Google Analytics 101: An Everything Bagel with Plain, White Cream Cheese

By Site Strategics
April 27, 2016

This past Wednesday our own Nate Torvik presented a basic overview of Google Analytics to members of the IndyAMA in downtown Indianapolis. Google Analytics provides a vast wealth of data and lenses from which to view and analyze that data. However, the goal here was to point out basic, but critical areas to focus when looking at your own analytics data or that of your clients. Hence the metaphor. Google Analytics is an everything bagel, with loads of “ingredients.” This basic walkthrough is our plain white creme cheese.


Follow along while we cover the areas Nate pointed out in his presentation.

Initial Setup

The first part of the initial setup is common knowledge to many of us — setting up your account and installing the Google Analytics (GA from here on) tracking code. Another crucial aspect of the initial setup is ensuring you set up goal tracking. This way you can track conversions and what it is you want users doing on your site, whether that’s purchasing a product or service, signing up for a newsletter, filling out a contact form, and so on.

Basic Overview

Here Nate covers the main metrics you’re going to see when accessing your GA dashboard. Each metric is explained in a bit more detail so that you know what each means and how to interpret them. One reminder here is to filter out your own IP address, so that you are getting  the most natural, accurate data for your or your client’s website.

Compare Your Data

Once your account is set up and you’re tracking your site traffic, you’re going to want to compare your data to evaluate the effectiveness of your digital marketing efforts. For instance, if you just ran a new email marketing initiative last week, you may want to compare that data vs. the previous week to gauge the impact. Or if your business goes through significant seasonal fluctuations, it may make a lot more sense for you to compare data in a year-over-year view versus month-over-month or week-over-week. GA allows you to customize any sort of date comparison you wish, so long as your data is tracked and available.

Where Do I Go?

Hearing about the different types of data you want to see is great, but where do you actually find these data points in GA? Nate’s here to tell you, folks. At a basic 101 level (but also for seasoned GA veterans), your main focus should be in the following sections:

  • Audience – Where all your data is housed, allowing you to check your overall site health from data culled from the real people visiting and interacting with your site
  • Acquisition – Here you can break down the various channels through which users are visiting your site, allowing you to dive into channel-specific data (ie. Organic, Paid, Referral, Social, etc)
  • Behavior – Appropriately titled, this is where you can learn more about individual pages of your website and how users are interacting with them to help you focus and develop content around what users want
  • Conversions – This hearkens back to the initial setup, and is where you will evaluate your digital marketing campaigns to ensure they’re working, helping you to make tactical financial decisions

Resources

Finally, Nate covers some other tools we use in our digital marketing efforts at Site Strategics, as well as some other Google Analytics beginner’s guides. If you’re just getting familiar with GA, we recommend reviewing other guides as well to see how you can best use it for your needs.