Google Analytics is a service offered by Google which provides data and stats which enables us to understand how a website or an app is performing. The statistics fetched from GA provides in-depth view of the traffic/users visiting the site. GA not only tracks the visitors but also tracks the medium through which they reached to the website and their actions on the site. All this data enables the business owners to understand their audience more precisely.
Importance of Google Analytics in today’s world:
With the advancement of Internet, lots of businesses are moving online. For all the businesses which are handled and operated through the online website or mobile app there have to be some medium for the business owners to know how their business is doing. This is achieved through Google Analytics.
Statistics fetched from GA provides answers to lot of those questions which are essential when it comes to business planning and strategy formation. Business owner’s focuses on performance reports retrieved from GA and on basis of that they decide the plan of action to take the business forward.
Some major question to which GA provides the answers are:
- Demographic area where business has performed well.
- In which area the business is lacking.
- Which days of the week show better result?
- Source and Medium through which users are reaching to the site.
- Metric data like average visit per day, average transactions/page views per day etc.
- Which page shows the maximum drop outs?
All this data enables the firms/business to form better strategy so as to achieve better results.
Working of GA:
The main purpose of GA is to track each visitor to the site. To perform tracking, GA uses a small java-script code called snippet which is placed in the header of each which is to be tracked. When the user visit the site this java code fetches various user details like the page the user views , the operating system on user’s system , the medium/source through which user arrived on this page , the amount of time user stays on the website and all the actions that user performs after visiting the website. All this information is collected and sent of GA servers for processing.
Google Analytics performs 4 main steps:
Collection: Every time a user visits a page that is set for tracking, the code collects the interaction details of the user and sends the details to the GA servers. User visiting the page that has the tracking code attached to it is called a “hit”.
Processing: Once the raw data has been collected, the next step is processing of data. This can be defined as the process of translating raw data into something more meaningful and properly aligned.
Configuration: Lot of times there are situation when some specific data is required, that is where we can apply filters as per our requirement. This process of applying filters is taken care in configuration.
Once the data is processed along with the configuration changes, it is saved in the database. A processed data can never be turned back into its raw view.
Reporting: After all data has been processed and saved in database, the last step is accessing that processed data. Normally, using GA we can access the reports using our GA account but there is also a way to systematically fetch the data using your own application code and Core Reporting API. Fetching data through your own code would require the involvement of a well-trained developer.
Some important terminologies with reference to Google Analytics:
Let’s look at some most frequently used terms in Google Advertising:
Hit: With reference to a website, every time a user lands on a page that has the tracking code set on it, is called a hit. When it comes to mobile application, a hit is every time a user completes the activity for which the tracking code is set.
Tracking Code: A tracking code is a small java-script code, which is placed in the header of each page that is to be tracked. This code retrieves various details of the user each time a user visits a tracking enables page.
To get the tracking ID and tracking code , we first need to sign up. We are asked for various details like what are we looking to track is it a website or mobile app , the URL of the website to track and few other details.
Once we are done , we click on “Get Tracking ID” tab.
Tracking ID will be generated in the format UA- XXXXXXXX-X followed by numbers. Please refer below for better understanding:
In the above screenshot, you can see the tracking code which is a java-script code. This code needs to be pasted in the header of each page which is to be tracked.
Once, this is done the google analytics can start fetching the data immediately.
Conversion every website has a specific purpose for which it is designed for. For example, the purpose of ecommerce website is to sell products. So, whenever a user buys a product from the ecommerce site, it can be called as a conversion.
There are two types of conversion:
Macro conversions are achieved when the user performs the action which meets the ultimate objective of the business. For example, buying a product from eCommerce site, reaching out to the help center for answer to your query etc.
Micro Conversions are the activities which are not the primary objective of the business but are the indicators that user is moving towards meeting the objective. For example, if a websites sells monthly journals but first requires a user to register. So each time a user registers it can be termed as micro activity, as it only after the registration that user can buy the journal.
Source/Medium: whenever a user visits the website, google analytics tracks from where the user has come. This is done through tracking the source and medium of the user. Source is the website that has referred the user to the website. For ex-> if the user clicks the link on google search to reach at the website, then google is the source.
Medium is “how” the user gets to the site. By default, GA tracks three medium.
Organic: Traffic from unpaid, search results come under organic medium.
Direct /None: These are the users that come directly at the site by tying the URL. Even the users that visit the site by clicking the link in the bookmarks fall under this category.
Campaign tracking through link tagging: To track the campaign, GA uses the concept of link tagging. Whenever the user clicks on some links to get to the website, extra information can be added to the links which are stored in campaign tags.
GA uses 5 tags:
Source/Medium/Campaign – Explained above
Term: Also known as keyword, it is the word that user types in the search engine to get the paid search results.
