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The Ultimate Google Analytics Guide For Small Businesses

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Google Analytics Guide
One of the most powerful yet also the most ignored platforms for website owners is Google Analytics. More and more traffic today comes from search engines, with Google handling the bulk of these. In the simplest of terms, the more you understand about your website’s relationship with Google, the better placed you are to improve its performance on the search engine. Are You Not Getting Enough Traffic? Analytics will provide you with data that you can make use of when optimizing your website for increased traffic.

Are you getting traffic but not enough sales or leads? Again, Google Analytics will provide you with the data that you can make use of when looking to improve sales conversions as well as lead generation.

Before going too far ahead, perhaps the most essential of all these questions would be, “Is Google Analytics for me?”

If you own a WordPress website or web application that is looking to tap into Google’s search traffic as its sole source of traffic or coupled together with paid traffic sources, then yes, Google Analytics is for you.

In this guide on how to use Google Analytics, we’ll take an in-depth look into all the basics functions of how to setup Google Analytics, the benefits of Google Analytics for small business and more.

1. Guide to Google Analytics for Beginners

It is worth noting that there is no coding experience needed for a website owner to make use of the data that Google Analytics presents.

After reading this Google Analytics guide, you should be able to understand how to pull the following information from Analytics:

  • The number of visits that your website is receiving in any given period.
  • Are there any loading speed issues with your WordPress website and how you may be able to implement recommended fixes to optimize your WordPress website.
  • Which content/pages on your website is drawing in the most visitors?
  • The path that your visitors take on your site to be converted. (This comes in handy when you start building a new or improving on an existing conversion funnel.)
  • Which websites are driving traffic to your website?
  • Manage your marketing campaigns and see which has been the most efficient one – Paid Ad placements, Pay Per Click ads (PPC), Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and so on.
  • How many of your visitors have purchased products or subscribed to your website?
  • The location of your visitors. You may find it beneficial to adapt your business model to suit your visitors’ location, i.e., allowing shipping to those places if you sell physical products.
  • Real Time Traffic Monitor – See how many people are actually on your site at any given time and also understand the peak times for your site.

All of this may seem like a lot for getting started with Google Analytics. However, it is important to note that every online business needs to use these trends to adapt. You would want to see what is working for your site at any given time and create more & more of the same.

By the same token, you would also want to see what is not working and improve on it or get rid of it completely. Best part, all this information is available for free on Google Analytics.

2. How To Setup Google Analytics

There really is no reason to wait any longer once you know that this platform is for you. You should go ahead and get an account. The only prerequisite is that you should have a Google email account. You can get this for free too. Step 1: Sign up For Your Free Gmail Account Visit: www.accounts.google.com/SignUp

Gmail Sign Up
The Screenshot above shows you what you would expect to see once you have opened the URL. The details required are – name, username (you get to pick one for yourself if it is not already taken), create your password, enter your birthday, gender, mobile number (to be used to recover your account if for any reason you find yourself unable to log in).

It takes less than 5 minutes to set up your account. Once you have your account, please take note of your username and password, as you will require it for creating an Analytics account. Step 2: Setting Up Google Analytics Visit: www.google.com/analytics/

Analytics Sign Up
You can make use of the URL above to get on the Analytics page. Once you are there, click on Sign in.
Analytics Sign In
The sign in page is the generic Google one. At this point, you will need to enter your email address in full or just the username without the [email protected] ending. When you click next, you’ll be asked for your password. Enter the password and you’ll be taken straight to the Analytics console. Step 3: Setting Up a Property Each website or app that you add to Google Analytics is placed into a property. You are allowed to set up 50 properties on a Google account (On testing while writing this article it seems to have been increased to 100) For most people, this is more than enough. Unless of course, you run a large web marketing business. Let’s Look at How To Go About Setting This Up:
Once you click on the admin tab, as shown below, you will find an option that says “create property/new account.” Select a tab, depending on whether it is an app or website that you are looking to track.
Setting up a Property
In this instance, we will make use of the “Website tab” (The setup process for the app and website are relatively similar, so we will only look at one)

  • Firstly, enter the account name that you want to place the new property under.
  • Next, enter the name of the website that you want to track. The website URL is perhaps the most important step in this. Getting this part wrong invalidates the whole process. You will also need to pick a category for your site based on the ones that they have. This helps gauge expectations and activities for targeted market and traffic.
  • Lastly, pick a time zone for your reporting.

For the most part this is not something that we think about, however, when you want to track live traffic, this will come in handy. You will be able to figure out where your traffic is coming in from, as well as when it is coming in. Step 4: Data Sharing Settings The data sharing settings are optional. It is entirely up to you whether or not you would like to receive information from Google via email, as well as for Google to collect and use information from your site.

Data Sharing Settings
As with everything, there are negatives and positives to doing this. Most things with Google involve smoking mirrors that deter marketers from manipulating the system. Be mindful of this as you select the options. Step 5: Tracking ID For Google to access your website, you will need to use a tracking ID. Your tracking ID is unique to each property. It is used to confirm ownership of the website. Until you place this tracking ID, your Analytics property will not give you the data that you are looking to get from it.
Tracking ID
To Start:

  • Click on the Admin tab on the top right. (Fourth option on the menu bar)
  • The first column is the accounts, where you would select the right account if you have various accounts within your analytics.
  • The second column is the property one. If you have multiple properties, you will be able to select the right one.
  • Once you have chosen the right property, you will be able to retrieve its tracking code by clicking on “Tracking info.” (Third option in the property column)
  • A drop down menu will show up. Select tracking code.
  • Your code will be revealed there.

