Web Analytics

Learn web analytics basics, from setting up Google Analytics correctly to interpreting stats accurately, so you can make informed decisions for your website
Effectively managing any business process involves closely monitoring and analyzing its activities to draw meaningful conclusions. When it comes to analyzing your online presence, Google Analytics is the most comprehensive and reputable tool available. Let's explore how to integrate it into your routine to efficiently manage your business.

Why Web Analytics Is Important

Analytical reasoning goes hand in hand with logic and critical thinking. If you’re trying to survive in the jungle, the logic behind your actions must align with the specific circumstances at hand. The same principle applies when striving for success on the Internet.
Therefore, if you are active on the Internet, web analytics is an absolute necessity. It serves as your compass, indicating whether you're heading in the right direction and guiding you toward greater success. If you ignore this step, you won’t survive on the web just like you wouldn’t survive in the jungle, venturing into it ill-prepared.

The thing is that in order to make further steps or implement any changes, you need to measure what has already been done first. Behind any measurements, there has to be solid logic as well. If you are driving a car, you are monitoring your current speed and fuel level, not how many miles it would take to get to Mars.
Simply put, web analytics is the process of tracking and understanding the data related to your online presence that’s based on a logical framework. However, you can't measure everythingfocus only on the metrics that have a direct impact on your desired results.
Picture this scenario: You step into a casino, place your bet on red, and triumphantly win. Bet on red again - you win. Bet on red once more - another win. Сarried away by success, you can assume that betting on red guarantees you a win, but of course this assumption is all wrong. So you bet on red again, it falls short, and you feel really disappointed. To avoid such disappointment, it's important to measure your success and understand its components.
It is believed that people tend to experience losses more intensely than gains, making them a stronger source of motivation.
Measuring success can sometimes turn out very unexpectedly. Imagine this: You’re closely examining what you previously considered a win, and it turns out to be a loss. Upon further analysis, you realize what should have been done differently so you gained more favorable outcomes. For example, those "strong sales" you celebrated last month may pale in comparison to the potential revenue that could have been earned with different strategies in place.
Web analytics is crucial for any business with a website because it provides invaluable insights into user behavior and preferences. By analyzing data, businesses can understand their audience better and optimize their website accordingly.

Chris Fallacaro
Data analytics can highlight which marketing campaigns are driving traffic, what content is performing most efficiently, where users are dropping off in the conversion funnel, and so much more. This information can guide web design improvements, content strategy, marketing tactics, and overall business strategies.

Web Analytics Basics

Web analytics, like any other field, comes with its own set of terms. To make it easier for you to understand the reports from Google Analytics filled with jargon, let's break down the most commonly used terms.
Basic Terms
Users (visitors) are individuals that land on your website. Generally, each user is considered unique based on the device they use. For instance, if a person creates a number of sessions on your website using multiple devices for that, each session is reported as a unique one, created by multiple unique individuals, and not one.

Let’s say a particular user visited your website two days in a row, using their smartphone for that. The system recognizes and reports such an individual as the same user for each selected day and for the whole period of two days.

Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest and the most advanced version of Google Analytics. It goes further and can now unify separate sessions conducted by a single user on multiple devices into a single user journey that allows more accurate data for analysis.
Sessions (visits) are users’ interactions—scrolling, clicking on tabs and buttons, visiting internal links, etc.—with a website during a specific time period.

A session is initiated when a web page is viewed and is considered expired in the following scenarios:
  • The user has been inactive for 30 minutes. For instance, if an individual viewed your website, then abandoned the tab for an hour, and then got back to browse it some more—the system recognizes further activities as a new session. However, this standard 30-minute time frame is adjustable and can be altered in the Admin settings.
  • The user clicks on a search ad. There is a difference between how Google Analytics and Google Ads recognize a user's activities. Simply put, if a user discovers your website organically, then abandons the tab or leaves altogether, and 15 minutes later ends up there again after clicking on an ad, it will be counted as two separate visits. Thus, visitors that are brought to your website by Google Ads, are reported as separate visits and get marked in reports accordingly.
  • A new day has started. If a session starts before 12 AM in your current timezone and continues after the clock hits midnight, it will still be recognized as a single session. However, in the reports, the session will be displayed for both days.
Page views refer to the total number of pages that have been viewed by a visitor. Sometimes session and page views get confused but they are not the same thing. If a user lands on your website, then follows an external link, and then leaves, it will be counted as one season and two page views.

All the data collected for your website is presented in the form of events. Google Analytics has defined different types of events, but the two main ones are automatically created events and manually created events.
The purpose of creating events is to track specific user interactions like button clicks or the duration of time spent at a particular stage of the sales funnel. It's worth noting that the important user interactions that, for example, result in actual purchases can be marked as a conversion.

