A quick guide to Google Analytics

Disclaimer – this guide will be perpetually out of date, Google can’t help themselves renaming and reordering things every couple of months 🙂

Step one – logging in

  • Visit Google Analytics, select ‘Sign in to Google Analytics’ in the top right corner
  • Sign in
  • Navigate to your charity’s website from the list

Step two – the dashboard

  • Select the date range you want to use
  • Site-wide visiting data for your date range will now display on the dashboard
  • ‘Sessions’ describes someone using the site, perhaps viewing a number of pages
  • ‘Users’ describes people visiting the site, they may be new ‘unique’ or old ‘returning’
  • ‘Pageviews’ describes the number of times a page was looked at, ‘unique’ describing different people looking at a page, ‘total’ including people who look at a page more than once
  • ‘Demographics’ gives you data breakdowns based on visitor language, country and city
  • ‘System’ tells you which browsers, operating systems and service providers people are using
  • ‘Mobile’ gives you device operating system, service provider and screen resolution data

Step three – left hand navigation

  • While the dashboard gives a quick overview, the left hand navigation gives detail
  • ‘Dashboards’ lets you set up a custom dashboard to record what you need each time
  • ‘Shortcuts’ lets you return to regularly used pages more quickly
  • ‘Intelligence events’ records activity across key pages and can be customised
  • ‘Real time’ lets you look at site-wide activity as it happens
  • ‘Audience’ gives you data about the people visiting the site
  • ‘Acquisition’ tells you where people came from and what they searched for
  • ‘Behaviour’ gives you details about people’s user journey within the site
  • ‘Conversions’ gives you data about visitors completing actions on the site

Tip: As you use Google Analytics, you’ll notice some confusing cross-over and labelling issues. Don’t worry too much, the platform is by no means perfect but it’s the best of its kind for measuring user journeys and behaviour.

Tip: A frequent trap to fall into is accidentally splitting your traffic, so Google Analytics is measuring page data in two separate places. Watch out for this when building webpages.

Step three – how to…

See how many times your page was viewed:

  • Login and select your date range
  • Select ‘Behaviour’ from the left hand navigation
  • Expand ‘Site content’ and select ‘All pages’
  • On the right hand side of the page, below the graph, is a small search bar
  • Enter a search term which will help Google find your page, e.g. ‘about’
  • This will bring up a list of relevant pages, scroll down to the one you need
  • Total pageviews are in the first column, unique pageviews in the second

See how long people spent reading your page:

  • Follow the steps above
  • Time spent on page is listed in the third column

Measure the bounce rate on your page:

  • Follow the steps above
  • The bounce rate is measured in the fifth column
  • A good bounce rate is around 50% but you should always try to improve on this
  • Think about what would cause someone to leave your page without taking an action, perhaps you need to move your action higher or improve your content

Tip: In some cases a high bounce rate is a positive sign that your reader got everything they needed from your page. Think about whether that’s the case for your content.

Find out where your visitors came from:

  • Follow the steps above
  • Select the page you want to track
  • Select ‘Secondary dimension’
  • Expand ‘Acquisition’ and select ‘Source’
  • You now have a list of the top 10 referrals to your page
  • To see more than these, increase the rows in the bottom right corner

Find out what pages people looked at before and after yours:

  • Follow the steps for finding your page, select it
  • Scroll towards the top of the page for ‘Navigation summary’
  • Scroll down to see the previous and next page paths

Find out whether people downloaded a PDF from your page:

  • Select ‘Behaviour’ from the left hand navigation
  • Expand ‘Events’ and click ‘Top Events’
  • Select ‘PDF document’ from the list
  • Select ‘Download’ and search for your PDF in the small search bar below the graph
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