3. Placing The Code On Site Or App

To place the code, you will need to know what type of website you are running. There are various other ways that you can track your site if you are unable to figure out what your site is built on. Tracking a Static Website Websites are placed into two categories, Static and Dynamic. Although Static websites are becoming less common, there are still quite a lot of these around. A Static site is one that is created and displayed using HTML code.

Unlike Dynamic sites where platforms or interfaces such as Python, Ruby, and PHP. The pages on such sites are individually created and stored. To track a static website, you will need to copy and paste the code into every page on the site. Do not edit the code, paste it as you have found it on your analytics. Tracking a Dynamic Website As mentioned above, Dynamic websites are those that are built on platforms and interfaces such as Python, Ruby and PHP. Dynamic websites on PHP platforms such as WordPress allow you to place the tracking code snippet on one page and let the template push the code dynamically into the rest of the site. WordPress sites can do this through WordPress plugins. Copy the tracking code as it is. Do not edit it.

Tracking code
Tracking Through Your Hosting Service Most Hosting services offer a plugin within their platforms, which allows their users to enter their tracking code. What that does is eliminate the process that some web owners find to be tedious. If your site is hosted on WordPress, Godaddy, Magento, Shopify, Wix, Weebly or Prestashop, you are covered.

If you are on a platform that does not let you manage the source code of your site, this is where this option would apply. They have user-friendly ways to enter your tracking code. There are some limitations as to what data you can track with some of the plugins. If in doubt, make sure you speak to their respective customer services to clarify. Tracking Mobile Applications One of the best tools for tracking mobile applications is Firebase. When you create a Firebase project, you bring all data into one place. If your application has previous versions that you have released updates for, chances are there will be users who, for reasons of their own, will choose not to get the latest version of the app.

Firebase keeps your project collecting data from these app versions as well as bringing data across different platforms. If your app is on Android, iOS and Windows, it would be ridiculous to try to correlate data across all of these platforms manually. Not to mention how time-consuming it could also be. You will be pleased to know that you can connect your Firebase to Google Analytics.

Setting up Firebase is worthy of a whole article of its own. If you would like to try it out, you will find the SDK and other details on the link above. Be aware that it can be quite the learning curve.

4. Connecting Firebase to Google Analytics

Once you have created and set up your Firebase account and configured it for your application, connecting it to your Google Analytics is quite simple. Go Back to The Top Menu Bar on Analytics and Select:

  • Admin
  • New Account
  • Mobile App
  • Select Firebase Analytics in that section.
  • Where it says connect to Firebase, you will also see option just below to pick which app it is that you would like to link to Firebase Analytics.
  • Click connect, once you have selected the app.
  • If you are signed in to your Google account and your Firebase is correctly set up, you will be ready.

Once you have set up your tracking code, be it in an application or a website, I would usually allow up to 24 hours for it to gather and show meaningful data. If after 24 hours there is still nothing to show, you should check that you have followed the setup instructions correctly. Restarting the process is usually an easy fix if there is an anomaly.

5. The Interface

When you are getting started with Google Analytics, being able to understand what each one of the options on the Google Analytics Interface does is imperative. Most users only know a few options, which never allows them to fully harness the complete power of the interface.

When you log into your account, you are first taken to a screen that displays all the accounts and properties that you have in them. This is where you select which account you would like to view reports for.

Audience Reports

6. Audience Analysis

Audience analysis reports are vital for all business. These are what you would focus on to improve your website’s performance based on your audience. Search engine optimization can tailor content to rank better on search engines, but this does not equal adapting your content to meet the needs of your visitors.

Understanding who the visitors are, places a business owner in a better position to create content that they will appreciate. If they enjoy the content, they are more likely to be converted from being visitors into being paying customers.

The overview section is divided into hourly, days, week and month. This is to allow you to view your statistics within these times. When you make changes to your website and want to see what sort of impact they have, you should click on the relevant option.

When you click on the “Sections” drop down menu, a few more options will be shown. % New Sessions: This gives you an estimation of what percentage of your new visitors are visiting for the very first time. There are many ways that you can use this data. For example, if you have recently started a new marketing campaign, you may be able to use this to get an idea just how successful this has been in driving new visitors to your website.

If this percentage does not show a spike when you are running a new marketing campaign, then you will know that it hasn’t been as efficient as you wanted it to be. Avg. Session Duration: Average Session Duration shows you how much time your visitors are spending on your website, on an average. The amount of time they spend will depend on the content that you are serving. If your site is wordy and as videos or images, then you would expect your visitors to spend more time than if it only has a few images and a call-to-action. Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is measured by considering what percentage of your visitors come onto your site and leave without interacting with any of the content. Interaction includes scrolling down, visiting another page, following a call-to-action and so on. Extremely high bounce rate usually signify that the visitors did not find what they expected when they came to your website. Page Views: Pageviews are the total number of times that pages on your website are viewed. Repeated viewing of the same page is also counted. This makes it easy for these figures to be misleading. Thus, it is important to consider this metric together with other metrics, but never on its own. Pages/Session: Pages per session is a measure of how many pages are viewed per session by any visitor. When a visitor moves from one page to another, this is counted. Moving back to a previous page also counts. The advantage of this is that visitors may be inclined to return to a previous page based on what they saw on the next page or what they did not find on that particular page. Session: Sessions are a measure of the time that a user is actively engaged with the content on your site. This metric measures things such as screen views, events, e-commerce and so on. Sessions apply to both Apps and web pages. Users: Users are a record of visitors that have had sessions on your web page or app within the time range that you have selected. This measure includes first-time visitors as well as returning ones.

