5 Google Analytics Tips For Beginners

5 Google Analytics Tips For Beginners

Some estimates suggest that over 50% of websites use Google Analytics to track site data. While Google Analytics can be an invaluable tool, it's not that helpful if you don't know how to use it.

You can use Google Analytics to measure web traffic, see track where the traffic comes from, monitor performance of your mobile site, and more. 

The possibilities are (almost) endless and the more you use Google Analytics, the more information you'll discover about your website. To get you started, here are five things everyone should know how to do.

Log in to Your Account

Of course, the first step is to actually have an account and the ability to access it. To sign up for and log into your Google Analytics account just visit the GA homepage and click “Access Google Analytics.” It’s that simple.

Once you have an account, you’ll get a tracking code that you’ll need to copy and paste into each page of your website. Google has an entire support page dedicated to helping you create an account if you get stuck.

Share the Account

Say you’re the owner of a small business but you need to share your analytics with your marketing department or maybe your friendly neighborhood software developers. Here’s how to share the account with different users.

  • Log in to your account and go to the “admin” section
  • Select “user management.”
  • Click “permissions” then “set permissions for”
  • Add the users Google account and notify them by email
Check Visits for a Given Time Period

You can set your audience overview to show data for any given time period, whether it’s this week, this month, the entire year to date, etc. To do that, make sure you’re on the audience overview page. It should be the first page you see when you access your account. If not, go to the left hand column, select audience, and overview.

  • Click the drop down next to the dates in the top right corner
  • Click the “date range” drop down
  • Choose the date range or use a custom date range
  • Click “apply”
  • View your data
It should look something like this:screenshot: customizing a time period

This action will give you data similar to what is shown below. You'll see the number of sessions, unique visitors (users), page views, etc. 

graph of website activity over time

Compare Time Periods

While it’s incredibly valuable to look at your analytics for a certain period of time, sometimes it’s even more useful to compare that data to another set. For example, if you have an annual sale and marketing campaign in August, it might be useful to compare this year’s results to last year.

  • Just like before, you select the date dropdown in the top right corner
  • Select your date range
  • Click “compare”
  • Select the date range for comparison
  • Click “apply”

screenshot: comparing a time period with the same period from the previous year

Now you can see how your sale performed this year compared to last year.

graph comparing website activity between two time periods, a year apartCheck Traffic Sources

Knowing how much traffic your site gets is important, but it’s also useful to know where it’s coming from. If you’re actively posting on social media, checking your sources will help indicate how successful your social strategy is. You can also see your organic traffic (visitors who found your site through a search engine) and find out which search terms people are using to find you.

  • Make sure you selected the date range you want
  • In the left hand column, select “Acquisition”
  • Choose “overview”
pie chart showing traffic sourcesThe pie graph will show you what percentage of your traffic comes from each of your top sources.

Scroll down and you’ll see a breakdown of these sources with deeper information. If you click on any of these sources, you’ll get even more information about that specific source.

For example, choosing social media will show how much traffic is coming from each of your social media accounts. Organic search will show which keywords are being used to find your site.

screenshot: Google Analytics graphs

Have questions about Google Analytics? Ask them in the comments below and check back for part two of this series.

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