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:

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.


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.


  • 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%.


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.


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?

Book Review: How to Practice Buddhism by, Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda

Notes and thoughts on: How to Practice Buddhism by, Dr. K. Sri Dhammananda 


I absolutely love reading about spirituality and religion. I don’t practice Buddhism, however, this book was quite eye-opening. So, without further ado, let’s get into this book review!

Dr. K talks about Buddhism in the book of course but he also talks a bit about the difference between spirituality and religion. From a Buddhists point of view, “religion” is a very different concept from that defined by other religious groups.

Question: How do YOU define religion?


While most may see Buddhism as a religion because it’s rapidly growing and many other factors, to me it’s truly more of a philosophy than anything else. This could apply to many spiritual paths… Some, more than others.

Dr. K states that religions can be divided into two groups: (1) those based on faith, (2) those based on mental purity.
Those who emphasize their faith more than purity believe that they can gain their final salvation through they’re ardent faith alone. Mental purity isn’t always as import. Buddhism on the other hand teaches that faith is not to be the most important aspect but rather purity of the mind. When we have purity in the mind coupled with wisdom, we can never hold wrong ideas as the real truth.

Faith alone cannot create a pure mind.

•Question Everything. Personally, I am a fervent truth seeker and freethinker. Many faiths under the religion umbrella honestly look down upon that. I have witnessed it for myself.

People can uphold a wrong belief without analyzing it, or having any sense of reason because it’s what they’ve been conditioned to believe or they are afraid that if they do it, they might lose their faith and thus also lose their chance to gain salvation.

What’s the Buddha’s advice on accepting any belief as the truth?
Dr. K. answers this question in his book. (This is very well-known if you’ve ever studied Buddhism.) To study, investigate, practice and see the results for ourselves.

The Buddha told many people NOT to believe anything just because he said it or that he was a great man, but to experience it for themselves. Basically, The Buddha’s advice is neither to believe or reject anything first hand.

This is me 100%. Experiences are everything. It’s my experiences that have shaped me into the spiritual being that I am today, and they will continuously do so.

If you really want to know the truth or untruth about something: dig deeper.

This allows us to come to our own conclusion about the truth. What anyone else is doing or believes is not for us to get into. We are each our own person.

When we come to a conclusion after doing our very own in depth investigation and drawing from our personal experiences, we have confidence in the truth because we have experienced it for ourselves.

To believe your own thought, to believe that what is true for you in your private heart is true for all people—that is genius. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Dr. K. states that coming to our own confidence, this is neither mere faith nor belief, but realization.

Your perspective is always limited by how much you know. Expand your knowledge and you will transform your mind. – Bruce H. Lipton


Some folks are just too lazy to dig deeper, so they simply accept things as they are or just simply follow along with the crowd. “I just can’t understand,” should never be an excuse when it comes to seeking out profound truths. As normal-functioning human beings we all have to ability to think for ourselves, improve our minds and to use our minds to the best of our ability.

Arnold Schwarzenegger once said:

The mind is the limit. As long as the mind can envision the fact that you can do something, you can do it, as long as you really believe 100 percent.


Question: Have you ever dug deeper into something that was popular or seen as the norm only to come to a very shocking revelation after your own investigation?

•The Buddha Preached based on His Own Experience
As you read about The Buddha’s life you will see that he went through much pain and suffering while seeking enlightenment, and experienced both the weaknesses and strengths of human mentality. And all of his teachings came from just that, experiences, not anything he was taught or conditioned to believe. Not what others believed. Not what he was instructed to say. But, his personal experiences.

As a teacher and learner, I believe it’s always more satisfying and effective to teach from our own experiences. For example, let’s say that I read a certain book about business and tips for growth, we’ll simply call this book, the Business Book. All of my friends and family recommended this book to me, and wholeheartedly believed that this book was the absolute key to business success. It was even on the best seller list! Super stoked and with much confidence, I read the entire Business Book from cover to cover numerous times. It was well-worn, had many highlighted paragraphs and marginal notes. I read it so much that I had certain passages memorized. I followed every single tip and direction that was written in the book for years. However, my business never saw any growth. It never dawned on me until then that not one of my friends or family members had true business growth. They didn’t even have their own business journey, they simply followed along with the crowd. They listened and followed simply because someone who was richer than them (the author) told them to. And little did I know, I was doing the same. Just one of the many sheep in a lost herd.

It takes nothing to follow the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone.

I then began to do things my own way, based on my very own experiences. Growth was substantial! A few years later new entrepreneur comes up to me and asks me for tips on business growth. Do I recommend the Business Book, you know, the “amazing” book that everyone swore by, to her that was so very ineffective? Or do I give her advice from my own business experiences?

What the moral of the short story here? Teach and preach based on your own experiences, not someone’s stories. Pursue a life by your truth, not someone else’s.

Kant argued that human knowledge begins with experience:

There is no doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience. For how should our faculty of knowledge be awakened into action did not objects affecting our senses partly of themselves produce representations, partly arouse the activity of our understanding to compare these representations, and, by combining or separating them work up the raw material of the sensible impressions into that knowledge of objects which is entitled experience? In the order of time, therefore, we have no knowledge antecedent to experience, and with experience, all our knowledge begins.” Critique of Pure Reason (1781)

Do you agree or disagree?

So, above were just a few notes.
My short and sweet review: This book, How to Practice Buddhism is undoubtedly helpful to anyone who wants to learn more about Buddhism, whether they want to pursue the Buddhist path or not.


This books covers:
– how to practice Buddhism
– the significance of the Dharma
– foundations of Buddhism
– the mind
– human behavior
– different characters
– religion can be divided into two groups
– three simple methods
– why is religion needed (very eye-opening!)
– meditation (many confuse meditation with the path of Buddhism itself, meditation is simply a practice, it is not Buddhism)
– the consequences of modern forms of entertainment
– the Buddha preached according to his own experience
– how to follow the Buddha
– the gradual development of the Buddhist way of life (traditions, cultural, devotional, intellectual and spiritual)

The list above was compiled by the subtitles. You will definitely get quite a bit from this book, including new vocabulary words, if you’re not familiar with Buddhism. Maybe even a new outlook on life.


What is the Buddhist’s view of salvation?
How do you really become a Buddhist?
In detail, what do Buddhists really believe?

Click HERE, to download this book to find out! (automatic PDF download)