Google Analytics for Beginners

Written by Ethan He

October 18, 2021


GA Img

Are you making the most out of the available data about your website from Google Analytics?

The free tool provides important insights into site metrics such as conversion rates, traffic sources, engagement, audience demographics, and more.

In this article, we will learn what GA is and why we use it and how it can assist you with your SEO efforts.


What is Google Analytics? 

Google Analytics is a free tool for tracking user behavior on your website. With a variety of metrics to explore, you can begin to gain an understanding of how visitors use your website and how you can make changes to increase your bottom line.

On a basic level, you can track how many visitors you have, how they found you, how many views a page receives, as well as other information.


Why You Should Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is, in many ways, a platform that provides you with insider, back-end, and real-time access to what your users want. It’s also completely free.

Although getting going requires some effort, there are numerous online tutorials and resources available to guide you through the process. Once you’ve linked Google Analytics to your site, you can go to the Google Analytics dashboard and start exploring the data you have gathered. It can’t, however, go back in time, so you’ll have to wait for data to accumulate.

Google Analytics can help you avoid relying on gut instincts and intuition by informing you which pages and content are effective and which are not. You will be able to make informed decisions this way.


Introduction to Google Analytics Interface

Once you’ve created your Google Analytics account, you can connect to various URLs and select which one to investigate from the drop-down menu.

GA Main Menu 1

Analytics first exhibits basic traffic data, including dates as report snapshot. You can change the dates to suit your needs.

Google Analytics displays a list of report options on the left side of the screen. This is where you can start delving into the specifics.

The box on the far right contains real-time metrics showing how many people are on the site, how many pages are viewed per minute, as well as the most popular pages. You can then learn more about the data by clicking on the blue box.

If you’re looking for something specific, simply enter it into the search bar.

As you scroll down, you’ll see various analytics, such as where your users are coming from and what devices they’re using.


Common Metrics Tracking with Google Analytics

Google Analytics allows you to track a wide range of metrics.

You must select a time frame for your data regardless of which type of data you wish to focus on. This helps you compare a specific time span to other past time spans to see what is changing and working.

Try to recall your marketing objectives as you analyze the data. Otherwise, all of the statistics may overwhelm you.

To get you started, let’s look at some of the most popular metrics.


1. Visitors Tracking with Google Analytics

Tracking visitors reveals who is visiting your website, how many visitors you have, and what they are doing on it. This covers elements like bounce rates and session durations.

These metrics are anonymous and ambiguous. You cannot collect personal information from specific website visitors.

Here are the basic breakdown of typical visitor behaviors:

  • Pageviews: The total number of pages viewed by your visitors.
  • Unique pageviews: When an individual user views a specific page on your website at least once.
  • Average Time on Page: This is the average amount of time a visitor spends on your website viewing a web page.
  • Bounce Rate: the percentage of visitors who view only one page and then leave without interacting with it.
  • Percentage Exit: This tells you how frequently visitors leave your website’s page

To delve deeper, visit Google Analytics’ “Audience” section.


2. Traffic Sources Tracking with Google Analytics

Another useful metric provided by Google Analytics is traffic sources. It provides an answer to the question, “How do people discover my website?” This information is available under the “Acquisition” tab.

For example, it gives you the ability to see how much traffic comes from social media referrals, Google Ads campaigns, and Google Search results. Knowing where your visitors come from and what they do once they get on your site can help you optimize your marketing efforts.

Google Analytics will categorize your web traffic into four groups:

  • Organic Search: Traffics comes from typical search engines such as Google and Bing.
  • Direct: Traffic that arrives when someone types your website’s URL into their browser, opens your website via a bookmark and when search engine auto recongize your website.
  • Referral: Defined as traffic that comes from sources other than search engines, such as a link on another website or a YouTube video.
  • Social: Traffic that comes from social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.


3. Content Tracking with Google Analytics

By tracking user behavior, Google Analytics can help you understand how well different pieces of content perform. For example, do they visit certain pages more frequently than others? Is there a difference for on time for types of content? This can assist you in determining what works and what doesn’t, which you can then use to identify new content creation and marketing decisions.

This information can be found in the “Behavior” section.


4. Conversions Tracking with Google Analytics

Let’s get right down to business. When visitors visit your website, do they make a purchase, sunscribe to newsletter or perform an action as you intended? Here’s what Google Analytics’ conversion metrics can tell you.

These measurements are really not generated automatically like the others. Conversion analytics, on the other hand, requires you to create goals, which are often the pages which visitors are routed to when they convert. Enabling Google Analytics to collect data on these pages to provide more detailed information on how people come, how many converts, and other factors.


5. Mobile Performance Tracking

Mobile use is the future, there is no denying it. This is why it is critical for you to start checking how your website performs on them.

These metrics can be found under “Mobile” in the Audience section. Here, you can gain valuable insights that are broken down by device categories. For example, want to find out how your website is doing on tablets? This will give metrics such as how long they spend on certain pages and which pages have high click rates.


Creating Custom Reports

You may require unique Google Analytics reports as you have a better understanding of your website’s stats. Custom reports can help you check specific data more quickly by having like for like comparsion such as campaigns, landing pages and much more.

According to Google, a Custom Report is a report that you create according to your preferences. You pick the dimensions (City and Device, for example) and metrics (Sessions, Pageviews, and Click Rate, for example) and decide how they should be displayed.

I won’t go into more detail into custom reports, since the standard report is sufficent for everyday use and itself could be another topic altogether.



Every website should be taking advantage of Google Analytics. It’s a free tool, and there’s no better way to gather useful information about your website’s traffic.

While Google Analytics has plenty of advanced functions, beginners can stick to just a handful of basic reports. These fundamental reports are all you really require to boost your website efforts.

It’s also simple to set up Google Analytics. The installation procedure varies slightly depending on the platform you’re using to power your website. But it’s not something you will need to hire a developer for.

If you need help implementing any of the above suggestions, please contact me! You know I am always happy to help. 

Ethan He

About Ethan He

Ethan is a Full Stack Web Developer and SEO Specialist based in Pittsburgh, PA. In his free time, Ethan enjoys working on various projects involving Ruby, Vue and AWS applications.

Ethan graduated from The Firehose Project coding bootcamp in 2016 with a focus on Ruby on Rail and Computer Software engineering.