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The Most Complete Guide to Using Google Analytics - Everything You Need to Know in 2021

Gyana

38 min • 13 May, 2021

One of the biggest problems businesses face is a relatively simple one, and most issues and challenges come down to this one straightforward process:

Making the right decision.

If you don’t make the right decision, whether you’re designing a new product, hiring or firing, marketing, scaling strategy, investing, and so on, you’ll quickly find you’re spending most of your time trying to correct the wrong decision. One too many bad decisions, and your company might not make it to next quarter.

Sounds simple, but you’ll be amazed by how businesses take random potshots in the dark trying to get things right. Instead, it’s the most successful businesses that take control of their decisions and do everything they can to make the right choice.

The best way to do this yourself? Use data.

Data is everything these days, and when it comes to your business, the more data you have, the more informed your decisions will be, and thus the more successful you can become. This is where the bread and butter analytic tool known as the all-powerful Google Analytics comes into play, and this is the guide that’s going to teach you everything you need to know.

Contents

Part One: What is Google Analytics?

Introduction

How Does Google Analytics Help Me Make Decisions?

Part Two: How to Set Up Google Analytics

Getting Setup

Adding Google Analytics to Your Website

Installing Google Analytics onto Your WordPress Website

Making Sure Everything Works

HELP! I’ve Lost my Google Analytics Tracking Code

Using a Third-Party Tracking App

Part Three: Using Google Analytics

Learning the Google Analytics Dashboard

Your Advanced Google Analytics Data Tab Insights

The Real-Time Tab

The Audience Tab

The Acquisition Tab

The Behaviour Tab

The Conversions Tab

Summary of Using Google Analytics

Part Four: An Introduction to Google Analytic Strategies (Three Free Strategies You Can Use!)

Strategy One: Improving Your Website Experience Using Data

Strategy Two:

Strategy Three:

Final Thoughts

Part One: What is Google Analytics?

Introduction

So we’re on the same page, Google Analytics is a free tool created, managed, and supplied by Google that is incredibly useful for monitoring and tracking the traffic that comes to your website (or app!) and is currently a part of the Google Marketing Platform (2021). It’s a service that has existed since 2005, and it’s come a long way since then.

At the time of writing, the service is used by over 29.1 million websites, which equates to around 56% of all the websites globally, so that should be a bit of a clear indication of just how much of an impact this tool has.

But what does it actually do?

Google Analytics collects and provides you with data, cold, hard data on your website traffic.

For clarity, let’s say you have a website that sells running shoes. One day a customer goes on Google, searches ‘Running Shoes’ and clicks on your website. Ding! Google Analytics has noted this down. Did someone come from a Facebook promotional ad you’re running? It’s recorded. A shared photo? A direct link from an email? Did someone type the URL into their web browser directly? Google Analytics records it all.

However, the tool allows you to go much deeper than this.

Google Analytics allows you to see data on:

  • The location that someone is searching you from
  • The device they’re using (i.e. mobile, tablet, or PC)
  • The operating system they’re on
  • The interests your visitors have
  • Your best traffic sources
  • Conversion rates
  • And much more

That’s right. If someone searches for your running shoes website, and they’re signed into their Google Account (which are a lot of people are these days - especially if they use Chrome), you’ll be able to see that they searched you on their Samsung Galaxy S5 mobile phone from the city of London and have interests in running, cooking, contemporary fiction, and survival activities.

Okay, you don’t get that much detail about one visitor, but you do get an overall view of all the traffic that comes to your website in this way, giving you a very detailed, data-driven overall picture of your customer base and who’s showing interest in your website, thus giving you the foundations to making the best marketing decisions possible.

How Does Google Analytics Help Me Make Decisions?

There are plenty of strategies out there, some of which we’ll explore later on, but this section will give you an idea of just how powerful Google Analytics can be.

Let’s say you’ve run the tool for several weeks, and you have a nice collection of data points to look at (we’ll get into how you use these later). As an example, it turns out that although you have your running shoe company, 4% of your visitors are interested in survival lifestyles, like camping and hiking.

With this information, you run a promotional campaign where you run ads and create blog posts and even some video content that shows your running shoes being used in survival situations, like running from a bear in a viral comedy ad, or show that your shoes are great for hiking for XYZ reasons.

