Google Analytics 101

5th June 2018

At onebite, we use Google Analytics to measure the web traffic to our client’s websites. At a basic level, it is a great tool to give you top-level visitor stats. However, as the optimisation and customisation of the tool improves we can use it to offer more bespoke information – everything from marketing campaign performance, to measuring site performance against websites objectives can be analysed.

George Anderson, a senior developer in our digital team, gained a Certification in Google Analytics. With his expertise, George has put together the following glossary of Google Analytics terms to help give you the answers to some of the questions you may have about the free to use analytics tool.

What is a Google Analytics account?
What is a Google Analytics user?
What is a Google Analytics session?
What is a Google Analytics property?
What is a Google Analytics view?
What is a dimension?
What is a metric?
What is a bounce rate?
What is in an audience report?
What is in an acquisition report?
What is a behaviour report?
What is a conversion?
What is a conversion report?
What is a conversion rate?
What are goal completions?
What is a Google Analytics filter?
What is page duration?
What is an average session duration?

What is a Google Analytics account?

A Google Analytics account is the highest level of the analytics account setup, which holds properties and views within it. Typically, the company or client name will be the account name and each account can have up to fifty properties within it. These are usually split into website/app or domain for example. A Google Analytics reporting user – who has access at the account level – will be able to access all the properties and views associated with the account.

What is a Google Analytics user?

A user in Google Analytics is created when someone lands on a page, with Google Analytics tracking code on it, for the first time. This user is then assigned a user-ID code, which is stored as a ‘cookie’ in their web browser. This then means that each time the user revisits the same website, in the same browser, on the same device and begins a new session, the session data will be associated with the same user data from their previous session. As this is all cookie based, if the user clears their cookies, or views the site in a different browser or device, then they will be considered a new user.

What is a Google Analytics session?

A Google Analytics session begins when a user lands on a page with Google Analytics tracking code on. A session will then expire after thirty minutes of inactivity. If the same user visits the site in a different browser or on a different device within the same thirty minutes it is classed as a new session. The thirty-minute window is the default setting, but this can be adapted to suit individual website needs. You might, for example, want this time to be a lot longer on a video hosting website that will typically have users interacting for longer than thirty minutes.

What is a Google Analytics property?

A Google Analytics property is the second level of the analytics account setup. This sits within an analytics account and has multiple views under the property. This level is where you will define the website or mobile app within the account and what the tracking code will be related to that you install on your site or app. An analytics reporting user who has access at a property level will have access to all the views associated with that property, but will not necessarily have access to the other properties in the account it sits under.

What is a Google Analytics view?

A Google Analytics view is the third and final level of the analytics account setup that sits under a property, under an account. A view level is what a reporting user will be looking at when viewing the reports within Google Analytics. Having multiple views at this level allows you to have different filters and settings configured to them to show different report data within that particular view. An example of this is in a standard account setup we would always have a ‘RAW’ view, which is a default view to track all data. A ‘MASTER’ view is the main view used for reporting and sharing. A ‘TEST’ view is used for trying out filters and configuration settings before they are applied to the MASTER view. There can be 25 views created under each property and an analytics reporting user, who has access at the view level, will only have access to that view.

What is a dimension?

A Google Analytics dimension is an attribute of the data collected that is paired with metrics to categorise reports. A dimension will be the first column in a standard report with each dimension value being a new row in the report. The metrics associated with the dimension will then appear in the columns to the right of this. A dimension, for example, can be either a language, location (city, country etc.), page, and/or channel.

What is a metric?

A Google Analytics metric is a value or measurement of data, either in a total number, time or percentage. The metrics are paired with dimensions in a report with each relevant metric appearing in a column to the right of the dimensions column in a standard report. An example of a metric includes users, sessions, page views and bounce rate.

What is a bounce rate?

A bounce rate in Google Analytics is the percentage of sessions on your website that only performed one interaction – usually a page view. This is typically a sign that a user landed on one of your pages and left again without viewing any further pages or firing any event triggers you may have setup. In these cases where a user only performs one interaction, the session duration and time on the page are set to zero. A low bounce indicates good and engaging content, whereas a high bounce rate could be a sign of content that needs improving or there could be an error on the page.

What is in an audience report?

Audience reports in Google Analytics allow users to analyse data related to the consumers who visit their site. These reports allow you to track and analyse the number of active users on the website split between new and returning users, the location, language, browser and device of the users and even the age, gender and interests of those users (if demographic reporting is enabled).

