How to Use Google Analytics

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One of the most common questions I receive from my DIY online marketers is how to use Google Analytics and how to get the most out of it.  

How to use Google Analytics

 If you are unfamiliar, Google Analytics is a powerful reporting tool that provides in-depth and fully customizable metrics. This free tool is crucial for measuring the success of your website and online marketing strategies, but you have to know where to start. This step-by-step guide walks you through setting up your account and learning the basic, yet meaningful, reporting features.

Getting The Most Out Of Google Analytics

As a business owner, your goal is to drive as much quality traffic to your website pages and blog posts as possible. To drive traffic, you invest time in organic marketing and money into online marketing. To gauge the success of your marketing efforts accurately, you must be able to measure your success. In the online world, you do this with tools such as Google Analytics (GA).

Google – The Reigning King Of Search Engines

While Google is not the only search engine, it is the largest search engine in the world. Depending on where you reside in the world, Google web search accounts for between 65% and 80% of all web searches. This totals as many as 50,000 web queries every second. These numbers include paid and organic search results.

On average, Google sends 2 to 3 times more traffic to your website than all other search engines combined. With such a large portion of your web traffic coming directly from Google, it is valuable to understand where your traffic is coming from and to identify trends in behavior patterns. By understanding how your Google visitors interact with your pages, it will help you to optimize your website and improve your online marketing campaigns.

What Is Google Analytics?

GA is a tool that provides in-depth analytics you can use to track patterns and trends. This intelligent software is 100% free and integrates perfectly with your website or blog. Some of its prime reporting features include:

  • How many new visitors have you had this month?
  • How many repeat visitors have you had this month?
  • What countries is your traffic coming from?
  • What websites, blogs, or search engines are driving your traffic?
  • What type of device do your website visitors use when they visit you online? PC, smartphone, laptop, or tablet?
  • What web browsers do your visitors use?
  • Which of your pages generates the most traffic?
  • How long do they stay on each page? Which pieces are most valuable to them?
  • Which of your online marketing strategies is the most effective? Which is the least effective?

When you can answer the questions above, you can create and test powerful marketing campaigns!

How to Use Google Analytics

Setting Up Google Analytics On Your Website

Creating a Google Account

To set up GA on your website, you will need to create a Google account. If you use Gmail as your email provider or have a YouTube account, then you already have a Google account. If you need to start from scratch, simply head to to create your free account.

Signing Up

Installing GA is fast and easy. Head over to and choose “Google Analytics” from the drop-down menu in the upper right hand corner.

Google Analytics Sign In

Once you click on Google Analytics, a box will pop up, stating “Start using Google Analytics.” Click the “Sign Up” button directly below.

Start Using Google Analytics

The next page looks precisely like the image below. Under “New Account” at the top of the page, choose “Website” as what you would like to track. Even if your website is a blog, select the website option.

Google Analytics New Account
Create an Account Name and fill in the required boxes, such as your Website name and URL. Once you have completed the required information, click on “Get Tracking ID” and then accept the terms of service.

Congratulations! In just a few minutes, your new GA account is ready to track your data!

Installing Google Analytics On Your Website

Many bloggers and business owners operate more than one blog. The good news is that you can add multiple websites and blogs to one GA account. Simply walk through this process, one at a time, for each unique website or blog.

The tracking code generated after you click on “Get Tracking ID” needs to be installed on each page of your website.

Google Analytics Tracking Code
You are likely to have multiple pages, so adding the code individually is too time consuming. Instead, you can:

  1. The fastest and easiest way to install your Google code on a WordPress site, is to use a plug-in called Header and Footer. There you can paste the code in the <Head> section.WordPress Header and Footer Plugin
    You can also use Google Analytics plug-in.  Google Analytics by MonsterInsights is an excellent choice and will install your tracking code in a matter of seconds.
  2. If you are comfortable with handling website code, copy and paste your tracking code into your header.php file. Place it right after the <body> tag. Only attempt this if you have previously worked with code; otherwise, you risk compromising your website.
  3. If website back of house is simply not your cup of tea, head to a freelance site and have a professional webmaster do it for you. Most will install your tracking code for $25 or less. A few sites to consider include: Fiverr, Upwork, and Fivesquid.Google Analytics will collect data within 24 hours, meaning you can analyze trends almost immediately.

Setting Up Your Website Dashboard

Google Analytics will collect data, but to comprehend the data, you may need to familiarize yourself with some basic GA terminology. Once you understand the terminology, you can customize your dashboard with shortcuts that analyze the data most meaningful to you. The list of GA terminology is long, but here are the basics:

Bounce rate
This calculates how many website visitors only view one page before continuing their web browsing. Bounce rate is also referred to as a single page session.