Because you’ve based your content on data of people who are already interested in your website, they come to your site and don’t just like what they see. Now they LOVE what they see and are far more likely to make a purchase and become a paying customer. Data work at its finest.

If you had never used Google Analytics, you might never have thought about communicating with this survival audience. It may never have crossed your mind. Instead, without data, you may have taken a random shot in the dark to try and market to young people interested in sporting events, even though nobody in those niches knows your business exists.

Thus, you’re wasting money, time, and your business resources.

Of course, this is just a simple example, and you can get far more complicated if you wanted, especially with the tools that Google offers you, but it should show you that data-driven decisions are your best chance for becoming a successful, growing business.

Part Two: How to Set Up Google Analytics

Getting Setup

First, you need to get set up and running with the Google Analytics platform if you want to start taking advantage of everything it has on offer. Here’s a step by step guide on how to do just that!

Step One

Head over to Google Analytics by clicking this link or typing ‘https://analytics.withgoogle.com/’. Then click the big “Use It For Free’ button to get started!

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Step Two

If you’re signed in to your Google Account already, then you’ll be taken straight through to your account dashboard. Some users will have used Google Analytics through a website plugin or when setting up an account with certain web-hosting providers, and you’ll again see the dashboard.

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If not, we’re going to create a dummy account for someone going by the name of Ryan Austin, a new user, in which you’ll see this screen. Click ‘Start Measuring’ to get started.

Step Three

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Under Account Name, you can put whatever you want, but make sure it’s something memorable and relatable to your business. You can have multiple Google Analytics accounts under one Google Account, so if you plan on doing this, you’ll need to be clear with your names! We’ll just keep it with Ryan Austin for now.

For the best service, just make sure all the tick boxes are ticked and enabled.

Step Four

While this next screen looks a little complicated, it’s not, don’t worry. ‘Google Analytics 4 Property’ simply refers to the property that your business owns that you’re trying to track. Basically, this means your website. If you’re using Google Firebase, you can also connect your account here, but that’s for another guide.

Simply input your website address, and fill out the boxes relevant to you, including your location, time zone, and the currency you’re interested in working in.

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We’re going to use a small blogger website just for this example.

Step Five

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Next, give the Analytics tool some information about your business. Just be honest as it will help with scaling and offering you features that will help you grow. If you put that you’re a massive company, it will dump a large amount of information on you that you don’t actually need right away if you’re a small-scaling business.

You don’t want things to get too confusing. If you’re a sole trader, freelancer, or individual, be sure to select the ‘Small’ size option. Don’t worry, as your business scales, you’ll be able to update these options as you go. If you’re not sure what you intend to use the Google Analytics platform for, always select ‘Measure Customer Engagement with my Site or App’ by default, and then any others you think you’ll be interested in.

Again, you can update these options later in your Settings menu.

Finally, you’ll need to accept the terms of service and user agreement to access the tool.

Step Six

So, now that your account is set up and running, it’s time to connect your website to your Google Analytics account so the data can start being collected. For this example, we’re going to solely focus on website tracking, but it’s possible to track iOS and Android apps from this step as well.

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To get started, click the ‘Web’ option.

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Now type in the full URL of your website, minus the HTTP bit at the beginning, followed by a stream name, which can be as simple as ‘My Website’. It’s just a name place to help you navigate quickly, so pick something that suits you.

When you’re happy, select ‘Create Stream’.

Step Seven

Now comes the bit where you’ll need to pay attention.

You need to actually add the Google Analytics code to your website to allow tracking to take place.

Adding Google Analytics to Your Website

The most straightforward way to do this is by adding the Google Analytics code to the header of your HTML website. If you’re looking at your HTML website code, it will say <head> at the top. Just paste the following code right after that.

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On the second line from the top and second line up from the bottom, where it says ‘GA_TRACKING_ID’, you need to put your individual tracking code. If you haven’t closed the previous screen, you can find that code here.

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You can also directly copy the code from the ‘Add new on-page tag’, complete with your code, from the tagging instructions window you can see at the bottom of the last screenshot, which looks like;

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Just copy everything in the green box and paste it after the <head> tag of every page of your website that you want to track, and you’ll be good to go.