Bounce rate is the percentage of sessions that include only one-page view, and don’t result in a conversion event.

Engaged sessions are sessions that either last more than 10 seconds, have two or more page views, or involve at least one conversion event.
Determining whether a high bounce rate is concerning or typical for your specific situation is fairly easy—if you have a multiple-page website where conversion events require multiple actions, then, yes, a high bounce rate may indicate an issue. However, if you have a single-page landing page with only a few screens, a high bounce rate is rather normal.
In certain instances, the content on a specific web page may neither actively encourage conversion events nor necessitate further interaction. For example, you publish a blog article that doesn’t have internal links along with CTA buttons.

In order to reduce the high bounce rate, make a custom event by inserting the following script into that page:

setTimeout(function(){ga('send', 'event', 'nobouncy', '15sec')}, 15000);

By doing so, all sessions that last more than 15 seconds will fire an event so Google Analytics doesn’t include them in the bounce rate.
Conversion rate refers to the percentage of visitors that have completed the target action compared to the total number of visitors. For example, if 70 out of 1000 people who visit your website end up submitting the contact form—which you consider the main target action for the landing page—, the conversion rate is 7%.

Conversion event, in turn, fires every time a user does something that you have defined as a conversion.

If you have a number of conversion events for your website, you’ll have several conversion rates that reflect on the successful accomplishment of different target actions like making a purchase, adding an item to the shopping cart, filling out a form, signing up for a newsletter to get a discount, etc.
Metrics For Web Traffic Sources
Source is one of the dimensions that help identify how visitors have found your website and where they come from, such as search results, referral links, social media, etc.
Channels are the dimension that groups pre-identified sources in accordance with their distinctive attributes. The main default channels usually include:

  • Organic Search: Visitors that find and access your website via unpaid listings on search engine results.
  • Paid Search: Visitors that land on your website after clicking a pay-per-click ad in search results.
  • Display: Visitors that end up on your website after clicking display ads (that’s provided by Google Display Network).
  • Social: Visitors who reach your website via social networking platforms.
  • Referral: Visitors that come from anywhere other than search results and socials like affiliates, content partners, etc.
  • Email: Visitors who are redirected to your website after clicking on a link provided in emails.
  • Direct: Visitors who directly access the website by manually typing the URL in the address bar, as well as those whose traffic source could not be accurately identified.
Quality backlinks, which are considered one of the most essential cornerstones of effective SEO, are crucial for generating a consistent flow of referral traffic.

Benefits Of Google Analytics

Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics tool there is. Let's explore its features, understand why it’s so popular, and discover how exactly it can be of help.
What Google Analytics has to offer:
  • Access and data-restriction management. This feature allows you to grant and limit access and rights to certain users and impose restrictions for particular property levels so multiple people can manage your Google Analytics account effectively, and overview only the data they’re allowed to have access to.
  • Funnel Reports. With the new and enhanced reporting capabilities, you can create various funnel types, such as trended, open/closed, and more, so you can closely monitor the incoming traffic at every step of their customer journey.
  • Segment Builder. This feature allows you to build audiences based on a specific number of filters like their age, language, revenue, and so on, making a custom segment. These segments can then be applied to different reports and dashboards so you’re presented with the data scoop for that particular segment.
  • Conversion Tracking. You can mark a specific event as a conversion in just one click—by simply moving a dedicated toggle into the "on" position.
  • Debug Mode. In case something goes wrong with the tag setup on your website, there is a DebugView that allows you to monitor the events and user properties. If you spot an error, you can quickly make adjustments so the data is collected correctly.
  • A/B Testing. Previously, there was a dedicated service called Google Optimize for A/B testing, but it’s been shut down, so now you can run split testing and conduct other experiments right in your Google Analytics account.
  • User ID. This feature makes possible cross-platform identification, allowing you to manually assign unique identifiers to specific users. As a result, Google Analytics can recognize these users across different platforms and devices, combining multiple sessions into a single user journey.
  • Google Ads Integration. Since different Google services make a functional ecosystem together, it’s fairly easy to link Google Ads—an advertising platform that allows you to promote your products in search results—to Google Analytics so there is an automatic data transfer between the platforms, allowing you to monitor and track your customer’s engagements with your ads.
  • Predictive Analysis. If you link your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts, the predictive capabilities become active, allowing you to track two new metrics: purchase probability and churn probability.
  • BigQuery Integration. You have the option to export all the collected data from Google Analytics to BigQuery for free, enabling the utilization of raw event data for further analysis.
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