What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free web analytics service that is offered by Google. It provides more than just basic analytical tools as it tracks and reports on website traffic and is highly useful for being able to collect data and provide valuable insights into our users are interacting with your website. These insights are things like information on page views, website traffic, bounce rate, and more! Analytics also hugely benefits the success of a Google Ads campaign.
One of the key features that Analytics offers is the ability to track user behaviour on your website, this means viewing insights like which of your website pages were most popular, the length of time users stay on your website and even how they arrived at your website (organic search, social media, paid search etc). Google Ads management can be a great addition to your PPC Marketing plan alongside tools like Google Analytics.
This information is necessary to make data-driven optimisations to your website and your Google Ads so that you can work toward better user engagement and therefore better conversion rates, which results in a greater return on ad spend.
Google Analytics also provides the service of being able to view data in a real-time view or 'real-time analytics'. This is a beneficial tool for monitoring how your website is currently performing at any given moment and will allow you to ensure that your conversion tracking is set up properly by testing it in a real-time view.
How does Google Analytics work?
Google Analytics works by tracking and gathering data about a website's performance and website visitors through the implementation of a tracking code that needs to be installed on your website.
Once the relevant data has been collected, it is subsequently processed and organised into various reports and graphics that you can access through the Google Analytics dashboard.
Google Analytics also utilises Google Analytics cookies to track a user's behaviour across numerous sessions and this provides you with a far more detailed presentation of data regarding user behaviour on your website.
As mentioned above, Google Analytics gives you the ability to set up conversions and goals that can be pulled into Google Ads in order to give you an accurate understanding of how your ads are performing in terms of their ability to generate leads, sales or any other type of action that you consider a conversion for your business.
Google Analytics Metrics
Metrics in Google Analytics are simply the specific measurements and data of user behaviour on a website. There are a few different types of metrics to consider in Google Analytics and these are:
Sessions in Google Analytics means the individual sessions that all the website users have started on your website. Each one of these 'sessions' is essential to building a data-accurate idea of how users are using and interacting with your website.
The session begins as soon as a user first interacts with your website and will then end either at midnight or when there has been a period of 30 minutes without any activity.
The metric 'users' in Google Analytics actually is a reference to all of the individuals who have used and interacted with your website in some way.
Users refer to each unique individual and not every time a user interacts with your website, this means that even if the same user interacts with your website many times in the time frame you are looking at - they will only be counted once as a user, not counted every time that they were on your website.
This works by Google Analytics cookies assigning each user a Client ID when they first reach the website. It is important to note that your website needs to be able to work with cookies if you are blocking google analytics cookies Google Analytics cannot collect data, reducing it useless.
This is the name given to the metric that identifies the total number of viewed pages on a website within a specified time frame. These pageviews are recorded each time a page that a user has arrived at loads. This is measured even if the user loading the page is a returning one.
The bounce rate in Google Analytics refers to how quickly a user leaves the website after arriving or interacting with it. This metric only refers to single-page sessions on the website. This is a very useful tool when it comes to analysing your website for improvements in user experience. Another way to do this is to invest in SEO services to help improve your organic ranking.
This is also a helpful metric to set up as a Google Ads column as it can allow you to see the average customer journey with the site once they arrive at it in conjunction with the other data available in Google Ads.
Create a Google Analytics Account and Add The Tracking Code
So how can you actually start using Google Analytics? Well, first things first you will need to set up an account. Once you have set up an account you will need to click on the admin tab which can be found in the bottom left-hand corner of the dashboard.
Now that you have set up your Google Analytics account, it is time to install the tracking code. You will need to follow the instructions given by Google Analytics if you wish to install the code directly to your website, or you can install the tracking code through Google Tag Manager.
Do you need to add the GA code to every page of your site?
Yes, in order to utilise all of the tools, data and metrics that Google Analytics has to offer then you will need to install the Google Analytics tracking code on every page of your website.
This can be done relatively quickly and easily by installing the code via Google Tag Manager.
Install Google Analytics with Google Tag Manager (GTM)
In order to install Google Analytics with GTM, you will need to create a Google Tag Manager account first and install that tracking code directly to your website.
