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Online tutorial: Beginner’s guide to Google Analytics

Categories: Events, SEO, Tutorials

Google Analytics is a fantastic – and free – web analytics tool which allows you to analyse web traffic, site performance and a whole range of other data sets. However, it can be a little overwhelming if you’re new to the platform and are trying to work out how to access the data you want.

In this webinar our Head of Services, Lee Wilson, will run though the basics of Google Analytics, including how to navigate the interface and understand the various reports.

Watch the webinar here


Google Analytics webinar transcript

This transcript of our webinar introducing Google Analytics for Beginners is split into the following sections:

The Google Analytics Reports Menu

The main focus of today’s digital marketing training session is giving you some level of familiarity with the GA platform (the Google Analytics platform) and to run through some of the most used and valuable report functionalities that are already set up there for you.

By report functionalities I’m basically talking about this left-hand side of the screen here:

The Google Analytics reports menu
The Google Analytics reports menu

This will be our focus for today and this covers the fundamental areas of Google Analytics, with all of the core reporting you would need access to.

I’ll try and make it practical and useful too. I’ll give overviews and useful insights into beginning to use Google Analytics and I’ll try and make sure that I try to keep it to the fundamentals and the basics without running away with it too much.

Right, so let’s get going with Google Analytics!

Let’s start with a little bit of background about Google Analytics itself.

What is Google Analytics?

It’s digital analytics software that monitors all of the core component parts of your website and its conversion funnel.

This ties in with acquisition – building awareness and acquiring new user interest. It ties in with online behavior – how people visit and use your website when they’re there. And it ties in with your website conversions too – what people do and how they transact and how they complete transactions with your business through its website.

Google Analytics Admin Settings – Account, Property & View

So what we’ll do to start with and is we look at the initial settings of Analytics, and I should say before we do is that I wouldn’t recommend you changing these settings at all. The main reason for this is that this is probably the only area within Analytics you can cause damage and lose historical data, so I would always err on the side of caution.

The Google Analytics admin settings screen
The Google Analytics admin settings screen

In the Google Analytics admin settings you can assign people to manage the account. The left side is the account level or the organization level and as soon as Google Analytics is set up they automatically create a property and a view, and you can then have multiple properties and multiple views.

Don’t worry too much about this information at this stage, all you really need to know is that there’s a settings area. If you’ve got multiple websites you can create different accounts within the same profile or organization, and you can create different properties and you can create different views all within the Google Analytics admin settings area. So for example different people or stakeholders within the organization may only want to see certain views, and this can be configured here.

So this will be the last time we go into the Google Analytics admin settings section today, this is just to make sure that you’re aware it’s there and that you probably should avoid it to start with until you become more familiar with Google Analytics.

How to use the Google Analytics home screen dashboard

The Google Analytics homescreen dashboard
The Google Analytics homescreen dashboard

This is the Google Analytics home screen. Basically, this is your single click marketing dashboard. You can access it from this left-hand panel. All of the things that we will focus on today are accessible from this left-hand panel, and the menu options all expand out when you click on the arrow for more areas and quick customizations. On the main screen you’ve got a number of bits of information and it basically gives you a home page of useful information about your website.

Google Analytics Custom Dashboards

If you’ve got multiple users accessing your Google Analytics property each person can have a different custom dashboard and that would show them a different view on the Google Analytics homepage view. Someone in marketing for example might want to see very different information than somebody in sales or somebody on the board, and Google Analytics allows you to configure what each of these people would see.

On the Google Analytics home screen are a number of different widgets that are set up by default, so you don’t have to do anything to see this screen, and when you get slightly more familiar with it you can create your own custom dashboard.

How to create a custom dashboard in Google Analytics
How to create a custom dashboard in Google Analytics

You would do that by clicking on customization and then dashboard, and Google is really intuitive when it comes to things like using Analytics, so I won’t create a dashboard now, but I’ll show you how simple it is. You can’t do anything wrong here so you can fiddle around, you can create dashboards and you can delete them too, and you can share them with other people where you can keep them private as well.

So to create a dashboard you click customize > customization dashboard > create and it brings up a couple of default areas.

Exploring Google Analytics Reports

The GA reports menu

The next area we’re going to go into now is the five or six core reporting areas within Google Analytics. I just want to make sure that in this training webinar you’ve got enough time just to touch upon all of them and obviously we can answer any questions later.