Content: If there are two different ads running on the same website and by clicking on both you go to the same site, then to differentiate between the traffic from those ads content is used. Content is just giving both the ads a unique name so that when the user comes through them it should reflect the name of the ad on which the user clicked.
Type of data in Google Analytics:
There are two types of data that we come across in GA reports.
Dimension defines the characteristics of the user, their sessions and actions. The demographic location of the user is the characteristic of the user, session characteristic is the traffic source that brought the user to the site and action can be the activity which the user performs after visiting the site like clicking the button or viewing a page.
Metric are numerical value also defined as quantitative measurement of user, sessions and actions. They are represented in numbers. Metric helps in better understanding the behavior of the user. One can know how often the user is performing a particular action. Some examples of metric are total no. of user on the site, Average no. of pages user see during a visit, Average session duration, Conversion rates.
Session/Visit metric gives the period of consecutive actions by the same user. By default, session remains active for 30 min if the user stops interacting. This is known as session time-out length. Session time-out length can be defined based on the actions that user performs on the site, for a blog 30 min is reasonable as user will read through pages. But for a site which contains videos the session time-out length can vary as there can be videos with total duration of more than 30 min. So for these scenarios it would be advisable to set the session time-out length greater than the longest video on the site.
Bounce Rate: This is a very important metric in determining the performance of any website. Bounce rate can be defined as the session that has only user interaction. In simpler words, bounce rate is high if the user lands on the website and leaves immediately without performing any other action. Bounce rate shows the effective of the landing page on the website and reflects if the landing page is attractive enough for the user for them to stay on the site.
Generally the bounce rate is high for the sites which are blog or has some readable contents as the user lands on the page, reads the article and leaves. So there isn’t any other action involved.
Tracking Conversions in GA:
To track the conversions, GA uses the concept of “GOAL”. For every campaign goals are to be set. Goal can be defined as the primary objective of why the campaign is being run. Goal provides a way to map the data in GA to the key performance indicators of the campaign.
To understand what are key performance indicators let’s look at below example. The objective of an eCommerce site is to sell products. So its key performance indicator can be the transaction receipt page which the user will see only if he completes the process. As the user hits on transaction receipt that can be termed as a conversion.
Types of Goals in GA:
We can set four types of goals in GA, all doing the same job of tracking the conversions.
- Destination Goal: Destination goal is achieved when the user hits on the page which appears only if the activity is successfully completed. For e.g. a transaction receipt page for eCommerce site or a thank you page for the account sign up site. The destination page has to be specified while setting up the destination goal and whenever a user sees the page destination goal triggers a conversion.
- Event Goal: For tracking some specific activity of the user we can event goal. Event goal is triggered when user completes an action that is set for event goal, like signing up for newsletter or downloading a pdf, or watching a video. For event goal to trigger a conversion, event tracking needs to be enables on the website.
- Engagement Goal: This type of goal is used to measure how much the user interacts with the website, how much time they spend on the site. Engagement of the user can be measured by the amount of time they stay on the site and no. of pages they view during a visit.
- Pages per visit Goal is triggered when a user visits more or fewer pages than a threshold defined by you.
- Duration Goal is triggered when a user visit exceeds or falls below the threshold that is set.
Click on goal to start the process of goal creation
To set up destination goal, we don’t enter the complete URL of the destination page, but only the URL that comes after the domain. For example if the complete URL is knowonlineadvertising.com/thankyou.html, we only need to specify /thankyou.html while setting up destination goal.
STEP 2: Click on ‘New Goal’
STEP 3: clicking on new goal will take us to below page where we get the option to select templates, you can always use the custom option if the plan is different than the templates provided
STEP 4: After the goal is setup, description and type is selected
STEP 5: Once the description is added, all the goal details like destination, value or path is defined. Here value and funnel is optional.
STEP 6: Click on Create Goal and you are done!
There are three Match Types options while setting up destination goal:
Equals match type means that the URL of the page must exactly match to the one entered while setting up the goal.
- Begins with:
“Begins with “match type means that the page URL must begin with what has been specified as the Goal URL. For example if /thankyou is specified as the goal, then all URL that begins with /thankyou will be counted as a conversion.
- Regular Expression:
“Regular Expression” provides some advanced features but requires expertise as it is complex to implement. This can be used if you want to track different pages, all with different URLs as a Goal, regular expression can be created which would define the set of rules to match any of these URLs.
Goal Funnels: Funnel can be defined as the activity that user needs to perform before reaching to the destination. To define a funnel, we need to specify the pages leading up to the destination. Defining a funnel is important because it enables you to see where the users enter and exit the defined process. If you notice that at a certain step there are maximum exit counts, then you can focus on improving that particular step so that users reach up till the destination.
