What is Google Analytics, how it works and what it will bring you

Google Analytics

Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a web analytics tool that allows you to obtain a huge amount of statistical information from a website, essential information on any website that aspires to have some success. Here I tell you all the keys you need to understand.

Google Analytics is also completely free , which has helped make it the absolute reference in the market.

But beware, this should not be taken as the main reason for its success; The real reason is its enormous potential and usefulness . If it were not an excellent and complete tool, it would not have been able to become the market leader in this way.

The secret of the potential of web analytics (and of Google Analytics in particular) is that the information it provides allows you to analyze with great precision how the users who visit your website are and how they behave .

Above all, when your website is a business, this is vital information to be able to make the right decisions and thus get the business to work. It will tell you what works and what doesn’t and will alert you to failures and problems, thus being able to take the necessary corrective measures .

Starting from this general idea, let’s now see in a much more concrete way, with specific metrics, what Google Analytics is for and how it works.

And, although this post focuses on what Google Analytics is, you can also learn all the essentials about how to start using it with the videos included at the end.

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What is Google Analytics for?

As you have seen, using or not using a web analytics tool is the difference between being absolutely blind , being ready to see them coming, and knowing exactly what is happening on your website and, thanks to this, being able to maintain control and make good decisions.

The best way to understand this among the almost infinite information that Google Analytics can provide you is with simple examples of the type of analytical information :

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Examples of user behavior metrics

Let’s start with the metrics that are the first that come to mind for users, the metrics related to the number of visits:

  • Number of users who visit your website : this in Google Analytics is the sessions and measures the number of different users who have visited your website in a given period.
  • Average number of pages each user visits – This metric measures the average number of pages a user visits. This allows to deduce very interesting information; Increasing figures, for example, would denote a growing interest in the site. This can be an indication, for example, that we are getting better at engaging our target audience.
  • How much time users spend on each one : a metric that, in line with the previous one, also provides many conclusions about the work done on our website.
  • Bounce rate: the bounce rate measures the % of visits that leave the website more or less immediately (in a few seconds). A high bounce rate indicates potential very serious problems: we are not reaching our target audience, the content is not of sufficient quality, etc.
  • Which pages are the most visited : on many sites, visits are concentrated on a few pages, pages that will become a priority for you.
  • Hourly distribution of visits and visits in real time : Depending on the time of day, visits vary a lot. It is very interesting to know this information, because it allows you to optimize the actions you carry out so that they have maximum impact and monitor the results.

What is very interesting is how you can work with these metrics: they are not simply global data of your website, but can be consulted for each of the pages of the site .

So if we take the bounce rate metric, we can quickly pinpoint the most problematic pages to get to work specifically on them.

Examples of traffic sources

Closely linked to the above is the origin of the visits.

It is vital to know where people come to your website from, it allows you to know which channels are working well, which ones are still not being used and are working poorly and you have to improve, etc.

They are quite obvious metrics, therefore, I only list them without further comment:

  • Social media traffic .
  • Google searches .
  • Online advertising .
  • Visits from email .
  • Direct traffic .

Examples of demographic information

The following set of metrics is also quite self-explanatory:

  • Distribution by gender of visits .
  • Age distribution of visits .
  • Distribution by interests of visits .

Here the general reflection is, again, how interesting these metrics are in many contexts to interpret whether the actions you are carrying out are correct or not.

Also, keep in mind that these metrics can be segmented by many criteria.

For example: we may want to see the age distribution for a series of certain pages that are specifically aimed at women over 45 years of age, since the products offered there are for this profile of people.

If we see that these pages only reach a few % of people from this profile, we know that we are making some kind of mistake in how we attract them to our site.

Examples of geographic information metrics

You can also get geographic information metrics:

  • Distribution of countries and cities in traffic .
  • Country and city from which the user comes .

Examples of information technology

The more technical information metrics are not as well known as the previous metrics, but they are no less important for that.

A clear example would be page load speed , something that will depend a lot on the quality of your hosting provider , the design of the page and the practices you follow when creating content (whether or not you optimize images, etc. .).

There are numerous online tools such as GT Metrix or Google Page Speed ??Insights to measure the speed of web pages, but the crux of the matter is that it varies a lot, depending on the page within the same website.

Therefore, the typical test of the main page of the site with these types of tools can be quite poor and misleading.

With Google Analytics you can get, among other metrics, a neat breakdown of the speed of each page on your site in a table format to quickly spot problem pages.

But in reality, there are many other interesting technical metrics. Some examples:

  • Type of device from which the visit is made : personal computer, tablet, mobile, etc.
  • Browser and SSOO used : statistics of browsers and operating systems used by users. This is very interesting information, especially for web application developers.
  • Screen resolution : another piece of information from which very important decisions can be derived in the graphic and functional design of the site.