What is the Google Analytics Real-Time report?

The Google Analytics Real-Time report allows you to monitor activity as it happens. Websites will have activity happening all of the time and this real-time data populates in this area of Google Analytics. From the real-time report’s overview dashboard you can drill down into other areas of your real-time data.

The Google Analytics Real-Time report overview screen
The Google Analytics Real-Time report overview screen

I always like to go into the report overview first because Google often add new features and functionality and tests and beta areas, and you can see one there. And so it’s always nice to start in this area and then work through into data you might want to drill down into afterwards. Otherwise there’s a real risk that you only really start to use the sort of single pages or small areas of Google Analytics which become a habit, and then you’re missing out on a lot of the other areas.

Using the Google Analytics real-time report for marketing campaigns and website testing

The Google Analytics real-time report is really useful if you’re running a marketing campaign, because you can see how the impact of that campaign immediately. Any actions that happen you see within a few seconds, which is really useful feedback.

So as an example of this in action, you might be running radio advertising or television adverts and you might be running them in particular areas or regions in the country. What you can then do is see the locations where you’re getting activity. You can see the sources from the activity, and then you can drill down to specific events and traffic sources related specifically to that campaign.

What you could do off the back of that is if you can see that the campaign is having a lot of interest in certain areas, then you can put some pay-per-click activity in that area too, and then that could help to then drive people from offline activity, from radio or television activity, on to online activity.

Other practical applications are that you could be testing changes on your website, and you don’t want to let that and run on for too long if it’s not giving you the desired outcome.

So hopefully that gives you a good initial overview of the real-time report sections of Google Analytics.

The Google Analytics Audience report

Next we’re going to move into the Google Analytics Audience report, and again what I’ll do with most of these reports to start with the overview areas. In this case what I’ll do is just show you some practical functionality of how you use these screens during a typical Google Analytics session.

The Google Analytics Audience report overview screen
The Google Analytics Audience report overview screen

The Audience report is basically showing you all of the shared characteristics, and that comes from your website’s audience, so that includes things like demographics information – age, gender, geolocation and other things that can be really useful when you’re trying to create things like content. So that can be things like people’s interest areas, and so on.

How to show organic traffic in the Google Analytics reports

If I just show you how you interact with this report… at the moment we’re looking at All Users. If I only wanted to look at a specific segment, say SEO, I could left click here:

The default All Users segment in Google Analytics
The default All Users segment in Google Analytics

This opens the segments menu:

The Google Analytics Segments menu
The Google Analytics Segments menu

We can then hold and drag away the All Users segment shown above, and that would get rid of the All Users segment.

How to set an Organic Traffic segment
How to set an Organic Traffic segment

Then all I need to do is scroll down here, and then SEO comes under Organic Traffic, and if I scroll down again and press “Apply” all of the data then changes from All Users and reduces down to Organic only.

One thing that’s important to remember is once you start to filter things these filters remain in place, so if you start to see only a fraction of your data, the chances are you’ve probably got an unwanted filter on and all you need to do is just go back to your standard presets. So that shows you how you can segment the data really quickly.

How to set date ranges for Google Analytics reports

How to select a date range in Google Analytics
How to select a date range

Next is how you select date ranges and how you can compare to the previous period or previous timeframes. The data we have in here is demo data so I know it’s quite old. So I’ll change the date and you can change the date either by manually over typing it like I am here, or you can just select it from here, so you can just scroll through these. And so I just manually typed these over and then I press apply.

What we’ll see happening first is that all of the data then changes to that timeframe and we can see this initial top-level overview of the daily data. In this case it’s looking at users – how many people. I always like to default it to daily first because you can see if anything changes. If we select to week it gives you more meaningful data but you might have noticed that this drop-off has happened here.

In Google Analytics incomplete data causes an apparent drop in traffic, but this is not the case
Incomplete data causes an apparent drop in traffic, but this is not the case

Now we know from the daily data that there’s no gaps in the data that we had, that performance hasn’t declined, so what that basically means is that there’s a partial week. So the date setting I selected isn’t a full week, which is why it looks like it’s a lot lower than the usual week level, and then when we click on month we can see the same thing because it’s only a partial month data.

How to use the Google Analytics audience report to find demographic information

What I’ll do is scroll down here so that you can see the initial data. It gives you these initial overview screens, and always give you the top ten.

