Analytics Basics: Complete Beginner’s Guide

Published on September 24, 2020

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Did you know Google Analytics was launched in 2005?

It became the popularly used analytics platform on the market by 2016. Yes, 11 years after its launch, it became a big help to webmasters. Google Analytics helps them understand their site’s performance and their visitor’s actions.

If you have no idea what Google Analytics is, then this article is for you.

Why don’t you install it on your website?

“Is Google Analytics free to use?” – Yes, it is absolutely free!

Install it on your website, so you can go along with me while we talk about the analytics basics in this article.

Or, if you have installed it but you never know how to look at the data– what are you waiting for? Let’s start!

First, let us answer these important questions to optimize your website better and make it effective with analytics.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics ranks first among the website analytics platforms. It provides reliable and accurate data about the site and visitor’s actions on your website. It is powered by Google, alongside with Google Tag Manager and Google Search Console.

The analytics platform will provide full metrics of the site’s performance. It collects a large amount of data and processes accurately. Of which, the gathered data provides critical insight into your website’s performance and the audience who visits.

There are two additional versions of Google Analytics:

  • Google Analytics 360 – a subscription-based platform that aims to target enterprise users.
  • Google Analytics for Mobile Apps – an SDK that allows gathering usage data from iOS and Android apps.

Data Collection

As Google Analytics provides the data of the site’s performance, it gives you an idea of what works and what you need to improve. It will provide you with the answer to these questions:

How many audiences visit my website?

  • Where do my site visitors live?
  • Do I have to set up a mobile-friendly website?
  • Which of the websites drive traffic to my site?
  • What marketing tactics send the most traffic to my site?
  • Which of my web pages are the most popular?
  • How many of my web visitors were converted into leads or customers?
  • What’s the most effective way to improve my site?
  • Which marketing campaign is converting my visitors from?
  • Among my contents, which does my audience like the most?


When you have the answers to these questions, you will know how good or bad your site performs. You can optimize every content you have on your site and make it more engaging with your target audience.
That’s the first element of Google Analytics. It collects a broad range of data about the site and the visitors. Google Analytics uses a straightforward JavaScript code that gathers all the data. You get the code once you set up the Analytics to your website. Every page on your site has the code and puts a cookie in each site visitor’s browser. The cookie will send a hit to Google Analytics and reports each interaction the user does to your site.

What Type of Hits Google Analytics Monitor?

  • Event Hit – When a visitor takes action to your site– fill in a form, play a video, click a link, the cookie will send a hit on your site.
  • Pageview Hit – Each time someone will visit your page, a hit is sent to your site. The hit contains the information on which browser or device the visitor is using. Also, you will know which of your web pages they are visiting.
  • Transaction/Ecommerce Hit – If you are selling on your web and a visitor buys something, a hit is sent. Hits will contain which pages the visitor went before they buy. Also, it will provide which product they purchased and how much they spent.

Data Processing

Will the analytics present the raw data it collects? No, it makes things easier for you. It processes the data and generates reports. The first stage of data processing is the separation of data by the users and sessions.

What is user data? User data talks about the unique visitors to your site. Google Analytics will create a unique and random user ID for each new visitor to your website. So, if the same visitor goes back to your site, the analytics will recognize their ID.

Report Generation

The collected data by Google Analytics are presented in the form of reports. These reports are a visual representation of the data. Visual presentations are more effective at converting ideas.

All of the reports are displayed in Dimensions and Metrics. You have to understand the difference between these two reports:

  • Dimensions – basic attributes of the data.
  • Metrics – quantitative measurements it conveys the number of a category.

Google Analytics creates a range of default reports– you can combine the different reports, but not all. Each has a “scope,” which is the level at which the data is collected. The different types of scope are “hit-level,” “user-level,” and “session-level.” Only those dimensions and metrics with the same scope can combine.

Why is Google Analytics Important?

Google Analytics provides several benefits for different purposes. Here are the common applications of Google Analytics:

Analytics for Marketing

The reports and insights from Analytics are crucial in improving your marketing campaigns. You can determine whether your marketing efforts are performing well through these range of questions:

  • How much traffic is driven to the website from different marketing channels?
  • Which website refers to the most visitors?
  • Where do the visitors live?
  • What is the conversion rate of visitors from different channels?

These questions will give you the answers that could help you improve your marketing efforts. Analytics informs you of the best channels to invest it and those that will not be of any help. You can modify and better define your target audience using the helpful insights.

Analytics to Improve Site Performance

With Analytics, you will learn more about your site and your visitors. You will find the answers to the following questions:

  • Which of the web pages has the most traffic?
  • Where do my visitors leave?
  • How fast do my web pages load?
  • Does the web page load longer for mobile devices?

If you have the answers to these questions, you will have an idea on how you could improve the website performance. You will have a concrete objective on how you gain more traffic. Also, Analytics will let you know which blog posts get a lot of traffic, and it could help you produce more and optimize these posts to boost your traffic even further.

Analytics to Aid SEO

Google Analytics is also critical for giving insights about your SEO. It will help you have the answers, whether where the users find and interact with your site:

  • How much search traffic is the site get?
  • Which landing page gets the most traffic?
  • What search queries do visitors use to find your website?
  • What is the bounce rate of the website for visitors from different sources?

For those who want to venture into SEO, having the right information is POWER. If you have more knowledge about your website visitors and target audience, you will expect better results.

