Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics

Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics for Small Business Owners

In today’s technological era, if you don’t have a site to represent your business online, you don’t exist. Moreover, if your site isn’t responsive, you run the risk of losing around 70% of traffic and getting lower rankings in Google.

But even with a well-designed site and a responsive template, you still won’t be making any progress without a comprehensive SEO strategy. This means finding the target audience that has the most potential to be transformed into loyal customers and creating ads and offers that promote your products and/or services towards them.

Sounds complicated, right?

The good news is that Google offers every site owner, regardless of size and number of visitors, free access to their Analytics tool. The not so good news is that the platform is quite complex, and the terms used can be highly technical.

As a result, small business owners who don’t have experience in marketing tend to avoid Google Analytics (GA), which is a huge loss. When set and used correctly, the platform provides valuable insight into the way you are marketing towards consumers and shows you the areas that need improvement.

To make sure you won’t be missing out, we created a detailed GA guide that will clarify the use of this platform for beginners. So, if you just launched your business online, make sure to browse until the end!

What Exactly is Google Analytics?

Most site owners will be able to tell you that GA is a platform designed to measure the progress you’re making when it comes to visitors and the time they spend on page.

While the statement above is true, it’s also incomplete given the fact that GA is a tool that both measures and analyzes the data created by your site. Based on these factors, you have access to insight from people who visit the site and may be interested in buying your products/services.

Even more, such a platform can pinpoint your weaknesses by letting you know which pages are performing low and why. You also get access to a list of personalized search terms used by visitors to find the site in the huge pile of sites available online.

Finally, the platform offers useful reports that tell you a lot about visitors’ behavior. For instance, you can learn a lot form the type of devices people use to access the site and GA offers a detailed report on this topic. Not to mention that the

How to Setup an Account?

This is one of the questions that pop-up extremely often when we work with small business owners. The truth is that the process is easy and doesn’t take much of your time, but because it involves some copy-paste code, many people find it difficult.

Let’s walk through the steps:

  • Go to analytics.google.com (the homepage of GA)
  • Apply for a new account or Sign in using an existing Gmail address
  • Follow the instructions and introduce your site’s details (name, URL, and more)
  • Copy the Analytics tracking code and add it in your website’s code as instructed by the platform. If you use WordPress, there are plenty of plugins that can do this, so you won’t have to make any changes in the code.
  • Personalize the account by adding users (other people who manage the campaigns or your website administrator), setting up goals, and more.

How to Use & Understand the Data?

The standard home page of your account will give you a preview of the most important reports you need to establish your site’s progress.

1. Audience Overview

Audience Overview

This report lets you know the following data:

  • Number of users who visited the site in a given period of time (in the image above, the selected time period is the last 7 days, but this can be customized).
  • Sessions – or visitors who have more interactions with your website than just visiting one page. You can learn more about sessions and their detailed meaning here.
  • Session Duration – The average time spent by visitors on the site (here you can learn more about the way the session duration is calculated).
  • Bounce rate Analytics defines this as the percent of users who only open one page on the site and then leave. Usually, it’s a good thing if the bounce rate is low, but you shouldn’t get too upset if it increases slightly.

In short, this report you lets you know how many users visit the site in a given time period, their engagement with the site (sessions and session duration), and if they lose interest too quickly (bounce rate).

2. Location Overview

It pays to know your audience demographic because you can learn more about the preferences of the people who visit the site.

Location Overview

For instance, the Location Overview report paints a detailed picture of the main countries and regions of the world who are interested in your content. This way, you know the language to address the visitors, their general preferences, and maybe the best hours to post new content.

3. Sessions by Device

Here you get to see the percentage breakdown of the devices used to access your site. This way, you know if people are successful in using the site on mobile devices (phones and tablets) and if desktop users still have an interest in accessing the pages.

You even get the results presented in an easy to understand pie chart, which makes things a lot easier. But, if you want more detailed information, you can access the full report by clicking on Mobile Overview, in the bottom-right corner of the chart.

4. Pages Report

This report gives you a detailed overview of the performance registered by each individual page on the site. This way, you can see the best-performing items in the site and the ones that need more help to rank better in search engines.

You can also use this report to plan an SEO strategy, by focusing more on the pages that perform well and try to lure visitors to other sections of the site or landing pages.

5. Acquisition Report

Acquisition Report

Do most users on your site come from paid ads or did they find you via organic searches? This is exactly the information offered by this report, plus some details on the main source and referrals.

So, if you want to know if your CPC campaign is successful or if you’ve reached a point where the organic search is taking over, the Acquisition Report will provide the answers.

How About Goals?

You probably know by now that you need to set up goals in your Analytics account. But do you know why this action is important?

Each goal represents an action you want users to perform while on your site. Here are some examples of business goals:

  • Filling out the data in a Contact Form
  • Downloading the PDF you offer in exchange for their email address
  • Signing up for the Newsletter
  • Making a purchase

Each time a goal is completed by a user, Google Analytics registers this as a conversion (aka turning visitors into customers).

Put in short, goals help you track conversions and let you know if the site is designed well-enough to drive people towards the actions you want them to take. To learn more about setting up goals and defining them correctly, visit the guide here.

Now, goals are important from two main points of view. First, it allows you, as a business owner, to better identify the actions that drive progress. Second, GA creates metrics such as the conversion rate, which let users know more about the success of their business.

Wrap Up

Even though GA seems scary at first, it only takes a bit of research and some poking around to learn the basics. And once you do, you’ll have a better understanding of your site’s overall success or failure.  

Danielle Canstello

Danielle Canstello is party of the content marketing team at Pyramid Analytics. They provide enterprise level analytics and data analytics software. In her spare time, she writes around the web to spread her knowledge of the marketing, business intelligence and analytics industries.

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