A Beginner's Guide to Understanding How Google Analytics Works

A Beginner's Guide to Understanding How Google Analytics Works

Do you want to know how much traffic your website gets? Do you want to understand how data collection works?

Without a doubt, Google is the most successful search engine in the world. One major asset in their favor is Google Analytics, which launched back in 2015. Analytics is a free online tool that tracks traffic on websites and reports it back to you on demand.

Analytics is now the most popular web tool for data collection in the digital marketing scene. However, some people still don't know how to use it.

If you feel like you're one of the digital marketers who want to find out how this web tool works, then you should read the Google Analytics tutorial we have written below:

Understanding the Interface of Google Analytics

When you first visit the Google Analytics reporting page, you're greeted with a bunch of graphs and statistics about your website. Let's go over some of these stats and what they mean.

Sessions

Sessions are the number of interactions a user does in your website in a given time frame. For example, A user visits your website and clicks on one page of your site, travels to another, and downloads some resources from that page. All those actions performed by that user equal to 3 sessions.

This stat increases the more interactive your web pages are.

Users

These are the number of people who enter your website. This stat locks onto the IP address of a particular user, meaning that no matter how many times the same user visits your site, and how many windows they open, it will still only count as 1 user.

Pageviews

Page views are the number of times different pages get visited when a user checks out your website. Unlike the "Users" stat, the "Pageviews" stat will increase as a visitor comes back to it again and again.

Page/Session

The Page/Session stat tells you the average number of views of pages a user looks at per session. The Page/Session stat also counts the moment when a user ends up on the landing page of a website.

Bounce Rate

The bounce rate statistic tells you the number of users who visit your site and then leave as fast as they came. The longer your visitors stay, the lower the percentage of this stat is.

Most of the time, the bounce rate is also dependent on the type of content that the website provides. If the website features videos and infographics, the bounce rate will get lessened by a considerable amount.

% New Sessions

This statistic keeps track of the number of new visitors your website gets.

Demographics

Google Analytics lists the demographics in different categories such as Language, Country, Operating System, etc. You can then select any of these to display the data that's collected by their algorithms.

There is also an option available on the page that lets you view data that's collected in a specified period of time. As well as a feature that lets you view data from specified periods in the past.

Speaking of data collection, let's take a deeper look at Google Analytics to find out how it works.

Data Collection

Google Analytics collects data in a number of different ways. What method it uses to collect data depends on the user and on the device. However, the most common way that Analytics collects data is through the use of the tracking code recommended and provided by the site itself.

Though this is a tedious task as it requires the user to input the code into all the different pages of the website one by one. If you miss one page, it may lead to Analytics referring your own site to you in the report, as it does not recognize the page to be a part of the website.

The tracking code works by first, checking to see if there is an existing browser cookie in the user's browser. If there is, it will get updated by the tracking code, and if there is none, the tracking code will create one in an instant.

After that, the tracking code will then collect all the data about the visitor such as the details pertaining to what page they're on, etc.

After the collection of data, the tracking code will then send all it collected across all the platforms and servers that Google controls as a hit. A hit is a string of code that contains useful information about your visitors. It holds different kinds of information like the language of the user and the visited page's name.

Processing the Data

For the processing of data to start, Google first determines if the visitors are returning visitors or new visitors. It does this with the help of an analytic ID that the code gives to newcomers. If a visitor doesn't have an ID code, it will determine the user be new to Analytics and give it an ID.

The code then keeps track of what the visitor does while he's active on the site. 30 minutes of inactivity will result in a new session which is once again recorded by the code.

Metrics are then calculated based on the data the code collects, which is then taken by Analytics to join it with other statistics that get collected by other Google tools.

Provided that you've configured the settings of Analytics, the data will then get sorted for further grouping and filtering.

Displaying a Report

With the data it's collected, Analytics will then display them in 2 categories, metrics and dimensions. Dimensions are the traits of your visitor's data, country, language, etc. While metrics are the data that you can measure using numbers.

As an example, let's use Google.com. 27% of Google's visitors are from the United States. If Analytics processed that data, it would sort the United States under Country along with the percentage it came with. It would then present other data such as clicks, the average number of searches, and the number of pages visited as metrics that will get displayed in the report.

Analytics tends to store collected data and use it as a basis for further statistics.

Learn and Understand the Basics of Google Analytics Now

Use this Google Analytics user guide to improve your understanding of your website! Keep in mind that Google Analytics is a tool, a powerful at that, but it won't do much good until you master it. Using it well can help you understand the behavior of visitors and determine what works or what doesn't.

But why stop there?

Feel free to visit us today and check out our other guides. If you have questions or if you need any clarifications, don't hesitate to contact us here.