Introduction to Google Analytics | Matthew Edgar | Skillshare

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Introduction to Google Analytics

teacher avatar Matthew Edgar, Web Analytics Consultant

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

10 Lessons (21m)
    • 1. What is Google Analytics?

    • 2. Top Challenges of Working with Analytics

    • 3. Definitions of Common Analytics Terms

    • 4. Install Tracking Code (without knowing code!)

    • 5. Setting & Comparing Date Ranges

    • 6. Sources: How do people find your site?

    • 7. All Pages: What pages do people visit?

    • 8. Visitor Paths: Previous & Next Pages

    • 9. Setup Regular Report Email

    • 10. Class Summary & More Resources

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About This Class

There are many web analytics tools available today--one of the more popular of which is Google Analytics. Google Analytics is an incredibly powerful tool and used correctly it can help you find new ways to improve your website and grow your business. But, Google Analytics can also be difficult to understand and know the best ways to use the information. In this course, we answer the top questions and offer practical tips to help you get the most out of Google Analytics. This course is designed for small business owners, marketers, and other professionals who run websites. No technical expertise is required. 

Feel free to ask any questions or problems you might have about Google Analytics in the Community Area and I'll respond as soon as possible!

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Matthew Edgar

Web Analytics Consultant


Matthew Edgar is web consultant at Elementive. Since 2001, Matthew has helped hundreds of businesses and non-profits grow through a process of analyzing and improving their website and online presence. He is the author of Elements of a Successful Website and Tech SEO Guide. Matthew regularly speaks at conferences and teaches workshops about analytics and technical marketing subjects. You can connect on Twitter @MatthewEdgarCO or on his blog at

