What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a web analysis service that provides basic tools and statistics for search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing purposes. This service is free and available to all users who have a Google account.
Google Analytics can be used to monitor website performance and gather visitor insights. Organizations use it to determine the top sources of traffic and track campaign success. Small and medium-sized retailers use Google Analytics to analyze customer behavior and improve their marketing campaigns.
How does Google Analytics work?
To gather information about visitors, the page-tag acts as a web bug. The system cannot collect data from users who have disabled cookies because it relies upon cookies.
Google Analytics features can be used to identify patterns and trends in visitors’ interactions with websites. These features allow data collection, analysis and monitoring. They also provide visualizations, reporting, and integration with other apps. These features include:
- Data visualization and monitoring tools include dashboards, scorecards, and motion charts that show data changes over time.
- Data filtering, manipulation, and funnel analysis
- data collection application program interfaces (APIs);
- Predictive analytics, intelligence, and anomaly detection
- Segmentation to analyze subsets such as conversions
- Custom reports for advertising, acquisition and audience behavior;
- Email-based communication and sharing;
- Integration with other products: Google Ads and Google Data Studio, Salesforce Marketing Cloud. Google AdSense, Google Optimize 360. Google Display & Video 360. Google Ad Manager.
Google Analytics dashboard allows users to save profiles for multiple websites. They can either view details for the default categories or choose custom metrics to display on each site. Tracking categories include traffic sources overview, keyword overview, keywords, referring websites, visitors overview and map overlay.
You can view the dashboard on Google Analytics. It is also available via a widget or plugin that can be embedded into other websites. Independent vendors can also offer customized Google Analytics dashboards.
A metric refers to a standard for quantitative measurement. Google Analytics allows users to track 200 metrics to assess the performance of their websites. These are the most common metrics. While some metrics might be more valuable for certain businesses than others, they are still important.
- Users. A user is a unique visitor to the website.
- Bounce rate. Percentage of visitors who only viewed one page. These visitors only made one request to Google Analytics.
- Sessions. A group of visitor interactions that occur in a 30-minute window.
- Average session length. How many visitors stay on the site on average.
- The percentage for new sessions. A percentage of first-time website visits.
- A number of pages viewed per session.
- A number of visitors who complete the desired action. This is also called a conversion.
- Pageviews. Total pages viewed.
Dimensions vs. Metrics
Google Analytics reports include dimensions and metrics. It is important to understand the differences between them in order to interpret reports correctly.
Dimensions. These attributes or labels are used to organize and describe data. If the average session length is being determined across multiple regions, then the dimensions would be “Region.” An example of a metric is “Average Session length”, which is a quantitative measure.
Google Analytics allows you to customize dimensions. Here are some examples of common dimensions:
- Type of browser
- City and country
- Models of devices
- The age group of the user
Metrics. These metrics are quantitative measures of one type of data. Metrics include page views, average session length, average time on site, and pages per session. Metrics can be used to compare measurements across dimensions.
Benefits and limitations
Google Analytics comes with its own set of limitations and benefits. The platform’s power, freedom and ease of use are the main benefits for users. Google Analytics offers the following benefits:
- It is easy to use, free of charge, and beginner-friendly.
- Google Analytics provides a wide range of metrics and customizable dimensions. This platform can capture many different types of valuable insights.
- Google Analytics includes many other tools such as data visualization and monitoring, reporting, and predictive analysis.
Google Analytics has had some issues in the past that could affect its accuracy. These include:
- Users who block Google Analytics cookies, browser extensions, privacy networks, and ad filtering software can compromise data accuracy.
- To reduce server load, reports are created by sampling 500,000 randomly selected sessions. These reports only include the number of visits. Small segments of data could have large margins for error.
User acquisition data vs. user behavior data
Google Analytics provides businesses with multiple types of data that can be used for marketing purposes.
Customer acquisition data gives insight into how customers arrive at the website. Customers can come from many sources, including paid search engine results and unpaid pages, social media links, or just typing the URL. It is crucial to understand user acquisition data to maximize website traffic.
Customer behavior data displays what customers do on the website and how they interact with it. This data includes how long they spend on each page and how many pages they visit. It also shows if they interact with graphics and videos. These data can be used for web layouts that connect visitors to the content they want, resulting in a better user experience. Optimized user experiences based on user behavior data are more likely to create sales and convert customers.
Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4, also known as GA4, is the latest iteration. It was launched in October 2020. GA4 is a significant upgrade to previous versions of Google Analytics. The new interface is completely different, and it shifts away from third-party cookies to machine learning to improve data accuracy.
Google Analytics 4 features that are brand new include:
- Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) tools
- Integration with Google Ads is possible;
- Customer-centric reporting based on lifecycle data
- Additional codeless tracking options that provide data with lower latency are available.
- Data management and regulatory compliance are enhanced with data control features.