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Learning the Basics of Google Analytics

November 2019

Google Analytics is an extremely useful tool that can give you a ton of insight into how your website is performing and where your traffic is coming from. This post is meant for people who have little to no experience but want to learn the basics of Google Analytics. This also assumes you already have Google Analytics tracking installed on your site. Need to set up analytics tracking on your site? Contact us!

Getting Started

First, you need to login by going to Google Analytics. Once you’re logged in, you need to make sure you select the right view in order to see the correct data. To change views, click on the drop-down at the top left of your screen.



At Element5, we always set up an unfiltered view and a filtered view. The unfiltered view captures everything while the filtered view filters out known bots and internal traffic based on IP address. For reporting and analysis purposes, we always use the filtered view since it gives us a more accurate representation of the external traffic.


Learn the basics of Google Analytics


Once you select your view, you should see the Google Analytics Home dashboard. This page gives you a brief overview of all of your data. If you’re just looking for some quick numbers, this is a great place to start.





The realtime reports give you a look into what is currently happening live on your site. These reports let you see where the current users are located, how they got to your site, what page they are on, and if they have completed any events or goals. The realtime reports are also a great way to test if certain events and goals are tracking on your site. Just remember, if you have any filters set up this may affect your reports.



Audience reports give you data on who your users are such as age, gender, locations, browsers, and devices. The demographics reports for age and gender are very useful when trying to determine how you want to advertise to your audience. You can also determine which age groups or genders convert better on your site.



The location reports, found under Geo > Location, allow you to see traffic by country, state (called region), and city. These reports can be helpful in determining traffic spikes in certain areas as well as site engagement like bounce rate, pages per session, and average session duration.



Another useful report is browser data, found under Technology > Browser & OS. This lets you see what percentage of your traffic is on modern browsers (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge) and what percentage is on the dreaded Internet Explorer. Depending on your industry, you may even find that the majority of your traffic uses IE, in which case you should get a new job.



By going to Mobile > Overview, you can see what percentage of your traffic is desktop, mobile, and tablet. Comparing this data year-over-year (YOY) you can find out which device category is increasing the most.



Acquisition reports give you a look into where your traffic is coming from. Probably the best report to get an overall understanding of your traffic is the Channels report under All Traffic. This report breaks down your traffic by the Default Channel Grouping which consists of channels like direct, organic search, referral, social, and paid search. From this report, you can see how your SEO efforts are doing over time, what social platforms are most engaged, and how much traffic your PPC campaign is generating. You can also see how well each channel is converting based on the goals you have set up.



In the Acquisition reports, you can also see Google Ads data if you are running PPC. In this report, you can breakdown your PPC by campaign and Ad Group and also look at things like keywords and search queries. The Search Queries report is a great way to learn what your users are searching for to see your ads and what searches generate the most goal completions.



If you link your Search Console to Google Analytics, we recommend you do so, you can see data from there as well. The Search Console reports let you see what landing pages are performing the best organically, what location your organic traffic is from, the device breakdown of your organic traffic, and the search queries that users have entered to get to your site organically. It is important to note that the queries report does not show 100% of the data since Google hides a majority of the keywords.



Behavior reports allow you to dive deep into how your users are interacting with your site. The main part of this section is the All Pages report which lets you see how much traffic is going to each page on your site as well as how engaged users are on your site.



The site search section is useful for tracking internal site searches. You can compare sessions with site search to sessions without to determine which group converts better. This data can help you to determine how much emphasis to put on site search within your site. You can also see what terms users are searching for on your site and use that data to make certain pages more prominent and easier to find.

A great way to see clicks on certain areas of your site is to use event tracking. You can see all of your events by going to Events > Top Events. This allows you to see events broken down by category, action, and label and is a great way to determine how well certain sections are doing on high level pages like your homepage.



We like to look at conversions throughout all of the GA reports because this allows us to correlate things like channels and locations directly to goal conversions. The Conversions reports in GA focus on the goals you have set up for your site as well as ecommerce tracking, if your site is tracking it. The Goals > Overview report is helpful when determining if all goals are currently tracking.

If you have ecommerce reporting setup in GA, you can go to Ecommerce > Overview to see some top-line data with regards to ecommerce on your site. In this report you can see things like Ecommerce Conversion Rate, Transactions, Revenue, and Average Order Value.

The Product Performance report lets you see a breakdown of which products were bought the most and the Sales Performance report lets you see each sale and what was purchased.


This was just a brief overview into the power of Google Analytics and where to find the useful data. It is really up to you to analyze the data and find important insights to help continuously improve your website.

It’s always good to have a second set of eyes on things. If you ever need help with your data give us a call!

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