Once this has been completed, you will need to create a new tag by selecting 'new' and then selecting Google Analytics as the tag type.
Next, you will need to configure the tag by entering the Google Analytics tracking ID and then select the kind of tracking you want to set up (for example, pageview tracking).
After this, you will need to set up a trigger for the tag that will fire on all pages. Finally, you will need to save and publish your changes.
User acquisition data vs. user behaviour data
The above are two different types of data you can view in Google Analytics and they both provide different insights for your website traffic.
The user acquisition data is the data that gives insight into how your website traffic is coming to your website. This could be through search engines (organic search), social media links, or through paid ads (google search ads, google display ads, etc).
Data such as this is beneficial to businesses as it allows you to make decisions on where you need to allocate your resources when it comes to digital marketing.
User behaviour refers to the data acquired when users visit and track their behaviour on the site.
This data is useful to monitor what content resonates with your website visitors. Data such as this can help you to improve the user experience on your website.
How to Link Analytics to the Google Search Console
To link Google Search Console to Google Analytics, you will need to:
Sign in to both your Google Analytics and Search Console accounts. In Google Analytics, go to the Admin section and select the property you want to link to Search Console.
After this, you will need to click on property settings which can be found under the property column.
In the Search Console section, click on Adjust Search Console.
Once you have done this, you will need to select the Search Console property that you wish to link to your Analytics property.
After this, click Save.
Once this linking has been completed, you will then be able to see the Search Console data in your analytics account.
The data from Search Console will show in the Acquisition section of Google Analytics, under Search Console.
You can now access the search query data, landing pages, Clicks, Impressions, CTR, and average position in GA.
It is important to remember that you will need to have Admin access to your Google Analytics and Google Search Console to link them.
Also, you should verify the website in Search Console before linking it to GA.
Why is Google Analytics Beneficial to Google Ads?
Using a tool like Google Analytics to improve performances in Google Ads is a great way to make data-driven changes. It is vastly easier to monitor performance and website traffic in one place rather than having to seek out these drips of important information in multiple places.
Google Ads and Google Analytics are also built to work together - this is why we have the option to link the accounts within Google Ads and import data from it.
As mentioned above you can also utilise conversion tracking, as you can set up goals in Google Analytics and subsequently import these into Google Ads to be tracked as conversions within the campaign. Within Google Analytics you can also create custom events and a data stream in order to track a user's journey and view how many visitors have come from your paid ads. Being able to utilise tools like creating custom metrics, viewing an average session duration, etc, will also allow you to see how well your website resonates with its users. A major benefit of Google Analytics is being able to set up cross-domain tracking so user behaviours and subsequent conversion data can be tracked and accounted for.
How to link Google Analytics and Google Ads
Firstly you will need to log into your Analytics account and then click on the admin button and navigate your way to the property that it is you want to link.
Once you are in the property column, you will need to select Google Ads Linking.
After you have selected this you need to press the plus icon to add a new link group.
Then you will need to select the Google ads account that you want to link to Google Analytics.
Here you will need to enter a title for the link group.
Then you will need to turn 'linking' on for each view in the property that you want the Google Ads Data.
It is important to note that for this to work you will need to enable auto-tagging in your Google Ads account, it is possible for you to manually tag the Google Ad Link but it is smoother to let the linking process automatically with the auto-tagging feature being enabled within Google Ads.
Once you have completed the above steps you will need to click on link accounts, and then go into your Google Ads account to check that Google Analytics and Google Ads have been properly linked.
You can do this by logging into your Google Ads account, clicking on Tools and Settings, then going into Linked accounts and here you should see that Google Analytics has been linked successfully.
How Google Analytics is looking in 2023
GA is changing drastically in 2023. Google is completely abandoning the universal Analytics platform that we all know and love and is fully integrating into the Google Analytics 4 platform in July 2023. Click here to discover more about how GA4 features is changing the way analytics performs this year.
This means that any conversion tracking set up in Google Analytics on the Universal Analytics platform will be inactive and therefore this will need to be set up again in GA4 for it to continue pulling the conversion data into Google Ads.