Google Analytics for Beginners and Advanced

A Guide To Understanding Google Analytics For Beginners And Advanced

With its numerous features and opportunities for growth, understanding Google Analytics as a beginner can seem like a daunting task. However, learning how to use the tools this platform provides is a valuable asset to fully understanding how your website works, where your users come from, and how to use your site to its full potential. 

“It’s a really great tool to learn about how people interact with your website and to make business decisions based on the interactivity with your website,” Ben Holland, marketing director of Influence Group and the founder of Scorpion Sweepers, said during a #BizHackLive webinar

Whether you are a beginner or an advanced user of Google Analytics, this guide to using the platform is guaranteed to give you the tools you need to leverage your website’s data to fit your needs and build traffic to your website.


TL;DR: Use these Google Analytics tips and tricks to fully leverage all your website has to offer. 

Google Analytics gives website owners a variety of features that they can use to gain in-depth insights about their website visitors and their site’s performance as a whole. Regardless of skill level, it’s critical that business owners spend time understanding Google Analytics and how it contributes to digital success. If you are trying to understand Google Analytics as a beginner, here are some important sections of the platform that users should learn how to use effectively.

  • The Audience Section gives website owners insights about what type of people are viewing their website, including demographics like age, gender and geography. 
  • The Acquisition Section allows Google Analytics users to evaluate where the majority of their website traffic is coming from. 
  • The Behavior Section gives website owners data about what activity is occurring while visitors interact with the site. 
  • The Conversion Section provides tools to track revenue goals and sales funnels while reporting product sales and attributions. 
  • The Admin Section serves as the settings section where users can adjust Google Analytics to fit their needs. 

Once small business owners have a better understanding of how the platform works, they can begin customizing their experience to take their Google Analytics skill level from beginner to advanced. 

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Navigating Your Google Analytics Dashboard

The opening page of your Google Analytics dashboard provides users with a variety of different assets that allow them to track their website’s activity. Each window serves a different purpose. 

    • The Home window and the Customization window allow users to generate reports for specific metrics on their website.
    • The Real-time window shows users what is happening on their website in real-time and tracks specific events you input. 
    • The Audience window tells website owners who their users are, including demographics like age and gender. 
    • The Acquisition window is where users can access data about where the users of their website are coming from, whether it be social media, organic searches, referrals, or other sources. 
  • The Behavior window tells website owners what their users are doing while they engage with their website. 
  • The Conversions window outlines a website’s sales and goals and helps the owner track their progress. 
  • The Admin window contains Google Analytics’ settings so that users can customize their experience.

While there are many sections to learn, these Google Analytics tips and tricks for both beginners and advanced users will help make navigating the platform easier


Important Features To Know 

The Audience Section

Beginning in the audience section of the platform, Google Analytics gives its users the ability to access data that outlines the location, age, gender, language, affinity categories, visit frequency, device, browser, and cross-device of their website’s visitors. 

The cross-device metric describes if a user is visiting a website from multiple different devices while the affinity categories work as interest groups that classify website visitors based on common interests, like travel, clothing, or food. 

“Now, the percentages of your users that fall within any affinity category is pretty low, the most I’ve seen is like 7%,” Holland said. “You would think this would be a great place to start with your persona-based marketing. But I just don’t think there’s enough data there.” 

While the affinity categories may not be thorough enough for Google Analytics users to garner any in-depth insights on their audience, the demographics metrics in the audience window serve as a simple way for website owners to conduct persona-based marketing. 

“This is where I really like to start when I’m doing personas for my marketing,” Holland said. “This is who is engaging with your website with your brand. You know how old they are and what gender they are.” 

In addition to these characteristics, Google Analytics users can also leverage the audience information the platform provides to improve their customer service initiatives to serve clients in different time zones.  

“That’s what I really like about this graph, you can quickly and easily see where people are coming from and understand how you may need to serve different users in different locations differently,” Holland said. 

The mobile section of your audience window also gives website owners assets to improve their customer experience. The data on this window shows you what devices your audience is using and evaluates if your site is optimized for mobile devices.  

Use this Google Analytics tip to create a website for your business that is easily accessible by users on phones, computers and tablets alike! 

The Acquisition Section

Next, the acquisition window of the platform gives both beginners and advanced Google Analytics users insights about what different types of traffic their site is receiving. There are different types of traffic that the platform tracks. 

  • Organic traffic refers to website traffic that is generated by a user’s organic search. 
  • Advertising traffic includes traffic that comes from any ads a site’s owner has bought that were engaged with by an audience member. 
  • Referral traffic refers to website traffic that is generated by audience members using links to your website that they found from another place on the internet, like an affiliate website or an email. 
  • Social traffic is generated by website users that come from a social media platform

Google Analytics tracks each type of traffic and gives users metrics on the rate their website is receiving traffic from each source. Using this data, website owners can evaluate which sources are boosting their website, and which ones aren’t. They can then leverage this information to boost their marketing campaigns in different areas, whether it be running another ad or putting more time and energy into social media. 

