be a priority. Future posts will dig into more details about reports, customization, goal setting, KPIs, using dashboards, and much more.
If you have any questions, or need help configuring your Google Analytics account, feel free to contact us.