Audience Overview
On the left sidebar, you will see the Audience tab. There are various options below it which include an Overview, Active Users, Cohort Analysis, User Explorer, Demographics, Interests, Geo, Behaviour, Technology, Mobile, and Custom.

As you would expect, the Overview shows you a wide range of data pulled in from various subsets. To go in-depth, you will need to click on each metric and see more detail. Active Users: Active users are a measure of how many people have started sessions on your website within a given period. The metrics can be viewed in 1-day active users, 7-day active users, 14-day active users and 30-day active users. This is another very important metric to be considered by business owners.

Active Users
It shows you the level of interest that your users have. All business owners should have some form of expectations for the level of engagement that their users should have.

If these expectations are not reflected on the active user’s data, you should consider making some changes to improve the user engagement metrics. Granted, higher engagement levels will increase the likelihood of the visitors being converted into buyers, however, re-evaluating your marketing goals, based on what is not working up to that point is also important.
Things to Look Out For in This Metric:

  • Appropriate Audience: Check whether you are getting your targeted audience.
  • Ad Auctions: If you are getting traffic from Pay-Per-Click PPC, you would want to see whether or not your ads are winning the bids for the keywords that you are bidding for.
  • Negative Press: Negative Press or reviews can be very harmful to any business. This is another factor to look out for.
  • Social Content: Social Media marketing is increasingly becoming a primary source of traffic. The success of the content that you share on social media should be monitored to see how well it is performing.

If your active users are tailing off after a while, you may need to consider the possibility that your content’s buzz is not sustainable over a prolonged period. It may come down to having to continue to marketing your old content over time, even when you have released newer content.

The spike in active users that you may see when new content is released is a clear sign that your content is adding value to the readers. Over time it may stop being shared as much as it did when released. It is up to you as the business owner to keep sharing new content and also updating old content to stay relevant.

7. Cohort Analysis

Cohorts are metrics that group together users and the sessions that they initiated on your website or app. They are group based on the content that they viewed, the time that they viewed it, their initial visit to the site as a new user.

Cohort Analysis
Cohort Analysis is when you begin to look at these groups over a given period. You look at things such as their behavior for that period. It is also another great metric to measure the success or failure of a marketing campaign.

Let’s say you have recently launched a new product that you are marketing to your mailing list of about 5000 people. Once you have sent this email out, you would expect some of the recipients of this email to:

  • Visit your website on the day that you sent it.
  • Other recipients to visit the site over the next few days as well.
  • You will expect that some of these visitors will be converted to your landing page and purchase what you are offering.
  • Others will look at it and leave.
  • Another part of this group will come back a few times before finally purchasing it.
  • Yet another part of this group will visit over and over again but never buy it.

A Cohort Analysis report will present all these individual within their specific reports for you to understand how effective or ineffective your email marketing has been. Out of this will come decisions such as re-targeting, sending an improved version or just a different version of the initial email, creating a different landing page and so on.

The analysis report focuses on revealing metrics such as user retention, user engagement, acquisition and more importantly how they responded to your email marketing campaign.

The three main parameters that you can set to group the data that is presented to you are – Cohort Size, Metric and Date Range.
Cohort Size:
The Cohort size can be separated into daily, weekly or monthly cohorts. The one you pick will depend on when your marketing campaign was launched. If the email was sent out a few days ago, you will be able to view data in the daily section to see when visitors started to come in and how they acted when they got to the targeted page.
Metric:
The Metric section is where you decide what the actual data you would like to see about each cohort is. There are quite a few options here:

Metric
  • Goals Completed per User: If you have set goals in your analytics console, you will be able to see how many of the people in each cohort reach the target that you set. We will look at how to set goal later on.
  • Pageviews per User: Page views per user show you how many screens or pages users in each cohort group viewed.
  • Revenue per User: Revenue per user is a very important one for most businesses. More so, if you are using PPC or pay-per-lead sent to your site. By knowing how much on average you are making per user, you will be able to understand whether or not your marketing campaign is worth the money that you are spending on it. It gives you a good view of your ROI (return on investment).
  • Session Duration per User: This is a measure of the total amount of time that each user in any given cohort spends on your site. The shorter the time they spend the higher your bounce rate is. This is not always a bad thing. If you are promoting one product and the users come and purchase it quickly without spending a lot of time on the page, it may be an indication of how good your landing page is in converting the visitors.
  • Sessions per User: Sessions per user are a measure of how many times each user has left your site and returned. It is calculated as an average for all the users in each cohort.
  • Transactions per User: Transactions per user show you how many transactions each user had made on your website, based on an average of the total number of people in that particular cohort.

8. The Totals

The Totals are a lot more simplistic as a form of intel into your visitors. For instance, business owners would perhaps be more interested in knowing how much revenue has been generated within a period, as opposed to how many transactions have been processed within that period.

