What is Google Analytics? Definition and how to use it

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 18 July 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Google Analytics is a software program that you can use to collect data and analyse it to create reports that benefit businesses. These reports can include data like web traffic and customer behaviour, among other topics. Data like this can provide useful insights and give you a competitive advantage as a user over others who don't utilise similar software tools. In this article, we discuss what Google Analytics is and how to use it effectively, plus explain the kind of reports it can produce.

What is Google Analytics?

To answer the question 'What is Google Analytics?', it's software that collects data for websites. It helps users to analyse data points like web traffic, customer behaviour and other statistics relating to e-business and e-commerce. These metrics can help businesses understand a digital marketing strategy that can truly benefit them and make them distinct from other competitors. The software has become popular because it's easy to use and integrates in a relatively straightforward manner with other Google platforms.

You can use this software on any web design platform. You can use it as easy as placing the pertinent code in the website's header. After doing this, you can view and download reports relating to the metrics you're interested in learning about. Google Analytics software comes in two different versions, with the standard version free of charge. The Google Analytics 360 comes with extra features available at the enterprise level.

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Software overview

Google Analytics software comes with an overview that offers basic statistical data such as users, location and bounce rate. It also gives a simple report with other statistical data points that may be of interest to a business. Here are some of the basic statistics you can get from the software:

  • Users: This statistic shows the number of unique visitors that come to the website within a chosen time frame.

  • Active users: This shows how many people are viewing your website at the given time.

  • Sessions: This shows how many interactions a certain viewer encounters with the website, which include clicking a webpage, purchasing an item from the website or downloading a file.

  • Session duration: This shows how long an average user spends on the website.

  • Sessions by the device used: This metric shows a ranked graph of the devices that visit the website.

  • Bounce rate: This shows the number of users who closed the window having no other interaction with the website.

  • Location: This metric shows a map view of users' locations over a chosen time frame.

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How to use Google Analytics

It's simple to use Google Analytics to perform data analysis. Here are some simple steps on how to use Google Analytics effectively:

1. Create a Google Analytics account

The first step in using the software tool is to create a Google Analytics account. If you don't have a Google account, create one first. Then, you can proceed to the next step. First, go to the Google Analytics webpage and click 'Sign in' or 'Create an Account', which you can find in the top left corner. If you've already signed in before, you can easily access the tool by clicking 'Access Google Analytics'. Next, fill in the requested information such as account name, URL, industry, time zone and other settings.

2. Use 'Get Tracking ID' to complete sign up

Google Analytics requires a tracking ID to finish signing up. A script tracking code is necessary to set up the tool on your website. After setting up your account, redirection occurs to the tracking code segment. You can find this code on every page on which you want to track the data. There are several ways to do this:

  • 'Copy and paste' code into your website template.

  • Formulate an analyticstracking.php file with the code and then add angle brackets after the tag in your template.

  • Check if your website builder or blog platform has an integration tool for Google Analytics to simplify the process. For example, some software may have a plug-in that can automatically add a tracking code to the pages you require or have a special field to add the tracking ID that works automatically afterwards.

3. Utilise star tracking

The next step to correctly taking advantage of the tool is to use star tracking. Google Analytics offers several features that website owners can use to customise their experience to get the most benefits. You can find these features on the left sidebar to configure and access them. The following three features are ones that most businesses tend to utilise when using the software:

Traffic source feature

This feature allows you to know the website where visitors are coming from. This also includes whether they're organic traffic sources, channels or referrals. You can access this feature by clicking on the 'Acquisitions' tab on the left sidebar. This also allows you to recognise which search terms users utilised to reach your website. You can find this by scanning major search engines.

Custom reports feature

This feature helps you further personalise metrics related to categories that you make yourself. For example, you can track traffic based on features personal to the business. You can also integrate external data sources, such as your customer relationship management software. Simply press the 'Customisation' tab, and you can formulate the metrics you desire.

Social settings feature

This is the third most popular feature that businesses use. This feature allows you to track results relating to your social media marketing campaigns. The tool can help you integrate social media into your tracking tools. You can add your accounts under social settings by clicking on ‘Acquisition' on the left sidebar. Afterwards, you can add your social media campaigns and track landing pages and conversion rates.

4. Add users

The final step is to add team members so they can view and work on it, too. To add them, you simply write their email addresses. First, click the 'Admin' tab on the left sidebar, select your account and click 'User Management'. On this page, you can easily add new users and alter permissions to give each user the correct ones. This means you can limit some users to simply reading or give others administrative access to edit settings and perform major analyses. Choosing to add your team members can make it easy to collaborate and look at reports simultaneously.

Google Analytics reports

The reports section is one of the most important sections in Google Analytics software. Learning how to use the reports effectively and read them can highly impact businesses. The insights gathered through the reports can offer information important to marketing and advertising campaigns, sales and other business functions. Here are five categories in the reports section that give you in-depth information about user interactions with websites:

Realtime report

The realtime report offers the same information as the active users report in the overview. This means that you get the actual number of visitors at the time you open the report. It integrates information like location, page views per minute, conversions and events to help you see the impact of an event like a product launch or sale.

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Audience report

The audience report shows a breakdown of website visitors. It offers a more detailed view using data points like demographics, location, engagement behaviour and the devices visitors use. You can also customise data if you want to.

Acquisition report

With this report, the information received is acquisition-related data. This report presents how visitors discover your websites, such as through a referral, search engine or ad click. It shows you information on different searches like organic, paid and results related to social media.

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User behaviour report

This report offers you insights, such as a flow chart, into user behaviour. It shows how users interact with website pages, offering data like total page views, unique views and information stating when users leave the page and which are the most frequented pages. It also features an Events tab that shows button clicks, views on videos and any downloads users make.

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Conversion report

A conversion report is useful when determining customer's online patterns in percentages or whole numbers. It shows a numerical analysis of how many times a user makes a specific action, such as purchasing an item, signing up for a newsletter or downloading or streaming a video. If you want a more effective conversion report, it might be necessary to add additional plug-ins or tracking codes.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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