Beginner’s guide to google analytics – google analytics tutorial

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Beginners Guide to GoogleAnalytics

Beginners Guide to Google Analytics Google Analytics Tutorial

A Brief History of Analytics

Google Analytics was originally developed from the Urchin on Demand software that Google acquired in the spring of 2005 (Urchin is still developed and available through value-added resellers, and is currently at version 7). The first Google-branded version was released in November 2005. In 2006, further ideas from Measure Map (developed by Adaptive Path) were integrated into Analytics when Google acquired them.Early on, Analytics was available by invitation only, as demand for the product was very high. It wasnt fully available to all users until nearly a year after its initial release (August 2006).Why Use Analytics?Analytics is a powerful application for tracking traffic patterns on your website. The fact that its an entirely free program, and integrates with other Google programs, like AdSense and AdWords, only makes it that much more valuable.Considering most people already use at least some Google products, it makes sense to use Analytics, because it is such a powerful, yet easy-to-use, product.

Whats New in Analytics 5?

One of the biggest new features in Analytics 5 is the addition of custom dashboards. You can create custom dashboards for your sites that include whatever metrics youre interested in. Beyond that, you can even choose how the information is displayed (table, chart, etc.).Some beta features in Analytics 4 have become primary features in Analytics 5, including Intelligence. Another nice addition is the JavaScript interface, which makes Analytics feel like a much smoother, more professional application. Overall, the biggest changes are in the interface layout, rather than the functionality of the program.There are also some features that have been removed from 5, including breadcrumb navigation within reports and links to external referring sites (which adds extra steps when you want to see exactly what page referred traffic to your site). The percentage change in metrics that was displayed in the chart when comparing date ranges is also missing (though the data is shown in the table below the chart). Whether these features will be added in future revisions or not remains to be seen. Since none of these affect the functionality of Analytics, theyre more of an annoyance than a real problem.

The Basic Interface

When you access the report for your site, youll first be brought to the Visitors Overview screen. This differs from the last version of Analytics, where you were first brought to a general overview screen that also showed information about traffic sources and content. At the top of the report, youll see a chart showing your traffic patterns for the past month. You can also use the dropdown to change the date this graph and the rest of your reports show (or you can choose to compare two date ranges).On the chart, you can choose to create annotations for specific days. Say, for example, you had a review of your product on a major industry site on a particular day. You could add an annotation to that day, so that when you look back on your traffic patterns at a later date youll know exactly what caused a spike in traffic. You can do the same if you have a sudden drop in traffic, say if your website goes down for a few hours.Along the left-hand side of the screen youll see your main report navigation. You can view more detailed reports for your Visitors from here, or switch to see overviews and detailed reports for traffic sources, content, and conversions. Below that youll also find Help links for common issues you might encounter.Along the top, youll see more navigation. Theres an additional link for conversions there, as well as a link to custom reports. In the sub-navigation, youll see a link to Intelligence, which well cover later on.

Visitors Part - 1

The visitors overview is the default screen youll see when you view the report for any of your sites. This screen gives you the number of visitors, unique visitors, and pageviews (along with the average pages/visit). It also shows you the average time spent on your site, the bounce rate, and the percentage of new visits (a pie chart comparing new to returning visitors is also shown). This gives you a good, high-level overview of how your site is doing. High pages/visit, high average time on your site, and a low bounce rate give you an idea of how useful visitors are finding your site once they arrive.Youll also see that there are some basic demographics, system, and mobile reports at the bottom of the overview screen. You can view visitors by language, country/territory, or city; by browser, operating system, and service provider; and by mobile operating system, service provider, and screen resolution. The most useful reports here are the demographics reports (the system and mobile reports are more useful in a design and programming sense, than in a marketing sense, though youll want to make sure that your site is compatible with all the popular technical specs here).You can view more detailed reports on demographics by clicking on it in the left navigation. There you can view detailed information about your visitors locations (including a map overlay) or language, as well as set up user defined and custom variables for more exact reporting. On the map, if you click on any country youll get a larger map of that country, with more detailed information about where your visitors are coming from.The next sub-report in the visitors section is behavior. This section gives you more information about new vs returning visitors, how frequently and recently visitors are returning to your site, and user engagement. Looking at how many visitors you have returning frequently gives you an idea of how many true fans you have. Users who have visited your site a dozen or more times are most likely fans of your site or company. These are the users you can more or less count on when asking for help in promoting a new product or otherwise getting the word out. You can also view the days since last visit report, which gives you an idea of how often your return visitors are coming back to your site.

Visitors Part - 2

The engagement report shows you two key metrics: the visit duration and the page depth (how many pages a visitor viewed). Visitors who stay on your site longer and view more pages are more engaged. You want a high number of visitors viewing more than one page, and staying on your site more than a few seconds. If thats not happening, these reports will tell you so.The last two reports in the visitors section are for technology and mobile statistics. For the most part, these arent very helpful from a marketing standpoint. But, it is a good idea to monitor them and make sure that your site appears correctly in the more common combinations. Its also vital to review these when youre getting ready to redesign your site. If you still have a significant percentage of visitors coming to your site using older technology, youre going to have to make sure your new site still appears correctly for them. Pay attention to trends, too. For example, if you see that a particular mobile platform is increasing by double-digits each month, youll want to make sure your site supports that platform, even if it still represents a small percentage of overall visits.

Traffic Sources

Your traffic sources overview is one of the most important parts of your Analytics account. Where your traffic is coming from tells you a lot about the strength of your SEO, your incoming links, and your AdWords and other advertising campaigns. It also shows you where your weaknesses are. Ideally, you want traffic coming from a variety of sources, so that your traffic isnt tied to closely to a single source thats beyond your control. For example, if 80% of your traffic comes from organic Google results, and suddenly Google changes their algorithm and your site ends up on page 10 instead of the top of page 1, youll see a huge drop in traffic. But if only 40% of your traffic is coming from the same source, its easier to compensate (in this case you might increase your AdWords spending to compensate for a lack of presence in organic results).One of the most important reports in your traffic sources is the keyword reports. These are vital to figuring out how your search traffic is finding your site. Because Analytics tracks not only the top keywords driving traffic to your site, but every keyword used, you can see all the long-tail search results driving traffic to your site. Theres a brief keyword report on your overview page, but more detailed reports can be found under the Search sub-report.The search sub-report also tells you which page visitors are landing on most often, and which search engine theyre coming from. You can view your paid (AdWords) traffic and organic traffic, or a mix of the two. You can also view traffic in terms of campaigns, including traffic from RSS feeds.If you use AdWords, you can view detailed reports for traffic driven by your ads, including campaigns, keywords, day parts, destination URLs, placements, keyword positions, and TV ads. These reports show you the number of visits generated, how many pages/visit, the average time spent on the site, the percentage of new visits, the bounce rate, your total goal completions, and the revenue generated from each. The last two are the most important metrics to watch, as you want to make sure that the ads are generating enough revenue or conversions to make them worthwhile. You may have some ads that only drive a small percentage of traffic, but a large number of those visitors convert (or vice versa). Without knowing the goal completions or revenue, you might disregard those ads and throw away important revenue sources.


On the content overview page, the graph represents page