Content experiment
This tool allows you to test multiple versions of your web pages to determine which one is the best fit. It specifically tracks how many “goals” each page achieves, so you can identify the approach that works best.

Conversion rate
Your conversion rate is a percentage of how many visitors perform a desired action, most often, opting-in to your email list or purchasing a product. Knowing the conversion rate for each page helps you to see which of your marketing strategies is most effective.

Internet cookies are nothing like real-life cookies. These small pieces of textual data are stored on your visitor’s browser, helping GA to gather the data you require.

Custom reports
The ability to create custom reports allows you to track the data most relevant and meaningful to your goals.

The dashboard is the screen you access when you log in to your GA account.

Goal Conversion Rate
You have goals for each of your marketing strategies. Track your specific goals with customized Content Experiments with GA reports to determine your Goal Conversion Rate.

In-page analytics
This goes beyond which page visitors engage with, but where on each page they engage.

These are the words or phrases that entice and lead your visitor to your website.

Loyalty calculates how many return visitors you have over a designated period of time.

Page views
How often a web page has been viewed.

This refers to the website or blog you are tracking.

A “session” refers to how much time a visitor spends on your website in terms of minutes.

Traffic refers to the overall number of visits to your site or page. Traffic is further broken down by new visitors, returning visitors, organic traffic, paid traffic, and more.

Unique visitor
A unique visitor is a new visitor to your website, whose cookies have been stored, so GA can track their behavior on your website.

Setting Up Your Dashboard

GA comes standard with a default Dashboard, but you may want to customize your dashboard for the metrics and marketing data most relevant to you. Below are a few ways you can customize your dashboard.

Add Widgets Reports

You can add between 1 and 12 widgets that track specific metrics or dimensions. Metrics are a measurement, such as how long someone visited your site. Dimensions are user-characteristics, such as the city or state they are visiting from.

Multiple Dashboards

You can add up to 20 dashboards to your GA account, allowing you to track many metrics and dimensions. Most users don’t need that many, but your dashboards are the best way to track your success at a glance.
To customize your data, log into your GA account and select the “Reporting” tab at the top of the page. Then click “Dashboards” in the left navigation column, followed by “New Dashboard” in the drop-down menu.

Google Analytics Dashboards

Name the dashboard as you wish, preferably in a name related to the data it tracks, then click “Create Dashboard.” Your default dashboard will populate with the most common metrics website owners are interested in. This includes widgets for New Users, Sessions, Average Session Duration and Pages/Session, Bounce Rate, Goal Completions, and Revenue.


Add new widgets to your dashboard by clicking on the “+Add Widget” button in the upper left hand corner. Edit or delete current widgets by hovering over the upper right hand corner of any widget field.

Add Google Analytics Widget

Since you are just getting started, I have created a list of the top 10 widgets and data:

  1. Visits
  2. Average Session Duration
  3. Visits by Traffic Type
  4. New Visits
  5. Bounce Rate
  6. Average Pages / Session
  7. Average Visit Duration
  8. Unique Visitors
  9. Goal Completions
  10. Page Views by Landing Page

Each widget will provide at-a-glance metrics and in-depth reporting. Simply click on the widget of choice for an in-depth look at metrics and dimensions. You can even customize the appearance of your data if you wish.

When you log in to GA, simply click on the “Reporting” tab at the top of the page, then choose the Dashboard you wish to view from the left hand navigation column.

The Top 8 Google Analytics Reports

Your dashboard will gather the data you request and generate in-depth reporting. Each business has unique reporting needs. An ecommerce website will require drastically different reports than a blogger. A new website will require different analytics than an established website. However, some reports are valuable to all website owners, regardless of industry, brand, or type of web property.
There are 8 essential GA reports you can access directly from your GA home page. Click on your “Reporting” tab then choose from the list of choices in the left navigation column: Events, Audience, Acquisition, or Behavior. Each field will deliver advanced reporting, designed to answer the 8 questions below.

  1. What Is The Overall Traffic To Your Website?

It is possible that your content is effective, and your conversions are high, but because your traffic is low, your results are less than you desire.  This report will help you to determine how many people are vising your site each month, week, day, or hour, and if building your traffic should be a greater priority.

Google Analytics Audience Overview

To analyze your traffic, click on the “Reporting” tab and choose “Audience” and “Overview” from the left hand navigation column. Next, select your desired date range, and the report will populate. Click on the down arrow on the right to display other relevant traffic data.

  1. Where Is Your Traffic Coming From?

To determine where your website traffic is coming from, click on “Acquisition” and “Overview” in the left hand navigation column. The report that populates will divide your data into the referral websites, blogs, and online properties your traffic is generated from, including paid and organic search traffic.