Transactions are not a tell-all sign. If your products are relatively cheap, a huge amount of transactions does not mean a lot of revenue has been generated. By the same token, if you have a wide range of product, just knowing the number of transactions does not tell you whether or not your site has done well in that period.

You may have just sold a lot of your low-margin products and not many of the higher margin ones. This is another great example of how all this data makes more sense when viewed together, as opposed to being viewed as individual samples.

  • Goals Completed: The total number of conversions.
  • Page Views: Total number of pages and screen viewed.
  • Revenue: Total revenue made from purchases on your e-commerce website or in your app.
  • Session Duration:The length of a session measured in seconds. As long as there is still activity being carried out by the user, the session is considered to be active.
  • Sessions: The total number of sessions that have been initiated within a period.
  • Transactions: Total number of purchases that have been made on your site.
  • Users: The total number of users within a cohort that initiated sessions on your website or app within the chosen period.

9. Understanding User Explorer

Small Business grows by learning to provide the best service to the clients who visit their sites. If you can cater for a care-free browsing experience for a first-time visitor, they are more than likely to keep coming back to your site.

The User Explorer does what is say; it helps you explore your users through a range of criteria. It is found in the reporting section of the top menu and just below the Cohort Analysis on the left sidebar menu.

User Explorer
Demographics: Demography is the study of the composition of a target population. “Demo” is derived from the word “demos” which means people and “graphy” is derived from “grapho” which is a statistical study of populations. Your customers, in this instance, are your population of choice.
Demographics
When you click on Overview for the very first time you will be presented with what you see on the image above. You will then need to enable this option by clicking on the blue button as shown in the image. Without enabling it, Google Analytics will not do very much to collect your user data in this respect.
 Demograhic and Interest report
Once that part is complete, when you click on the overview you will see something like the image shown above.
Demographics Overview
Once enabled, some data will begin to be reviewed immediately. (As shown above) However, you will not have much to work with until after at least 24 hours of Google aggregating it. This data can be added to existing dashboards if they have already been prepared.

This Overview section shows you the demographics, in terms, of their gender and age, as shown in the image above. Data segmentation can be used to place data into categories that would make it easier to understand the behavior of your visitors.

For instance, you can segment it by conversion or device. Segmentation by Conversion presents you with data from the users that were converted. This can be done for both converted users as well as non-converting users. You can then be able to tell how many sessions it took on average for each visitor to be converted.

Segmenting by the Device shows you how successful your page is on different devices. If visitors are not returning to your site on a particular device, this can show you that you may need to improve the user interface.

Demographics Sessions
The Demography can be further divided into smaller chunks of data, by using the parameters shown above.
Audience - User Explorer
When the data starts to show, you will see something similar to what is shown in the image above. Your active users are users who have created sessions on your page or app in separate occasion over a set period. Each visitor is assigned a client id, which is then linked to their statistics.

From the stats above, you can see that this blog has some readers who spend a significant amount of time on the site. If there are conversion goals of any sort, these are the sort of people that you would want to be targeting.

User Report
When you click on each user ID, you will be taken to a page similar to the one above. You will be shown when they first visited your site, the devices that they used to visit your site and how they found your site.

For each of the sessions that they initiate, you will be able to track the number of pages that were viewed and what device they used for each instance. When you click on these stats, you will also see what social or referrer it is that they have come from.

For Example:

User ID
As you can see above, the user in this instance came from Twitter. For the most part, webmasters who actively promote their sites are able to recognize this referral. If that is not the case, it may be worth following the link to check who it is that is driving this traffic to your site.

You may also be able to see the context in which your link was being shared. If it is a negative comment, you would obviously want to see how best you can turn this to your advantage or minimize damage.

Interests: The Interests can be placed into three categories as shown below.

Interest Overview
  • Affinity category shows you categories that are closely related to the one in which you would place your business. If you are looking to run some form of advertisements as part of your marketing plan, this will narrow it down to an audience that is likely to already have an interest in products/services such as yours.
  • In-market Segments and other categories also work to reveal further markets that can also be targeted.

Geo: The Geo Section is divided into language and location. The data is presented in line and motion charts. Refer to the samples below.

Geo overview
The line chart plots languages in different colors, as shown above. This particular site is primarily English, so the blue line is for the English users.
Geo - Bar Graph
Here is the same data presented on a Bar Graph.

The overall metrics are shown below the charts in text. This data can be used in tailoring content to the right clients. Let’s say all your content is in English, as is the content on the site that we are looking at in the example.

If for some reason, a significant amount of your traffic is coming from a predominantly non-English speaking country, you would want to consider tailoring your content to be suitable for the language of this audience. It would be a waste if your highest converting visitors are not fully tailored for. Location: In the Location section, you will be able to see the data on a map as well as in form of the text and graphs. As with the language section, your aim should always be to make the most of the data that you are viewing.

Location
You want to make sure that you are catering for the locations that you are receiving traffic from. Ideally, you would want to consider the information from the locations that you are already targeting, as well as those that are showing interest in your products or services.

