Google Analytics: analysis for web success

A lot of work goes into operating a successful website. First, a clear and comprehensive approach must be created and turned into a visually appealing design. Then, an appropriate hosting environment must be found.  After the basic framework, the next step is the creation and presentation of high-quality, unique content. Lastly, marketing campaigns and good search engine rankings will ensure that visitors reach the end result. But what happens next? Measuring the impact of different policies such as SEO, ads, or links is crucial for knowing how well a web project is performing. Web analysis tools are responsible for collecting data about the behaviour of internet users. Google Analytics is the most famous and popular of these.

Fact

Did you know, Google Analytics is fluent in 40 languages!

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a tool for website analysis. Originally known as the ‘Urchin Tracking Monitor’, the tool was developed by the Urchin Software Corporation, who were taken over by Google in 2005. Now called Google Analytics, the tracking monitor uses cookies, which store varied information about the behaviour of website visitors. By measuring this data, website operators can attain precise statistics to answer the following questions:

  • How many users have visited the website or a specific page in a given time period?
  • How much time do users spend on the website or a specific page?
  • Do users reach the website via Google, another search engine, or another website entirely?
  • Are users from the local area, other parts of the country, or abroad?
  • How many users carry out a conversion (purchase, download, registration, login, ad click, etc.)?
  • At what point do visitors exit the website?

In this way, the analysis tool creates comprehensive profiles of website visitors.  Google reserves the right to store all data obtained on its servers–even that of users securely logged into a Google service–a move that has proved controversial in terms of data protection. Further information on this topic can be found in our advice article on alternatives to Google Analytics.

How can website operators benefit from Google Analytics?

Collected visitor data gives website operators a first-class insight into the effectiveness and quality of their content. At the same time, this data gives feedback on the functionality of ad campaigns. For example, by linking a Google AdWords account with Google Analytics, it’s easy to filter out which keywords are successful and where campaigns need optimising or adjusting. Website operators can also ascertain which pages are most effective by analysing data that measures users’ duration on the site. This, combined with information about the way users reach each individual page, helps to build an accurate picture of which links work best and what content is strongest.

Tip

Using Google Analytics strategically can help you optimise your website and as a result, improve your ranking.

The data provided by Google Analytics tracking about the geographical location of visitors should reflect marketing objectives. For example, in a business with a restricted local county catchment area, it’s bad news if the majority of site visitors are scattered around in different regions. But if an online shop designed to sell coast-to-coast posts the same results, this would illustrate a job well done.

Setting up Google Analytics for your web project

To use Google Analytics for your website, online shop, app, or social media channel, you can either create a new account on the Analytics homepage, or link an existing AdWords account with the service. In this case, the tracking tool can be easily located under the tab ‘Tools and Analysis’. Both of these methods require a Google account first.

In the Google Analytics menu, you can enter certain properties about your website, app, shop, or social media platform and define which users should receive access to the data. If you want to obtain information about a specific type of conversion, then you can choose a goal. There are five types of goals to select from:

  • Target: a specific URL is loaded
  • Duration: sessions that exceed a certain time period
  • Pages/screens per session: sessions in which a certain number of pages are viewed
  • Event: a defined action, like playing a video or clicking on an ad
  • Intelligent Goal: top-rated visits defined by Analytics are measured as a yardstick for conversions.

If you have the tool set up, you simply have to enter the Google Analytics tracking code into your web project. To do this, you can use the Google Tag Manager, which is especially useful for adding other tags to your website. If you’re just using the analytics tracking code, it’s also possible to carry out a manual integration directly in your HTML code. Content management systems like WordPress or Drupal have useful modules that integrate the code within the requirements of the system for you.

For app tracking, you need Google Analytics SDK for Android or iOS. You can get this from the same place in your account settings as the tracking code. Alternatively, you can simply download the Google Tag Manager for Mobile SDK for Android or iOS.