Google Analytics Basics

Google Analytics for non-analytical people

For a long time I resisted Google Analytics. Just the word “analytics” conjured up images of unwashed twenty-somethings ogling Excel spreadsheets while sipping Red Bull and mumbling about decimal points of Pi.

No thanks.

It was only when I realized that without Google Analytics (GA) I didn’t know a damn thing about my blog I was converted.

“The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” — H.P. Lovecraft Click To Tweet

In my most recent post I showed you how to know if Google Analytics is installed and collecting data on your site. Now it’s time to look beneath the hood and see what we can learn from the data.

When you first log into your Google Analytics (GA) account it might look a bit overwhelming – lots of graphs, numbers and menus. Don’t worry – most of it you can ignore.

First, it’s helpful to remember that GA only records what people do on your site. Every time someone arrives, clicks, leaves, returns, clicks again is all recorded. It even tracks where they came from, what device they were using and what they had for breakfast (kidding).

With Google Analytics, your job is to decide the minimum data that is meaningful to your business. Here’s where I get started.

With Google Analytics, your job is to decide the minimum data that is meaningful to your business. Click To Tweet

Just the facts, ma’am

When you sign into Google Analytics (if you have multiple websites, like I do, use the same Gmail account to access them all) you get the main dashboard.

main dashboard

Let’s jump into the main dashboard results you should know about. Note, you can change the time frame in the top-right corner. Default will be the last 30 days.

Sessions – total visitors

Users – total unique visitors (each person is counted once). This is sometimes called “uniques”

Pageviews – total pages viewed

Pages/Session – average number of pages each person viewed

Avg. Session Duration – average time on site

Bounce Rate – percent of people who left after one page (lower is better)

% New Sessions – estimate of first time visitors out of total visitors

You can easily get GA to email you on a regular basis this dashboard, or a custom dashboard. Before I started using www.cyfe.com as my main dashboard, I received a monthly custom dashboard from GA and it was a quick way to see what was going on.

via GIPHY

Alrighty. Now that you’re educated on the basics, let’s look at some deeper data you can dive into (not to mention a few more alliterations).

Your top blog posts

One of my favourite stops is Behaviour > Overview this chart shows me my top traffic blog posts. The idea is to monitor what posts are going viral (you might be surprised at how old your top posts are) and then to write more on those topics.

Behaviour report

For example, I know if I write about mistakes speakers make or how to make money as a speaker, those posts will always do very well.

Traffic sources

Head over to Acquisition > Overview to see where your visitors are coming from. Once there, click on “Organic Search” to see the keywords they are typing in their browser to find you.

Acquisition > Social > Overview will give you a snapshot of what social channels are are driving traffic (maybe all the time on Pinterest is paying off).

Going mobile?

If you’re interested to know what percent of your audience visits your site (In my case it’s 36%) on a mobile device, head to Audience > Mobile > Overview. There are a number of free sites where you can see how you site displays on mobile devices.

Goals

If you want to measure the number of people who requested your free ebook, or choose to watch a video on your site, that’s called a goal. First copy the URL of the “success” page that appears when someone accepts your offer. Next, in GA, go to ADMIN > Goals > + New Goal > Custom.

 

Enter the name of your goal (like “opt-in pages”), choose “Destination” > Continue. Under “Destination” Choose “Equals to” in the drop down and then enter the URL of the “success” page and click Save.

To see your goals, return to the main dashboard and then go to Conversions (in the left-hand main menu – it has a flag beside it) > Goals > Overview.

Onward

Beyond these results you can get into much more sophisticated analysis, like what route people take through your site and…

That’s beyond the scope of this article and, besides, I don’t know how to do it 🙂

Hugh Culver

Speaker, author, athlete and founder of BlogWorks. I speak and write about getting stuff done and the art of growing younger.
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1 Comment

  1. Paul Glover on April 12, 2018 at 7:11 am

    Thanks Hugh.

    Good stuff.

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