Google Analytics – Insights into Google’s popular web analysis tool

A web analysis tool like Google Analytics is part of the standard equipment of every online marketing manager. As a website, blog or online shop operator, you have probably already come into contact with the tool. However, if you haven’t used Analytics yet or have decided to get started with web analysis with Analytics, this article will give you a brief overview of what you can do with the tool and the advantages and disadvantages of using Google Analytics brings with it.

What is Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a useful analysis tool with which you can understand your website performance and analyze the behavior and needs of your customers. The tool, which is free of charge in the basic version, provides you with information about the number of users visiting your website and the performance of all sub-pages marked with the Analytics Tracking Code, as well as demographic data such as age, gender or location of website visitors Information about how and for how long users interact with your website.

If you link your Google Ads accounts with Google Analytics or the Search Console, you can access an even more extensive repertoire of data and, for example, draw more in-depth conclusions about your SEA and display campaigns.

How does Google Analytics work?

Analytics uses JavaScript to read and evaluate information such as HTTP requests, first party cookies and browser configurations. Every user who comes to your website is recorded (provided they do not block tracking by Google Analytics).

So that Google Analytics can collect relevant data about your website, you first have to embed the Analytics tracking code in the source code of your page. You do this manually for each subpage of your domain that should be tracked, or you can use the Google Tag Manager .

To do this, first log into Google Analytics using your Google account or create a new Google account that you can use in Analytics. As soon as you are logged into your Google account, the next step is to register with Analytics. Fill in the fields here with the information about your website and your time zone. Then you can choose whether you want to link your Analytics account with other Google applications such as Google Ads or Google Search Console . Once you have made your selection, the only thing left to do is click on “Get tracking ID”. As soon as you have confirmed the terms of use, you will receive the tracking code, which you now have to integrate into the source code of your website. 

Target group, acquisition and behavior reports: You can record these things with analytics

If you have set up Google Analytics so far and are now ready to go, you have a powerful tool at hand that you can use to analyze comprehensive information on user behavior and the performance of your website. The knowledge gained in this way will help you to uncover weak points on your site and to further improve the user experience for website visitors.

In Analytics, for example, you have the opportunity to gain real-time insights into the number of users currently active on your website and you can track which subpages of your domain had the most visitors or what time your website received the most visits.

Homepage in Google Analytics

For example, if you have a blog on your site, you can use this information to adapt your blog posts to the surfing habits of your users. So you always post when you know that your users are online.

The target group report

In the target group report, you get information about the number of new users, the total number of sessions on your website within a predefined period, the bounce rate (i.e. the percentage of users who left your page without an interaction), the average length of stay of the Users on your page and the average number of pages that are viewed per session.

You can then filter this information according to various aspects such as the operating system, browser or device type (desktop, mobile or tablet) that your users use. For example, if your website has good traffic on desktop devices while users of mobile devices are increasingly bouncing off your site, there are some indications that you should further optimize your website for mobile devices.

Overview of the devices with which users have accessed the website

The target group report can also be viewed from the perspective of gender or age, location or language of your website visitors. Are there still unused potentials in other language regions or do you want to address a very specific age group with your website content? With the analysis data from the target group report, you will be able to uncover possible optimization potentials and to consider the results of your optimization strategy promptly.

Users filtered by age group

The acquisition report

If you want to know how your paid search engine advertising compares to organic search results, the acquisition report is the right place to go in Google Analytics. Here you can, for example, filter for organic traffic or compare the numbers from paid ads, organic traffic, direct traffic, referrals, social media traffic and display campaigns to analyze user behavior.

Acquisition report in Google Analytics

You can also access the information from your linked Google Ads and Google Search Console accounts here.

The behavior report

With the behavior report, you can keep an eye on which pages your users use to get in or out of your website and which sub-pages are accessed most frequently. You can also track which search terms your users enter in the internal search and whether there are recurring terms. Then, for example, optimization of the website navigation can be useful.

Behavior report in Google Analytics

The conversion report

Under the “Conversions” tab, you can see whether users are performing certain actions that you previously defined as your goals. This can be, for example, registering for the newsletter or placing an article in the shopping cart of your online shop. If you notice a sample here, for example customers put products in the shopping cart, but then leave the page again before they complete the purchase process, you can use this information to develop remarketing concepts with which you can still win your customers for your product and can achieve a conversion.