For e.g. for an online shopping site, the funnel actions can be user login, selecting the item and adding into the cart, filling the shipping details and giving the billing details. Once the user completes all these actions, only then he reaches till the destination which is to place order for some product.
Multi-channel funnel reports reflects the path that a user takes toward conversion across multiple visits to the site. This is generated for each Goal conversion.
Setting up Filters in GA:
Multiple views of data can be created for each property. View can be defined as the unique or specific perspective of data from a parent property. One can apply configuration settings to define each view. These configurations setting are termed as filters. Depending on the requirement we can fetch specific data by applying filters to the raw data.
Normally, there are three views for each property.
- Unfiltered view: This is the view by default, which is generated automatically when a property is created. Unfiltered view is also known as data backup since this is the original data without any configuration or setting changes.
- Master View: We get this view once we apply some settings and configurations changes to the raw data to transform it into something more meaningful.
- Test View: We should always have a test view of data. It is beneficial as whenever we are looking for some configuration changes and we aren’t sure of the results of those changes we can first apply the filters and settings to the test view, and if the results meets the expectations that it can be applied to the master view.
Now, let’s focus on the applying filters and types of options available.
Filters are used whenever we are looking to transform the raw data into a meaningful one so that it’s better structured and aligned with the business needs. If filters are applied properly then it definitely improves the quality of data reports fetched from GA.
Process to Set up filters:
While setting up filters we define the rules or say “conditions” and whenever these conditions are true or met, GA takes the appropriate action. Below are the steps to be kept in mind while setting up filters:
Create filter name
We then need to specify the type of data that is to be evaluated or changed. This is done by selecting the filter field. Some common fields include IP address, device type or geographic location.
Next, the conditions or set of rules are specified. Some common conditions are “matches a certain pattern” or “does not match a certain pattern” For example, if IP address filter is used, then condition can be “matches 192.168.1.2”.
Lastly, we specify the action that GA takes if the condition is met. Actions be include the data that meets the condition, exclude the data or apply some specific change to the data that meets the condition.
Example of setting filter: Suppose you want to exclude the traffic from your company so that reports only show data from the external customers.
For the filter field, select “traffic from IP addresses” and enter the IP addresses that you want to exclude.
For the condition select “that are equal to “or if a particular range of IP addresses is to be blocked then select the condition “that begin with”.
For the action selects “Exclude”.
Some common filters are include, exclude, upper-case, lower-case.
Customized filter provides some additional features. We can use these for a more specific result.
Dashboard gives the quick view of all those data and stats through which one can get the brief of how the website is performing. One can add all those fields in the dashboard which are key performance indicators for the website. So as soon as you click on the dashboard you can get data corresponding to all the key performance indicators which are being set.
Real Time Reports:
As the name suggests these reports provide the real time data like no. of active users, Most Active Page, Location with most traffic, Site which refers most visitors.
Below is the overview page of the report.
By clicking on Traffic Sources under Real time tab we can view the active user from different sources and medium.
Audience reports helps in knowing the characteristics of the users. These reports provides information regarding the geographic location to which the user belongs, the patterns of users visiting the site (how often does the user visit the site, duration after which user returns to the site), details regarding the device that user access to get to the site.
Below is the list of reports available under Audience Report tab.
All these information play a vital role in understanding your audience.
Clicking on Overview shows the below report:
Overview gives the brief data of all the data related to the audience. To get detailed view of each data we need to click on specific reports under Audience tab.
Let’s look at few reports and data that we get under audience report.
The Location Report:
This report gives the information regarding the geographical area from where the user belongs to. We can see the details in terms of Continent, Sub Continent, Country, Region, and City. This location information is retrieved by mapping IP Address to the geographic locations.
These reports can be customized to show lot more information, like the metric “no. of new visits from a region/area” gives us the geographic area where the possibility of finding the potential customers is high. This information can be great importance while planning of business strategy. Location reports provides various vital information which is helpful while taking decision to expand the business. We can know about the areas where the no. of visitors is high but bounce rate is also above average. This shows that there is a need to make appropriate changes on the site which could attract the user and could retain them for a longer time on the site.
New Vs Returning Users Report:
We get this report under the behavior report section in Audience report. This report provides the comparison between the first time users and repeat visitors. By analysis of this ratio one can understand a pattern of change in actions of new user as compared to returning users. More users returning to site is expected to bring better ROI if it’s an ecommerce website as if the user is returning it’s evident that he is liking the site and is more likely to make purchases. Through this report business owners can focus on strategies to improve customer loyalty so that more users could return to the site.