Installing Google Analytics onto Your WordPress Website

Suppose you’re using the WordPress platform to organise your website or any CMS-based website provider for that matter. In that case, you can do so really easily using a simple plugin and posting this code directly onto your website.

Step One

Log into your WordPress dashboard and navigate to the Plugins menu.

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Click ‘Add New’ and search for the free ‘Insert Headers and Footers Plugin’.

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Simply follow the onscreen instructions to install the plugin as you would with any other plugin. Be sure to Activate the plugin once it’s installed.

Step Two

Once activated, hover over the ‘Settings’ menu on the left-hand side, and click the ‘Insert Headers and Footers’ option.

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Now, simply head back over to your Google Analytics page and copy that piece of code as we spoke about before and paste it into the ‘Scripts in Header’ box, which will leave you with a screen looking a little something like this.

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Be sure to scroll down and save this page, and you’ll be all set to use Google Analytics on your WordPress website!

Making Sure Everything Works

Fortunately, it’s really easy to make sure you’ve set everything up correctly and that you’re ready to start tracking.

From your Google Analytics dashboard, navigate Admin > Product > Tracking Info > Tracking Code

You can follow the screenshots in the HELP! section below to see this in detail.

From here, you’ll see an option at the top that says ‘Send Test Traffic’ that will ping your website to see if everything is working correctly.

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If it works, you’re all good to go!

HELP! I’ve Lost my Google Analytics Tracking Code

Don’t panic if you’ve accidentally closed your initial window and lost your code, you can quickly find it again in your settings menu. Just sign in to your Google Analytics dashboard, so you’re on the front page, and click the Admin button.

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Under the Property tab, click the ‘Tracking Info’ option.

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Then you can see your tracking code here, clear as day and ready to go wherever you want to paste it!

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Using a Third-Party Tracking App

Using the methods above, you’ll have connected your website and set everything up, meaning you can sign in to your Google Analytics dashboard at any time and see your stats. This is all you need to do.

However, other third-party apps can help make the dashboard a little more straightforward and easy to use, such as Gyana.

You are more than welcome to try these apps and their different features out, and it’s always an option you can look into.

Whether you’re using one of the methods above or connecting your Google Analytics account to a third-party application, now it’s time to start using Google Analytics and seeing what it’s made of.

Part Three: Using Google Analytics

Now that you’re all up and running, it’s time to really get into the meat of Google Analytics and what it can do for your business, and there really is a boatload of features and functions to go into it. This is where we try to break everything down as simply as possible.

However, while there’s a lot to cover here, don’t try and think you have to remember it all. The best way to approach Google Analytics is to start using the tool with a goal in mind and then only to use the platform to give you the data you need to achieve this goal.

For example, if you’re seeing whether people are clicking through your Facebook Ad links, just use the platform to monitor your hits and where they’re coming from. As you get more ambitious, you can start using more features and functions. Don’t try and overwhelm yourself by taking it all on board in one go.

Let’s start with the basics.

Learning the Google Analytics Dashboard

Sign in to your Google Analytics account, and you’ll always be greeted with the dashboard, which is what we’re going to explore in this section.

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The dashboard aims to enable you to see everything that’s going on with a quick overview. This will give you a clear idea of whether your stats, traffic volume, and promotional efforts are going up or down over the days, weeks, or months and give you quick access to the most essential Google Analytics features.

1 - Analytics Home

The bread-and-butter feature of Google Analytics. You’ll be able to see the total number of hits your website has had over the last seven days by default, although you can change the time frame using the tab at the bottom of this window.

You’ll see the number of unique visitors, the number of unique sessions, the bounce rate of your entire website, and how long people are spending on your tracked website pages. This is your grand overview of how well your website is performing.

2 - Real-Time Stats

A genius feature. Here, you’ll be able to see exactly how many people are on your website right now, how many page views you’re getting per minute and the top pages that people are visiting right here and now, down to the nearest minute.

3 - Google Analytics AI Help

If you need help with anything to do with your stats, this is the feature for you. Ensure you’re noting that this is not a support feature for the program but rather a way to help you find the data you’re looking for. For example, you can ask the AI questions like ‘What device are most of my customers visiting my website on?’ or ‘Which geographical location is my most popular?’ and so on.