Top languages in the Google Analytics Audience report
Top languages in the Google Analytics Audience report

So in this case it’s top ten languages, showing that users are using English US as their default language. In other areas that will show you top 10 pages, but what I like to do in this screen is I like to take a look at the demographics by clicking on the left-hand reports menu.

This is telling me and the age of people landing on the website and this shows me whether it’s males or females predominately interacting with the site.

What I’ll do now is just compare this to a previous year. The two initial options or the three initial options are custom and when you’re comparing things previous period, which compares it to the previous timeframe closest to the one you’re looking at or the previous year, it depends on the marketing activity and what you’re looking to achieve as to which one you would look at.

So I would look at previous year if I’m looking for an accurate like-for-like comparison, knowing that other things have remained consistent because this removes things like seasonality and other sorts of peaks that might happen within your industry.

But if I was looking at something I’ve changed recently, so for example we might have put a new homepage live, and I want to look at how that was performing, then I’d look to compare the previous period because that’s the closest available data set.

What this data tells me is that bulk of our audience in this demo data and are aged between 25 and 34. I can see the last year this trend was the same, but I can also see that last year we had higher volumes of people landing on the site and they were aged from 35 to 54.

Using the Google Analytics audience report for marketing strategy

As a marketer what this then triggers in my sort of to-do list, if you like, or project plan, is that one of our core audiences is this demographic, 25 to 34, and 60% of them are female, and I also know that this demographic has changed because last year 50% roughly was male with 50% female.

So we know we’re attracting more females to the website based on the content we’re producing and other marketing activities being completed, and so what I’d be looking here to do is to say, okay, how do we attract people aged 35 to 44 and 45 to 54 back to the site? What type of content do they like to engage with and where can we find these audiences and get access to them? Because they’re likely to be in very different locations than the 25 to 34-year-olds.

But if I’d looked at the success of 25 to 34-year-olds I’d be able to see that, for example, they’ll be digesting more visual content, more video content and there’s a growth in audio content within that demographic.

I won’t go off too much on a tangent but it’s just that I want to make sure that even when we’re looking at very top-level information there’s immediate actions that can come from them. And so all I do quickly here is just have a look at a couple of other charts and graphs. Here we’re looking at where we’re getting our users from:

Using the Google Analytics Audience Location report to see where your visitors are located
Using Google Analytics to see where your visitors are located

And again we’ve left all the default and presets we put in place that are still here, so we can see in this case most people are coming from France, then the United States, and then the United Kingdom.

That gives us an idea of what we can do when it comes to targeting or business expansion into new areas it also helps to be able to prioritize budgets and resource based on areas that have the highest impact on the business.

Another core area to look at is the way in which people find you so the devices they use:

How to use the Google Analytics Audience report to see which devices your website visitors use
Use the Google Analytics Audience report to see which devices your website visitors use

And this is demo data so obviously it isn’t reflective of the real world and in your own data you would probably expect to see at least half of your traffic, so 50%, coming from mobile. In this case it’s heavily skewed towards desktop but the key areas here is that you can see how people are finding your website and what devices they’re using to interact with it, and therefore how you should organize and prioritize your content to target those people, because people looking at content on desktop are very different in regards to their behaviour than people that are looking on mobile devices and other devices too.

So I hope that all gives you a good insight of that specific report and I should say that these areas are all here by default and you don’t have to set anything up or change anything in order to view them.

The Acquisition Report in Google Analytics

How to open your Google Analytics Acquisition report
How to open your Google Analytics Acquisition report

Now next we’ll take a look at acquisition. An acquisition is characterized by where you acquire or where you get your visitors from. So this is really important because this is a reflection on where you’re spending your budgets and your investments on marketing and how much you’re getting back, and in this case 90%, or let’s say 89.1% of people, are coming direct to the business and so if this reflects your business in any way and it means your vote you’ll be very brand heavy and very reliant on your current target audience. Direct means that people are finding you by typing in your website address directly into their browser or by clicking on things such as bookmarks and coming directly to the website.

What you would normally expect to see more in this type of scenario would be anywhere between 60 to 80 percent of your traffic coming from a combination of organic search (SEO) and/or paid search (PPC), and the reason for that is because the amount of potential people discovering you online would be substantially higher.

Traffic from branded vs non-branded searches

This is people not knowing about you as a brand, but knowing about the problems you solve, the questions you answer, your services and products. By nature there’s much wider levels of volumes for generic search queries such as “SEO”, “PPC”, “SEO agency”, and all of these types of variations then what there would be when it becomes very specific to a company name.