Thankfully, Google Analytics provides a multitude of data that gives you the right access and assessment reports. Help boost your ROI to know whether your SEO efforts are working.

How to Set Up Google Analytics Account

You can only access Google Analytics with a Google account. If you do not have one, I suggest you sign up for a Google account first. Once you create an account, you can set up Google Analytics.


Click on start for free to be redirected to a new page. Unlike before, Google Analytics is straightforward in setting up their accounts. There are no three-step instructions given as before. You will immediately arrive on this page:


Step 1: Sign up for Google Analytics

On this page, you have to fill in your personal information for your website. You can see the needed information on the field boxes.

After you have filled in the necessary information for the account details, you have to configure the account data sharing settings below.


You have to choose which medium you want Google Analytics to measure. Do you want to measure your website? Apps? Or apps and the web?


Type in the property details of your website. After following these, click on Create, and you will get a Tracking ID. Agree on the terms and conditions given by Google Analytics.

Step 2: Install Tracking Code to Any Website

Once you have agreed to the terms and conditions of Google Analytics, follow these simple steps to redeem your tracking code:

  1. Go to Admin.
  2. You will see an Account column, click on it to see its drop-down menu.
  3. Go to the Property column, and on its drop-down, you will see Tracking Info.
  4. After the tracking info, click on Tracking Code.


You have to install the tracking code on every web page on your website that you want to track. The code will help Google Analytics to measure and report the activities on your website. But, you have to remember, the tracking code installation will depend on the type of website and CMS platform you have.

Meanwhile, if your website is built with HTML files, you can easily install the tracking code to the source code on every page of the website. Use an online HTML editor program such as TextEdit for Mac and Notepad on Windows. Add the tracking code before the head tag on the web page you want to track.

Step 3: Install Tracking Code to WordPress Website

Did you know that the most popular CMS is WordPress? It is used by 75 million websites.

There are two ways on how you can install the Google Analytics tracking code to your WordPress. One is to do it manually and the other is with the help of a plugin. We choose to teach you how to add the tracking ID manually.

In this method, you need to have basic knowledge about WordPress. The method will use WordPress templates to manage the content.

a. You need to copy the tracking ID given by Google Analytics. You have to log into your website through the wp-admin and have access to the Dashboard.

Go over the Appearance tab. You can see it on the left menu bar. Click on Editor.


b. You will be redirected to the Edit Themes page. Go over the templates section, you can see it on the right side of the screen. Look for the file name “header.php.” and click on it.

c. Edit the file. Look for the HTML tag head. Click before the tag and paste the tracking code above it.


d. Click on Update File to save the edit you made.

Go back to Google Analytics. Wait for a couple of minutes and refresh the account, check if it is receiving data. If you notice there aren’t any changes yet, force the test by clicking send test traffic.


To view the reports of the actual traffic data, go to the Reporting tab in Google Analytics. The data will appear 12 to 24 hours after you have updated the “header.php” file.

Step 4: Set Up Goals

After installing the tracking code on your website, you need to configure some of the settings in your Google Analytics website profile. Go over to Admin, look for View, and on its drop-down menu, you will see Goals. Click on it.


Most existing websites have a specific objective in mind, wouldn’t you agree? Some might have the goal “to make prospective customers buy a product,” but whatever your website goal is, Google Analytics will provide you data to help you assess your campaigns’ performance and how well it fulfills them.

On the Goals option, click on the Add New Goal button. You can decide whether you will use an existing goal template or create a new custom goal. Most site owners appreciate the use of goal templates. It tracks all the common objectives which sites have. To make a custom goal, you should:

  • Create a name for the goal. The goal name will appear on every report that includes the data on the goal. Create a name that is obvious and easy to remember.
  • Choose the type of goal. After naming the goal, you have to choose which of the types of goals the Analytics allows for. When a website visitor performs a specific action, the Analytics goal records a conversion. The action will depend on the kind of goal you choose. A conversion is recorded when:
    • Destination – every time a user visits a defined URL.
    • Duration – user spends a certain amount of time on-site.
    • Event – web visitor performs a specific action on the site, such as clicking a link.
    • Pages per Session – when the user views a pre-set number of pages in a session.

After doing these steps, go further in filing the specific details for the goal you want to track. Google Analytics provides on-screen instructions.

With everything set up, the data related to the goal will be collected by Analytics.

Step 5: Monitor Competitors

The data recorded by Analytics are shown on the dashboard. You can monitor several aspects of your site. It can help you optimize your content and improve your marketing strategy. But, getting a good view of your competitors is another way to improve your technique.

You can use the SEMrush Traffic Analytics tool– it is a handy tool allowing users to view and track their competitor’s websites’ metrics. There are several pieces of information the tool provides about your niche and closest competitors. This information helps you gain more insights.

Meanwhile, Market Explorer gives an overview of the entire industry. It will show you an overview of the whole industry. It will show you who your competitors are and provide more general details of the niche.

Final Thought

Now, you have an idea on how to track your website data with Google Analytics. Grasp on the things you have learned about the platform. As you know, Google Analytics basics will not stop from developing. So, do not stop learning. Keep on searching and modifying your strategies to improve marketing campaigns.

Make use of the data Analytics provide– it will offer you concrete insights that could help you maximize your business further.

7 Digital Marketing Actions you can take right now to give you business a boost!

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