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6 Tips On How to Read Google Analytics: For Beginners

By 3 September 2021No Comments

Every successful marketing campaign requires effective data collection and analysis. Measuring and monitoring your website’s performance through Google Analytics can help you make wise and timely marketing decisions that can ultimately lead to a better customer experience and even a boost in sales. However, reading the data is a whole different story. How are you supposed to know if your strategy is working if you don’t understand the data you’re looking at? When it’s so easy to get lost in the countless metrics and confusing terminology, it can be difficult to know what to do. That’s why we’re here, to teach you how you can confidently read your Google Analytics, so you can start making the most out of your data.

How Does Google Analytics Work?

First, it’s good to have a basic understanding of how GA even works as a program. Google Analytics is a free platform designed to help anyone with a website track their progress and performance. Tags are used to transfer data between your website and GA. Once the tag is in place, the system will begin collecting and sorting through the data. After it collects the data, it will organize it into reports featuring different metrics (anything that can be measured) and dimensions (how metrics can be separated). For example, let’s say you want to measure how many people bought your product online using an iPhone. The metric would be the number of purchases, while the dimension would be the device type (iPhone).

GA gives users the opportunity to learn more about their audience, their behavior on their website, where they’re coming from, the number of visitors coming in, which pages are the most popular, and the number of conversions you’re receiving, among other things. It can even connect to other platforms to offer even more data collection and valuable insights. Overall, Google Analytics is a widely used marketing tool that lets companies see firsthand how their business is performing online. In fact, according to BuiltWith, approximately 29.1 million websites are currently using the tool right now.

For a more in-depth look at Google Analytics, check out our blog post: A Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics 4.”

GA Best Practices

There are a few tips and tricks you should keep in mind when reading your Google Analytics reports. First and foremost, you need to determine your company goals. What are you trying to achieve? Whether it’s boosting conversions, driving more traffic, or simply finding out where your audience is coming from, you’ll need to pinpoint your objectives before diving into GA. Below, are some key things to consider:

  • Use Google Tag Manager

    This is another free tool from Google that allows you to manage JavaScript and HTML tracking tags on your site. With GTM, you can bypass having to modify code and save time. It’s different from Google Analytics in that it concentrates on what data you’re tracking, when you want to record that data, and where the data should be sent once it’s collected. When you pair GTM with GA, you get more tracking capabilities without the hassle.

  • Link to Other Google Properties

    GA is also able to connect to other Google properties, enabling you to share information across platforms. It can link to the Google Search Console to give you more insight into your search engine optimization strategy. It can also link to your Google Ads account, so you can keep an eye on how your ad campaigns are performing.

    To learn how to link your Google Ads to your Google Analytics, we recommend reading this article: “How To Use Google Analytics With Google Ads (Step by Step Guide).” And if you’d also like to see how you can connect to the Google Search Console, check out this video: “Updated 2020 Tutorial: How to Link Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

  • Create Different Views

    You can customize and analyze your data using GA’s various Views. These are simply different levels of reporting that you see in front of you. In GA, you can create multiple views for each of your properties and utilize filters to filter out anything you don’t want to see (like internal views on web pages). Setting up a wide variety of views can enhance your analysis experience and help you get more out of your data, as you’re seeing the data in different ways.

If you’re interested in boosting your marketing with the help of Google Analytics, you’re in luck! We’ve got a blog for that. Check out: “How to Analyze Your Marketing With GA.”

6 Tricks to Read Google Analytics Like a Pro

Now that you’re aware of some best practices, are you ready to learn a few things you should do when the data starts flooding in? Although company goals can vary across industries and depend on a variety of factors, the following items are all key things you should be doing to excel at reading your reports.

  1. Ensure That Google is Crawling Your Website

    It may seem like a no-brainer, but you wouldn’t believe how many people lose valuable data collection opportunities because they simply didn’t have the crawling functionenabled. To do this, simply navigate to the Google Search Console, click “Fetch as Google,” then define which pages you want to be crawled.

  2. Know the Report Types

    Google Analytics offers five main report types, including:

Acquisition – This report tells you where your visitors are coming from (social media, paid ads, other sites, etc.)

Audience – This report offers details on your site visitors (demographics, location, device type, browser, etc.)

Behavior – This report shows visitors’ actions on your site (clicked a link, played a video, bounced, stayed a while, etc.)

Real-Time – This report measures statistics from live visitors, events, and goals happening at the current moment

Conversions – This report shows you how certain audience behaviors led to a conversion

3. Identify Your Worst and Best-Performing Content

As a marketer or business owner, you know content is the foundation of your marketing efforts. That being said, it’s just as important to recognize the particular pieces of content that are performing the best (so you can replicate it in the future) and worst (so you can improve it now). To take a look at your website’s content, navigate to Behavior, select Site Content, and click All Pages. From here, you can organize the data however you need to, whether you’re looking for the most page views, average duration on page, etc.

  1. Take Advantage of Custom Reports

    Although Google provides plenty of report templates, you may find that you need to take a different approach. Custom reports are a great way to access data that is the most relevant to your company’s goals. Follow these steps to create a custom report:

  • Sign in to your GA account and click “Reports.”
  • Select “Customization,” then “Custom Reports.”
  • Give your new report a name.
  • Select the type of report you want (Explorer, Flat Table, Map Overlay, or Funnel).
  • Determine the metrics you want to use.
  • Add filters if necessary.
  1. Choose Your Priority Reports
    There’s a lot of data to take in with GA, but reading that data is much easier if you take it slow and only focus on the reports you have prioritized. Forget the rest for right now. The everyday essentials on your analytics checklist should be your traffic sources, your audience’s interests and behaviors, and the number of conversions you’re getting. You can always add more to your list as you go.
  2. Set Specific Goals
    Google Analytics gives its users the ability to set goals, which are essentially actions you want visitors to take while they are on your site. These could be filling out a form, downloading a PDF, purchasing your product or service, etc. Setting up goals is an excellent way to tell GA what you want to accomplish and give it the chance to collect data that revolves around that goal. As a result, you’ll have the chance to examine the results and see if your marketing efforts are making an impact or not.

Google separates the goals into four distinct categories:

  • Destination – tells what pages people visited
  • Duration – measures how much time visitors spend on certain web pages
  • Pages Per Session – records how many pages a user has seen within one session
  • Event – tracks when a visitor takes some sort of an action (signs up for a newsletter, makes a purchase, contacts you, etc.)

To set your own goals, follow these steps:

  • Click the “Admin” button on your GA dashboard.
  • Select “Goals” and click “New Goal.”
  • Either choose a template from the list or click “Custom.”

Understand and Use Your Data

Reading endless amounts of data is a time-consuming and downright confusing process at times. It’s normal to feel a bit intimidated! Thankfully, Google Analytics makes things a bit easier with its organized reports. Although you may not understand what your data is telling you, you have a team of digital marketing professionals that are ready to assist you! At Higher Ranking, we have decades of experience reading and interpreting data for countless clients from various industries. We know what works. Are you ready to start understanding your data, so you can use it effectively in your marketing campaigns? Call us today to see how we can help. 03 9399 1469