The data can be targeted from continent to sub-continent to country and city. Behaviour: The Behavior section is divided into new and returning visitors. This is a measure of your site’s ability to get first-time visitors to return. You will also be able to see which of the two are converting.

behavior
If your new visitors are higher converting than returning ones. It may be worth considering what the difference is between the experiences of the two user groups. What is it that the new users are experiencing that causes them to want to buy what you are offering? Technology:The Technology section looks at what browsers your visitors have been using to view your pages. For the most part, Google Chrome dominates this. Understanding all the technologies that your visitors are using to consume your content, should allow you to test and optimise your content for each of these platforms where possible.
Technology
It is worth making sure that the content is fully functional on the current version of each browser, as well as to the newer versions when they are released. A key component of this is being able to recognize trends. Since today, it is mandatory for all web designs to be responsive, more & more users are migrating to mobile browsers and application, from the desktop versions. Mobile: The Mobile section gives you a view into which mobile devices are being used to view your content. It tends to be specific.
Mobile
For instance, when an iOS device is used to view your site, Analytics is able to differentiate these visitors into the version of the device that has been used. In some instances, Analytics may not be able to identify a specific version of the device brand. For example, an iPhone 5 may be shown only as “iPhone”. Benchmarking: The aim of Benchmarking is to allow small businesses to make use of data that other more established businesses within the same industry have availed. Your website statistics are placed in comparison to those of other sites. This should not be a deterrent in any way.

Most small business websites will not stack up to these comparisons, however, it gives you a mirror view of what progress you are making.

Benchmarking
In the image above, we see a comparison based on visitor’s location. The red areas are the areas that need improvement, while the green ones are where this site is doing better in comparison to most the data sharer.
Benchmarking - Devices
As shown above, the same metrics can also be viewed with respect to the devices that have been used to visit your site. Overall, Benchmarking can be used to set goals for your website based on trends and leaders in your industry.

There are over 1600 categories and industries that you can pick from, to match your own.

Benchmarking - Channels
There is a drop-down menu that appears as shown above. Within each section, there are further sections that narrow it down to as close to your business as possible.

The second drop-down menu, as shown in the image above, further narrows the results by country/region. You can either use this for your own location, or the target location for the business that you are working on.

If I am based in the UK, but looking to target US customers, I would probably get data from the US. This would allow me to see my data in comparison to that of competitors in the US.

The final drop-down menu focuses on the sessions created per day. Most websites have less than 100 sessions per day, which is the default. If your business is doing better than that, you can change it to a relevant one.

Another reason you could perhaps want to use an increased session which is higher than your own would be to see how you stake up to bigger organisations. This is a more growth based or projection approach. User Flow: User Flow is a measure of how traffic flows within and through your website once they have arrived. It shows you the country of origin for the visitors as well as how many pages it is that they view once they are on the site.

Users Flow
When you hover over the starting page section, you will see what is below.
Users Flow
  • Pages: The page section shows you how many pages were visited, after the landing page.
  • Through Traffic (%): Through traffic is the amount of traffic that continues from the landing pages onto other pages. A low value in this section could signify some issues within the conversion funnel.
  • Drop-offs (%): Drop offs are a measure of the visitors that did not make it through the funnel.
  • Sessions:The number of sessions is a measure of the visitors that came to your site.

For the most part, the User Flow and Behaviour Flow reports are similar. Their difference lays in the fact that the User Flow focuses on the pages visited by your users, whereas the Behavior report is inclusive of events and content.

The icon above is on the upper right side of the menu. It allows you to move a scroll bar in order to select the number of sessions that you would like to be used in calculating this report. Dragging it to the left makes it go quicker while dragging it to the right produces more in-depth data while taking longer to do so.

Now that you know the age and gender of your visitors, what can your business do about it? There are quite a few ways that this information can be utilised. For starters, your copy can be tailored to be more appealing to that particular gender or age. These small tweaks go a long way in improving conversion.

10. Setting and Managing Goals for Small Businesses

An important part to understanding Google Analytics, there are many ways to define what Google Analytics Goals are. The conventional way is to go with the dictionary version of the definition of the word “goal”, which of course is “a set target that one wants to reach within a set period of time.”

From a small business’s website or app perspective, this would be what they would like the results of their customers to be once they are on the app or site. Essentially, you are setting goals for your customers more than you are for yourself.

Imagine a mouse churning cheese out of milk. The mouse wants the cheese that is at the end of the process, while the owner of the milk benefits from having their process tested and approved to be working. If the goal is not met, the business gains nothing but loses time and perhaps even money.

To set this up, you need to decide what it is that you expect your customer to do on your app or website. This can be targeted at various specific landing pages or the entire site.

For instance, Goals can be the number of sign ups that your blog gets, the number of emails that a form collects, the number of sales made through your e-commerce sites, the level reached in an app by the user, all dependent on what type of website or app it is that you are using; eCommerce, blog, marketing or lead generation. What Do You Want to Achieve as a Business? The easiest way to define your Google Analytics Goals is by first defining your business’s goals. What is it that you would like to see your business do? These can be short term or long term. The best way to do this is not to focus on revenue or sales as far as the goals are concerned.

A good goal could be: “I want my business to be the premier supplier of computer parts in my city or country.” Once you have set that goal you will then be able to use it as a springboard for setting your analytics goals.

Your Analytics Goals are micro-goals that all build up together to achieve the main goal that you have set for the entire business.