4 - Traffic Source Indicator

This is a significant feature that tracks exactly where your website visitors are coming from. Are they coming from search engine pages? Facebook Ads? Email newsletter links? Amazon Ads? Medium posts? Shared links? Embeds? It’s all listed here.

You’ll see every single traffic channel your website has, ranked in the order of the most popular, and your referrals. Again, the default data range is seven days, but this can be changed at the bottom of the window.

5 - Location-Based Traffic Data

See exactly where in the world your visitors are coming to your website from, and how many from each country. A really great way to figure out where your customers are and which markets you should be focusing your attention.

6 - Popular Times

Fairly self-explanatory. Use this tab to see what times your website is most popular and when people are logging on. When you couple this with the other data tabs on your dashboard, you’ll have a firm idea of exactly what kind of people are visiting your website and who your ideal customer is.

The following

7 - In-Depth Data Tabs

We’ll cover these tabs in the next section since they go into a lot more detail and allow you to do a lot more with your data. The tabs are fairly self-explanatory, but to find out more, just keep scrolling on!

12 - Admin Tab

The Admin tab is basically your Settings menu. You’ll find all your behind-the-scenes settings here, as well as your account management tab. Some of the tasks you can complete here include:

  • Changing your email address for managing your account
  • Adding new people to the team
  • Updating your website links
  • Finding your tracking code
  • Manage your general account settings
  • Create a custom Google Analytics dashboard view and filters
  • Getting support for and troubleshooting the Analytics service
  • And much more.

Your Advanced Google Analytics Data Tab Insights

On the left-hand side of your dashboard, you’ll find the ‘Reports’ menu with five tabs, and it’s in this chapter of the guide we’re going to break down every section to explain what every feature means and what it does.

The Real-Time Tab

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Real-time reporting is exactly what it says it is.

Click this tab to see everyone who’s currently on your website and the data surrounding their visit.

Overview

This tab displays a real-time dashboard overview that shows all the basic real-time stats in an easy-to-view way, including the number of users, their geographical location, the keywords being used for your website, the social media platform traffic links, and how many page views you’re receiving per minute.

Locations

See the geographical locations of your current website visitors and which country is giving you the most visitors in the last 60 seconds.

Traffic Sources

See all the locations online where people are coming to your website, including search engine pages, which keywords are referring your visitors, which social media platforms they come from, and what email links and website embeds are clicked.

Content

See exactly what pages your website visitors are currently viewing in the last 60 seconds.

Events

Displays clicks and website events that have taken place, such as filling out a contact form, in the last 60 seconds.

Conversions

See the number of website site conversions and actions to take place in the last 60 seconds, including actions like making a product sale or signing someone up to your email list.

The Audience Tab

At first glance, the Audience tab can seem overwhelming and confusing. There’s a lot going on here, but take it step by step, and you’ll grasp everything you need to know in no time.

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Overview

An overview of your entire website audience, which can be defined over various time frames from hourly to monthly. You can see how many unique users your website has, how many sessions they have, how many pages of your website are being viewed per session, the average session duration, and the overall bounce rate of your website.

You can also see what language your users speak, which country and city they’re from, what internet browser, operating system and internet service provider they’re using for desktop computers, laptops, and mobile devices.

Active Users

See the stats of how many active users your website has. Active users are defined by people who visit your web and take action, such as reading a post or clicking on a link. You can see how many active users your website has over various time frames ranging from one day to a 28-day period.

Lifetime Value

A beta feature as of 2021, you’ll see how much revenue each visitor is generating for your website, and see a breakdown of where these users come from. This is a great way to see if your social media ads are successful.

Cohort Analysis

See a detailed breakdown of your retention rate and how long users are staying on your website. See the breakdown per day and by how many users visited your website.

Audiences

You can see the age, gender, social interests, and conversion stats of the visitors coming to your website.

User Explorer

A very detailed tab where you’ll be able to look at each user’s actions visiting your website, seeing how many sessions they had, their session duration, their bounce rate, revenue generated, and so on.

Demographics

This section contains three sub-sections (Overview, Age, and Gender), displaying graphs that display how your website traffic breaks down under these categories. You will need to enable advertising features for this service to work.

