What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a tool that’s incredibly useful for SEO and content marketing. It allows you to analyse in detail the performance of your website, giving you access to the behaviour and demographics of users. There are many useful features offered by Google Analytics, and the ones best for your business will differ depending on what you prioritise. However, there’s certainly a use for Google Analytics for all types and sizes of business.
What’s more, Google Analytics is fully integrated with Google’s other marketing tools, such as Google Ads and Search Console. Using all of Google’s marketing tools together can help you to expand and improve your digital marketing efforts, encompassing PPC and web development, as well as SEO and content.
Google Analytics pricing
If you don’t have a fortune to spend on digital marketing, we’ve got some great news. Google Analytics is, in fact, free to use. This means you can track the performance of your website without any huge fees. Of course, Google does offer a paid version – Google Analytics 360. This can set you back $150,000 per year, so is obviously only suitable for large businesses. However, for small and medium businesses, the free version of Google Analytics offers everything you need.
How to set up Google Analytics
Google Analytics isn’t the most straightforward to set up, as you’ll learn while we walk you through the process. It may seem like a lot to take in, but with practice, using Google Analytics will become a doddle – and massively help your website’s performance.
1) Create a Google Analytics account
You’ll be prompted by Google Analytics to create your first account. For this, you’ll need to give a name and some information about your business. This will also create your first property. However, if you already have a Google Analytics login and want to create another account, follow these steps:
- Go into Admin.
- Select ‘Create Account’
- Enter the name of your account and select your data sharing preferences.
- Click ‘Next’ to create a property.
2) Create a property
A property is the website or app that you want to track. Each Google Analytics account can have multiple properties. Follow these steps to create a property:
- Enter a property name.
- Select the time zone and currency for your property.
- Advanced options – choose whether to create a Universal Analytics property. If you choose to do this, make sure you create both a GA4 and a UA property.
- Select your industry category, business size, and how you wish to use GA.
- Click ‘Create’.
3) Add a data stream to the property
Data streams are new to GA4 – they were previously also referred to as views. Here’s how to create a data stream:
- On your property, select ‘Data Streams’.
- Choose your platform – either web, iOS app, or Android app.
- Input your platform’s information and create your stream.
4) Add your tags
This is possibly the trickiest and most time consuming part of setting up your Google Analytics. We’ll explain it here:
- Click on the data stream you would like to tag.
- Click ‘View tag instructions’.
- You can then get instructions from Google on how to install your tags using popular content management systems.
- Otherwise, you can choose to ‘Install Manually’, in which case follow the on-screen instructions to manually insert the tag to each page.
Google Analytics reports
Now that your Google Analytics is all set up, you’re ready to get stuck in and put your analytical skills to use. Google Analytics reports are what give you insights to how your properties are performing. Read our breakdown of the different types of results.
The real-time report on Google Analytics shows the activity of users who visited your website in the last 30 minutes. It shows information about the source, audience, page, event, conversions, and user. This is helpful for immediate results, which show you who’s on your website and how they’re interacting with it right at that moment.
The acquisition overview shows the number of visitors to your website over a given period of time. You can also see users in the last 30 minutes, as well as snippets of your user and traffic acquisition. These analytics can be accessed in their own tabs under ‘Acquisition’.
You may be wondering, what’s the difference between user acquisition and traffic acquisition? User acquisition shows how you first acquired a user – for example, through Google search. Traffic acquisition, however, shows the most recent way that a user visited your site. So, for example, a user may first land on your website via a Google search, and in this session they sign up for your email newsletter. A week later, they open one of your emails and visit your website through a link in this email. This describes user and traffic acquisition, respectively. Traffic acquisition covers both new and returning visitors to your website, whereas user acquisition lets you know how new visitors have discovered your website.
Engagement in Google Analytics lets you know how users engage with your website, whether it’s how long they spend on your site, or what they’re clicking on. Your engagement overview gives you three analytics: average engagement time; engaged sessions per user; average engagement time per session. This shows how long users tend to spend on your website and in a typical session.