Geo - Location
The very first step is to target the right audience for you goal to be effective. In the image above, the website in question serves an audience in the United Kingdom. Most of their visitors are from there, which is good. Two areas of concern with this one would be the bounce rate and average duration.

As we discussed earlier, the bounce rate usually equate to the people who visit your site and leave almost instantly. Search engine views these people as not having found what they were searching for.

If you do indeed have what these people were searching for, then perhaps something is not right. You may need to check the layout of your content and make the right areas more prominent.

The duration is another metric that is also very subjective. When considering this, you need to think about how much time a visitor would need to be on your site before they can be converted. It differs for a blog which is content heavy to an eCommerce page with a single product. There are Four Parameters That Can be Used to Keep Track of Goals:

  • The URLs visited.
  • Time Spent.
  • Number of pages viewed per visit.
  • Event (User takes an action on the page visited) i.e. downloading a file, viewing a video and so on.

11. Setting up Your Goal Tracking

Click on the admin button on the top menu, as highlighted in the image. What you see may be slightly different depending on how many accounts and properties you have set up. Anyhow, cast your eyes to the third column. The third option from the top is the one that you are looking for.

Setting up Goal Tracking
Once you click on there, you will be taken to a further page that lets you create the goals. If you are starting off and do not want to get your hands dirty, Google Analytics has a few goal templates that you can use.
Goal Set-up
Using the template will mean that you may not necessary have the option of picking and choosing how your goal is tracking to the T.
Goal Description
  • If you choose to go with the template, you will be asked to name the Goal in the next step. The name is for you to be able to track all the goals that you have set, especially if you create multiple goals. Seeing as this is the tutorial goal, we have named it as such.
  • The Goal slot ID is also another one that is used to follow up your goals once they have been created. As mentioned earlier, the four metrics/parameters that you can track your goals are next.

You can choose only one per Goal set. If you do not see the templates when you select to use a template, it is highly likely that you have not selected an industry to be configured for your property. Go to the property and edit it to add the ideal industry. A] Goal Details If you choose the destination, you will need to enter the URL that you would like to track or the page on your app that you would like to track.

Goal Details
  • Destination: Enter the URL or page name. There is an option to use case sensitive characters for the page or URL. This does not usually matter as most URLs are in the small case. When entering the URL, you should only use the suffix and not the whole URL. For instance, if the page is www.google.com/images, you would only enter “/images.”
  • Value: If you are tracking a page that guarantees you a sale, then you may want to add how much each sale is worth on this option. This will track revenue and make it easier for you to measure ROI.
  • The Funnel: This is used to track the visitor’s movement from one page to another. From where they arrive and to which page they move to, until they reach the desired destination. That destination could be buying a product.
Funnel
If your funnels are well-optimised, your customers will go all the way through it. If it is not, you will be able to find out where exactly it is that they are stopping. This will allow you the opportunity to constantly improve your conversion rates.

The Funnel will only be useful if you need your visitors to go through a number of pages before being converted. This can range from arriving on a landing page, going onto a product review page and finally to the checkout page.

Once you have entered each page that is part of the steps in the Funnel, you click on the blue continue button at the bottom to finish.

B] Visit Durations Visit Durations are the second metric that can be used to set and track goals. The setup process is similar to the one for the URL goals. Refer to the image below.

Goal Slot ID - Duration

Once you have clicked to add a new goal, where you created the previous one, you will need to choose whether you want to go with a preset template or a custom goal. Once you have selected this, you will continue to the next step which is where you will pick the goal description as done in the previous one.

Visit Duration allows you to measure engagement, by viewing this metric as if it were a conversion metric.

You can set the duration based on hours, minutes and seconds that a visitor stays on your page or on the site as a whole. These can then be set up to be valued in monetary terms.

If a visitor stays on the page for a certain amount of time, it is valued at a certain amount of money based on what you have set that monetary value to be. Refer to the image below.

Goal Details
C] Pages/Visit Goals By the same token, when setting up the Pages/Visit Goal, you take the same steps that are shown in the previous two goals. As with the other two, this one is relatively easy to set up.
Goal Slot ID - Pages
This goal is used to track the total number of pages that each visitor sees in any given session. If the same page is viewed multiple times, these views are also added up to make up this total.

In this case, you would decide how many pages you would like each visitor to view for you to count this to be a conversion. For example, a blogger may want visitors to visit at least three pages/screen to read the content that is served in order for the blogger to consider this to be a conversion.

Goals
A monetary value can also be assigned to the pages/screens per visit. D] Tracking Event Goals Most will find Event Goals to be the more complex of all the other goals. Event goals are goals that are triggered by certain things happening on any page or screen.

Event goals work by treating each individual interaction with your site/page as a form of conversion. What makes event tracking more difficult for most webmasters to set up is that for events to be triggered “Javascript” needs to be used. Areas, where this may be implemented include sidebars and individual buttons.

To start off, the initial steps are identical to those that are used in all other goals. You may refer to previous goals for this information.

Tracking Event Goals
Event Conditions are conditions that you would want to be met in order for an event goal to be triggered as a form of conversion. These are divided into categories, actions, labels, and values. You can set these up for yourself to match your requirements.

  • Category: Categories are used to group a number of objects that you would like to collectively track. Obviously, it is advisable to have these objects being in some way related, otherwise it would make no sense to bundle them up into one category. A category could be “Songs.”

