What Is Google Analytics & How Does It Work?

top 25 google analytics questions of 2019

Top 25 Google Analytic Questions of 2019

Google Analytics is used by over 27 million websites. It is an impressive analytics tool with lots of capabilities, but what exactly is Google Analytics and how does it work to track the people visiting your website? In this post, I’ll answer the 25 most common questions about Google Analytics we hear regularly at Elementive. Have a question that wasn’t answered here? Let me know!

Jump to Your Specific Question

1. What is Google Analytics and what is it used for?
2. How Does Google Analytics Work?
3. What information does Google Analytics provide?
4. How do I use Google Analytics for my website?
5. What are Google Analytics cookies?
6. What data does Google Analytics collect?
7. What are accounts in Google Analytics?
8. What are Google Analytics properties?
9. What is a Google Analytics property tracking id?
10.What are Google Analytics views?
11.How does Google Analytics define and track users?
12.What are Google Analytics sessions?
13.What are Google Analytics dimensions?
14.How does Google Analytics define bounce rate?
15.How does Google Analytics track time on page?
16.What are Google Analytics custom variables vs custom dimensions?
17.How does Google Analytics know gender?
18.How do you use Google Analytics behavior flow?
19.What are Google Analytics goals?
20. What are Google Analytics smart goals?
21. How does Google Analytics attribute conversions?
22. What are Google Analytics events?
23.What are channels in Google Analytics?
24.What is a Google Analytics referral?
25.What are the Google Analytics Pros and Cons?

1. What is Google Analytics and what is it used for?

Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool provided by Google. It can be used to track how people visit a website and what people do once they are on a website.

2. How Does Google Analytics Work?
Google Analytics relies on a small, JavaScript tracking code that is placed on every page of a website. This tracking code monitors visitor activity and sends data back to the Google Analytics reporting platform.

3. What information does Google Analytics provide?
By default, Google Analytics reports on a number of different factors, including the traffic sources people used to find a website, the pages people visited while on the website, the time spent on the website, the visitor’s geographic location, the browsers and devices used, and more. While there is a robust offering of default reports, Google Analytics can be customized to track other types of visitor interactions.

4. How do I use Google Analytics for my website?
To begin, you’ll need to install the Google Analytics tracking code. How you do this will change based on your website’s setup, but to access the tracking code go to Admin, in the Property column, click on Tracking Info and then click on Tracking Code. From here, you can either get the tracking code or you can get the Tracking ID.

a. How to use Google Analytics on Wix?
To add Google Analytics to Wix, begin by copying the Tracking ID out of Google Analytics. In Wix, connect to Google Analytics under Integrations and then paste in the Google Analytics Tracking ID.

b. How to use Google Analytics on WordPress?
There are a number of different ways to use Google Analytics with WordPress. Most plugins allow you to paste in the Google Analytics Tracking ID without having to use the code. For example, in the Google Analytics plugin from Share This you can enter in your tracking ID.

5. What are Google Analytics cookies?
Google Analytics uses a variety of first-party cookies as part of collecting data about website visitors. These cookies help Google Analytics distinguish unique users, record frequency of use, report on traffic sources, and count sessions. Each cookie has a different lifespan, with some storing data for only a few minutes and others storing data for up to two years.

6. What data does Google Analytics collect?
By default, Google Analytics collects anonymized data about how people use the website. This includes collecting data like traffic, browsers, devices, and pages visited. With custom configuration, Google Analytics can also track conversions, such as ecommerce transactions. All data collected in Google Analytics should not be personally identifiable.

7. What are accounts in Google Analytics?
There are three main levels to Google Analytics hierarchy: accounts, properties, and views. In Google Analytics, an account is the highest-level of organization. All websites and apps added to Google Analytics belong to an account. A company can have one or more accounts in Google Analytics.

8. What are Google Analytics properties?
Websites or mobile app are added to Google Analytics as a property. Google Analytics properties are the middle level of the Google Analytics hierarchy, in between account and view. All data about the website or app are tracked at the property-level.

9. What is a Google Analytics property tracking id?
Each Google Analytics property is assigned a property tracking ID. This ID is used within the Google Analytics tracking code to make sure all data is recorded about the right website. It is important to make sure that you use the correct property tracking ID for each website or app you wish to track.

10. What are Google Analytics views?
In Google Analytics, views are where you access the data that has been collected. Each Google Analytics property can have multiple views which allows you to look at the data about a website or app in a variety of ways. For example, one view could be configured to let you see all data while another view could be configured to only report on visitors in a particular geographic region.

11. How does Google Analytics define and track users?
In Google Analytics, a user is roughly equivalent to a unique person who visits your website. To identify users, Google Analytics assigns each person visiting a website a random and unique identifier. This identifier is stored in a cookie so that Google Analytics knows what that user does while on the website and also knows if that person returns to the website in the future. Google Analytics has also begun incorporating Client IDs to track users across multiple devices.

