Google Analytics – A Brief Overview for Beginners

September 5, 2011 9:20 pm 1 comment

Google Analytics – A Brief Overview for Beginners

Anyone with a Google account can have access to this free and powerful tool.  A website owner can not only view their websites traffic progression but also analyse, in great depth, all of their websites statistics.  Analytics can generate up to 85 reports, and although not all of them are mentioned here, there is a brief overview for the beginner.  But don’t be fooled – this is a powerful tool used by the professionals too.

Installing Analytics

Assuming you already have a Google account, the first thing you will need is your own unique Tracking Code – this is a clever snippet of code that you paste inside the header tags of each page you wish to keep track of. If you are using WordPress or something similar, there are plugins available to do this for you, otherwise you’ll need to talk to your webmaster if you are unfamiliar with HTML.  You get the tracking code after finishing the Google Analytics setup, and if all has gone smoothly you have also linked your domain (website) to a Google account – and you are able to start using the tool.

The Dashboard

This is where you can get an overview of your websites statistics, and it’s fully customisable so once you start using the tool you can have the things you want where you want them.  A simply outlay conceals a powerful tool that is capable of processing and displaying enormous amounts of data. The default layout is listed below to give an idea of the information you can expect to garner.

  • Date Range – Shows any selectable period since Analytics started collecting data.
  • Visits – Displays the number of visits to the site each day.
  • Site Usage – Shows visits, total page views and pages per visit.  Also indicates ‘bounce-rate’ – percentage of viewers who left the site after only one page.
  • Map overlay – Displays geographic source of visits, down to state and city-level visitor information.
  • Traffic Sources – Breaks visits down into Direct, Organic, or major referral sites that have links to your site.
  • Content Overview – At a glance, shows most popular pages based on number of page views.
  • Export/Email – Self explanatory; export or email your reports, either one at a time or at scheduled intervals.
Visitors Menu
On the left, click on the Visitors pane to open up another sub-menu.  Again, there is an incredible amount of data to be found here, but the main highlights are listed below.
  • Technical Information  - Displays usage of different browsers and operating systems, users connection speeds, screen resolutions and plugins used like Flash and Java.
  • Benchmarking –  Compares your site to others of a similar size.
  • Trending and Loyalty – After a period, will show whether measures are being improved or not.  Loyalty displays the number of visitors, how many times they visited, length of visit and how many pages they viewed.
Content Menu
These reports can be utilised as part of your ongoing SEO plan, displaying user behaviour, and being able to directly link search terms with landing pages. Again, the main highlights are briefly listed below.
  • Top Content – Pages receiving most number of views.
  • Navigation Summary – How visitors used your site, what they did, what pages they viewed.
  • Top Landing Pages – Pages that are highly ranked within your website that attract visitors from organic search results are known as your landing pages.
  • Top Exit Pages – Here you can find out which pages visitors are clicking out from.
  • Entrance Keywords – Displays the most popular keywords and phrases that bring visitors to your website, or specific page.
  • Site Overlay –  Displays your site’s click percentages, and indicates any hyperlinks followed by visitors.
For a more in-depth view, read Google Analytics 3rd edition.
A powerful tool, indeed
It might take a little while to familiarise yourself with the data outputs, but Analytics is an extremely powerful tool.  The features are almost limitless, able to provide a comprehensive insight into your website and SEO performance. Being able to integrate AdSense also means you can incorporate cost-per-click into your data, giving you extra information with regards to return on investment for paid search.
With all this information, both small and large corporations alike can garner the knowledge they need to succeed in the on-line world.


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