If you’re like many other businesses, you may find Google Analytics, or GA, confusing and a bit daunting. With countless concepts, reports, and metrics, it can seem difficult to grasp, especially at first glance. But don’t fret! Read on for our all-inclusive guide to Google Analytics for local businesses, and you’ll be on your way to GA mastery.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free tool offered by Google that provides businesses with detailed reports and insights into their website’s traffic and performance metrics. The tool does have a paid version – known as Analytics 360 – but small and medium-sized businesses will likely get all the features needed from the free version alone.

With Google Analytics, you’ll be able to view reports such as:

  • How many people visit your website
  • The demographic and location data of site visitors
  • What type of devices are used to access your site
  • What keywords lead users to discover your site
  • Site loading speeds
  • And much more!

Overall, GA is a powerful tool that allows businesses to optimize their sites and thrive online.

Why Your Business Needs Google Analytics

Still not convinced your business needs GA? Here are a few reasons GA is a valuable tool for you.

Easy-to-Understand Reporting

Data is useless if not presented in a way that’s meaningful and easy to understand. Google Analytics provides businesses with stats needed to make informed decisions in a way that’s visually appealing and quick to interpret – such as charts, graphs, etc. Here’s an example dashboard created by Google Analytics, depicting audience metrics:

Learn How Your Visitors Interact With Your Website

Regardless of your business’s size or industry, website type, and functionality, Google Analytics is a tool you can utilize. From tracking customer shopping trends to learning what information they find worth reading and getting a sense of how they are finding your website online, the data GA delivers provides invaluable insights into your current and future customers’ behaviors and desires.

Identify Site Issues

With Google Analytics, your business will be on top of any potential problems with your website. If you have Ecommerce on your site, GA allows you to track abandoned carts and determine which steps caused your users to quit their checkout process. For service-based companies, monitor content to decide whether it resonates with your target audience and drives them to convert. You can even see which pages or content caused users to exit your site.

GA enables businesses of all shapes and sizes to make meaningful, data-driven decisions, allowing them to grow traffic, keep visitors engaged, and ultimately grow their business!

How to Set Up Google Analytics

To start your Google Analytics journey, you’ll need to set up a Google account if you don’t already have one. Once you’ve done that, use this link to register for Google Analytics with your Google account. From there, it greets you with a screen showing you the 3-step process to set up your account: Sign up for Google Analytics, Add Tracking Code, and Learn About Your Audience.

During setup, your business will be able to name your account, add your website URL or mobile app information, select your industry category, and set your time-zone. You will also need to add your tracking code – explained more in-depth here – allowing GA to track your websites and collect data on them.

It’s also important to filter out internal traffic and bots to ensure that GA doesn’t register your site visits. To do this, go to the Admin tab in your Google Analytics profile, then navigate to the View column and select Filters. Here you will direct your GA to ‘exclude’ your IP address from data collected on your site.

PRO TIP: Don’t forget to click save!

Overview of Google Analytics Reports

Once your account is up and running and you’ve entered all your information and adjusted the settings, you will be able to begin using GA reports. The left-hand sidebar features six reporting options – real-time, audience, acquisition, behavior, and conversions. Here’s a quick rundown of each!

Real-Time

Just like it sounds, this report gives you insight into the real-time happenings of your site, such as the number of live visitors, where they’re located, what social media platforms they came from, and more. This tool is useful for looking at a specific snapshot in time, but campaigns typically need time to produce significant results, so don’t get too hung up on these reports!

Audience

The GA Audience report gives an overview tab and subcategories such as active users, lifetime value and cohort analysis. Underneath those tools are several expandable tabs – demographics, interests, behavior, geo, and more. These reports allow you to hone in on who your audience is and how you can better retain them. To dive deeper into each of these categories and learn more about creating and managing your audience, check out this article published by Google Analytics.

Acquisition

Before driving more traffic to your site, it’s important first to grasp where your existing traffic is coming from. This report breaks down site traffic by source – organic, direct, referral, email, social, paid search, display, affiliate, or other – which is invaluable when determining where your site traffic is tricking in from and, therefore, direct marketing efforts and resources.

Behavior

Behavior reports allow you to track the performance of site pages and content. These reports include metrics like page views, average time spent on pages, site loading speeds, search function effectiveness, and more. Use this information to help inform site layout changes, identify loading speed issues, or measure content success/failures.

Conversions

A conversion in analytics refers to completing an activity or task vital to your business’s success. When planning your marketing strategy, you should identify and define what conversions you will be tracking for each effort. Examples of this are email newsletter signups, completing a contact form, filling out a lead generation form on a landing page, or purchasing a product on your website.

Once your conversion events are defined, GA will allow you to create, edit, and share your goals.

Although it may seem tricky, Google Analytics is an immensely powerful tool for businesses of all sizes and industries. The ability to collect, track, and display data in a meaningful and actionable way will give your business a competitive edge and allow for data-driven decision-making for future efforts.

If setting up or managing your business’s Google Analytics still seems daunting, connect with a Vivial Digital Marketing Specialist today to help you start!