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A Beginners Guide to Google Analytics

By 3 October 2012No Comments

Google Analytics is a free tool to help measure the user statistics and performance of your website. It has many rich features to help you get the most out of your website. If you don’t currently use Google Analytics to analyse your website performance, here is our guide to set it up and start using the basics. Before you know it you will have the information you need to start measurably improving the performance of your website.

aliens analyse their google analytics with the British Design Experts beginners guide

  1. Sign Up and add the code
    Sign up to Google Analytics at and follow the step-by-step instructions. Google will then generate some script that you will need to add to every page of your site that you want to track. This shouldn’t be a hard or time consuming task for an experienced web developer. In fact, if you get your website built by British Design Experts we’ll add in Google Analytics code as standard. And if you’re using a CMS or WordPress site it’s even easier, as you normally only have to add the script in one place and it will automatically appear in every existing and new page that you create.
  2. Don’t count yourself
    If, for example, you have your website set as your personal home page, the data Google Analytics provides will not be entirely accurate as it will also be counting you as a returning visitor each time you go online. However, Google Analytics does let you exclude data from certain IP addresses from the ‘Filter’ function. It is easy to setup and if you are not sure what your own IP address is just Google, ‘What is my IP.’
  3. Start Measuring – easy as that
    Once you have added the script you can check in your Analytics account if it has been accepted. Once it is accepted then Google will start tracking your website visitors.

Top Google Analytics features

Some of the most useful Google Analytics features that can be broken down by date range include:

Visits/Unique Visits: Shows how many users and unique users have visited your site. This will show you how many new vs returning visits you have on your website. So with this feature you can clearly see whether you are attracting lots of new users and if they keep coming back for more.

Bounce rate: Shows the amount of users that land on you site and leave it without visiting a second page. Of course if someone picks up the phone and calls from the home page then shuts the website down, it is not a ‘bad’ bounce. But in general you want to keep your bounce rate down as low as possible, Google say the average bounce rate is around 40% but we try and keep things around (or ideally below) the 30% mark.

Page views: Shows the total number of pages viewed on your site. If an individual user goes back to the same page a number of times it will still be counted so the total number is not unique page views. This figure will vary depending on the size of your site so the more pages you have the larger the number will be.

Visit Duration: The longer you keep a user on your site the better it is for your SEO rating. However, if you have an e-commerce website the average browse length will be a lot longer compared to a simple 5 page static information website, as the user will take their time going through an order process. Use your common sense and think about what sort of average visit length you should be aiming for to get that conversion.

Site Content:  Using the ‘All Pages’ tab you can see your most popular pages, the time your users are spending on them, and the bounce rate. If users are bouncing (leaving your site without clicking on a second page) from your most popular pages then you need to do some more work to make them more engaging. This may be achieved by using more interesting media or simply by writing stronger content.

Traffic Sources: This is great to show how users are finding your website i.e. Google, Facebook etc.  It also shows the phrases which users are searching to find your site. If your main key phrase is not near the top of the list then you might want to make some changes to ensure your site is performing well and ranking highly in the search engines.

Conversions: A website is supposed to generate business for you. If you do not know how much money you are making, or not keeping track of how many users are completing your contact form, then you are missing out on important information. Conversion Goals can be set-up to measure your website’s performance. Using the ‘Reverse Goal Path’ you can find the route the user took before completing that all important conversion. Keep working and concentrating on these pages. If the results are different from what you expected then it is time to go back to your site and improve the pages that are not being looked at or creating conversions for you. Again, the bounce rate will give you a good idea of which pages are not performing well.

Going deeper with Google Analytics

There are many other features that give in-depth insights into your users’ interaction and this article only scratches the surface of the basic features. If you are stuck on any page/report, Google Analytics has an excellent help facility that will explain what you are looking at. And if it all still sounds alien to you, just give us a call and we will be happy to explain. Once you are familiar with it, we promise it will be an invaluable tool for the success of your website. The longer you keep your users engaged and on your site, the better Google will see you  – so get your head around it, get that bounce rate as low as possible, and the visits, conversions and average time spent on the site as high as possible.