What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a service that allows you to view statistics of your site, such as amount of Users and Page Views, Bounce Rate and Average Session Duration. It is avaliable to anyone who has a Google Account.
Google Analytics is arguably one of the most powerful Web Analytics applications avalilable to date. The fact that it is completely free, makes it even more appealing.
Google Analytics was originally developed by Urchin Software, which Google then aquired in Spring 2005, and was re-branded by Google in November 2005. At this time, Analytics was only avaliable to users by an Invite-Only basis as the demand for this service was very high, it wasn’t fully available to all users until almost a year later (Summer 2006).
Almost 12 years since it’s release, Analytics has seen some dramatic changes. Google Analytics is now present on over 30 Million Websites, which is a 1000 times increase. New Features are constantly being rolled out, some minor – yet useful.
Why use Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a powerful Application for tracking traffic patterns on your website. The fact that the program is completely free, makes it even more valuable. The User Interface looks great, it’s easy to use, and the application is used by thousands, upon thousands of businesses worldwide.
It allows you to see on your site what is working well, what isn’t working well, what users like to look at , what they don’t like to look at and where in the world they are. It can help you make important decisions for your site about what your users actually want to see. The Set-Up of Google Analytics is also relatively easy. All that is required is a short piece of code (called Tracking Code) to be copied and pasted into the Head Section of your code, or the intallation of a Plug-In (if you are using a CMS such as WordPress) and that’s it. You will begin to see results within 24 hours of Google Analytics being fully set-up.
What Features does it have?
What data can you actually see with Google Analytics? The most important sections are:
- Audience. The Audience Section is one of the most important sections in Analytics. It allows you to see the total amount of Sessions, Users, Page Views, Location, Average Bounce Rate and Average Session Duration of each person using your site, within a particular time frame. From this information, you can answer questions such as; “When is the best time to send out my Newsletter?”, “What are the best times to post to Facebook/Twitter?”.
- Acquisition. The Acquisition Section is another one of the most important sections. It outlines how your users reached your website whether that be Direct, Referral or Social Media. Direct is when the user accesses the site direct, by typing in the URL. Referral is when a user visits your site from a source outside of it’s search engine e.g. a Hyperlink or Ad. Social Media is when a user visits your site via a link in Social Media e.g. Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
- Behavior. This section tells you what users are doing on your site. You can see how many of your users visit a particular page, how long they are staying on that page and how many exit the site from that page. This section can give you really vital information, as you can see which pages are visited the most, and which ones your users may not be interested in.
- Funnels. A Funnel is a Navigation Path (series of pages) which you expect your users to follow to achieve a specific goal. A Funnel is made up of a Goal Page and one or more Funnel pages (this could be used on a shopping site, with the Goal Page being the successful purchase page and Funnel Pages being the payment process). From this you can see where users enter and exit the process, showing where you could improve.
Another great feature of Google Analytics, is Goals. You have to think about the purpose of the site, What do you want to achieve? Who is it for? The answers to these questions are your goals. Google has it’s own examples of Goals such as ‘X amount of Sign-Ups’, ‘X amount of purchases/Online Payments’, or ‘X amount of Newsletter Sign-Ups’.
There are many more features of Google Analytics, too many to explain.
Google Analytics is a critical component to building your business. Without the use of Analytics, you are basically running your site in the dark with no knowledge of what is working and what is not.
Although I have not told you every single feature of Google Analytics, you should now have an idea of what it is and how to use it. The application is not difficult to use at all, and can be used by anyone. Multiple users can also use the application, with particular permissions. This can be great if the workplace has many departments and not everyone is required to see every report.