Interests

Displays the interests of your users. Let’s say someone who’s signed into their Google account is looking at vegan cooking recipes, vegan diet websites, and sports websites, then it’s clear that this user is interested in living a healthy lifestyle. When said user visits your website, this can be logged. Under this dashboard section, you’ll be able to see the average interests of all the combined users that visit your website.

Geo

Details the average languages spoken by users visiting your website, and their average geographical locations.

Behaviour

See what percentage of your users are returning and have been to your website before, or how many users are new. You’ll also be able to see the frequency in which a user is returning and how often they’re engaging in relation to how many times they’re visiting.

Technology

See which browser and operating system your website visitors are using to access your website.

Mobile

See which mobile devices (detailed by brand and model) visitors are using to visit your website.

Cross Device

Currently a Beta program, this links the two data sections above, so you can see which users access your website from both mobile devices and personal computers.

Custom

Create your variables in which to track your users. If you’re looking to make custom dashboards to monitor specific metrics for a certain project (say you want to only track your visitor’s ages and the devices they’re using), you can do so here.

Benchmarking

Allows you to see average stats for other industry websites similar to yours, enabling you a unique chance to see precisely how your website is performing compared to other businesses and online domains. You can compare to various industries of your choice using the drop-down menu and customise which metrics you’re comparing and benchmarking against.

Users Flow

See a visual representation of the flow in which users are navigating your website. You’ll see which website pages they start on and where they click from there. You’ll also see where your visitors leave your website.

The Acquisition Tab

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The Acquisition Tab, as the name suggests, is all about seeing where your website visitors are coming from and how they’re finding your website in the first place. This is a great way to see exactly how people are finding you, therefore enabling you to see which platforms you can focus more efforts, which investments you can drop, or other new avenues you may want to explore.

Overview

Shows a detailed overview in the form of graphs and tables of exactly where your website visitors are coming from (see the screenshot above.) Mostly, you’ll see your traffic broken down into organic search, paid search, and direct input, as well as the sources.

You’ll also be able to see how many visitors came from each source, their bounce rate, their average session duration, and their average conversion rates.

All Traffic

The All Traffic tab is broken down into four main sections (Channels, Treemaps, Source/Medium, and Referrals), but don’t worry, this isn’t as confusing as it may first sound. Each section basically breaks down in a little more detail where your visitors come from and show precisely how they are finding your website.

For example, check out this screen grab from our example website.

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At the bottom, you can see the table where you can find out that two visitors have come from the Google search engine and have organically searched a keyword that brought them to the website, and a second user directly input the URL, which means they typed it into their browser URL bar.

Google Ads

You can link your Google Analytics and Google Ads account so when you’re running Google Ad campaigns, you’ll receive a ton of information and metrics you can use to see how successful your ad campaigns are, where you can make improvements, and what you’re doing right.

Search Console

The Search Console tab is typically an underrated feature by many website owners. It’s a free service you can use and have to set up on your website using the onscreen wizard (never fear, it’s basically a step-by-step process where it tells you what to do on the screen) where you’ll be able to see specialised data like landing page and device conversion rates and keyword data. This is a great way to find new opportunities to boost your conversion numbers.

Social

This is an interesting tab that monitors your website’s social impact on the world. You’ll need to set up goals to get started, but you’ll be able to see where your pages are being shared and who’s commenting and liking posts. You’ll also be able to monitor how much engagement your social engagement plugins are getting on your website (aka, your share buttons) and how the flow that social media users have when visiting your pages.

Campaigns

Track all your campaigns in one easy place. You can track the effectiveness and outcomes of your paid keyword campaigns, your organic keyword campaigns and view cost analysis reports that ensure you’re spending your money and time in the right places.

The Behaviour Tab

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The Behaviour Tabs is one of our favourites because it really helps you detail how people are using your website, and ensures you’re offering the best experience possible. Remember, you could have the best product or service in the world, but if your website isn’t up to par, you’re not going to be successful.

Since many people will come to your website to see what you have to offer, they’re purposefully judging your website to see what kind of company you are. If your website is a hassle, holds them back, or is plain inconvenient to use, they’re going to be taking their business elsewhere.

The Behaviours Tab is all about figuring out how people think and use your website, providing you with all the data you need to make improvements and create the best overall website experience possible.

