The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics

The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics

What Is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics (frequently abbreviated as GA) has been developed by the famous company, Google. It is a free service that can be used to collect detailed statistics on certain website operations. Using Google Analytics is necessary for website owners to have the opportunity to analyze the behavior of their users.

What can be tracked with Google Analytics? This service provides data about the visitors of a site depicting the information for a certain region, operational system, traffic source, and other important indices for websites. Understanding Google Analytics is a must for the owners of sites, webmasters, and quality SEO promotion of an Internet resource. Google stats for website usage helps marketers to define which advertising campaigns will be successful and enables them to identify target audience members.

The questions Google Analytics will answer include but are not limited to: 

  • How many people visit the site?
  • Is it necessary to develop the site mobile version?
  • From where visitors are coming to the website?
  • How to increase the site loading speed?
  • Which content do site users like most of all?
  • What are users doing on the site pages?
  • How much time do users spend on the site?
  • Which search requests do users use to get to the site?

All of this statistical information is collected and processed at a remote Google server. To utilize the functions of Google Analytics, a site owner needs to connect to the system. For this, it is necessary to install JavaScript-code on the pages of a selected site. This unique tracking code will be activated as soon as a user opens a site page in the browser. We will discuss getting started with Google Analytics, how to make the settings for certain web resources, assigning a unique tracking code, adjusting the collection of statistics, and begin to use basic reports to optimize success.

First Steps in Working With Google Analytics: Setting Up an Account

To understand what Google Analytics is used for, proceed in the following way:

  • Create a new Google account or sign in to an account that was created beforehand.
  • Go to the webpage and press the button Google Analytics sign in once an account has been created. To use a free version of Google Analytics application for the first time, use the button Start Measuring.

It is also important to remember that for one Google account, it is possible to create up to 100 accounts to work with via the Google Analytics application. We recommend naming your account reasonably so that it is easier to work with in the future.

  • For an application or website to make a connection with Google Analytics, it is recommended to follow these account settings. It is necessary to choose the resource that you want to be tracked– website, app, or both of them. I chose a website for this demonstration.

Type the name of an app, site, or URL (only for websites).

From the proposed list, I recommend that you choose the most appropriate field. With the help of this function, you will be able to compare indices of projects with average data from an entire industry. Thanks to the setting of the time zone, the time of the reports’ receipt is set.

  • To get additional service from Google, it is better to leave the boxes of an account used together with Google products and services checked for the collection and analysis of search queries. You can also get technical support and help from the specialists at Google Analytics to improve your site optimization.

Installation of a Tracking Code and Setting the Statistics Collection

Google Analytics will help in the collection of metrics that are important to project promotion. To begin collecting the most important Google Analytics metrics and to analyze and process them by means of this Google service, it is necessary to fulfill the finalizing stages of registering an account.

After all of the above-mentioned steps to setting up an account for a chosen project are executed, it is time to receive a personal tracking identification code. Let us consider the Google Analytics guidelines on how to get and install this code. For this, click the button Get Tracking ID and then voila, your registration is completed.

To begin collecting Google Analytics information, on all of the pages of the site under consideration, it is necessary to install a counter in which the received unique tracking code will be entered. There are several possible ways to install a GA counter. Everything depends on the site and how convenient it is to add a tracking code to it.

The main options are:

  • Adding the script in the site code. For this, it is necessary to add the corresponding code components in the head and body sections.
  • Using the WP plugin. If the site has been developed on WordPress, adding the counter is carried out by means of entering an ID in Google Analytics.
  • Adding through GTM.

Let us consider in detail the method of an ID tracking code installation, which is related to the use of one more Google service, i.e., Google Tag Manager

Quite often, users experience difficulties when they set GA with the utilization of Google Tag Manager for the first time. Let us consider in detail the sequence of the setting of such closely integrated services like Tag Manager and GA.

Let us open the page of Google Tag Manager. It is necessary to choose the account name and define the region.

Then, it is necessary to add the name of the container. Here, it is possible to use the site URL from which you plan to collect metrics. Check the platform where a container will be used.

In the next window, you will see a unique code of Tag Manager for a site. There is also an explanation of where it is necessary to transfer the fragments of this code. You can install unique fragments on your own if you are skilled in working with site coding. Alternatively, you can ask specialists.

Then, go to section Tags to create a new tag. From a proposed configuration, choose Universal Analytics. Then, it is necessary to define the type of tracking Page View and at the same time, in the settings of Google Analytics, choose a variable that has been created. In triggers, it is necessary to check the point All Pages. Do not forget to indicate the name of the created tag. Press Save Changes.

To complete the process, press the button Save and then click on Publish.

For convenience in the future, it is possible to indicate description and title. After finalizing these steps, you won’t need to intrude in the investigated site code and change fragments to make any required changes. Instead, you’ll just have to edit the Google Tag Manager container.

After all of the above steps have been executed, the site will have been successfully connected to Google Analytics and you can begin working with reports.

