Google Analytics is a powerful, free tool that can give business leaders an in-depth view of the effectiveness of their company's online presence. In the first part of this series, we examined an array of available features as well as the benefits for enterprises that leverage those capabilities. In this entry, we'll go beyond the surface of the program to get a better idea of the various uses of Google Analytics.
Getting started: Google Analytics homepage
Let's begin with the homepage. Social Media Examiner contributor Kristi Hines noted that this page immediately offers some basic information, including the list of websites connected with your Google Analytics account, the total number and average duration of sessions, and the bounce and goal conversion rates for all the sites listed.
The homepage is searchable and customizable – the page includes a search box for easy navigation of the websites included in your account, as well as the ability to mark the most important sites with a star.
This page also includes a date range feature, enabling you to see historical information about a certain website over a specified time period, or compare these statistics to the platform's current data.
More information: Google Analytics reporting
The homepage provides an overarching view of the basic metrics for each website. However, for a more in-depth picture, users can navigate to the Google Analytics Reporting page, accessible through a menu bar at the top of the screen. This menu also provides options for the homepage, Customization and Admin sections.
Once on the Reporting page, the left sidebar offers the ability to locate and view certain reports and resources:
- Dashboards: This tool allows for a more customized view of the data presented through the use of widgets. Hines pointed out that this is an easy to use, valuable feature of Google Analytics as it provides critical information subsets at a glance.
- Intelligence Events: This tool enables the creation of notifications to alert you when certain events take place, including when certain goals or metric benchmarks are reached.
- Audience through conversions reports: Hines noted that the most critical data can be found in the Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions sections, which offer reports on website visitors, traffic sources, goals and content. For a refresher on these features, take a look at the first part of this series.
Customize the view of your audience
One of the biggest advantages of Google Analytics is its insight into your customers' behavior. The program makes it easy for you to take an in-depth look at your website visitors, customizing how information about these consumers is presented.
WordStream contributor Dan Shewan drew attention to the Interests Overview section under Audience reporting, where you can access a broad view of Interests reports, including different subsets of information based on the type of users visiting the site. The Interests and Demographics reports – both accessible within the Audience reporting menu – provide an in-depth view of the type of individuals visiting your site based on their specific interests, age and gender. In the case of Shewan's reports, he was able to glean that the majority of his website visitors are males between 25 and 34 years old, working in financial or investment services who have an interest in technology.
With this information, website owners can create custom segments to separate users depending on the available categories through the Audience reporting menu under the All Sessions drop-down menu. Shewan noted that certain segments can now be viewed and compared.
"This segment can now be measured against other visitor traffic to gain insight into how certain types of visitors behave in comparison to one another," Shewan wrote.
By leveraging these in-depth Google Analytics capabilities, website owners are able to see just how their overall audience is interacting with the platform, how certain subsets are behaving and historical comparisons. Armed with this information, page administrators are able to craft a more focused, effective website that will not only benefit their business, but will provide the solutions their customers are seeking.
Stay tuned for the final chapter of our Google Analytics series, where we'll examine the latest Google search algorithms and what these mean for your site's search engine optimization.