How To Use Google Analytics To Understand Your Online Audience

Google Analytics is still the benchmark in website reporting and visitor tracking and statistics. Its analysis tools essentially track and report on the performance of your website.

If you’re not using Google Analytics you need to set up an account right away. Go on, do it now. I will wait. Come back when you're done.

Getting setup

Getting setup with Google Analytics is easy and can be done in just a few steps. Just follow the prompts. You will be fine.

Google Analytics Signup Page
Google Analytics Signup Page

Firstly, you will need a Google or Gmail account, then it’s just a matter of setting up your website profile and obtain your tracking code and information. This tracking code will need to be added to your website, this is usually done manually by editing your website footer template code or if you’re using a content management system such as WordPress, it can easily be set up within your website admin.

If you're not comfortable with the steps involved, you may need to speak to your website administrator or developer for further assistance.

Alternatively, if you're running WordPress and are happy for a plugin to do the heavy lifting for you, I can recommend Google Analyticator By SumoMe.

Tracking your website visitors

Once you have your Analytics website tracking code working on your website you can begin monitoring and reporting on your visitors.

Tracking website visitors and traffic has typically be done by reviewing historical reports and comparing them over time. This is, and will continue to be the case in the future. However what if you could view real-time traffic on your site and be able to see which pages are being viewed and where your website traffic is coming from (referrers) – even down to their approximate geographical location – you could measure and view the results of your marketing campaigns as they happen. This is particularly useful if your campaigns (such as email newsletters or social media) that drive traffic to your website contain time specific offers.

This type of real-time tracking is available with Google Analytics and it won’t cost you a cent. It is all part of the Google Analytics Analysis Tools and is all available for free.

Real-time reporting

The Google Analytics real-time reporting can be found within the Standard Reports section once you log in. Clicking on ‘Overview’ will provide you a dashboard type analysis of your current website traffic and include information such as:

  • Current active visitors on site (right now)
  • Top referrals
  • Top Social traffic
  • Top keywords
  • Page views (per minute and per second)
  • Top active pages, and
  • Top locations

The reports are updated continuously and each pageview is reported seconds after it occurs on your site.

A significant feature of this real-time reporting is is also has the ability to report on Organic, Direct, Referred, and Paid traffic sources. So if your marketing campaign involves paid advertising or referrals, you can witness the real-time performance of this investment. This could include Google Adwords or other paid online advertising and promotions.

Another benefit would be if you are launching a new product. If you didn’t see the traffic you want on the first day and want to try a follow-up campaign, you can test that campaign with a well-designed landing page, and monitor traffic to that page instantly.

Measuring social media impact

Real-time Analytics tracking is a good way to measure social media impact. In many cases you would most likely send out a Tweet about a blog post or an offer you would be looking to make available to your followers. With real-time Analytics, you can see the immediate impact of these posts or updates on your website. If you are looking to drive engagement, real-time traffic reports would let you know when to pick up the conversations or engagement with your website visitors or your social followers. Proving a valuable tool in measuring your social impact and level of engagement.

You could also use real-time to:

  • Monitor if new or updated content on your website is being viewed
  • See whether a one day promotion is driving traffic and view which pages are being hit
  • Verify your Analytics code is actually working.

Let Google show you how

There is an absolute wealth of information about Google Analytics on the web. If you have the time and are happy to follow along with video instructions and online articles, I would suggest heading over to the Google Analytics Academy.

In summary

Google Analytics is so much more than what we have touched on here.

Considering it is the most widely used website reporting tool and comes at no cost, you can’t afford to not be using it.

Build visitor profiles, create customisable reports, view real-time stats, validate marketing spend, test and implement tracking methods are just a few benefits Google Analytics can provide to your business.

As we know, reporting is typically historical so if you’re not using it now, you won’t have any data to compare and analyse – making it harder for you to determine the overall success of your website.