    To set up tracking for how many times a song is played you could use the following: Category:Songs Action: Play Label: Rymy Ray – Move On (being the title of the particular song that is being tracked within this songs category).

  • Actions: Actions are the actual parameters or the actions that you are looking out for when tracking the event goals. If such and such an action is taken, the event goal has been achieved.

    Using our songs example, we can track actions such as the number of times that each song is downloaded. The action in this instance would be the number of times that the download button is clicked on. We can track the number of times that each song is “replayed” by also tracking the number of times that the replay button is clicked.

    This metric may be used to see just how popular a certain song is with individual listeners. If it is a simple song that you allow people to listen to prior to purchasing, this metric can be used to figure out on average how many times users sample the song prior to committing to the purchase.

    Each action is listed on its own so that it is easier to identify each action in the report. The actions should also be named uniquely to make sure that there is no confusion.

  • Labels: Labels are there to further alleviate any potential danger of events being confused from one another.

    Going back to our song example, the label would be where you take note of the song’s name. Which means that when looking at your report, you will be able to identify how many times a particular song (by that name) was played or downloaded, as opposed to having a load of data that just tells you that your songs were played a certain number of times.

    The latter would be inaccurate in the sense that some songs may be played multiple times while others may not be played at all. It is considered the good practice to make sure that these labels are also unique.

  • Values: This one is a hard one to explain without getting too technical. I will attempt to make it as simple as possible. Perhaps the best way to do this is by giving a relevant example.

    Let’s use our song one again. If you were running a streaming service for the songs that we referred to earlier, values could be used as a way of managing the payment system for each song. If you set the value of an individual song being played 10 times to be $1. That is a trigger. When each particular song reaches this set value, it triggers one dollar to be reported for that song in question.

12. Beginners Guide to Google Analytics eCommerce Tracking

As you may imagine, Google Analytics Tracking for eCommerce is not always the same as regular analytics tracking. Some argue that it is not necessary to set up at all, which is true but that is not to say it is not beneficial to do so.

This is another one that requires an analytics code to be generated and inserted into your shopping cart in order for the tracking to work.

E-commerce Settings
  • While you are in the Admin menu, you will see the eCommerce settings option as highlighted in the image above. By default this option is disabled, you will need to enable it once you have gotten into the settings.
  • Once you have turned this on, another option will come up just below it, asking whether or not you would like to enable related products to be shown. The default is no, as most eCommerce websites should already handle this by themselves.
  • You then click next to move on to the final step.
  • You will want to enable enhanced eCommerce reporting. The thought process for this is that the more you know about how your eCommerce site is performing the better equipped your are to improve on it. If you are using some form of a multi-step funnel for your eCommerce as well, you can configure it here to make sure that it is also tracked.
  • Beyond this step, the actual set-up process is pretty techy. You will need to make use of commands in order to implement it. All of these can be found on Google’s developer guides for eCommerce tracking. Let me attempt to explain it in as simple terms as I can come up with.

    ga('require', 'ecommerce');
  • The command above can be used to load the eCommerce plugin. The tracker object should be inserted prior to using the plugin code.
  • Placing a Transaction Code using a Command: The following code is used to insert the transaction command into a transparent cart.
  • ecommerce:addTransaction.
Adding a Transcation
  • Placing the Item Code: You may make use of the following command to track items added to the cart.
  • ecommerce:addItem
  • Once this is done, You are set as far as the eCommerce tracking is concerned. The send command is then used to pass the data from the site to Google Analytics:
  • ecommerce:send

    There are several other things that can be done including changing currencies and so on.

Transaction Data
If placed in PHP, it looks something like the code above, which can also be found on Google Analytics’s developer page.

13. Google Analytics Guide for Analytics Annotations

If your data is being shared or viewed by multiple persons you may want to make use of annotations. Annotations are little notes that you can place on various parts of your data in order to explain it to those that may not be able to make sense of it.

For instance, when a new update is released by Google or you start a new marketing campaign for your website or app, you would want to credit changes to traffic and perhaps a spike in purchases to this recent activity.

Google Analytics Annotations
  • To do this, you go into your Reporting section. Once there, you click on the specific period that you would like to annotate.
  • Once you have clicked on it, use the little menu arrow that is centrally below the graphs to open the annotation option. This option will appear on the bottom right-side below the graphs. Click “Create new annotation.”
  • A text box will appear just below the graphs. With 160 characters at your disposal, describe what you would like yourself to recall at a later date, or what you would like another person viewing this data to be aware of.
  • If it is to be shared, make sure you set it to public or to private if it is only for you to see. Once done, you click on save and your annotations are kept there.

14. Setting Up Google Analytics Dashboards

The one area of Analytics that is often neglected is the one that is ironically right at the top of the sidebar menu. Dashboards are used to group data and present it to you in a way that is easier to understand and perhaps even less overwhelming than having all the data being presented at the same time.

Google Analytics Dashboards
There is a default dashboard that is available as a preset in analytics. This will provide you data such as:

  • New Users side-by-side with All Users.
  • Sessions side-by-side with Sessions by a Browser.
  • Average Session Duration side-by-side with Bounce Rate.
  • Goal Completions side-by-side with Revenue.

Essentially you are presented with closely related data side-by-side. It is easy to make sense of it when it is presented in this way.