Google Analytics All Traffic

To really dig in, select “All Traffic” under the “Overview” drop-down. Then click on “Source/Medium.” This will provide you with the specific URLs, search engines, and social platforms each click originates from.

  1. What Are Your Most Popular Pages And Posts?

To improve, you must know what you are doing well and what you are doing not so well. By determining your most popular pages and posts, you can attempt to replicate your success on your less popular pages and posts.
Click on “Site Content” under “Behavior” then select “All Pages” from the drop-down menu. Once you determine your most frequently visited pages, consider boosting their value with an opt-in box, service offer, or product highlight.

Google Analytics Popular Posts And Pages

Also, look for any trends in pages that perform well, such as inbound keywords, and publish more pages with the same keywords or other draw.

  1. Which Keywords Drive Your Traffic?

Head back to the “Acquisition” tab, then select “Search Engine Optimization”, followed by “Queries” in the drop-down. Now, you can sort your keywords by many measurements, such as Clicks, Impressions, and Average Position.

Learning which short-tail and long-tail keywords generate the most success is essential for optimizing future content. Keywords also help you to get in touch with the information your website visitors are searching for. Keyword success changes quickly, so the data in this report is cleared every 90 days. Be sure to check back often.

Quick Tip: If you cannot see this data in full, you will need to enable the Search Console data sharing. Do this by selecting “Reporting”, “Search Engine Optimization”, and then “Queries.” Click on the “Set up Search Console Data Sharing” button and follow the prompts to enable sharing.

  1. Where Do Your Backlinks Originate?

You have probably heard the term “backlink”, but you might not understand exactly what it refers to. When someone clicks on a link that directs back to your website or blog, a backlink is created. The more quality backlinks you generate from relevant and reputable industry websites, the more Google views you as being valuable.

The more value you are seen to have, the more organic traffic Google and other search engines will send your way. This report will show you where your backlinks are coming from. Go to “Acquisition”, then click on “Referrals” from the “All Traffic” drop-down menu.

Google Analytics Backlinks

  1. How Long Do People Stay On Your Site?

It is important to understand how long people stay on your website. 20 visitors who stay on your website for 5 minutes is better than 100 visitors who only stay on your website for 1 minute. By determining which pages and posts hold visitor’s attention, you can attempt to duplicate your success.

For this report, head to “Reporting”, “Behavior”, “Site Content”, and “All Pages.” Pay close attention to the “Avg. Time on Page” data.

  1. What Is Your Mobile Traffic Mix?

Mobile web browsing is changing the way website visitors interact with your website. As mobile web browsing continues to increase, you need to differentiate between web browsing performed on desktop PCs, laptops, tablets, and smartphones. Even if your website is mobile responsive, understanding your visitors’ browsing habits is essential for planning your future marketing strategies.

To determine your mobile mix, scroll over to the “Reporting” tab and select “Audience”, “Mobile”, and “Overview.” Each device listed will contain valuable information about user behavior.

  1. Which Of Your Pages And Posts Generates The Highest Rate Of Conversions?

While each of these reports provides valuable insights, understanding which of your web pages and posts generate the highest rates of conversions is your most valuable report. Your highest converting pages are the pages you should send your current and upcoming marketing campaigns to, instead of just sending them to your home page.

To set up this page accurately, you will need to set up site-specific goals, which we will cover in the next chapter. Once your goals are complete, simply go to “Conversions”, then select “Goals” and “Overview.”

Pay close attention to the “Source/Medium” findings, as they reveal where your high converting traffic comes from, which sometimes, makes your set Goals irrelevant. A page achieving few of your site-specific goals could generate a high rate of conversions from a quality outside source, making your secondary site an excellent place to market.

Continue with your GA training

This is a lot of information to take in at once, so just take things one step at a time. Once you master the basics of Google Analytics, you will intuitively explore the more advanced tools and features.

To continue with your GA training, subscribe to my mailing. As a free gift you will receive the full GA ebook and a workbook to help you stay organized. Sign up now!


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Improve Your Marketing 

Google Analytics Made Easy Cover

You will also receive a workbook and checklist to help you stay organized.


Question: Do you have Google Analytics installed on your site? How do you use it? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Until next time……


Selma is a passionate creator who continues to branch out and explore new artistic endeavors. She is a Web Developer and Internet Marketer. She was an early online entrepreneur, who launched her web design company in 1996, and she has been working solely online since 2004. She is a proud mom of 5, who calls the picturesque Iceland home. Her versatile interests also include Songwriting, Electronics Technician, and she is a published Children’s Book Author.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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