I won’t go down to huge detail here and what I would say is I’ve seen this is again in the overview, and this is really useful to be able to see where you get your traffic from. You can click into any of these areas and that will automatically then filter it down into that specific marketing channel and then you can drill down into the more specific details.

How to use the Google Analytics Behaviour Report

How to open your Google Analytics Behaviour report
How to open your Google Analytics Behaviour report

I wanted to spend a bit more time focusing on behaviour, simply because this is realistically the area where I would probably spend most of my time as a marketer looking at Google Analytics, and the reason for that is because this gives me everything I need to be able to see if my marketing and my campaigns are working, where they’re working, and where they can be improved, along with any changing data as soon as it happens.

Most of the data, other than the real-time information, only comes into Google Analytics anywhere between 24 hours and 48 hours later depending on your data sample size and after it happens, so the only real time data comes from the Real-Time Report we looked at earlier.

Everything else is a couple of days behind and that means that when you do have the data you can jump on changes quickly, and also you can see earlier data and pre click data on a separate Google platform in Google Search Console. We won’t discuss Search Console here very much, but it’s important to know that those Google Search Console and Google Analytics dovetail and there’s a number of reasons why.

How to use Google Analytics Content Drilldown

So what I’ll do now is I’ll go into site content and I’m going to do a content drill down now:

How to do a Content Drilldown in Google Analytics
How to do a Content Drilldown in Google Analytics

What I’m expecting to see here is how all of my content is performing when it’s grouped together. What I mean by that is – how is my blog performing? How is our contact page performing? How’s our social media section performing? All of this is basically the grouping of content together to a top-level so you can see how things are going.

And we can see here the vast percentage, in this case over 82 percent of all page views, so in this case this isn’t landing page traffic, these are pages that people see when they’re on your website and go to the home page.

Where to see the number of page views for your homepage in Google Analytics
Where to see the number of page views for your homepage in Google Analytics

So this forward slash is the home page and we can see how disproportionate that is to the rest of the website, so if I was going to make a single change or use my focus I’d be looking at the high bounce rate on the home page and the high amount of impact that would have if I could do some conversion rate optimization and treat the home page end with some A/B testing to drive more of that potential value into other areas of the website. And in the main area within the behaviour and reporting that I use and if you wonder what happened then I just clicked on this arrow:

The arrows you can use to expand or hide your Google Analytics reports menu
Click on this arrow to expand or hide your Google Analytics reports menu

This arrow moves to hide or emerges the information on the left-hand side which is persistent navigation.

Viewing the Google Analytics Landing Pages report

I then click on Landing Pages:

Where to find the Landing Pages report in Google Analytics
Where to find the Landing Pages report in Google Analytics

The Landing Page report is the most important section for me personally, when I’m looking at the performance of my websites, I want to know what pages are performing.

And the important thing here is we’re looking at individual pages now rather than sections. So where it might say /blog/ for example, in the context of the Landing Pages report it is a page, as well as being the holding folder for the rest of blog content. If we scroll up, what we’ll do is we’ll compare this to a previous period, just so that we can see how things look, and again we’re looking at all the users at the moment and we’re looking at this time frame up here so it’s the same time frame but it’s comparing to previous period.

What we can see initially is the top-level information. This tells me how the entire website is performing at top-level, so at the moment this demo data is telling me that we’ve got 10.22% less visits landing on the website, so that’s already something I need to look at.

A Google Analytics Landing Pages report highlighted to show a 10.22% drop in website visits compared to the previous period
This shows a 10.22% drop in website visits compared to the previous period

We can see the numbers that make up these percentages, and this is really important because percentages can be skewed hugely if you’re working with small numbers and a small percentage can reflect a huge amount of people if you’re working across millions of sessions or visits in a month.

This also tells me other things like the quality of the traffic, so I can see that people are spending less time on site, people are bouncing more. So the bounce rate is worse and people are doing fewer pages, so we’ve got two initial problems to think about here.

But the interesting information is found when we scroll down into this grid, and I’d always like to look at it at a grid for you because I just like to have access to that granular level of data, but you can click on any of these and that will change the view that you see. For example, you can click on this pie chart option a more visual format:

How to view your data as a pie chart in Google Analytics
How to view your data as a pie chart in Google Analytics

So if you’re looking at copy and pasting or grabbing information for a meeting or a report using this pie chart display option can obviously be useful. And there’s other formats too such as bar charts and various other  things that you can do.

