Google Analytics is a free tool provided by Google to help you understand the performance of your website and other web applications. There is a paid-for version called Google Analytics 360 which costs over £100,000/year.

Thankfully for small and medium-sized businesses, the free one will cover pretty much everything you need! For the purpose of this blog, we’ll be looking at the free version.

You might hear about it from your web developer or read about it online and may be wondering: what is Google Analytics and how does it work?

Firstly, if you don’t have analytics installed on your website – please go and get it installed. It’s hard to measure the success of any campaigns or changes you make to your website without having the data there to start with.

Google Analytics is a great tool to see what’s working and what’s not, and then using the data to make improvements to your website.

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So what is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a bit of code or cookie that goes onto your website and measures the sessions or ‘hits’ and tracks the interactions of the users on your website. Until recently, there was only one type of standard analytics from Google. They have also recently released GA4, which should allow greater insight between devices and applications. However just because GA4 is newer, it doesn’t mean it’s actually the best – particularly for standard website data. It just doesn’t have some of the things that you might need. When you install it, there’s an option to install both and it’s actually recommended by Google that you should do that if you need some of the tools from the original one.

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What does Google Analytics do?

Google Analytics will tell you a number of key metrics from your website. I’m not going to go into too much detail here because there’s so much information that is available in Google Analytics.

Some of the key things that Google Analytics allows you to do:

1. Measure the traffic to your website.
You can measure the traffic to your website. This is the most basic of things you can do with Google analytics, but also the basis of what all the other data will be pulled from.

2. Where is your traffic coming from “Acquisition”?
This is the Acquisition report on Google Analytics. It will show you how much traffic is landing directly on your website, how much is coming from paid traffic, how much from the organic traffic from your SEO work you have been doing, and how much is coming from social media. This report is great as it will break down the overall traffic and let you see how well your different strategies are working for you in one simple report.

3. Measure conversions.
Conversions are a key metric to track. If you’re not tracking conversions, how do you know what is working? This can be as simple as tracking how many sales you’ve made via your shop vs the number of visitors. A contact form completion, or sign up would be another way to track conversions on your website.

4. You can see which pages are performing the best
You can interpret this in many different ways. It could be which pages are most of your visitors arriving via (landing pages), or it could be page views – or time spent on the page. Google Analytics will let you look at the data and slice it up depending on what you want to focus on. This is a great way to see what’s working and what’s not, and then use the data to make changes to the content or layout on your website.

5. You can create dashboards
If you’re looking at the same data each month and don’t really want to have to keep filtering it out to get the information you need, you can create custom reports and dashboards to access that data.

If you need to present this data to a team member or your manager, you can hook up the data to Google Data Studio, and present it in more graphical terms that make it easier for you to demonstrate your findings from the data

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Struggling to increase traffic to your website?

Google Analytics can be daunting. If you’ve been sent a login, and don’t know where to start or if you’ve got an idea of what’s going in on there, but you’d like to dig a bit deeper a really know how your website is performing, contact us, we’d love to hear from you.

Tell us about your project

What is Google Analytics and how does it work?

Written By Adam Burrage
Managing Partner at Trident

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