Overview

Another primary overview tab (see the screenshot above). All basic website engagement data can be seen here.

Behaviour Flow

See the flow of your users. If they log into your website and go Home > Services > Portfolio > Contact, and then leave, you’ll see this in a visual representation that shows which pages were visited in chronological order, like this:

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Site Content

An accessible overview page that gives you the breakdown of your website content and how engaging it is. You’ll be able to see exactly how many times each website page and post has been visited, and all the stats of how long they stayed, their bounce rates, and so on. You’ll even be able to see which pages visitors were on as they left your website.

Site Speed

This is an incredibly important tab. Primary SEO requirements state that you must have a fast-loading website. If people have to wait for pages to load, even for more than a few seconds, they’ll get bored and leave. This tab helps you identify your page loading speeds across your entire website, and even lets you know how well your pages load in other countries around the world.

Site Search

If you have a search feature on your website where users can look for something specific, this is exactly the tab that will show you how people are using the search, what keywords and terms they’re interested in, and whether they’re able to find what they’re looking for.

Events

Events are simple website actions that include things like clicking on a button, filling out a form, or signing up to your email list. This tab tracks these engagements, so you know what’s being used, how people are engaging with you, and whether or not users are getting what they need after they click.

Publisher

You’ll need to link an AdSense account to use the Publisher feature, but if you do, you’ll be able to see stats like impressions, clicks, and revenue of your website pages, giving you a clear view of how well monetised your website pages are.

Experiments

This is a disabled feature and is no longer receiving support. This means you will not be able to run new experiments on your website, as you used to with this feature, but if you have set up experiments while the feature was active, you’ll still be able to engage and use them here. If you have used experiments, you’ll be asked to migrate your actions to the new Google Optimise program, which will fully replace this service over the coming years.

The Conversions Tab

Obviously, the Conversions tab is all about tracking the conversions and revenue-generating aspects of your website, which, of course, is essential for making sure your website is actually earning you as much money as it possibly can.

This tab is broken down into three parts, Goals, E-Commerce, and Multi-Channel Funnels, and will need some sort of integration to an e-commerce platform you’re using to monitor the stats. However, how you do this and what features you’ll have access to will depend on the e-commerce platform you’re using.

For now, we won’t concentrate on this because there’s so much diversity that can be found here, again depending on the platforms and e-commerce solutions you’re using, so make sure you’re reading up from your solution provider if this is a feature you’re interested in using.

Summary of Using Google Analytics

We highly recommend that you bookmark this page, so you can quickly come back at any time. This way, if you’re trying to navigate your dashboard and you’re not sure what you’re doing or which features you have available, you’ll be able to figure it out straight away.

Of course, this section has only covered the fundamentals of the Google Analytics features, and while you can learn some fascinating stats on your website, you may be wondering how to actually use these stats to make informed business decisions.

This is precisely what our fourth and final part of this guide is about.

Part Four: An Introduction to Google Analytic Strategies

Before we get started, we just want to say that there are infinite ways you can use Google Analytics to analyse and improve your business. You can see there are so many data points available, it’s almost overwhelming, and it’s really up to you as a business owner and website designer to get creative and think outside the box on how you want to move forward.

However, we understand it can be a lot to take in, which is why we’re going to share three powerful basic strategies you can use to get started, which will clearly show you how you can use Google Analytics to better your website and ultimately grow and scale your business.

Let’s get right into it.

Strategy One: Improving Your Website Experience Using Data

Have you ever been on a website that just doesn’t seem to work? The pages don’t fit on your mobile device, and you have to keep zooming in and out to get what you want. The buttons overlap each other, and the website just isn’t laid out intuitively, meaning you’re really struggling to find what you’re looking for.

Do you still stay with the website?

Of course not. This is the 2020s, and if you can’t work a website, you’re just going to swipe the tab away and go elsewhere. The same logic applies when people are visiting your website.

Fortunately, instead of just designing a website and hoping that people enjoy using it, Google Analytics allows you to see exactly how people are using your website and highlights where you can make improvements.

Here’s how.

Step One - Improving Your Website Experience Using Data

You can’t make improvements if you don’t know where you are, so head over to your dashboard and check out your bounce rate. Try to find it for yourself to get the hang of it (it’s good practice!), but if you’re struggling, check the screenshot below.