But I always like to look at the grid view personally and if you want to filter through this, so if I only want it to look at the blog pages for example, all you need to do is type in blog and hit filter again:

Using a filter to show just your blog pages in the Google Analytics Landing Pages report
Using a filter to show just your blog pages in the Google Analytics Landing Pages report

Just remember to clear the filter afterwards and otherwise when you click on other pages and you’ll likely see quite odd data because it’ll still adhere to the previous filter that you set.

In this case I can see things like the blog section for example is down by 20%. I can see particular blog posts are still performing well so it’s not that everything is performing badly. But I can also see that things like the blog category page needs some work because that’s 50% down when it comes to visits landing on the website.

Using the Google Analytics Behaviour Flow report

One other thing I very quickly want to look at. There’s a thing called behavior flow on the website too and what this gives you is a nice visualization of how people flow from the starting point.

Where to find your Google Analytics Behaviour Flow report
Where to find your Google Analytics Behaviour Flow report

We’re looking at landing pages at the moment – people clicking other things and how many of those people progress through to other stages and towards your ultimate conversion.

So in this case we’re looking at the home page again. This is sorted by the top pages by the way, but in this case we can see a huge proportion of people. I’ll just take off the comparison because it might make it look slightly more complex it needs to be. The huge portion of people, in this case 98% of people, are leaving the home page without going on to any other page and so it’s a really nice visual way of spotting problems and seeing things sooner so that you can deal with them.

What is the Google Analytics Conversions report?

The final Google Analytics report that we’re going to look at today is Conversions.

How to open your Google Analytics Conversions report
How to open your Google Analytics Conversions report

For the purposes of Google Analytics a conversion is any completed activity.

You tend to have two types of conversion. You have micro conversions and macro conversions. Think about a micro conversion as any small action that’s important to enable people to get to a macro conversion.

For example, on an e-commerce website your macro conversion will be the ultimate end result – someone buying, so they complete the transaction.

Your micro conversions will be things like someone clicking on a product description to find out more information, downloading a brochure, or emailing you for more information. So the micro goal completions are equally important as macro ones because they lead towards that end result.

This is demo data so we don’t have any goals happening here at the moment. But I would say that it’s just useful to know that this exists. All of the filtering is the same as everything else.

So hopefully this has given you a good overview of Google and its Analytics.

Google Analytics FAQ for beginners

There’s been a few questions so we’re going to go through those.

First of all, why is the audience attribution so low as a percentage of total users and kind of related to that question is also, are all the low numbers reliable?

I think those are really interesting points actually and so having meaningful data sets is really important. What I would say is even if you only get very few visitors to your website you should still have Google Analytics set up and in place. It still provides you useful insights, and when we do any sort of testing or any recommendations we always need to have a large enough data set to make it meaningful to go off of your data set is imperative so if you if you’re going off a handful of users and trying to use that as justification for completing action or making investment I’d always sanity check that against other metrics.

So the Google Analytics data is really useful because that’s everything that goes through your website. But it’s not the only data set available. You might be able to find that you can get a wider data set not only for your website but for your competition – so for example there’s supplemental analytics packages, things such as SEMrush, there’s things such as Google Search Console which we mentioned earlier, and other platforms too.

The way in which Vertical Leap work is that it’s all about getting that complete and comprehensive data set. You can’t really make meaningful decisions off very small amounts of data, but you can make that data set much larger, and I’d say that that’s it’s a really useful conversation point to have and it’s something that we can certainly help with.

What I would say is for us, everything stems from the data and the data integrity – the volume, the veracity and the reliability – that is key.

If you’re feeding very small amounts of information you would be at risk of making the wrong decision, but you can still use that for triggers to direct you towards things that could be useful to take on. It’s just you need to justify slightly more.

How would you expect people on desktop to behave in comparison of those on mobile? Would you expect any differences in behaviour?

Yeah for sure, I mean they behave very differently, and often it’s different people as well. There’s this sort of a high-level area where people on desktop tend to be generally more B2B – business-to-business. So if they’re working in areas that are highly business-to-business, you would expect them probably to be doing their research and their work during normal working hours, and therefore they’re probably more likely to be on a desktop.

