How to use Google Analytics and why it’s essential for your website

22 Mar, 2021

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When you create a website for your business, naturally, the goal is to attract qualified website visitors who interact actively with your online presence. In other words, visitors who stay and make an action, e.g. contact you, book an appointment directly, and, in the best case, even buy something. If none of these actions take place, it is particularly important to understand user behavior, i.e. their interaction with your website. To be a webmaster and having a website without being able to analyze and understand its performance is ineffective (and useless)! 

In all likelihood, you will want to constantly work on and optimize your website. However, to grasp where intervention on your part is necessary, you shouldn't resort to a feeling, but should always rely on data instead. There are many tools for web analytics, but none are used more than Google Analytics. The tool is structured in a clear and comprehensible way and therefore offers uncomplicated access to the precise analysis of one's website. 

With Google Analytics (GA), you will be able to track the development and performance of your website. The data GA can provide you with includes the number of visitors and the time they spent on your website, as well as many other things we will discuss in this article. 

With all that information, you will be able to make decisions about your website based on concrete data instead of mere hunches or feelings.

 

What is Google Analytics and where do I get started?

Google Analytics is a very effective controlling/tracking tool to measure the success and performance of your website. It is one of the most used web analysis tools and the basic version is completely free. With this tool, you can access important information about your website, e.g. visitor numbers, and quickly view and evaluate them. The tool processes the data automatically so that the user does not have to take the time and effort to calculate anything themselves.

Start Google Analytics -- Even if Google Analytics seems very complicated at first, you don't need to worry: we will explain its most important functions here so that you will be able to get the most out of this tool, even without any prior knowledge. And to further reassure you:

It’s actually pretty easy to find your way around the program since it is very intuitive. So, there’s no need to worry!

To be able to use GA, you only need a Google account and a Google email (Gmail) address, so, as you can see, it is pretty easy to get started on collecting data about your website. 

 

When you get to Google Analytics and log in with your Google account (Make sure to be logged in to your Google Account when using Analytics). You will be asked during setup what you want to measure: just leave the default "measure your website" set. Enter the name of your website, your URL, and the industry category, as well as the time zone. Accept the terms and conditions and your Google Analytics account is set up. You also need to enter the information about what website you want to monitor (for example, your homepage), etc. 



Next, you will receive a tracking ID that you will need to store on your website. For Google Analytics to be able to collect relevant data about your website, you must first embed the Analytics tracking code in the source code of your page. You do this manually for each subpage of your domain that you want to be tracked. Through this connection, the tool can perform a continuous analysis and statistical evaluation of your website


What data can I get from Google Analytics and what to conclude from it?

When you are in your analytics account, you will see a dashboard that provides you with a lot of information. On the top, you can see how many users visited your website, the sessions, the bounce rate (users who leave fast after viewing just one site or leave the site after a few seconds), and the duration of the sessions. You can filter the time you want to track (e.g today, yesterday, the last 7 days, the last month, etc.).

You will also find information about which parts (i.e which subpages) of your website users are visiting. You can also see how you acquire users, meaning where they came from (social media, organic search, referral, direct search, or others).

You can also see the geographic information of your users and the devices they used to come to you. 

On your dashboard, you will also receive statistics about the following Points: Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behavior, conversions. 

  1. Audience: Let’s you know who visits your website and how high their numbers are. 
  2. Acquisition: Informs you about how users get to your website.
  3. Behavior: This tells you what users are doing on your website.
  4. Conversions: This section shows you how to track specific actions your users take on your website. For example, whether they have filled out a registration form.
  5. Real-time: This shows you data about things happening on your website right now, for example, current active users, etc.

As you can see, there are many areas you can explore, but to simplify this article, we will focus on the following three points: Audience, Acquisition, behavior. 

  1. Audience: This area enables you to see data on all your users as well as their sessions for the time period you selected. This area also shows you the duration of their sessions and the bounce rate for your website. A high bounce rate is a signal that your users are not finding what they were looking for right away. The average bounce rate should be between 41 and 55 percent. In this section, you can also see the geographical location of your users. This makes it easier to target a specific geographic group when you want to create a Facebook campaign, for example.

 

In this section  “Audience” you have the subitem “demographics”: 

 

Since users can store a lot of information in their Google accounts, such as gender and age, Analytics can provide you with demographic information about your visitors, giving you the chance to target your audience even more accurately. This is helpful in that you don't have to hope that the product will attract the right target group, but you can see in advance exactly which target group will most frequently interact a certain way with your website (booking an appointment, signing up for a newsletter, buying products). Especially when you are creating a marketing campaign, it is good to know whom you are targeting. 

Another subitem here is the section “Mobile”, where you will find information about the devices people use to visit your page: Visitor groups are analyzed for their access behavior, e.g. if the homepage is mainly visited via smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers. The analysis of device usage can be very useful. If it turns out, for example, that most visitors come to you via mobile devices, the mobile display of the website should definitely work perfectly, and your main attention should therefore not be on the desktop display. 

  1. Acquisition: In this section, you can investigate how visitors came to your website. That is, whether the user came to you via organic search, directly, via social media, via recommendations, or others. Organic search means that users found your site as a search result in a search engine. Social means the visitor came to you via social media. Here it is especially interesting to see which social media platform they used and to focus more on that audience if necessary. Direct means that people entered your URL directly, and Referral means that visitors came from direct links on other websites (backlinks).



  1. Behavior: This is the area where you get data about what people are doing on your website. Here you can see the top pages measured by the number of views and also the bounce rate for each page, for example. You can also see the behavioral flow of your visitors in this section, or to put it more simply: what exactly are users doing when they navigate your website? This is interesting as it shows the path that users take after accessing the homepage. The reason this is so crucial is that it shows you if some pages on your website are actually superfluous (since they are rarely/never visited) or if the structure of the website should be adapted to suit the natural flow of the visitors. 



Use GA, especially if you are working on your SEO and SEA

Since Google is constantly improving this tool and adding more functions, they also make it possible to create certain connections to other Google services like Google Search Console. You can even get your account linked to Google Ads! This combination of Analytics and Ads will greatly increase the effectiveness of your online marketing strategy. The Analytics tool will allow you to gather more data about your customers and their behavior which will, in turn, increase the effectiveness of your Ads campaigns since you will be able to effectively target more specific audience groups.

We are of course aware that this Google tool can be a bit daunting for a total beginner, as it provides a lot of information that you might not even need! If you use rankingCoach and connect your Google Analytics account to us, we will only provide you with the most important information. In addition to the simplified web analysis, rankingCoach gives you the tools to push your online marketing strategy by working on your SEO, activating a SEA campaign with just a few clicks, and getting listed in numerous local directories.

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