The Engagement Report:
Engagement report gives the data that shows the amount of time that users spends on the site. It not only shows the time but also the amount of data accessed by the user by showing the no. of pages viewed. Time duration is shown in seconds. There can be change in the amount of time that user spends depending on the nature of the site. On the site which helps in solving the queries of the users, if the user is spending more time than this is against the goal of the site. Because a help-desk is supposed to provide the solution to the user as soon as possible. On the other hand, on the site that contains some readable
Frequency and Recency Report:
Through Frequency report one gets to know how frequently users are returning to the site within a defined time frame. These reports provides the data which reflect if the user comes back once , twice or even more within a time frame. Analyzing the data fetched from these reports we can know if the targeted audience is showing the desired interest in the website and if the website is able to attract the user enough for them to visit the site again.
Through Recency report we can know after how many days the user tends to visit the site again. Report shows if the user visits the site weekly or monthly. This report is of immense help in making decisions like how often to update the site, Is the update notification reaching the users in a proper way.
Operating system and Mobile reports:
We can see these reports under technology reports. This report gives us the data related to what operating system and devices users are accessing to reach to the site. Reports show the name of the browsers which are used to access the sites. If we find in the data that for a particular browser the bounce rate is high, we can make appropriate changes on the site to make it compatible to that particular browser.
Mobile reports provide the data about the smartphones and tablets used to access the site. It is capable to reflect the mobile brand name, operating system and even the service provider. All these details can be of great help to the site developers as they can make required changes to the site to make it compatible for maximum variety of devices.
These reports provide information regarding how the user reaches to the site. Analyses of these reports can give us a fair idea of what channels and source brings the maximum users to the site. Reports show data related to channel, source, medium, keyword, campaign etc. Businesses can plan to put in more efforts towards the source which isn’t doing well and at the same time can make sure that the performance of the channels and source which are doing well doesn’t go down.
There are different types of reports that can be retrieved in under Acquisition depending on the type of data required.
All Traffic Report
All Traffic Report: These reports show data from all the possible sources like search engine traffic, referral or direct traffic. One can identify the best performing source that is bringing the maximum no. of users to the site.
Campaign Reports: Campaign Reports shows incoming traffic from the source that has been assigned a campaign name. If the campaign involves the requirement of fetching the data based on performance of Ad, this can be done by selecting “Other” drop-down in the primary dimension option which will switch the campaign report to show performance data by “Ad Content”.
If auto-tagging is enabled, traffic from Ad Words automatically has a campaign name assigned. For non-Ad Words campaign, we have manually assign name using campaign tagging.
To examine to traffic quality merely seeing the source with maximum traffic is not enough. There are few other factors as well that play vital role in measuring the quality of traffic which is bounce rate and Conversions. We must keep the track of bounce rate from all the sources because even if a source brings more traffic but its bounce rate is high that source cannot be considered reliable one.
For an eCommerce site, to analyze traffic quality we need to take into consideration the no. of conversions. The source whose traffic provides the maximum conversions can be considered as the best performing source/channel.
AdWords reports provides post-click performance metrics for the traffic from AdWords through which one can analyze what happens after the visitor clicks on the ads.
AdWords Report Metrics:
- “Visits” is the number of users that visited the site during a campaign.
- “Impressions” is the number of times the ads were displayed.
- “Clicks” is the no. of clicks received on the ads which takes them to the site.
Usually a site might have fewer clicks than visits. This can happen because a user who first visits the site while clicking the ad might return to the site through bookmark. But if a site has fewer visits than clicks then one needs to verify if the tracking code has been installed correctly.
For an eCommerce site “ROI” Return on Investment metric is of most important as it shows how much you spent on the AdWords and how much you earned from the visits on the site. ROI of zero percent means no profit, no loss. ROI of 100% means revenue earned is twice of what was spent.
# Types of Reports under AdWords:
- Campaign Reports: This report gives the performance metrics of AdWords search and display campaigns. Click on Campaign tab, which is on the top of list of reports under AdWords. Then scroll down to the Ad Groups report which lists all the ad groups within a campaign.
- AdWords Keyword Report: This report gives the performance of the keywords that are being targeted in the search campaign. Through this report one can identify which keywords brings most visitors to the site. Analyzing the data from these reports one can accordingly plan the keywords targeting strategy to attract more new visitors.
- Matched Search Queries Report: This report shows what user entered in the search query which matched the keyword lists.
- Day Parts Report: This report gives the statistics relating to what time in a day and what days in a week are best for business. You can plan according to the data when to show the ads. For example, this report can show that the no. of visitors to the site are more on Monday to Wednesday and gradually decreases by the end of the week , minimum on the weekends.
Also , it can show that no. of conversions to the ecommerce site is more during late hours as compared to the office hours. This gives the idea that people shop online more once they get free from the office. Show accordingly you can strategize when to invest more in the bidding to get better results.
- Destination URLs Report: Destination URLs are the URLs in a site which the user sees once they click the AdWords ads. This can also be called as landing pages. This report shows which landing page has the best performance when it comes to engaging more users and helping them in making a conversions.