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Now, our test website has only had three visitors, and that was us, so the bounce rate is incredibly high. Just so we’re on the same page, the bounce rate of a website is the number of people who visit one page of your website and leave without clicking on another page.

This is a common metric used to see how well people are engaging with your website because if they came to a page and liked what they saw, they would stick around and click elsewhere. If they don’t, then it shows they’re not interested. However, perhaps if you adjust your page content or make your design better, they would stick around.

That’s what this strategy is all about.

Now, it’s hard to judge what a reasonable bounce rate is because it really depends on your business and your website. For example, if you only need someone to visit one page of your website, then a high bounce rate doesn’t really matter because you don’t want them to go anywhere else.

However, if you want people to go deeper, then a high bounce rate is bad, and you’re going to want to try and make this as low as possible. Think about a landing page. Since this is the only page you want people visiting, 80% could be a reasonable rate. On the other hand, if you’re a business posting blogs but ultimately want to lead people to your products page, 80% of your visitors bouncing is a really bad metric that will need improving.

As a rule of thumb, your bounce rate is going to want to sit between the 41% and 55% mark, as recommended by RocketFuel.

So, how do you do it?

First, check your website speed. Are people bouncing because your website is taking too long to load? Use Google Analytics to find out.

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Using the Site Speed section of the Analytics page, you can see exactly which users are coming to your website and how long the pages are taking to load. In the menu, you can even see an option titled ‘Speed Suggestions’, which pings the pages of your websites and see how long they will take to load, and then offers suggestions on how you can speed things up.

According to recent statistics, a website page needs to load completely within 1 - 2 seconds. If a website takes longer than three seconds to load, you’ll lose around 50% of traffic, proven by a high bounce rate. For this example, we’ll also run our example website through the PageSpeed tool, which gives an accurate breakdown of website speed.

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Yikes. As you can see, our website isn’t optimised at all, and our content is taking around eight seconds to load, which just isn’t fast enough. Using this information, we can figure out that our images need to be compressed to improved loading times, our JavaScript needs to be minimised, and we could enable features like LazyLoading, to improve overall loading speeds.

Yet this is just one of the ways you can improve your website experience. Using the Google Analytics features, you can do things like;

  • Improving the index on your internal website search to produce better results or create content that matches the search terms for what people are looking for (using the Behaviour > Site Search feature)
  • See which website pages people are leaving your website and then figuring out why this is happening. For example, is the content laid out nicely? Is the page loading fast enough? Is the content concise enough and giving people what they’re looking for?
  • Is your website loading fast enough in the countries that people are visiting from? You may be based in the UK, but if a large percentage of your users are coming from the US (which you can figure out using the demographics tab), you may need to improve your US website experience.

Let’s say people are navigating pages of your website, but using the Exit Page tab, you see that people are leaving your website from the same page.

Let’s check our user flow.

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So, it says here that our users come to our landing page, visit the About Me page > Books > Coaching and then go back to books. We’re trying to sell our books, but as you can see from the last green box, this is the page where the users leave, which isn’t great when that’s effectively our product page!

This is confirmed by heading over to the Exit Pages tab.

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Of course, when you have a website up for a long time, you’ll get a much more varied array of data to work with. For example, here’s a screen grab of a kitchen supplies website.

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The highest exit pages are product pages, which means people are getting to them and leaving. This means improvements need to be made, so people stay and make a purchase!

How you do this is up to you. You can check the site speed to ensure the pages are optimised. You can change the copy of your website to make it more engaging and more likely to make a sale. You can add more attractive visuals and so on.

It’s really up to you, and we’re going to explore another way you can make even more informed decisions here in the next strategy, but at least you know you have a stream of data behind you that’s helping you identify where your website can be improved, instead of just randomly guessing or settling for a website that isn’t operating to its full potential.

Strategy Two: Highlighting Your Perfect Target Market

Do you know who your ideal customer is? Using the running shoe example, you may make your running shoes with slim, athletic men in their 30s in mind, and you put all your efforts into marketing to them, but if you don't actually know whether this is your ideal customer, you could be wasting your time and a ton of marketing resources and investment!

Use Google Analytics to figure out your real demographic!

