Less than 30% of small businesses track their website analytics, making Google Analytics for beginners a necessary resource! Not only is Google Analytics free to use, but it's also incredibly robust, making it the first go-to resource for literally every business' website analytics. (Source
While business owners can all agree it makes sense to track analytics, less than 15%
track any analytics at all. I get it, not only is tracking analytics time consuming, it's yet another 'thing' you have to learn and manage - there's already so much an entrepreneur is managing! But, whether it be a sale, marketing campaign, or new contact, understanding the impact your actions have allows you to understand the value each action has for your business.
Let me put it this way, if you were looking for your keys, would you keep looking through the same drawer over and over when you know the keys aren't inside? No way! Tracking your analytics helps you know where your 'keys' are not hidden in your business - why wouldn't you want to know that?
The best place to start for free is Google Analytics, it also happens to be the most commonly used tool for monitoring and tracking your website's performance. Whether you are launching a new website or looking to start tracking your analytics, then this is for you! I'll share with you how to set-up your account and share my favorite way to start reacting to your analytics without getting overwhelmed with the unlimited possibilities Google Analytics provides you!
Cut The Google Analytics Jargon!
As with anything new, there's a host of specific words used within Google Analytics, let's break down what they are and what they mean. There are a lot of terms you might not know that aren't covered here, leave a comment below and I'll let you know the answer (and update this section).
Acquisition: how you acquire users.
Avg. Session Duration: the average length of a session.
Behavior: data to help you improve and understand your content’s impact.
Bounce Rate: the percentage of people who came to your site/page and left without visiting another page or fulfilling another event on the page.
Campaigns: the tracking of specific URL’s driving traffic to your website.
Conversions: the number of times goals have been completed on your website.
Goals: the feature that allows you to measure how often users take specific actions on your website.
New Sessions: the percentage of first-time visitors.
Pageviews: the total number of pages viewed, including repeated views of a single page.
Sessions: the period of time a visitor is actively engaged on your website.
Step 1: Sign-up For Your Google Analytics Account
Head to the Google Analytics site
, it will prompt you to sign-in to your current Google account (whether you have a Gmail account or not). If you do not have one, you can create one.
Whatever email you use to create your Google Analytics account will be the one permanently attached to your Google Analytics account, you cannot change it. So if you're using a temporary email or are helping someone set-up their account, make sure the email will always be applicable.
You will continue to fill in your website information as best you can until it asks you to name your website property. I like to name this my website name, keeping it clear and concise. Your Google Analytics account can have up to 50 website properties, so the clearer the better (even if you never intend to have that many properties associated with your account).
When you're signing up your account you need to connect it to your website. On many website's, you can place the HEAD text Google Analytics provides you on your website, with Wavoto you simply need to give authorization within the "Settings" of your site.
After you have created your account you should end up on a page that looks like this, this is your Google Analytics dashboard.
You'll see a dashboard for "All Web Site Data" and your preview data will all be zero - because you haven't started tracking anything yet!
Step 2: Start Seeing Your Analytics
Now that your Google Analytics account is open, let's create an easy to view go-to dashboard with the data you need to see on a monthly basis. There are thousands of people who have created templates for you to use on your Google Analytics account, it's your choice to decide which one is for you!
To add a dashboard to your Google Analytics account:
- Navigate to "Customization" on the left-hand side
- Click on "Dashboards"
- Click "Create"
- Select "Import From Gallery"
- Select "Go To Gallery"
- Search and choose the template you would like to use
Here are our favorite Google Analytics dashboard templates that remove the overwhelm of navigating Google Analytics.
- Monthly Overview by email@example.com
- Custom Dashboard - CompleteDigitalMarketingCourse.com by Daragh Walsh
- Analytics Overview for Small Businesses by Cami Bird Marketing
To use any of these, all you need to do is search their title (exactly) and import to your site. You'll immediately see your current analytics filled in.
Step 3: Understanding Your Analytics
After you set up your analytics, come back in about a week and breakdown what your analytics are saying (we recommend weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly analytic reviews). When you open your customized dashboard, what will you see?
Here's an example using the Analytics Overview for Small Businesses template (information has been blocked out for privacy).
The Analytics Overview for Small Business template covers a few things:
- Total Website Traffic: How many people have visited your site in the specified time period.
- Overall Website Bounce Rate: The percentage of people who come to your site and immediately leave.
- WorldWide Sessions: Where your website visitors predominantly come from around the world. You can hover your mouse over various countries and see the actual number.
- Campaign Channels By Visit: Where is your audience coming from? Direct traffic are people going directly to the website either by putting it in the URL or having a link. Referral traffic are those linking back to your site and people following those links, organic traffic is how you're found in search results, (not set) can be a few different sources that Google cannot share or does not know, email is traffic being sent through an email link, and social media is traffic from social media (the last two channels were dictated by a campaign URL builder).
- Campaigns By Visit: When using a campaign URL builder you can track how successful your campaign traffic is. You can see how many people are visiting your website or opening an email, etc by the campaign name you use un a URL.
- Traffic By Device: What device are website visitors viewing your site from? Desktop, tablets, or mobile.
- Top Traffic Sources: Where is your traffic mainly coming from? This is often a repeat of Campaign Channels by Visit, but displays it in a different chart, allowing you to comprehend it easier.
- Most Read Articles (Top 10): The number of visitors to articles on your blog in a specified time period.
- Top Landing Pages (Top 10): The number of visitors to specific pages on your website in a specified time period.
You may not learn something every week, but each week you want to track the numbers and see how they fluctuate. If your bounce rate keeps climbing, look at what might be sending visitors away. If one week your website traffic plummets, make sure your website is functioning. You can also see how your campaigns are performing, which blog articles bring in the most traffic and if you need to better optimize your site for mobile traffic.
Step 4: Customize What You Need To See
You've added Google Analytics to your site, you've added a template and have begun tracking your analytics, but you want to track some additional items - time to customize your dashboard! Before you go adding anything, narrow down what it is you want to see and what it will help you accomplish.
To edit your dashboard template:
- Select "Add Widget"
- Edit the following aspects:
- Widget title
- if you want to track it real-time or standard and how it will present (metric, timeline, global map, table, pie chart, or bar graph)
- Choose the metric you want to follow
- Add any additional filter for that metric (such as a specific dimension or page URL)
Once you add a new widget, you can edit it or delete it whenever you please. Removing it won't remove the data it displays, it will just remove the easy way to see it.
Google Analytics for beginners doesn't need to be intimidating, just take it step by step! The most important part is being able to track your analytics, so as long as you have the tracking code associated with your website. By adding analytics tracking, you are already ahead of 70% of other small businesses. Even minor tracking of your website analytics can give you important insight on how to improve your website visitors experience. Go forth and add Google Analytics to your site in less than 15 minutes today!