For instance, the new users next to all users could provide you with an indication of what dates you received the newest users and you can take this and place it next to a marketing campaign you started running around the same time or perhaps a new piece of content that you released in that period.

All of this data is available through clicking on various menu options and tabs within analytics, however, the dashboard brings it all together. You can create your own custom dashboard to group together the metrics that are important to your business.

There are also various pre-made dashboards available to download on the web. These could be specifically created for a small business, a blogger, a retailer and so on.

I do tend to be very apprehensive about downloading and installing things on platforms that are important to me. If you are looking to download, make sure it is from a reputable website.

15. Creating a Dashboard

To create your own dashboard, you simply click on “New Dashboard”, which is in the left sidebar menu.

 Create a Dashboard
You will then be presented with the options as shown above. A blank canvas is exactly what is says on the tin, a blank dashboard that you will want to fill up on your own. If you know what you are doing and want to take matters completely into your own hands, the blank canvas is the way to go. The starter dashboard, on the other hand, comes with some preset segments on it.

Regardless of which of the two you pick, you will have the option to name it. The name goes in at the bottom, within the blue area that is highlighted in the image above.

This is also the same place that you would come if you want to use a preset template that you can download from the gallery. To upload a template, you would pick the “import from gallery” option.

If you decide to import from the gallery, you will be presented with the following:

Import from gallery
I need not mention how vast the number of templates it is that are contained within this gallery. They are divided into various categories, which you can select to match your goals or the category of your website. The available options are as follows:

  • Acquisition
  • Analytics Academy
  • Branding
  • Campaign
  • Conversion
  • Display Advertising
  • eCommerce
  • Engagement
  • Enhanced eCommerce
  • Lead Generation
  • Mobile
  • Organic Search
  • Paid Search
  • Publishing
  • Referral
  • Site Optimisation
  • Social
  • Support

Together with the category, you can make use of the user ratings to pick the best of these templates. For the most part, these will save you time, by letting you use tried and tested templates as opposed to having to take the time to create your own ones and waiting to see how efficient they are.

Your time is essential in any business, so if you can save it and use it elsewhere without compromising on the quality that you are delivering, take that route.

16. Setting up Your New Template

If you pick the starter template, it will look identical to the default one once you have finished installing it. It is then up to you to make the necessary customisations as you would like.

Setting up New Template
  • The first of these is the layout options. From the image, you can pick how you would like your data to be presented. There are two things that can be done to edit what you see.
  • The little pencil icon shown above is the one you can use to edit the widget settings. You can change the data that is being shown on the widget through this option.
Widget Settings
  • Timeline: This is the default metric that is shown. It shows events over a set amount of time. Hence the name timeline.
  • GeoMap: The GeoMap can be used to track users based on their location. This can be further targeted to be specific to new users or all users. You can also tailor it to report specific pages within your app or website.

    To do this, you would input the URL in the “Link to Report or URL” option shown at the bottom of the image above. The GeoMap is the option that you would use on two separate widgets if you want to compare data of users from two different locations. For example, you could get targeted reports of behaviors of visitors from the UK and those from the US.

  • Tables/Pie Charts/Bar: The tables, pie charts and bar graphs are all used to present the data in a more simplistic manner. The table shows location, users and additional metrics of your choice. The pie chart allows you to create what the pie chart will show.

This Ranges From:

  • % Exit – The number of times users leave your page or site without being converted or moving to another page.
  • % New Sessions – Number of new sessions that are created on the site.
  • % Search Exits – Number of exits that comes after a result is shown from an internal search.
  • % Search Refinements – Number of times users change search terms within a session. i.e from bag to bags.
  • % Sessions with Search – Number of sessions that include an internal search being carried out.
  • Abandoned Funnels – Number of times a user did not go all the way through your funnel.
  • Average Order Value – Average total value of orders made.
  • Average Server Response Time – Average time that it takes for your server to respond to a query.

If for any reason you would like to get rid of a widget, you will need to navigate your mouse to the top right of that widget where an “X” will be revealed. Clicking on that “X” will delete your widget.

There are quite a lot more of these that you can make use of in presenting data. It is also worth noting that the widgets are divided into Standard and Real-Time.

The standard metrics are a representation of a certain period of time, which could be days, weeks or months. The real-time option is a representation of metrics as they are occurring. It is not based on any averages or other forms of cumulated data.

#Final Word

Hope this detailed guide to Google Analytics for Small Businesses has answered all your questions with regards to the function and operation of Analytics. This Google Analytics guide was aimed at consolidating the basics of Google Analytics so that individuals who are just starting off with their online business can yield maximum out of it.

So read through carefully and make the most of this comprehensive guide on how to use Google Analytics!

As always, if you any query or if you want to contribute anything additional to this Google Analytics guide, let me know in the comment below!

Blog Author

Nirav Dave

Nirav Dave is the Co Founder of Capsicum Mediaworks, a digital agency in Mumbai, that specializes in all things web design. As the Managing Director, Nirav has achieved exceptional feats for the company. He worships WordPress and loves to read anything and everything written about this exceptional CMS. A thorough professional, Nirav constantly tries to find innovative ways to create endearing web designs and explore different methods of digital marketing. You may also follow him on Twitter @nirav_dave

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The Ultimate Google Analytics Guide For Small Businesses

by Nirav Dave time to read: 41 min
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