Basic Reports of Google Analytics

The main purpose of Google Analytics as a service is to collect and analyze data of a chosen site or project. Above, we have figured out what Google Analytics tracks. After familiarizing ourselves with the GA interface, its sections, and tools, we can conclude that you will primarily be working with the section Reports. Thanks to Google Analytics sections such as Special Reports, it is possible to create and set the necessary reports and adjust the information display to be convenient for a particular user.

To stop typing “Google Analytics for dummies,” let us proceed directly to reports and check which data they contain.

Overview In Real-time Mode

Let us consider the first type of GA reports– Overview in real-time. It displays the number of users that are on the site at this moment.

Aside from the general real-time overview, there is more detailed information about users that are on the site:

  • Geolocations;
  • Traffic sources;
  • Content;
  • Events; and
  • Conversions.

All of this can be checked in detail and in a couple of minutes, you will get an idea of who is interested in the site and which actions users make.

For instance, if you press the button Sources, you will find out from where users have come to your site– from search engines, referral links, or other sources.


This type of report will tell you everything about the users of a site within a chosen period. With its help, you will find out the sex, age, browser, and device of your users.

For example, if you press the report Mobile, you will see how many users visit the site from mobile devices, PCs, and tablets.

Traffic Sources

Let us proceed to probably, one of the most important reports for which our Google Analytics tutorial has been created, namely, Traffic Sources.

In this report, you will find all the necessary information about the sources from which users have come to your site.

It is possible to see more detailed information about every channel and understand how users find your site.

For example, if you press the button All traffic/Sources, it will be possible to see not only sources from which users have come but also all the information about their number, bounce rate, viewed pages per one session, etc. This report will help better inform an advertising campaign and pay attention to weak points in the optimization and promotion of your site.


This type of report will perfectly suit for a detailed analysis of users’ behavior on the site pages. It includes numerous metrics such as the speed of pages’ loading, the landing page, and even keywords that have been searched on the site.

Let’s assume that we are interested in the page which users open most often. For this, choose the report Behavior/Site Content/Landing Pages and study the statistics of popular pages.


The last report is Conversions. With its help, it is possible to evaluate how users reach their goals on the site.

Their goals can be completely different actions. Everything depends on the settings you will choose, from clicking on the button and filling in the form to making an order and paying on the site.

Based on the data about the goals reached by users, it is possible to calculate the conversion of the site or its separate pages and elements.

For example, considering the report of the reverse goal path, it is possible to see on which pages which actions have been carried out by a user before the goal has been reached.

In general, I have described only the simplest reports and explained how to read Google Analytics. There are more detailed and complicated reports that can provide information about quite a specific data segment. Let’s discuss them the next time.

Setting Goals and the Sales Funnel

Setting Goals in Google Analytics

Let us continue our Google Analytics overview and talk about setting goals. There are 4 main types of targets:

  • Destination page;
  • Duration of visit;
  • Events; and
  • The number of pages per session.

Let us try to create our first goal– the landing of a user to a page. For this, click on the tab Admin and press on New Goal.

At the first stage of the goal creation, a template of a goal-setting will be offered. Instead, choose the Custom mode.

For the second stage of the setting process, type the name of your goal, choose a slot for it, and identify the type of the goal. In this case, the necessary type is the Destination page.

At the last stage, in the field Destination, enter the page. Then, in the drop-down menu, choose Begins with. After this, press Create Goal.

That’s it. We have created the first goal and now Google statistics tools will collect the necessary data. It is possible to create different goals for different needs of a site. This can be a registration through an email campaign or the acquisition of a product in an online store.

It is important to remember that you can only create up to 20 goals. That is why you have to be careful while setting them and choose the most necessary and important ones for your business.

Sales Funnel

As you already know how to use Google Analytics at the early stages of mastering marketing, let us consider the creation of a sales funnel.

The sales funnel is the path a user takes from the first acquaintance with the site to the purchase of a product or service. In fact, this is a great method to find vulnerable places of a site and define at which stage users leave, as well as the reason for this.

First of all, let’s create a goal for sales funnel tracking. As previously mentioned, create a custom goal and choose the Destination page.

Next, in the field Goal Details, click on Regular Expression and type “order_id” in the field. These actions assign a unique ID to an order that has been submitted on a website and the goal we have set is considered to be reached.

Then, switch on the funnel sequence and list every step of the funnel. URLs corresponding to the steps should be also typed. Every step can be made Required or not.

In the cases when it is impossible to track actions for which there are no unique URLs, a visualization of the sales funnel will help.

This function can be found in the report Conversions/Goals/Visualization. From this report, it is possible to see the percentage and number of people that leave at certain stages of the funnel on their way to the desired goal.

Thanks to these functions, in the future, it will be possible to better develop marketing campaigns for different stages of your sales funnel. Some of your users likely had to take only a couple of steps before making a purchase, and you will be able to persuade them to fulfill t

he target action with an email or call. You hold the keys to the kingdom.

Hopefully, this guide on Google Analytics for beginners has been useful and interesting. Now you definitely know how Google Analytics works and how to read basic reports for the interests of your business. If you want to learn more, you can read the article Google certification for SEO, choose and finish the courses, and make your site even better!

About author
Andrey came to SEO in 2017 and found a job that he enjoys. He specializes in promoting the western direction of the market.