12. What are Google Analytics sessions?
In Google Analytics, a session represents the total number of times users have come to the website. For example, if one user returns to the website three times, Google Analytics would report three sessions for that user. Sessions are sometimes referred to as visits.

13. What are Google Analytics dimensions?
In Google Analytics, dimensions are the things you want to learn about. For example, if you wanted to know how many people looked at your “About page” on your website, the “About page” is the dimension of the report. In Google Analytics, you can add primary and secondary dimensions to reports to gain deeper insight into your website’s data.

14. How does Google Analytics define bounce rate?
At its simplest, the bounce rate in Google Analytics represents a single-page session. For example, a user came to the website, only looked at the home page, and then left the website. More technically, Google Analytics defines the bounce rate as a user that sent a single request to the Google Analytics server during their session. This is because some custom events in Google Analytics can also send requests to the server even if a user only visits one page.

15. How does Google Analytics track time on page?
Google Analytics measures the time spent on a page by calculating the difference in time between page hits. For example, if a user hits the first page at 8:25, then hits the second page at 8:26, then Google Analytics knows the time on page for that first page was 1 minute.

16. What are Google Analytics custom variables vs custom dimensions?
Custom dimensions let you define your own information to add to Google Analytics reports. For example, if you run an ecommerce site, you may want to see product brands in Google Analytics and each product’s brand could be sent to Google Analytics as a custom dimension. In prior versions of Google Analytics, custom dimensions were called custom variables.

17. How does Google Analytics know gender?
If you’ve enabled advertising reporting features and enabled demographics reporting, you can access information about your user’s age and gender. Google Analytics obtains this information from advertising platform cookies. For websites, this information comes from DoubleClick’s ad cookie.

18. How do you use Google Analytics behavior flow?
The Google Analytics Behavior Flow report provides a visual representation of how people move through your website. By default, the Behavior Flow report shows you how people moved through the website based on their landing page. You can change the Behavior Flow report to see how people move through the website based on other dimensions, such as the traffic source or the geographic region.

How do you use Google Analytics behavior flow

19. What are Google Analytics goals?
Google Analytics goals allow you to measure key ways people interact with your website. For example, a goal could be used to track form completions, ecommerce transactions, visits to a specific page, or a certain amount of time spent on a page. Once goals are setup, you can view goals alongside other reports in Google Analytics to better understand your visitors and what causes more of those key ways people interact.

20. What are Google Analytics smart goals?
Google Analytics smart goals rely on machine learning to determine what types of visitor behavior is most likely to result in a conversion. These goals are then used to improve performance in Google Ads. Using Google Analytics smart goals requires a linked Google Ads account, at least 500 clicks from Ads in the last 30 days, no more than 10 million sessions per month, and acceptance of Data Sharing.

21. How does Google Analytics attribute conversions?
By default, Google Analytics attributes conversions on a last-interaction model. This means the last source that led people to your website before a conversion occurs is credited with that conversion. However, Google Analytics offers the Model Comparison Tool to view different types of attributions, including first interaction, linear, and time decay. No attribution model is more correct but each offers a different look into the people visiting your website and how they convert.

22. What are Google Analytics events?
Google Analytics events let you track all the different ways people use your website. With event tracking, you can see how many people scrolled through a page or how many people clicked on a specific link, though there are many other types of visitor behavior that can be tracked with Google Analytics events. To work, Google Analytics events do require a slight (but relatively simple) customization of the Google Analytics tracking code.

23. What are channels in Google Analytics?
Channels in Google Analytics offer a high-level grouping of different kinds of sources that led people to your website. The Organic Search channel shows traffic from Google search results or Bing search results while the Social channel represents traffic from social media channels like Facebook or Twitter.

24. What is a Google Analytics referral?
The Google Analytics Referrals report shows traffic coming from links to your website from links elsewhere on the web. This includes links from directories your website is listed in, links from social media networks, links on news websites, links to your website on blogs, and more.

What is a Google Analytics referral
25. Google Analytics Pros and Cons

PROS

CONS

Ideal for small and mid-size businesses Samples data for higher-traffic websites
Lots of reports available out of the box Visitors can block their tracking within their browser settings
Highly customizable Only 20 goals can be tracked per view
Lots of helpful resources available Customization is required to get the most value

Summary

Hopefully now you have greater insight into what Google Analytics is and how you can use it to track your website. It is easy to start feeling overwhelmed if you are just starting to use Google Analytics. But you don’t need to be overwhelmed. Remember you don’t have to understand everything about it right away to be able to benefit from the information contained in the Google Analytics reports. Even with the most basic reports, you can still get the data you need to improve your website’s performance.

Want More Help?

For more help, check out Elementive’s Google Analytics Tips & Tricks video series or take our Google Analytics class on SkillShare.