Google Analytics for Beginners

I recently had the pleasure (and I use that word lightly, for the fact that the information was A LOT to take in) of taking a couple of analytics courses at Google Analytics Academy:

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Today, I’ll be sharing an overview of Google Analytics for Beginners.

About the Course

Basically this course shows new users how to create an account, implement a tracking code and set up data filters. Whether you personally benefit from Google Analytics or not, this course will be helpful to list on your resume` or mention to potential clients who may want to hire you for marketing purposes for the fact that Google Analytics is one of the most popular and widely used tools to measure and evaluate websites. In this course you’ll learn how to navigate the analytics interface and report, and set up dashboards as well as shortcuts. Furthermore, Google Analytics for Beginners will demonstrate how to analyze basic audience acquisition and behavior reports, in addition to setting up goals and campaign tracking.

Certificate of Completion

img_5302As a bonus, you’ll also receive a certificate from the Academy for this course if you choose to take and pass the 4 assessments Google administers with at least 80% or higher. This certificate will be visible on your Google + profile for potential employers to see if you set your privacy settings accordingly. Please note that this certificate will not earn you the Google Analytics Individual Qualification (GAIQ). However, this course, paired with Advanced Google Analytics will help prepare you for the GAIQ. The certification for all of the courses at Google Analytics Academy are valid for 12 months. To keep your certification valid you must retake the courses every year.

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Course Features

This course in divided into 4 units that contain 3 – 5 lessons each that conclude with an assessment. For each lesson you have the option to watch a video (or launch guided tours, for some lessons) or to read the text transcript. In order launch the guided tours (demos), you must have a Google Analytics account. If you don’t already have a Google Analytics account, Google will create one for you and add the demo to it. You’ll still be able to create other accounts in the future. If you’d rather not open a Google Analytics account, instead of watching the guided tours simply read the text transcript. I must state that the guided tours are very helpful, as they give you an actual look at how you’ll be accessing and using Google Analytics. This course is optimized for mobile devices, making it much easier to study on the go.

Material Covered in Google Analytics for Beginners:

Unit 1: Introducing Google Analytics
Lesson 1: Why digital analytics?
Lesson 2: How Google Analytics work
Lesson 3: Google Analytics setup
Lesson 4: How to set up views with filters

Unit 2: The Google Analytics layout
Lesson 1: Navigating Google Analytics
Lesson 2: Understanding overview reports
Lesson 3: Understanding full reports
Lesson 4: How to share reports
Lesson 5: How to set up dashboards and shortcuts

Unit 3: Basic Reporting
Lesson 1: Audience reports
Lesson 2: Acquisition reports
Lesson 3: Behavior reports

Unit 4: Basic Campaign and Conversion Tracking
Lesson 1: Measuring Custom Campaigns
Lesson 2: Tracking campaigns with the URL Builder
Lesson 3: Using Goals to measure business objective
Lesson 4: Measuring Adwords Campaigns
Lesson 5: Course review and next steps

As if Google hasn’t already given us enough information within the lessons alone, they also provide additional information to read, access to the Analytics Academy Discussion Community, practice activities and couple of pretty cool web tools to take advantage of.

Additional Information to Read

As an example of some of the additional information provided, if you aren’t familiar with analytic jargon, Google provides a glossary at the end of lesson 1.1. I found the glossary, along with everything else to be very helpful. If you don’t know anything at all about Google Analytics before you immerse yourself in the course, I highly recommend reading the glossary to become knowledgeable of the terms that will be used in the remainder of the course.

Glossary:

  • Analytics solutions
  • Attribution
  • Attribution model
  • Channel Grouping
  • Content Grouping
  • Conversion
  • Custom Dimension
  • Data Set
  • Dimension
  • Event
  • Goal
  • Hit
  • IP address
  • Measurement Protocol
  • Metric
  • Pageview
  • Permission
  • Property
  • Reporting API
  • Roll-Up Reporting
  • Sampling
  • SDKs
  • Segment
  • Session
  • Solutions Gallery
  • Source / Medium
  • Tag
  • Tracking code
  • Tracking ID and property number
  • Universal Analytics
  • User ID view
  • View
  • View Filter

This glossary alone, is an excellent resource to have as it leads to even more information.

Practice Activities

The practice activities are for those who take the course to get a better grasp on topics that we’re covered in the lessons. For example, unit 3, lesson is all about Audience reports. The activity in lesson 3.1 allows extra practice analyzing Audience reports using the Google Merchandise Store demo account, that are followed by questions, such as:

  1. Under Audience, in the Demographic Overview report, which Age Group brought in the highest number of users?
  2. Under Audience, in the Geo > Location report fir the country of India, what region brought in the highest number of users?
  3. Under Audience, in the Mobile Overview report what percentage of sessions came from mobile devices?

All of the questions in the practice activities and assessments are true or false, or multiple choice questions.

The Google Analytics Audience reports are very useful as they provide insight into the characteristics of your users. These reports are used to identify visitors by age, browser, device type, gender, geographical location, interests, operating system, and a lot more. The interests feature is excellent for advertising purposes. This data gives a great foundation for growing advertising into similar demographics, and for adjusting advertising on exactly the user who demonstrate a likelihood to utilize specific content or purchase products.

Free Tools

Moving on, the Analytics Academy Discussion Community is great interacting with like-minded people and getting answers to questions you may have. Another great tool to explore that Google provides in Google Analytics for Beginners is Test My Site. Test My Site is an assessment tool that analyzes your website’s speed and performance on mobile devices. It gives you details on:

  • Loading time: how long the primary content of your page takes to appear. Google notes that loading time can vary based on server location, device, browser, and third-party apps. If your site contains carousel and overlays, this may impact your loading time, big time.
  • Estimated visitor loss: the probability of a user leaving your site as a result of waiting for more than 3 seconds for it load. (I’m so guilty of doing this!)

So, of course I tested this little ‘ole site if mine. My result for loading time: 5 seconds. My result for estimated visitor loss: 19%.

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They gave me the following recommendations with this key [x] = should fix, [!] = consider fixing and [✓ ] = looks good:

Reduce page weight

  • [✓] Compress images
  • [✓] Compress resources with GZIP
  • [!] Minify resources

Reduce number of requests

  • [!] Leverage browser chaching
  • [x] Eliminate render-blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
  • [✓] Avoid landing page redirects

Make a quick first impression

  • [✓] Load visible content before CSS and JS files
  • [✓] Reduce server response time

Google inserts a disclaimer, making it crystal clear that this report is intended as a guideline only. Google does not guarantee improvements of site performance.

Conclusion

I learned so much during the Google Analytics for Beginners course (as well as the Advanced Analytics course). Whether you own an international website or run a tiny blog, this course will benefit you tremendously. It’s especially beneficial to those who want to understand the dynamics of online marketing. According to Marketing Land, an estimated 29.3 million websites use Google Analytics.

Understanding this tool well will set you apart from the crowd. As a freelancer, that’s what I’m constantly doing. It’s a dog-eat-dog world in the freelance marketplace, if you can do something to put yourself ahead of the crowd, do it!

It’s free, what are you waiting for?

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