Conversions in Google Analytics

Use analytics data in other tools

By the way, in addition to Google Ads and Google Search Console, you can also link your Google Analytics account to other online marketing tools, such as:

  • Sistrix Toolbox
  • Screaming Frog SEO Spider
  • XOVI Suite
  • Searchmetrics
  • SEMrush

This does not give you any new data in Analytics, but you can view the traffic data directly in the other tools and compare it there with other key figures.

On the Sistrix and XOVI pages you  will find instructions on how to link the tool with Analytics. Suchradar magazine has also published a good article that explains how you can get the data from Google Analytics in the Screaming Frog . And in our blog you can find out how you can link Searchmetrics with Analytics .

Google Analytics: advantages and disadvantages of the tool

As a free tool, Google Analytics offers you some advantages over other web analysis tools . Not only does the standard version provide you with a large number of comprehensive reports for free – as you already know, the functionality of Analytics can also be expanded to include numerous other features from other Google products. In addition, Google is always working on further improving Analytics. It is not without reason that Analytics has managed to become one of the standard tools among online analysis applications.

The user interface is kept comparatively simple, so you will quickly be able to use the tool yourself. Should you ever run into problems, there are numerous free tutorials from Google as well as a large online community that can help you get answers to your questions. Or take a look at our Google Analytics guide .

Nonetheless, there are of course disadvantages when using Google Analytics. These include:

  • Inaccurate results through data sampling : If the requirements within the data analysis become too complex, analytics may sample the data. This sample can lead to inaccurate results. Data sampling can occur whenever a report has more than 500,000 sessions.
  • Limits in the standard version: The amount of data that you can analyze in the free Analytics version is limited. Google specifies a limit of 10 million hits per month (hits = interactions that arise from the data sent to Analytics, e.g. event tracking). As soon as you have reached this limit, Google can no longer guarantee that additional hits will still be included in the data analysis. In addition, it can happen that you lose your reports as soon as you have exceeded the limit, which of course would be rather unfortunate with a long-maintained and developed analysis strategy. One way to have long-term access to your data would be to switch to Google Analytics 360 . More on this later.

Google Analytics and data protection

With Analytics you can collect a large amount of data – including those that are understood as personal data according to the General Data Protection Regulation, such as the collection of the IP address. Even so, there is a way to use the tool according to the GDPR. A few settings are necessary for this.

So what do you have to do if you want to use Google Analytics in compliance with data protection regulations? Important steps that you should take are the adaptation of the data protection declaration on your website including the granting of the possibility for customers to object to the storage of data. In addition, you have to conclude a contract for order data processing with Google and, by changing the tracking code, ensure that the IP address of users is recorded anonymously.

Also take a look at your settings for the retention period for the data collected in Analytics. A storage period of 26 months is preset here by default, but in accordance with the GDPR you should manually limit the storage period to 14 months. We have summarized more detailed information on the data protection-compliant handling of Google Analytics in a blog post elsewhere for you.

What is Google Analytics 360?

Finally, let’s take a look at an excerpt of the functions of Google Analytics 360 . As mentioned above, it can easily happen that if you continuously optimize your website based on the knowledge gained from analytics, you will at some point come to the point where you have reached the limit of the free version and have to switch to Google Analytics 360. But what are the advantages of Google Analytics 360 compared to the free version?

The premium license is aimed at large companies with traffic of millions of users. As a rule, you can still get along well with the free version, even with traffic of ten thousand daily users. However, if your website has millions of traffic, the Google Analytics 360 Suite also gives you BigQuery, Campaign Manager, Search Ads 360, Salesforce and Display & Video 360 as a complete package. There are practically no limits to your data analysis. Thanks to the Unsampled Report, the up to 100 million monthly sessions and 1 billion hits that can be easily analyzed in Google Analytics 360 without running the risk of triggering data sampling are almost limitless.

Conclusion

With Google Analytics and Google Analytics 360, the search engine giant Google offers web analysis solutions for companies of all sizes that meet their requirements, with which user behavior and the as yet unused potential of your website can be traced and discovered. As an official Google Marketing Platform Certified Partner, we at lunapark are happy to support you with professional web analysis and offer you an understandable and needs-based introduction to the popular analysis tool in our analytics training courses .

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