Google Analytics is a powerful tool that provides great insight as to how your website is performing and how your visitors are engaging with your online presence.

Using Google Analytics helps businesses make informed decisions and improve how consumers interact with the brand online. In this section of the Google Analytics Guide, you’ll learn how to get started with Analytics tracking and how to navigate the dashboard to start collecting important business data.

Analytics is broken into four segments:

  • Audience: the demographics of your site’s visitors
  • Acquisition: where those visitors are coming from
  • Behavior: what visitors do on your site
  • Conversions: information related to goals completed on your website

The reports within each segment provide a unique look into different aspects of your business’s online success. Knowing who your website visitors are, where your website is excelling and where it’s falling short is important to fully understand your company’s online presence.

How to start tracking and improving your website’s success with Google Analytics:

Getting started with Google Analytics

To get started with Google Analytics, code must be added to the HTML of your website. To do this, you can use Google Tag Manager, or manually add the code yourself.

It’s vital to test your code to ensure Google will not recognize it and track it if you do not use its validation tool. For example, if you run an e-commerce site, is e-commerce tracking set up correctly to reflect your online sales? If you need further assistance with configuration or set up, any website developer or digital agency can surely assist you. Also, reference Google’s Analytics help pages, which are well written, easy to understand and translated into 60+ languages.

How to filter out internal traffic

To ensure Analytics is not recording your own visits as valuable traffic, set up Filters to remove internal traffic as well as traffic from possible bots:

  • Visit the Admin tab near the top of the page
  • Select Filters from the right-hand column
  • Click “+ New Filter”
  • Set a relevant Filter Name for the IP address you’re filtering out
  • Set the Filter Type to Predefined
  • Select Filter Type > Exclude
  • Select Source or Destination > Traffic from the IP addresses
  • Select Expression > that are equal to
  • Paste the IP address to remove into the “IP Address” section
    • To determine your IP address, visit http://whatismyipaddress.com/
    • To do this, you must be at the location you want to find the IP address for, because the site generates the IP address of the location you’re currently at.
  • Save

The purpose of Google Analytics is to determine information on your customers, not your employees. Without removing internal IP addresses, your website is tracking every visit to your website the exact same, even if it’s just an employee visiting the site for business purposes. If your employees frequently work from home or areas outside the office, be sure to filter out those IP addresses as well. If you’re working with a digital agency or website company, be sure to block the company’s IP address as well.

How to navigate the main dashboard

Once Google Analytics is properly tracking your website, log into your Analytics account and select the site you’d like to see data for.

The left-hand side of the dashboard is your main area of navigation.

navigating the google analytics dashboard

Each of the four main segments—Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions—has a section within the menu bar that provides its corresponding data reports. Opportunities within each section will be explained in the remained of this post.

Setting your date range

Every time you log into Google Analytics, the first thing you’ll need to do is adjust the date range for which you would like to gather data. This is found in the upper right-hand corner:

setting the date range in google analytics

Select a start and stop date for the date range. If you would like to see how that range compares to another time period, check Compare to: and set the drop-down to previous period, which is the same number of days before your date range; previous year, that same time period exactly a year ago; or custom, which allows you to select your own date range to compare to.

Adding annotations

An annotation notes a specific event on a certain day related to your site or marketing. For example, if you publish a blog post on April 17, 2015, add an annotation in Google Analytics describing what blog was published, when and where it was distributed, if relevant. This will help you understand any changes in traffic that may occur on that specific day. While you will most likely recall what happened last month, you might not recall that large spike in traffic from last year.

There are two ways to add a new annotation:

  1. Visit the Admin tab of Google Analytics, select Annotations and click “+ Add New Annotation.”
  2. In the Audience > Overview or Behavior > Overview section, click the small arrow below the graph. Then, click “+ Create new annotation” on the right-hand side.

Once your annotation is saved, you’ll have that note forever.

While these steps don’t initially provide the nitty-gritty details of your website’s performance, they’re crucial to ensure you’re tracking accurate data. Think you’re ready to dive deeper into Google Analytics? Check out the next chapter of the Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics: Understanding Basic Reports.

Prefer to have virtual or face-to-face Google Analytics training? Our team of certified experts is here to help. To learn more about Analytics training and support opportunities…

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Britney Glowe

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