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1. What is Google Analytics?: welcome to our class on using Google Analytics for your website. This is an introduction course, so to get us started, I want to define what I mean when talking about analytics. Most commonly, when people refer to analytics on their website, they're talking about Web analytics. Web analytics measures things like page load times, page views, visits to your website and time spent on your site. In recent years, the definition of analytics has also grown to include things like tracking and measuring business metrics that might include things like tracking leads or tracking sales. It could also mean tracking the size of your audience or how much reach you have within a particular group of customers. This broader definition of analytics is most often referred to as marketing analytics. Marketing Analytics goes beyond looking at a single platform or a single marking channel like a website to inform strategy, but instead looks at many different marking channels, using a variety of analytics tools to monitor, track and measure performance. And that brings us to Google Analytics, which is a Web analytics tool. But it also gets into that marketing analytics as well, because you can use Google Analytics to look at more than just some basic information about your website. You can really use Google Analytics to understand how your business works online. So in this course, we're going to cover how you should use Google analytics. What reports are going to be most helpful to look at, why you should review certain reports and how often you really need to check things before we get into the reports. I want to start by talking about one of the most common problems that happens when you start using Google Analytics. So join me in the next lesson to learn more about overcoming the problem of analysis paralysis. 2. Top Challenges of Working with Analytics: in this lesson, we're going to talk about one of the biggest problems people have with Google Analytics Analysis. Paralysis. My mission with this course is to help you get rid of that problem. There is a lot of data available within Google analytics, and we're not going to go through all of those reports because, to be honest, you don't need to look at all the data all the time. Instead, what we're going to look at in this course are the most helpful reports you need to check out in Google analytics. The objective here is to give you a clear idea of what stats will be the most useful to help you make adjustments to your website. This analysis paralysis is closely related to another problem. I see a lot of people face the number. One question I get asked when working with clients is how often they have to look at these reports. The easy answer is to say, while all the time, after all, everything is constantly changing and analytics gives you a way to keep track of how those changes are impacting your website and your business. But the better answer is to base how frequently you check your stats on the amount of traffic you receive, the less traffic you receive, the less often union check your reports for a smaller site. Checking the site stats monthly or quarterly is probably enough, but I wouldn't go less than 1/4 without checking out what's happening. Because if you do, you're likely to miss out on new problems or new opportunities. Now that we know how often to check everything in Google analytics, we're going to move on in the next lesson to start talking about key terms and phrases that you'll want to know as you look at the reports. 3. Definitions of Common Analytics Terms: in this lesson, we're going to review definitions of key terms that you'll see on many different reports in Google Analytics. When you first log into Google Analytics for your domain, you're going to arrive on the audience Overview report. This report gives you a high level glance of your data, and it also contains a snapshot of the key data points that I wanted to find. Let's start with users. This is roughly speaking. The number of unique people who saw your website in a given time frame sessions is the number of times those people interacted with your website. Page views is the total number of pages that people viewed on your website pages. Procession is the average number of pages people looked at during a session. Session duration seems pretty straightforward. It's the amount time people spent on your site. The catch is that Google Analytics has issues tracking this, especially for the time people spent on just one page of the site. So treat this as a rough guide. Finally, we have the bounce rate. This is a measure of how many people looked at Onley one page and did nothing else before leaving your website that covers the basic definitions. We're going to cover more definitions as we g o. But in the next lesson, we're going to talk about how to install the Google Analytics tracking code. That way you can start generating data on your website. 4. Install Tracking Code (without knowing code!): in this video, we're going to review how to add Google Analytics tracking code to your site. Don't worry. There are ways to do this. Even if you aren't comfortable using code, the first up is to get the tracking code in order to get it. You want to go to this side bar in Google Analytics and click on Admin. We're going to go to the center column of the admin area and then click on tracking info. This will load some more options, and from those we're going to choose tracking code. This will load a screen telling us the tracking code information. The actual code itself is in the center of the screen. Now that we have that, let's talk about how to install this code. I'm going to start off by talking about the technical code oriented way to do this. We'll get to the non code way to do this in just a minute. To start from that tracking code screen and analytics we're going to right click and copy this tracking code were then going to head over to our Web sites html code, and we want to place this tracking code right above the closing head tag. The ideal placement is in the head of your code. Is that what you can track every single person who visits your website? If you have to put it in the body of your website, your code will still work for almost every visitor, even if it's not in the head. Once you've pasted in your tracking code, you would save this and uploaded to your website. Now let's talk about the non technical way have doing this using a WordPress plug in in the ad plug in section of WordPress. We're going to search for Google analytics. There many options here, but the Google Analytics plug in from shared. This tends to work pretty well. Go ahead and install and then activate this plug in. Once it's activated, we can go to the Google Analytics area in the WordPress. Sidebar and click on settings. Now every plug in is a little bit different, but each should give you a way to manually enter the tracking I d. For this particular plug in, we're going to check the box that lets us manually insert the tracking I D. And that brings up the question of what is this tracking? I d. So we need to go over to Google analytics and get it. This is located right above the box where we copied the code from. Yeah, you do want to copy the U and a portion along with the numbers and then paste all of that into this WordPress plug in. After putting in that tracking, I d. You want to exclude your own visits to this website? That way, when you're logged into WordPress, nothing you do on your website will show up in the