Google knows everything about your site! 😯
The tool collects basic data on the users, including what page they came from and how long they linger on specific pages, and arranges that data in simplified charts and metrics that can be used to analyze and optimize the site as needed.
Pre-Google Analytics, a website owner would need to track their data through their server logs. This information was often difficult to parse without a strong understanding of these complex datasets. This made monitoring those statistics less accessible.
A company by the name of Urchin began compiling log files and creating reports based on their findings, making the data much easier to parse. This grew so popular that, in 2005, Google acquired Urchin and started building out the first versions of Google Analytics.
Today, the current iteration of Google Analytics is the updated Google Analytics 4, also called GA4. As stated, Google Analytics is free to use, making it an essential tool for any brand or business’ website.
How does Google Analytics work?
In order for Google Analytics to garner data from a site, it must be given a ‘tag’. That tag will permit Google Analytics to crawl the site, collect data, and create reports made up of relevant metrics and dimensions. Google Analytics is free to use for everyone, making it an extremely useful tool for growing a website and tracking conversions.
It presents these reports on a dashboard, which a site owner can then use to see their page views, conversion metrics, user journeys, when people are looking at their site, and much more.
There is a slight learning curve to Google Analytics. Seeing all of these numbers and trends may be overwhelming for first-time users who aren’t sure what to look for.
How do you set up Google Analytics?
On Google’s Marketing Platform site, users will see a button prompting them to get started. After logging in with a Google account, the user will name the account and enter details about the website.
From there, a tracking code will be provided, which should be installed on the website. Using Google Tag Manager makes working with Google Analytics’ tracking code easier, but most websites also allow someone to enter the ‘Measurement ID’ or ‘Tracking ID’ to get started without it.
Right away, Google Analytics will set to work collecting information about the people who visit a website.
What kinds of reports does Google Analytics have?
Here’s a quick rundown of the reports someone can get from Google Analytics:
- Acquisition reports – This shows how someone found the website.
- Engagement reports – Once they’re on the site, what are they doing? How long are they staying?
- Technology reports – Who is using what to view the page, on what devices and with what browsers?
- Demographics reports – Understand the geographic locations, language preferences, ages, genders, and areas of interest of visitors.
- Monetization and Advertising Reports- Find out what marketing touchpoints are getting engagement, or what products or services they’re buying from the site.
A little more on Google Analytics 4
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