Basics of Google Analytics

What is google Analytics?

google analytics

Google Analytics is a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic.Google launched the service in November 2005 after acquiring Urchin.Google Analytics is now the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet.Google Analytics is offered also in two additional versions: the subscription based Google Analytics 360,previously Google Analytics Premium, targeted at enterprise users and Google Analytics for Mobile Apps, an SDK that allows gathering usage data from iOS and Android Apps.

Google Analytics features include:

  • Data visualization tools including a dashboard, scorecards and motion charts, which display changes in data over time.
  • Segmentation for analysis of subsets, such as conversions.
  • Custom reports.
  • Email-based sharing and communication.
  • Integration with other Google products, such as AdWords, Public Data Explorer and Website Optimizer.

Google Analytics is geared toward small and medium-sized retail websites. The service has limitations that make it less suited to more complex websites and larger enterprises. For example, the system collects data through a JavaScript page tag inserted in the code of pages the user wants to collect data on. The page tag functions as a Web bug to gather visitor information. However, because it’s reliant on cookies, the system can’t collect data for users who have disabled them. Google also uses sampling in its reports rather than analyzing all available data. 

How to find specific reports of your Google Analytics

Google Analytics Reporting

specific reports and a list of links to important areas of your Google Analytics.


Dashboards allow you to create customized views of your Google Analytics data using widgets. It’s a great way to see specific subsets of data without having to navigate through your standard reports.


Shortcuts are simply that—links to your favorite Google Analytics reports.

Intelligence Events

Intelligence Events are alerts you can set up within Google Analytics that email you when a specific event occurs.


Want to know who’s on your website right now? Real-Time data gives you access to that data instantly.

You can see current visitors’ pageviews, active pages, locations and more.

Audience Through Conversions Reports

The meat of your Google Analytics data is found in the Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions sections. These are the in-depth reports on your users, traffic sources, content and goal completions.

Chances are, you’ve toured most of these reports in the past. I’ll be writing about the data and benefits of each of these sections in upcoming posts here at Social Media Examiner.

Why use Google Analytics?

  • It is really powerful (“enterprise-class”) software.
  • The Standard version is free.
  • Google’s tremendous cloud infrastructure allows them to rip through very large data sets rather quickly.
  • It has a nice, clean User Interface.
  • They want to use data to make informed business decisions.

That last point is the most important one.  Let’s not be naive; data on it’s own is meaningless.  But when used properly, data will help you see what’s working well, what’s not working.

Where do I start?

Google has built into their platform is a framework to help users understand analytics; the “ABCs”

  • Acquisition,
  • Behavior,
  • Conversion

The default view of many reports in GA breaks up metrics into these three categories.

Acquisition –> how do you acquire users? How many? From where?

Behavior –> how do users behave on your site?

Conversion –> do users take a desired action on the site?

One of the most important reasons people use Google Analytics is so that they can see where their traffic is coming from and compare its performance to other marketing channels.

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