analytics reports, potentially skewing your data. Now we want to verify our tracking code. Let's head back to the tracking code section of Google Analytics above the code and next to the tracking I d. We can click the button that says, Send test traffic. This will send a test visitor to your website. If your code is installed correctly, you should see one active user appear on your website. There is one more way to test Google analytics, and this way is really helpful to make sure the tracking code ends up on every page of your website. For this, we want to go to G A checker dot com. And from here, put in your websites You are l. This tool will crawl through your site and tell you if the tracking code is on each page. What we want to see is green check marks for each page. Now the Red X is in the right. Two columns refer to different types of tracking code that are not going to be present on this site. So don't worry about those. If you're only testing for Google Analytics Code, now that we have the data tracking, we're going to start going through the reports. In the next video, we'll go over how to compare two different date ranges. 5. Setting & Comparing Date Ranges: in this video, we're going to look at how to compare two different date ranges in Google Analytics. Once you're in Google Analytics on any report, you want to go to the upper right hand corner where the data is listed, click the Down Arrow to expand the calendar. You can then click the check mark. Next to compare to Google Analytics offers three comparison options. You can compare it to a custom time range, such as 12 week period to another two week period you can. Compared to a previous period. This is the default option. For instance, if you're looking at the last seven days selecting this week compared to the previous seven days, the last option is to compare to the previous year. This gives you a historical look at trends, and that's where we're going to select in this example. After clicking on that option, we're going to click on apply and then the report we're looking at in this case, The audience Overview report will now include comparison data. For instance, in the case of this comparison, we can see that Sessions air up 112% year over year, but the pages procession have decreased almost 46% year over year. In the next lesson, we're going to look at the traffic source report. 6. Sources: How do people find your site?: in this video lesson, we're going to talk about how to locate the sources that are leading traffic to your website. To locate sources. Click on acquisition all traffic channels Channels in Google Analytics is, ah, high level grouping of the different types of sources that led traffic to your website quickly to find some of the most common channels you'll see starting with organic search. This represents traffic from non add results in search engines like Google or Bing. Direct traffic is people who typed your URL directly into the browser. Or maybe these are people who bookmark your site in the past and now have clicked on that bookmark to come back to your website. Referral tells you how many visitors came to your website from some other website out on the Web that's linking to your website. Social represents traffic coming from all the different social networks out there. Like Facebook or Twitter. Email represents traffic that comes from some type of email. This is especially helpful to track if you send out an email newsletter and then we have paid search and that represents traffic that comes from ads within search engines like Google or being so if you're using AdWords, that traffic would be represented here. What the channels report lets you do is compare different groups of traffic so that you can really understand how different types of marketing are performing As an example. Looking at this report, you can see that while organic traffic accounts for a large majority of the people arriving on this website, the time people are spending and the number of pages people look at is actually lower quality than the traffic coming in from referral sources. You can also use what we learned in the last video about comparing date ranges to compare how different channels of traffic are increasing or decreasing over time. From this overview report, you can click on a specific channel to see more details about what websites or what networks within that channel are really driving that traffic. By clicking on referral, you can see all the websites that referred visitors to your website. Here again, you can compare one site to the next to evaluate your marketing work and to identify opportunities for places where you may be able to get more traffic. This is another area where you can compare this report to a previous time period and see which websites are increasing in the amount of traffic they're sending your way or decreasing in the amount of traffic they're sending your way in. The next lesson, we're going to look at where people are going when they arrive on your website with the All Pages report. 7. All Pages: What pages do people visit?: in this lesson, we're going to review the all pages report, which tells you all the pages people access during a visit to your website. Once in Google Analytics, you want to go to this site Barb. Click on behavior site Content all pages. This is going to load the all pages report. The graph shows you how page views have trended over this time period. The table lists all the pages people have visited, and for each page you can see the number of page views, the time spent on the page, the number of people who entered the site on this page and the bounce rate. From here, you can look at the pages that are being viewed the most. Now that's really helpful to know. But what you may want to do is search through these pages to find a specific page or a specific group of pages. So in the top right corner of the table, there's a search box. Let's say we want to find all the pages that contain the phrase apparel on this site. We could type the word apparel into the search box, and then the table will reload to show us all of the apparel related pages. The maybe. We want to do a slightly more complex search for that. We're gonna go to that search area again. But this time, instead of just filling in the text box, we're going to click on Advanced to load the advanced search tool. Here we can add an extra search criteria. In this case, let's select page, and then we can search for pages that include both apparel and the term meant This should let us see all the men's apparel that we have on this site. Now, as we look over the table, there's a problem here, since we also have pages that are clearly about women's apparel. That's because our search said to include any page that contains the letters M. E n. And the word women certainly does contain those letters, so the search behaved correctly. But if we only want to look at men's apparel, what we need to do is edit our advanced search. After clicking on the link to edit, we need to add another search criteria. In this case, we're going to select to exclude pages that contain the phrase women. This will then reload the table and show us what we were hoping to find. As you review the All pages report on your website, you want to think about all the different types of pages you may want to search through and different things you can understand as you search through different groups of pages. In the next lesson, we're going to dig a bit deeper on the pages report by looking at previous and next pages. 