Ideally, a website will have more traffic from the organic category rather than the social or advertising categories, Holland said. This is because the organic category provides sites with virtually free exposure, while the other categories require time, resources, and money. 

The Behavior Section

The behavior window of Google Analytics gives users insights on their site flow, page data, speed, and the search queries website visitors input into the site search bar. 

Users can gather data about their site flow through a variety of reports that Google Analytics compiles. Rather than using the Behavior Flow feature to observe how your website viewers are making their way through your pages, Holland suggested that Google Analytics users try the Navigation Summary instead because it is easier to understand. 

The Navigation Summary can be found in the All Pages tab under Site Content in the Behavior section. This report outlines what pages website visitors viewed while they were on your website. Because this chart is easy to present and digest, it works better than the Behavior Flow report as a way of evaluating your user experience, Holland said. 

The All Pages tab of the platform also gives users access to a Site Content report that gives website owners an overview of metrics like how many times people have viewed one page, the average time a visitor spends on a page, and the bounce rate and exit rate of your pages. 

As users continue to navigate through the Behavior section, Holland suggested that they also use the Site Search feature on Google Analytics as a source of content ideas. This report gives website owners data about the search queries that their visitors are inputting into the search bar on their site. Website owners can use this resource to gain a better understanding of what content their users are looking for and want to see, making it simple to create long-term goals for creating content that will engage audiences. 

Beginners and advanced users can implement this Google Analytics tip to take their company’s content creation to the next level! As small business owners and website owners work towards understanding Google Analytics, they are given more opportunities for creative growth.

The Conversions Section

The main goal of the Conversions section is to evaluate the current profit being generated by the website while making plans for future revenue. This window contains the data from the goals that Google Analytics users set, the funnels created by these goals, information regarding product sales, and attribution data. 

The Goals page in this section outlines data regarding the amount of money a business has earned in relation to the revenue goals they set, as well as customer conversion and abandonment rates. 

Learning how to effectively use the multi-channel funnel feature is one of the little-known, but most important Google Analytics tips that both beginners and advanced users can improve upon, Holland said. This report shows website owners the first and last click attributions for their users’ experience alongside all of the touchpoints your website had with your user during their customer journey. 

Users can leverage this Google Analytics tip to learn which assets in their campaign deserve credit for making a sale or gaining a customer. This asset works well in deciding which platforms businesses should funnel marketing dollars into, and which platforms may not be worth the budget, Holland said. 

“If you’re not getting the value you think you should be getting out of a certain channel, this is a great place to hop into and then see where it is in the conversion cycle,” Holland said.

Holland also suggested that e-commerce businesses use this part of the platform to track their online sales and any revenue they generate from their website. 


Leveraging Google Analytics Settings

The Admin section of Google Analytics contains every setting users need to customize their experience on the platform to fit their unique needs. With its array of buttons and features, Holland recommended that both beginners and advanced Google Analytics users pay attention to every category in this section to ensure it is working in tandem with your website’s goals. 

“The pro tip with Account Settings is to check everything,” Holland said. “Just turn it all on because most of the stuff is there to help you.”

The Benchmarking feature in the Account Settings tab is a way in which small business owners can compare their business with similar companies in their industry. It provides insights on their website’s organic traffic and sets its data against that of other similar companies. Google Analytics users can use this resource to see how they can improve their digital marketing strategy with the help of their website. 

The Property Settings tab includes everything from your website’s default URL, to its industry category, to including urgent tracking method (UTM) links and link attribution. Website owners are also advised to analyze their website’s bot filtering mechanism and their site searching tracking, as well as input any goals and filters they wish to include in their Google Analytics reports. 


Online Resources Small Business Owners Should Know 

In addition to Google Analytics, Holland also recommended small business owners look into numerous online resources that will level up their website and online presence. 

  • Google My Business covers the local aspects of small business online presence, including local SEO and Google Maps. 
  • Google Search Console provides diagnostics about their website and alerts users if something is not operating properly. 
  • Google Tag Assistant Chrome Extension works alongside Google Tag Manager in assisting users with creating and inputting Events into their website. 
  • Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test evaluates a site’s mobile optimization to ensure users on all devices receive the best possible experience. 
  • Page Speed Insights helps website owners learn if their site is operating quickly.
  • Google Ads can help boost your website’s online presence by working to rank your site high on a Google search page. 
  • Google Trends gives users insights on which search keywords are being used more frequently than others, helping to maximize a site’s SEO. 
  • Google Voice allows business owners to generate a free phone number for their phone. 
  • Google Surveys is a great way to begin marketing research for small businesses. 
  • Google Forms and Drive help users collect and store data from their business and employees. 
  • Zapier can work with Google Forms and Drive to provide additional features that maximize data usage. 

Because of the vast and complicated nature of each section of Google Analytics, Holland encouraged small business owners and website owners to look into participating in a course run by Google Analytics Academy or to further their research using online content. These courses help users become experts in advanced Google Analytics!

By mastering a wide variety of online tools, small business owners and website owners can continue to widen their brand’s presence online and ensure their future marketing initiatives are increasingly impactful and effective. How are you going to leverage Google Analytics to boost your business online?


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