Examples of conversion and business metrics

And finally, I am also going to give examples of the most used metrics on websites that generate income and that are absolutely essential to understand if your marketing and sales strategies are working or not:

  • High conversion rates in the mailing list : a classic, the % of visits that are registered in the mailing list, the “leads” (contacts). This conversion rate has a huge range depending on how well or poorly you do it. In addition, it is essential to have it so that in successive improvement attempts you can see if they are working (improves the rate) or not.
  • Conversion rates in sales funnels : it is the same idea as before, but applied in successive points of a sales sequence. Here we are no longer talking about subscriptions to the mailing list, but about the successive actions that you want the user to carry out on their way to the sale. The registration in the list can be precisely the first action, a second action can be that they sign up for a certain webinar, etc.
  • Sales page conversion rates : In this example I am referring to the conversion rate of specific “ landing pages ” for specific products or services. We usually refer to leads or direct sales. It can be, for example, the % of people who sign up for a webinar related to the topic of the product.
  • Returns on investment (ROIs) in advertising campaigns : this example would already be a more sophisticated example in which we are measuring the paid traffic that a certain advertising campaign(s) brings us, contrasting it with the sales generated by that traffic and the resulting ROI.

I also leave you here a video about this that explains what Google Analytics is and that with what I have told you in the paragraphs above you will understand much better:

How does Google Analytics work?

Now the questions are how Google Analytics gets all this information and how you can access it. Let’s see then:

Google Analytics works with what Google calls a tracking code, which is a small piece of JavaScript code that has to be present on all the pages of your website.

In addition, it is also important that users have cookies enabled in their browser, since Google Analytics needs certain cookies in order to function properly.

Fortunately, the percentage of users who have them blocked is very small, so in practice this will not be a problem. Now, the fact of having a website that is using cookies also has certain legal repercussions that must be taken into account:

To get that code you need to create a Google Analytics account .

How to create a Google Analytics account?

Creating a Google Analytics account is very simple. Firstly, because it is completely free and, secondly, because it involves following a series of simple steps similar to other accounts that you have already created on other websites.

If you already have a Google account (Gmail, etc.) you practically do not have to do anything, it is practically enough to enter and start taking the first steps. In any case, my recommendation is that you follow the steps that Google itself explains in this link :

It is from that account where you get the piece of JavaScript necessary to integrate your website with Google Analytics, which you won’t need if you use a platform like WordPress for your website. Let’s take it easy:

How to integrate Google Analytics in WordPress and other websites?

But there are nuances depending on the type of website you are using. Let’s see then the different cases:

Integrar Google Analytics en WordPress

If you use WordPress, most likely as a reader of this blog, it’s very easy: there are a multitude of plugins to integrate Google Analytics with WordPress. In this case you no longer have to worry about the JavaScript code, the plugin takes care of that .

There are an infinite amount of free plugins of this type in the WordPress repository , but basically there are two variants:

  1. Those that only connect your website with Google Analytics and little else, such as GA Google Analytics (its free version).
  2. Those that integrate with WordPress a graphical interface similar to that of Google Analytics itself, such as MosterInsights , for example.

You’re probably wondering what the point of the latter is when you already have it on your Analytics account website.

The answer is that these plugins usually try to add value, or simplify the use of the tool, providing ready-made reports that, as such, you would have to design yourself in Analytics, etc.

Here you already have to assess yourself which option interests you the most. For my part, as a general rule, I prefer to keep my site as light as possible. For this reason, I resist this second variant of plugins, which are still heavy and have quite a bit of redundant functionality compared to the original Google website.

Integrate Google Analytics in Blogger and in any other website

In the case of other platforms such as Joomla or Prestashop , there are also specific plugins of this type that you can find.

In Blogger it is a simple configuration (keep in mind that Blogger is also from Google, which makes things easier), but in the case of a custom website , you will have to integrate that JavaScript code provided by Analytics in the code of your Web.

How to use Google Analytics?

Now that you should have everything ready to work with Google Analytics, it’s time to talk about how to use it. Well, here’s some good news and some bad news :

The bad news is that Google Analytics is so extremely powerful that I can’t do its functionality justice in this article.

In addition, although in the most basic part, it is very easy and immediate to use, the advanced things, such as the creation of reports to measures, conversion goals, etc. Its advanced functionality is quite sophisticated and requires some time to master.

But the good news is that there is an infinite amount of free videos of good quality and in Spanish about Google Analytics. Here’s our free Google Analytics course (a YouTube playlist with multiple videos) that’s a great way to get started:

My recommendation is that with this initial video you have familiarized yourself with the fundamental concepts of Google Analytics and that, on this basis, you go deeper with increasingly specific videos.

Conclusions

If you have looked at the examples of the metrics, you will surely understand that having a website without doing web analytics is like having a ship adrift.

We are lucky to have with Google Analytics a web analytics tool that is not only free but also excellent. It is so powerful that with it you can go practically as far as you want.

Now, my advice is to remember that the world was not built in days.

Getting started with Google Analytics is easy and you will quickly have a lot of very useful information, but the sophisticated features, conversions, custom reports, sales goals, etc., are not going to be mastered overnight. So slowly and with good lyrics ?

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