We use the running shoe example, because what if your trainers are most popular with 18-year-old girls who are starting to get into fitness for the first time, but love the designs you have on offer, a far cry from the 30-something males you thought were your ideal target market.

Having this information dictates everything! Every aspect of your business, from the way you speak and the language you use, the imagery you use, the models you use in your visual content, and the type of ads and keywords you’re marketing, all depend on your target market. So find out!

Again, you need to make sure Advertising Features are enabled for this feature to work, but you can do this easily from your dashboard by clicking on the appropriate tab and following the onscreen instructions.

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As a running shoes website, let's say we want to sell to adult males who are looking after their health. I say they have money and income to spend and want to be in the best shape heading into their older years. Let’s look at the stats.

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As it turns out, the vast majority of people coming to our website are male, but they’re not in the 50s age group we had predicted, but instead are catering to a much younger crowd. Looking at our bounce rates, these young people are coming to our website but are bouncing because they don’t believe the content is suited for them.

Of course, we’re missing out on a tremendous number of sales opportunities here, so it’s time to renovate our pages to have much more suitable content for younger people, be it through your content language, overall theme and the imagery you use.

When the updates are complete, these younger people will come to the page and will be far more likely to buy because they see a product suitable to them that makes them want to buy it. The idea here is to figure out who you’re dealing with, and then creating content that makes that person like what they see.

Using this demographic data, you can make such educated decisions in everything you do, whether you’re thinking about future products you want to create, marketing campaigns you want to run, and so on. You could even go into insane detail with this. Let’s say 90% of your website visitors use iPhones. You could create visual advertisements with iPhones in them to make them more relatable, or you could think about selling iPhone cases. If you’re creating an app, you know to make it primarily for iPhone users.

It’s small details like this that will ensure your business grows to its full potential.

Imagine if you didn’t go through this process of audience identification. and you created a high-budget video advertisement for selling older men running shoes.

Sure, you get some sales here and there, and you think everything is okay. Using our data, if you made a video advertisement for young males, you would statistically have five times more sales, which is why this strategy is worth thinking about.

Strategy Three: Getting Your Visitors From the Best Places

What is your current strategy for getting visitors to your website? Let’s say you have a blog you upload to several times a week, a social media account on all the major platforms, and you’re running some paid ads on a few keywords. Some basic stuff.

However, how do you know you’re spending your efforts in the right place, and how do you know what kind of returning you’re getting on your efforts? Well, you don’t, unless you’re looking at your stats.

You can do this first by looking at the Overview tab to give you an overall idea of whether people are clicking a referral link, searching for you on the search engines, are coming from paid advertising campaign placements, or are clicking on or typing in a direct link, but while a clear overview, you may want more detail than this.

This is why you’ll want to click on the Source/Medium tab.

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(example image from DataDrivenU)

Judging from this example, you can see that a ton of traffic is coming to this example website through YouTube and other big platforms. This is great, and you know that your efforts on these top-ten platforms are paying off. However, what happens if you’re spending a ton of money on Facebook and Instagram ads and spend a lot of your time creating content for these platforms?

In this situation, you’re probably wasting your time because you’re getting tens of thousands of hits from sites like YouTube, but barely 100, if that, from other social media platforms. If this is the case, then it’s clearly not worth spending so much time and effort on these other various platforms, and any marketing expert would tell you to drop the other platforms and then double down on sites like YouTube and Quora.

There’s no point in spending your limited resources on investments that aren’t providing you with any return. Using data, you can highlight what opportunities are best for your best and then further your efforts in these areas.

Final Thoughts

And with that, we come to the end of our guide.

What a journey it’s been, and hopefully you’ve learned a lot along the way. Lots of this might seem confusing at first, but there’s no doubt that with a bit of a time investment and experience, Google Analytics can become a core part of your marketing and business growth efforts.

Don’t forget, this is just the guide to get you started and to provide you with some ideas. There are limitless ways to use the data provided by this platform to grow and expand your business, create new sales opportunities, and connect and grow your audience and community.

Your best bet is to get involved, get exploring, see what features and services stand out to you, and see what ideas you and your team can come up with. Whatever decisions you make, you can be sure they’re always going to be far more grounded and beneficial when they’re backed up with data.