It still surprises me how many businesses are yet to make that leap into online advertising and further still how many don’t have or see the value in utilising Google Analytics on their site.

What is Google Analytics?

Quite simply Google Analytics is a tool that allows you to not only track key activities on your website, such as purchases and leads, but also it enables you to learn important information about your website users. Armed with this information it empowers you to refine your marketing activities and generate the best return on your investment.

In short it allows you to collect, configure, process and report on vital website user activity.

How does Google Analytics work?

In order to begin, you’ll need to set up a Gmail account and then a Google Analytics account – it’s easy and you can learn more here. Then you’ll need to copy a piece of JavaScript and send it to your website developer to add into the html of every page of your site that you want to track.

This JavaScript then communicates activity on your site to your Google Analytics account in real time. You can login to the dashboard at any time to view this information. Every time a page loads it is called a hit and JavaScript collects information from the site such as:

  • url
  • language preference
  • browser
  • device
  • operating system
  • etc

This information is then packaged up and sent to Google’s servers as a ‘page view hit’. This repeats every time a new page is loaded in your browser.

To distinguish between users, Google creates a unique identifier using first party cookies for each new user. Then this allows you to drill down on how many of your users are returning or new. *If cookies are cleared in the user’s browser or they return via a different device they will be registered a new user.

It’s worth knowing that you can also use Google Analytics to track interaction and activity on apps and other web connected devices, such as POS and self-checkout machines.

What information does Google Analytics give me?

The variety of dimensions and metrics that you can drill down to within the Google Analytics dashboard is huge (overwhelming for some). But by developing a measurement plan and then an implementation plan you can identify KPIs and quickly see which metrics and interactions are relevant to your business.

Depending on your business and/or sector this might include:

  • traffic volume
  • time on site
  • geographic location
  • demographics
  • source of traffic (organic, PPC, social, email etc)
  • ecommerce transactions
  • revenue
  • events (downloads, clicks, page views, checkout etc.)
  • and so much more

If you are running AdWords campaigns, you can link them with your Google Analytics account to discover more about what the traffic does when it gets to your site. This is another way you to see what ad groups are working and what aren’t.

Goals and events

Goals and events allow you to track when key actions and conversions occur on your site, providing you with precise metrics and performance indicators. This information will help you refine your campaigns and achieve your objectives and more importantly provide you with the figures to know when you have! This could be a specific page view, an action i.e. full view of a promo video, download of a document or submission of a form. All of these can be tracked as either a goal or event to help give you a clear picture of what is working.


You can define processes that you’d expect a user to complete prior to a conversion. For example, you can specify pages leading up to a goal. Let’s say you sell boots and the visitor has to visit 4 pages before converting and actually paying for the boots: add to cart, shipping details, payment details, completed order.  By specifying these key steps in a funnel you can run a report that lets you see where users enter and exit. You might establish that you have a large amount of users dropping off at the payment details page. This could mean you have a technical problem with your payment page that needs fixing or it could indicate that it is too difficult, confusing or time consuming to fill in, highlighting a need to simplify your payment process.


By running regular reports, you can monitor and measure the success of any campaigns you have running and their impact on your key conversion metrics. Scheduling reports is easy and cuts down on time logging in and creating reports each day, week or month. There are so many variables you can measure and here’s a few popular ones:

  • Breakdown traffic sources by device to see which devices yield the most conversions – a site with a high stream of mobile traffic will need to be fully optimised for mobile
  • Monitor keywords bringing traffic to your site and which ones convert the most leads or sales, focus SEO efforts on those that are working
  • Decipher which landing pages are getting you results, tweak others to reflect the best performing ones
  • Run a time of day report to see when you get the most conversions, tweak campaigns to run at these time and maximise your ROI

What are you waiting for? Go get started!