How to Use Google Analytics: A Complete Guide for Beginners
Learn how to use and get started with Google Analytics in this introductory beginner's guide.
You've probably already heard of Google Analytics countless times and you maybe even use it for your business. However, the majority of businesses is still unaware of the huge potential of Google Analytics. As it gives you valuable insights into your website visitors, it's crucial to really understand what Google Analytics actually is and which of its features are important for your business. This free website analytics service allows you to track the ROI of all your online marketing projects, which can be very useful when deciding which projects need more investing and which should be paused for a while.
The options are truly limitless and each business can have tremendous benefits from Google Analytics if they know how to analyze this data and use it the right way. Before we get into best tracking features for your business website, let's take a look at what Google Analytics is and why nobody should ignore it.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free analytical tool that allows you to track how your website visitors engage with your website, audience demographics, and so much more. To have access to Google Analytics, all you have to do it install a small amount of tracking code on all of your website pages. Later, you can use tracking codes to tag and track your advertising and your PR or social campaign. With a unique tracking code, Google Analytics tracks all the data on your website.
Dimensions and metrics are the building blocks of Google Analytics reports. Dimensions are the attributes of data e. g. cities where traffic is coming from and certain pages or social media channels you're measuring and evaluating with Google Analytics. Metrics are quantitative measurements for dimensions. For instance, if you're looking at how is your recent ad performing in London, the 10,000 paid sessions you've recorded will be your metrics.
Google Analytics helps you make your marketing decisions based on the provided data. It's very useful for marketers to prove why they need to invest more money in advertising on certain channels or locations. After all, you can't ignore the power of this tool as it helped many businesses improve their marketing and sales results, and take their entire business to the next level.
Now, let’s take a look at the top 5 Google Analytics tracking features you can’t afford to miss out. Using these features regularly will provide you with priceless, in-depth analytics on every aspect of your website.
Table of contents
- Audience reports
- Tracking outbound links
- Tracking social media buttons
- Keyword referral
- Custom variables
1. Audience Reports
You've probably already seen many audience reports so far. However, it's crucial to have accurate and up-to-date information if you want to use it for your upcoming campaigns and, luckily, Google Analytics has that feature. With Audience Reports, you can see a more accurate picture of your customers with all demographics, interests, behaviours, etc. This feature provides you with actionable and direct insights without having to waste your time and money on gathering it by yourself. Among the many useful options in Audience Reports, you will notice Interests. This option will help you understand which of your products are the most interesting to your users, which product category is the most popular, what attracts new users, and which market segments have a high possibility of attracting customers.
2. Tracking outbound links
Your website might have a low bounce rate, but it's still vital to understand where are users going next after they exit your website. This will help you to optimise your website for conversion and place your brand messages strategically so you can achieve better results in the future. As many online business models depend on driving traffic to a page located on a different domain, tracking outbound links will allow you to see which domain converts the best. If you have a landing page you need to drive your traffic to, this is a must-have feature for your business. Also, it allows you to know which parts of your page convert the best. With that information, you can easily replace the elements on that page to engage your visitors even better.
3. Tracking social media buttons
When talking about the business world, we are all aware of how powerful social media is. Companies all over the world are making millions from their campaigns on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Snapchat. Encouraging your visitors to share your content via social media can bring you new visitors and, potentially, new customers. By tracking social media buttons, you can see which content is valuable to your readers and focus on these topics even more. For instance, you can create eBooks, guides or webinars on that topic and engage your visitors through different types of content. This information will not only be beneficial for your content or marketing strategy but for social media as well. Understanding what type of content your target audience shares on social media helps you create social media posts which will convert your followers into customers by reaching high engagement and conversion rate.
4. Keyword referral
It's great that you have visitors coming to your website all the time, but have you ever wondered how did they found it in the first place? What keywords did your visitors use that led them to your website? With Google Analytics, you can have access to such information and then use it to optimize your website for keywords your target audience is actually using. For instance, if you run a digital marketing agency and the first keyword that led people to your website is 'B2B digital marketing', you should optimise your website so you are at the top of the results on search engines when people search for that particular keyword.
5. Custom variables
We've already mentioned that Google Analytics tracks all of your pages the same way. However, some businesses need so much more than that and, luckily, they have it within this tool. Google Analytics is so flexible it lets you build your own scheme for content organization so you can track tags, categories, sections or anything else that might be useful for your business. This feature helps a lot with e-commerce sites and web applications where you need to track specific types of products or actions. To make the most of it, you simply need to stick custom variables directly into your page code. Keep in mind that these variables are restricted to three specific scopes of visitor engagement: page, session and visitor.
There is no doubt that Google Analytics should be one of your most used business tools. With so many free features and options, it provides you with valuable insights into customer behaviour that helps you shape your strategies and improve your business results. More importantly, Google Analytics enables you to make successful conversion and traffic optimisation.
Of course, you don't have to use all of these Google Analytics features right away. Start with the ones that are vital for your business and start using the rest of them if you think they can contribute to your business in any way. As Google Analytics is the perfect tool for understanding your customers better, think of it as the foundation for your upcoming business strategies.
Joel Koh is the director of One X Tech's Technology Management & Digital Solutions practice. He leads the firm's Asia Pacific office efforts in continually evolving and growing new capabilities to serve clients in technology-led transformations.