Events are an important part of engagement, and these can also be customised depending on the analytics your business finds most important. Google has some recommended events, which include things such as ‘purchase’, ‘share’, ‘login’, and ‘signup’. For online shops, there are events such as ‘add_to_cart’ and ‘remove_from_cart’, which gives valuable insight to how users engage with your products. What’s more, you can view game properties, too. This includes events such as ‘level_up’ and ‘unlock_achievement’, showing how quickly users progress through the game.
Your event report breaks down different events by the event count, the number of users, and the event count per user. This last feature means you can measure how many events each user engages with on your website. You’re also able to see how much revenue results from each event, which is incredibly helpful for online shops.
The conversion report shows you which conversion actions users are taking on your website. This could be filling in your contact form, or making a purchase. You’re able to see which conversions take place on your website, how many users convert, and how much revenue each conversion makes. Of course, your conversion goals will differ depending on the type of your website, so some conversions may be a great win despite not earning direct revenue.
Pages and screens
Wondering which page of your website users spend the most time on? Often, this will be your homepage, but the pages and screens report also lets you see how long users spend on each and every page. This is helpful for judging which pages are best-performing, and seeing if any important pages don’t receive much attention, and therefore need to be improved. Plus, if you have certain product or content pages that users spend a lot of time on, this is an indication that your audience wants to see more of that content.
A landing page is – as the name suggests – the first page that users land on when visiting your website. So, the landing page report on Google Analytics shows you which of your web pages users are visiting first. This can be helpful in measuring which channels users may be accessing your website from. For example, if you have a social media ad that takes users straight to a certain page or product, then this may become a popular landing page. If it’s not, then this would be an indication that the ad is not attracting people to click onto your website.
Google’s monetisation feature deals with all things cash-related to your website. It gives detailed insight to all of the revenue that’s generated on your site. You’re able to see the average purchase revenue per user, as well as the number of first-time or returning customers. Depending on the specifics of your site, the factors may differ. For example, you can track items purchased, as well as the use of promotions and coupons.
If you’re running an online store, then this report will be very helpful for keeping track of revenue. It lets you see which product categories generate the most revenue, or which have the most views. You can also see what people are adding to their shopping carts, and measure this data over different time ranges.
If your app offers in-app purchases, you probably want to know which features people buy most or spend the most money on. In-app purchases are arranged by product ID, so you can see what’s being purchased and how much revenue you are generating from each product.
Publisher ads are a feature seen in mobile apps. This data is collected and shared automatically when integrated with AdMob, however if using a different ad monetisation platform, Google Analytics requires that you send the ‘ad_impression’ event. This report tells you how many users click on the ads, how long users see the ads for, and which ad formats perform best.
The retention report helps you to understand how users interact with your site after their first visit. You’ll see figures for both new and returning users, showing the user retention by cohort. The ‘cohort’ in this case refers to the day that the user was acquired. So, users who visited the website first on 01.01.2023 will all be grouped within the same cohort. It will show how well your site retains these users over a period of time.
The demographics on your Google Analytics account shows the location and chosen language of users. This lets you know whether you’re more popular in the UK, the States, or any other country in the world. You can even narrow down the demographics to see which cities and towns you’re most popular in. This can be very helpful for catering to your audience – people who live in a hot country won’t be interested in hot chocolates, but they may love a frosty milkshake!
What’s more, Google Analytics can show you the age and gender of your website’s demographics. This, combined with the location, gives you excellent insight into who your customers are, and how you can appeal to them. For example, with an audience that are aged 65+ located in the UK, you may want to use a formal, sophisticated tone of voice, and perhaps make your font sizes a little larger, too.
What devices are people using to access your website? Is your product a spur-of-the-moment thought, searched up on a smartphone while they’re on the go? Or has it been searched on a computer as part of a research project? While these can’t be said for sure, the device users access your website on can tell you more than you might think. You can also decide which platforms your website or app needs to be optimised for – if you have an influx of iOS users, it would be remiss not to make sure these users have the best user experience.
Eager to learn more about Google’s useful marketing and advertising tools? Our Content Hub has an array of helpful articles on any question you might have. If you’d like to speak to a digital marketer for their input, get in touch.
We’d love to chat
The best ideas start with a good old conversation. Let’s have a chat about how we can help you.
Complete the form and one of the directors will be in touch.
Or just pick up the phone and call us, we’re on 01204 527518.