What is Google Analytics and Can It Help My Business?
Launched in 2005, Google Analytics was born out of a partnership with Urchin, a web analytic software company who teamed up with Google to create what, in time, has become the most powerful web analytic programme on the internet today.
Google Analytics was initially an invite-only programme, but in 2006 Google opened it up the world as a free service that would become pivotal for every small to medium businesses on the internet. Today it is estimated that over 60m websites around the world are using Google Analytics, and though there is a premium version, it is only really necessary for large enterprises or conglomerates.
Google Analytics is perfect for those people looking to track where the users on their website are going, how the users are getting to the site, which country the users are from, what they're interacting with, and so much more. Google Analytics is for those looking to understand their website user intimately so they can tailor their website perfectly to the type of user they're attracting, and improve their website to make the user stick around that bit longer, or to make a conversion.
But if the tool's so good then why is it free?
Well, you could say that with so many services that Google offers from Google Maps to Google Drive. With Google Analytics, there are certain benefits and insights that Google gains from having people use their analytic service, even if those benefits aren't directly of monetary value.
Accountability is crucial in digital marketing. Being able to pinpoint who your users are and how your users are interacting with your product is essential to understanding your audience so you can modify your service and website to suit. And for those using AdWords, it's even more crucial to know what your website users are doing so you're not throwing your money down the drain.
Google wants you to be successful on AdWords, it doesn't want you to fail. A business thriving through Google AdWords is only going to spend more money with them in the future. A business failing on Google Adwords won't.
Google Analytics can be integrated and connected directly with your Google AdWords account, and accounting for your audience is only going to help you grow. As you grow, so will your marketing budget, and therefore so will your spend on AdWords.
There's also the fact that the data that you're researching isn't only helpful and interesting for you, it's also helpful and interesting for Google too so they can spot trends in the use of the internet and find how people are using the web which enables them to improve their services as a result.
Sounds good, but what exactly does it measure
Okay, well, Google Analytics measures a lot of data, but let us run you through the basics:
Real Time - Users who are currently on your website
- What city and country they're visiting from
- How they landed on your website
- What page they're looking at
Audience - Users who've visited your website historically
- How many people have visited your website in the past hour / day / week / month / year etc.
- How long they spent on your site
- What city / countries they came from
- What language they speak
- What browser they use
- How many pages they looked at on your site
- What device they used
Acquisition - How the users have landed on your website
- Which traffic source they used
- Plus everything that's under audience
Behaviour - How the user interacted with your website
- Which pages the users looked at
- What the users searched for on your website
- The navigation summary of a user's experience on the site
- The pages the users landed on and exited from
- The time it took for pages to load
- Plus everything that's under audience
Conversions - How many sales or goals were achieved on your website
- Goal completions
- Goal conversation rate
- Abandonment rate
- Site path to the conversion
- Goal completions via traffic source
As you can see, Google Analytics measures so many valuable pieces of information. Even for those who aren't particularly looking to optimise their website, it's just fascinating to look into how other people interact and use your site. Google Analytics provides a treasure trove of information giving you the ability to find out almost everything about the demographic visiting your site, and their behaviours whilst on it.
But not only is it fascinating, it's also crucial for those looking to improve their websites, and it's really straightforward to use. The interface is clean and the smooth, you don't need to be a maths genius to read the graphs and the data, and the support literature is extensive.
Of course, data on its own in any context is meaningless, but if it's applied properly you can determine answers to the likes of: Does my website need to be friendlier for mobile users? Which pages need improving? What path did my converted users take? Which traffic sources are generating the most qualified users? What articles do my blog visitors like best? Do I need to improve my websites speed?
There are countless questions that can only be answered by measuring analytics and data, and Google Analytics is the perfect tool to find those answers for beginners and for veterans.