Wow, time went by so fast. I can’t believe I’m on Week 5 already of CXL Institute’s Conversion Rate Optimization minidegree.
Well, this week, it’s a lot technical. I got through the basics of Google Analytics and learned a ton of terms like account, views, filters, and parameters.
Yes, it was quite overwhelming, to be honest. But I powered through and passed the proficiency exam at the end. Whew!
The Basics of Google Analytics takes about 8 hours to complete! But in this post, I’ll just give you the gist of what this amazing and free tool is all about.
Anyway, shall we dive in?
Basics of Google Analytics
I’ve had a blog for 6 years and to be honest, I didn’t give much attention to my Google Analytics. I only learned some important insights from Google Academy for a job before then got into On-Page SEO.
Thankfully, this CXL’s CRO program has a comprehensive course to learn the basics. And Chris Mercer has a really fun presence in the videos. He sounds so enthusiastic that you’d forget that what he’s teaching is so technical.
First off, let’s compare these three helpful tools:
Google Analytics vs. Google Tag Manager vs. Google Data Studio
Google Analytics is a free tool that helps you store data from people’s interactions with your site. It’s able to make reports about the traffic, demographics, and behavior of your site visitors.
On the other hand, Google Tag Manager is in charge of collecting data. It can assign tags based on set rules. When you want to understand when people use a specific feature or click a button, you need tags.
Lastly, Google Data Studio is a free reporting tool that turns the data you have into informative and visually appealing reports and dashboards.
Types of Google Analytics Reports
There are so many kinds of reports in Google Analytics so we’ll focus on just a few significant ones and their importance.
By the way, these reports fall under 3 basic types: standard (default) reports, custom reports, and saved reports.
The standard reports include real-time reports, audience reports, acquisition reports, behavior reports, and conversion reports.
Real-time reports are useful for you to know what’s happening on your website right now. So, it shows the live users and their activity.
Next, we have audience reports. Audience reports show characteristics of your audience such as their location, age, gender, interests, and device used.
After this, we have acquisition reports. These reports show where the website traffic came from. Did they use a keyword? Were they from a social media platform or ads?
On the other hand, behavior reports show which pages on the site the user visited and how much time they spent on these pages.
Last but not least, there are conversion reports. These reports show transactions of the user before the conversions. For instance, how many times did he or she visit or what channels they used before converting.
If you need something that fits your business specifically, you might need custom reports since each business or organization has different goals and metrics. There are readily available ones or you can set your own metrics or dimensions.
As for saved reports, you can use them on other reports so you can access them quickly.
Google Analytics Settings
When I first learned about accounts, properties, and views I was quite confused. These are the levels present in Google Analytics.
You need one account to access Google Analytics. But an organization can have more than one account. Now, your account can handle one or more properties.
What are properties, you ask? Let’s discuss it next.
In Google Analytics, a property is an entity where you want to collect data from. Usually, it’s a website, device, or mobile application.
Before you collect data, GA gives you a unique tracking code to embed into the site.
The smallest unit for the account settings is the view. This is the subset where you can apply your specific configurations. For example, you might use filters to exclude a specific kind of data.
Types of Traffic
In Google Analytics language, traffic is composed of your website visitors.
There are several types of traffic including direct, organic, paid, social, and referral traffic.
This refers to the visitors who type your URL in the address bar because they already know your website. It could also be someone who saw your promotions somewhere and typed your site address directly.
Meanwhile, organic traffic comes from keywords searched by people. For example, you have a gardening blog, and someone types “how to plant carrots”. If he or she clicks on your link and goes to your site to read the article, that’s organic traffic.
This type of traffic comes from ads whether it’s a paid search or display on Google. Make sure to check the landing pages for the ads and optimize them to get a high return for your ad spend.
Another traffic source is social media. When you have a strong social media presence, many people would click the links on your profile and visit your site.
Lastly, these are the users that come from other sites. For example, if an authoritative site has an anchor text directed towards your site, you can get some link juice or referral traffic.
In Google Analytics, when an objective is met or an activity is completed, that’s considered a goal.
There are four types of goals: destination, duration, pages/screens per session, and event.
The first type is when a specific page loads (ex. Thank you page) while the second one is when a specific time period is consumed.
In addition, pages per session is when a user views a certain number of pages. Lastly, the event goal is when the visitor does a specific action like clicking a video on a page.
I loved a lot of things in the course. First, I appreciate that Chris Mercer used actual Google Analytics accounts to share information about this. The lessons were also organized and systematic, from an overview to the tiny details.
However, when I looked at the slides, I wish they were a little more detailed so that we can just understand the basic concepts simply by reading through the slides.