The behavior of someone on a desktop is different to mobile because they’ve got wider screens and they’ve got more time because they sat at their desk on the computer. Often they’ve got multiple screens. It means they spend longer on pages, they read more content, they click through a few more pages and they scroll down a lot more. They tend to have a higher sort of pain threshold for things like slow site loading, page speed and things like that compared to somebody on a mobile device.

And people on mobile devices will basically have a very low tolerance to slow loading pages because they’re often on the move, they’re between activities, they’re on breaks or lunch breaks or they’re on their personal time, walking to the tube and other things. Their ability to digest content is much smaller. The mobile screen sizes are much smaller, so the actual behavior is very different insofar as how they interact with content. So hopefully that gives you a nice top-level overview of the difference between desktop and mobile device usage.

Different screen sizes and different times of usage affect these things, and this fits really well into the behavioural changes that that we’re seeing at the moment in search generally. The difference between mobile usage and desktop usage is how you engage with that technology, and so you’re a bit more time time-poor if you went to mobile generally because you’ll be commuting for example. So you might not want to digest so many words because it’s smaller screen, et cetera.

At the moment we’re seeing this really interesting thing as well this other behavior that you will probably start seeing in your Google Analytics is that it’s that normal dates and times of interaction have changed during the coronavirus lockdown, because the majority of us sat are at home, we don’t have the time constraints we used to have before lockdown, social distancing and working from home. We don’t commute, we’re not commuting anymore, apart from you know the kitchen to the dining room or whatever your personal home commute is.

For one customer in particular as an example we saw, and they were a business selling jewelry online. What we saw with them is that suddenly they had this surge of purchases at six o’clock in the morning that they never used to get before the coronavirus lockdown. Purchases specifically at 6am in the morning! And who purchases jewelry at 6am in the morning? What was happening is people buying gifts online for birthday or special occasion are doing their research at that time in the morning, but normally it would be only doing that researching, then getting on a train or what-have-you, and they would complete that purchase later on. But they’ve got time now all right, they’re not time poor anymore, so they start six o’clock in the morning with their company in bed or what-have-you and then they complete the purchase. I’m getting a little off-topic but there’s definitely always different behaviors between desktop and mobile but during coronavirus we’re seeing these even bigger differences generally because of the changes in our behaviour.

What are the blue dots on the line of the Page Views graph?

A Google Analytics chart with dots for time points and annotations
Google Analytics charts show dots for time points and annotations

That’s highlighting your time point so that’s showing that you can have weekly time points and things like so it just makes it easy for you to be able to distil the chart data over a time frame and also one thing I probably should have mentioned is that I always like to annotate your charts as well, and dots appearing on charts can be related to annotation. Anytime you make a change it’s really useful to annotate it. You can do them privately or you can share them and the key thing is it means that over long time frames you can look back over specific actions that have impacted performance.

Is Google Analytics automatically set up on Squarespace sites?

With some areas it will depend on any template that you use but it generally is set up for some sites by default through templates and if it’s not it is really easy to install. The same applies for WordPress sites, although it might not be there on the default install, in most cases there’s just a simple plug-in to use. On a new WordPress website for example there would be a single plug-in, and rather than having to copy and paste code to the specific files directly, the plug-in would do that for you.

So it’s very straightforward and easy to implement Google Analytics and tracking scripts, and there’s lots of ways of doing it. But I would always go back to and follow the step-by-step instructions provided by Google because it does change. I’d go to support.google.com because they tend to be pretty good at updating things.

I’ve also looked at Shopify who make things really easy now, where they’ve just created an “out of the box” feature so you just put your GA tracking code in there and it does the rest.

What learning resources can you recommend to build knowledge of Google Tag Manager?

That’s a great question. Google Tag Manager is one of those areas where there’s a little bit of a learning curve, and then once you see the benefits of it you never look back! Vertical Leap have technical SEO and PPC specialists who swear by it and do some great introductory sessions. I think we’ve even got some on advice on our blog about Google Tag Manager and Google have got a fantastic video resource on YouTube. They’ve got a Google webmasters video section on YouTube that’s always great to look at.

For me personally I like to be able to see people doing things, it’s a bit like on-the-job training. It’s nice to be able to watch someone’s spring while they’re doing things and so I’d go to the Google where I’d go to Google Webmasters YouTube channel and subscribe to that and also go to the main Google Webmaster site. You can sign up to that too, they provide some fantastic training videos on there as well. What you can do is get an accreditation from it afterwards and it’s completely free and so it’s a really nice way, especially at the moment, to learn something new, and they’ve got some specific segments that cover Google Tag Manager as well.