8. Visitor Paths: Previous & Next Pages: in this video, we're going to look at a report that will help us do more to understand how people are really using the pages on our website. At the end of the last video, we were on the all pages report. What we want to do now is click on one of these pages toe. Learn more about it. For this example, let's click on the home page. This leads report that looks very much like the All Pages report. Except all the data here is about the home page that different information. And I think the more useful information comes from the navigation and summary tab located above the graph. This lets us look at how people are navigating to and from a particular page. So let me explain what that means. A little more clearly, people on your website can reach any given page on your site in one of two ways. First, they can enter your site on that page from one of those traffic sources we were looking at earlier. Or people can get to a page from somewhere else on your website, for instance, by clicking on navigation links now, once they visited a particular page. People have two options burst. They can exit your website from this page. Orthe e other thing they can do is click some link contained on that page to access another page on your website. The more we can understand how people are navigating to and from a particular page on her site, the more clearly we can get a new idea of what people are thinking and expecting when they're on this page. Let's go back to Google Analytics and look at the navigation summary report. Since we clicked on the home page, this will show us what pages people looked at before and after they were on the home page. On the left side, we can see where people went to before before coming to our home page. In this case, 60% of people entered the site on this page, and 40% of those were on some other page of our say. Before seeing the home page, we can then go to the table to see which pages people were on before arriving to this page . This gives us some ideas about what text we may want to include on the homepage, so that we can really discuss the topics and concepts that people are interested in. On the right side, we can see where people went to after being on our home page. In this case, 40% of people on this page left after viewing it, and 60% of people continued on to another page of our website. In the table, we can see which pages people continued on to these air the pages your visitors are interested in. So to make your website easier to use, you may want to promote the links to these pages from the home page. That way people can get to these pages more quickly. Now. You may also find that people are not going to a particular page that you would really like them to go to. And so that page that people are not currently going to maybe deserves more promotion or more links pointing to it in the next video, we're going to cover how to set up in email version of reports that you can keep an eye on your stats without having that log in to Google Analytics 9. Setup Regular Report Email: in this lesson, we're going to review how to set up a regular email that will send you the key stats you need to know about your website to start. We're going to add a custom dashboard to Google Analytics. The dashboard contains the report we want to send via email. Setting up dashboards is a little more advanced than what we're going to cover in this class. So for the sake of simplicity, I'm just going to give you the dashboard and then walk you through how to add this to your account and set up the email to start visit element of dot com slash weekly in order to access the dashboard I've created for you to use. Once you visit this URL, you'll be taken to a screen in Google Analytics, asking you what you want to do with this share dashboard on this screen, select the website. You want to set up the email for After selecting the domain, you'll be taken to the dashboard. This is what we're going to send via email on here. You can see many of the key data points we've covered in other parts. This class, including sessions and page views the traffic sources that led people to our website and the pages that people visited to send this dashboard to ourselves via email. We want go just above the report and click on the button that says email. This will load a screen, letting us set up the email that will deliver this report to us every week. First, we need to put in the email that we're sending to next. We can specify a subject line in this case. I'm just calling it weekly checked. Next, we can pick the frequency. This particular dashboard is set up by default for weekly, but if you're traffic is lower, you can certainly switch this to monthly or even quarterly. If that makes better sense for you, you can then pick the day of the week. This gets sent in this case I'll pick Wednesday. You can specify a message that will be included in the email. This could be helpful to know what exactly this report shows. Finally, click send, and this will schedule that email now that the email is scheduled every Wednesday, I'll receive an email from Google Analytics with a pdf copy of this dashboard. In the next video, I'm going to recap this class and share some final pieces of advice 10. Class Summary & More Resources: thank you for joining me in this class. Introducing how to use Google analytics. I want to quickly recap the key things I've covered and also provide some additional resource is you might find of interest. The very first step is to set up Google Analytics and get the tracking code on your site. You can either do this by putting the tracking code directly into your sights HTML or by using something like a WordPress Blufgan. Next, you'll need to schedule the regular recap email, which will send you the data you want to look at every week if you want. You can also schedule this to be sent every day or every month or every quarter instead of every week. It really just depends on your traffic and how frequently you really want to look at everything. Remember as you review the email or as you log into Google analytics, that you don't need to check every report. There is a lot of information available in Google analytics, so don't get overwhelmed by it. The main questions you want to answer our first where are people finding your site? Which sources are they using? This will help you know what kind of information you need to include on your sites pages, and it also informs where you need to invest your marketing. Second, you want to look at the pages that people access when they're visiting your website. And as you review those pages that people are accessing during a visit to your website, you want to pay special attention to the previous and next pages because that's going to help. You really understand what you need to change on your site. For more information, you can visit element IDS, website at element of dot com and access. Our resource is. You can also find more videos on our YouTube channel, talking about different ways to optimize your website and utilize data and analytics. If you have other questions, you can contact me directly. My email address is Matthew at elemental dot com. You can also follow me on skill share if you haven't done so already. And for even more information about analytics and ways to improve your website, please consider reading my book. You can purchase it on Amazon. You can also learn more about it on my website at Matthew Edgar dot net slash elements Thank you for watching this class. I hope you've learned from it. And I look forward to seeing you next time.