What is in an acquisition report?

Acquisition reports within Google Analytics allow you to analyse where your visitors are coming from to get to your website. This can be really useful for measuring marketing activity and provide guidance on key areas to focus activity in future campaigns. Each hit will send a source or medium for that traffic, which explains how the user came to your site.

The medium is the mechanism – such as organic, CPC (Cost Per Click) – or referral and the source offers more information about the medium – so for referrals, this is usually the website name. If you are tagging your campaign URL using the URL builder, then the campaign reports under acquisition will help you monitor the performance of those. Linking your AdWords account to Google Analytics populates the AdWords report under acquisition, which allows you to analyse the performance of your AdWords campaigns within the analytics platform.

What is a behaviour report?

Behaviour reports in Google Analytics allow you to analyse the performance of your website and the behaviour of your users on the site. This is particularly useful for measuring website engagement. It can also help provide opportunities to spot potential areas where improvements can be made if engagement is low or exits are high. This can include a breakdown of individual or groups of pages on the site, and the first and last pages visited on the site. If you set up ‘event tracking’ within the elements of your website those can be tracked here to allow you to see exactly what your users are interacting with most across the site.

What is a conversion?

A conversion in Google Analytics is a goal configured by the account holder at the view level and should align with the business goals or actions you want a user to perform on your website. A goal or conversion can be one of four types; destination/page views, event, duration or pages/screens per session. Each goal is counted once per session, so if a goal was to visit a thank you page, multiple visits to this page in the same session will only count as one conversion. After the goals and conversions have been tracked and appear on the reports, it can help analyse the site’s overall general performance and can provide goal completions and conversion rates as metrics.

What is a conversion report?

Conversion reports in Google Analytics allow you to analyse the performance of your website’s goals. This also includes the total number of goal completions and the conversion rate of your site. You can measure the performance of your website as a whole, or alternatively by page URL. Performance can also be measured by viewing any goal funnels you have set up for your destination conversions to see where your users are dropping off the funnel to give potential areas of optimisation. You can also view which acquisition channels are assisting your conversions on the website. This, in turn, can help you understand which of your marketing channels is outperforming others to help with marketing decisions.

What is a conversion rate?

The conversion rate is a calculation of the total number of goal completions divided by the number of sessions. The conversion rate can be found in the reports related to the overall website or to a particular dimension, such as an individual page, country or browser/device. The conversion rate is a great way of measuring a site’s performance against business goals and objectives.

What are goal completions?

Goal completions within Google Analytics are the total number of times a goal or conversion is completed on a website. Each configured goal is counted as a conversion that is completed once per session. So if the goal was to visit a ‘thank you’ page, multiple visits to this page in the same session will only count as one conversion. The goal completions metric is a great way to measure the site’s performance against business goals.

What is a Google Analytics filter?

A filter in Google Analytics is a configuration rule assigned to a view that excludes, includes or search and replaces the data collected for that view’s reports. This allows you to transform data into a particular view to suit the needs of the business. A prime example of this is setting up a view which only tracks data from visitors in the UK and gives the UK marketing team access to only these reports rather than all the global website data. A recommended filter to set on the master view is to exclude all internal web traffic from the businesses IP address to give more reliable data in reports.

What is page duration?

Page duration is the time between the first hit timestamp (the date and time the hit happens) on a page and the next hit timestamp. For example, if a user lands on a page the first hit timestamp for this page is registered, then if the user clicks on a link and lands on a second page, the timestamp of this, minus the first timestamp will give analytics of the total time that a user was on that page. This second page hit then acts as the first hit for that page and so on. If a user lands on the page and then leaves, no second hit is recorded so the page duration is zero.

What is an average session duration?

The average session duration is the average time between the first hit timestamp (see above) in a session and the last hit timestamp. For example, if a user lands on a page the first hit timestamp for this session is registered. Then, if the user goes on to browse multiple pages of the site the duration lasts until the last interaction – loading the final page or the last event fired. After the user leaves the site and doesn’t return within the session timeframe, then the last interaction timestamp minus the first gives Google Analytics the total time that session lasted. Then Analytics will formulate the average of all the session durations for the reports. If a user lands on a page and starts a session and leaves, no second hit is recorded so the session duration is zero.

 

We hope this helps. To find out more about how we can support your web offering visit our website or contact our digital team via digital@onebite.co.uk

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We hope this helps. To find out more about how we can support your web offering visit our website or contact our digital team via digital@onebite.co.uk

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