So if you want to just dip in and do the Google Tag Manager training then that’s fantastic. If you want to go through a whole suite of Google and Google Analytics training you can do that too, and it covers everything from organic SEO to paid PPC traffic as well, so it’s a real wealth of access there. And I’m sure we’ve got some information on our Vertical Leap blog worth having a look at.

Are Google Analytics goals set up automatically for an e-commerce site, or do you have to set these up for each site?

E-commerce tracking is slightly different. So you would have to have e-commerce tracking enabled and once you do that that would tracking they would put information tied towards transactions and all of the standard e-commerce stays he would need and it is really simple to add additional goals and events and things like that to Google looks to be as intuitive as possible.

If they can see areas that can be tracked by dental and like events for example they do often just set some up but it will depend on your setup of your website and also it is it is pretty straightforward to add them yourself and what I would do is I would make a list of all the important things you want people to achieve on your website I would then go into Google Analytics, click on conversions and click in on the goals and you can see any goals or events that they’ve already got set up. If you want to add new ones then all you need to do is to go on that cog on the bottom left hand corner that I showed earlier on with the settings and there’s an area in there.

Where to go in Google Analytics to create a new goal
To create a new goal in Google Analytics, click on the settings cog bottom left, and then click on Goals on the right hand side

We basically click in Goals, and you click Add, and then you can create goals and events and you can track them and they’re really intuitive. You can get really complex with them but 99% of the time it’s literally several clicks to add adding what you needed to do. This tends to be events such as “on click”, so someone clicked a page, click the product, click the link and things like that, or after an event says adding a specific event when somebody’s landed on a thank you page for example and therefore you add in a URL but I don’t want to complicate things too much today and but you can do all of that fairly straightforwardly. The initial way to add them is to click on that cog in the bottom left hand corner and there’s a section for Goals, and you can add them there.

What’s the advice regarding www vs non-www domains in terms of Google Analytics data combination?

The key thing is whichever you choose, stick with it, because as soon as you start complicating things it can cause all sorts of issues not only with tracking but also with how Google would see those domains as being either duplicate, all the same, or different pages competing against each other. It can cause all sorts of knock-on effects. Realistically it doesn’t really matter, and there are click-through rate studies that would suggest things like www dot prefixes can be beneficial in some areas, but again that changes by industry etc.

But it doesn’t matter from a user point of view or from a search point of view whether you have a www dot prefix or not, as long as once you’ve chosen one to stick with it and make sure all other variations point back to that same decision.

You definitely don’t want to have two variations running and you don’t want to have some pages with www dot and some without because it just causes all sorts of crawling, indexation and duplication issues for content and other areas too.

 You should also stick with it across your other analytics platforms. With Google Search Console specifically, you can you can trip yourself up sometimes if you’re not tracking the same one then you’re just not collecting the full amount of data, and as we said earlier the most complete data set is the most important so it’s not just about choosing the one and going with that, it’s making sure that it’s replicated across all of your other analytics tracking.

Do referrals from encrypted sites show up as a referral?

This is a more advanced level question but what I would say is that encryption does cause tracking issues and it does depend on things such as whether your site’s secure (HTTPS as opposed to HTTP), and there’s other areas too. There are workarounds and there are ways in which you can see more of the encrypted search data but it does cause problems. And what I would say is this, it’ll be something that we’d need to look at specifically, as there are some best practices and it does overlap with other areas like website security, but it’s probably slightly too technical for the purpose of this chat. I would be happy to follow up on more details on that afterwards if that helps.

If you’ve got any more questions about Google Analytics drop us an email or give us a phone call, if we can help you we definitely will help you.

These digital marketing webinars are running every Wednesday. This was a really great training session and there’s definitely some more full-on sessions we could do around Google Tag Manager, and I think we could do a whole training session on how to set up Google Analytics conversion tracking.

There’s a lot more that we can do so so we’ll make sure to get those out to you but do drop us a line if you need any help otherwise thanks very much!

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Michelle joined Vertical Leap’s Portsmouth office in 2011 as Marketing Manager, having spent the previous 15 years of her marketing career in the recruitment, leisure and printing industries. Her passions include dogs, yoga, walking, the beach, mountains and nice food.

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