Google Analytics is an online tool and platform developed by Google to measure and analyze what happens on a website or in a mobile application.
Used by millions of companies and webmasters around the world, it has a free version with more than enough functionality for most businesses and a more powerful commercial version (Google Analytics 360) for large organizations.
Although you may think that Google created this tool, in reality, it is not. Google bought a company, Urchin Software Corp., and thus they got his web analytics tool called Urchin.
The objective that was raised with this tool at the beginning was to complement other tools owned by Google such as Ads (former Google AdWords), Webmaster Tools (today Google Search Console), and AdSense. In such a way that together some were supported by others and all the website data were centralised in Analytics.
However, the development of this tool has been spectacular and, although it is not perfect, of course nowadays it is essential to have a Web analysis tool, and Analytics is one of the best solutions.
What can we measure with Google Analytics?
We can measure interactions with websites and mobile applications.
- Session data, users, page views, visit time, and bounce rate.
- Interactions with page elements such as buttons, form fields, links, and opening or downloading of documents. Also the scroll. All through what is called “events.”
- Use of the internal search engine of the web
- Landing and navigation pages.
- Guided processes such as shopping carts, creating conversion funnels.
- Google Ads Campaigns
- Google Search Console data
- Google AdSense data
- Objectives, for example, fill out a form, subscribe to a newsletter or make a purchase.
- E-commerce transactions, recording all purchases made on the web or mobile app, with their amounts, order numbers, products, taxes, shipping costs, etc.
- Multi-domain measurement, for example, when the user passes through several portals.
- Send information from point of sale terminals and motion recognition devices.
- Everything related to the origin of our visitors, such as the source and medium (if they come for a campaign, for SEO, direct, through a link in another portal …), the geographical origin, their device, browser, operating system, etc.
Pretty complete, right? However, to measure some of these interactions we will have to add custom code since not everything can be measured automatically. In its favour, say that Google Analytics 4 has improved this a lot and already allows certain events to be measured automatically (the previous Universal Analytics version was more limited).
Thus, Google Analytics squeezes our website in such a way that, with time, study and dedication, we may be able to find out the failures and successes that occur on our website every day and solve them.
How does Google Analytics work?
Here you can see an example of the tracking code for the new version of Google Analytics 4, which we will talk about later. This code can be found by accessing the Administrator section, and within it, the property whose monitoring we want to carry out. We can install the code manually on the web, use a tag manager such as Google Tag Manager or perform the integration through a plugin or module if our web platform allows it. However, depending on what we want to measure, we may need to implement additional code.
Typically, most content management systems such as Joomla, WordPress, Blogger, and PrestaShop have plugins, modules, or extensions that greatly facilitate integration and reduce errors. On other platforms, they will simply ask us for the tracking identifier (UA-XXXXXXX-Y or G-XXXXXXXXX, depending on the version of Analytics they use). In this way, once the code has been entered, each time a user browses a page that contains said code or interacts with the portal, Analytics will collect the information, which it will then show us in the reports. And thanks to cookies, the user will be recognized as a recurring visitor if they have already interacted previously, which will help to measure data such as the value of the customer’s lifetime or the loyalty we achieve.
In case you do not have technical knowledge, none of the solutions provided will serve you or you simply want to carry out an advanced implementation, you may have to contact an implementation specialist.
Google Analytics versions
In August 2019, Google anticipated a very important change by launching a beta version (in tests) of its new Google Analytics, which coexisted with traditional Google Analytics. This was an important revolution since this version allowed to simultaneously measure a web and a mobile application, unifying the data in a single property. This change also caused a total change in the interface, both in its data model and at a visual level.
The “new generation” of Google Analytics, called Google Analytics 4 (GA4) came out of its beta version on October 14, 2020, and, although it will surely continue to improve and implement more functions, we can say that by now it is very operational.
In this way, currently, 2 versions of Google Analytics coexist :
- Universal Analytics (UA), the Analytics that we can call “traditional”, and with which it has been working for many years.
- Google Analytics 4 (GA4), the new version and default when we create a new account.
Google gives us the ability to track using the 2 versions of the tool simultaneously or to use only one of them (the one we choose).
Our recommendation right now is to evaluate beforehand the need or not to use both versions at the same time and by the end of 2021 to have all the follow-up already with Google Analytics 4:
- If you have been working with Universal Analytics for a long time, keep it, but start measuring with Google Analytics 4 as well, since, being in a new property, the data there starts from zero.
- If you have just created your website and it is not e-commerce, you can start working directly with Google Analytics 4.
- If you have just created your website and it is an Ecommerce, you may want to configure tracking with both versions or you may not even be able to use Google Analytics 4 if you use a closed solution. The reason is that e-commerce monitoring (essential to measure sales) is usually carried out with a module or plugin so as not to have to implement it by hand throughout the portal (something quite complex) and right now there are few options in this regard that they use Google Analytics 4, although we have already seen some solution for WooCommerce and PrestaShop. For other types of e-commerce solutions such as Shopify, Wix, etc. you will need to find out if they support Google Analytics 4 integration or still work with Universal Analytics. In any case, we don’t think it will take many months for Google Analytics 4 integration options to come out.
- If you have an app, you are interested in using Google Analytics 4.
- If you have a website and an app, you are also interested in starting to work with Google Analytics 4, since you will be able to perform the joint measurement, although you can continue to keep the old measurement on the web with Universal Analytics.
What is the importance of Google Analytics?
When we talk about the importance of Google Analytics, we are entering the field of studying information about companies, an analysis that aims to continuously measure the numbers that arise from the activity in our business as a result of the decisions that in each moment we are taking, so that we can know the good or bad way to which we lead our company.
What is Google Analytics used for?
As we already anticipated, Google Analytics is the tool that we can have to carry out this activity of obtaining for analysis as much data as is necessary regarding the operation of the company, so that we are able to deduce consequences of said study and use the results to introduce the variations on our strategies and processes that are shown as necessary.
By referring to all the necessary data, we are referring to anyone who sheds light on the keys to the interaction of users with our website without, in any case, we must restrict the search for information to a mere collection of the number of visits and sales. It is also advisable to carry the web analytics of our Social Networks.
What is the relevance of Google Analytics based on?
Google Analytics is important to the extent that we achieve performance in its use, improving our processes and any other aspect of our service and the website that offers it by understanding, after the corresponding study, the information that is obtained with which we can better know the profile of our potential users and the way in which we can adapt our company to their needs.
What are the stages in the use of Google Analytics?
We can mention the following moments in the work that covers the actions previously explained:
- Depending on whether we have a blog, a landing page, e-commerce, or some other type of website, we will have to use the corresponding metrics and the instruments to measure that best suit them.
- Once we know the metrics to use, we will choose the variables that we will take into account in our analysis, according to the objective and the KPIs, or key performance indicators, that we have in the beginning.
- Next, we will set a temporary term for the elaboration of the metrics.
- We must not forget to properly select the measurement instruments that we will use.
- Once we have the data we have collected, we will present in the corresponding reports the conclusions we reach about the level of achievement of objectives.
- Finally, we will carry out the modifications on the web regarding the defects that have been exposed with the results of the measurements
What should be the object of our measurements?
Many are the data that we can obtain with our studies and measurements, but below we will cite the most important metrics that we must take into account:
- Visits to the web.
- Unique visits.
- How much percentage of new visits.
- Duration of visits, on average.
- Entry pages.
- Bounce rate.
Along with these metrics, there are others that we call advanced and that we can also obtain with Google Analytics, which are more closely linked to the specific objectives that we have set and which, therefore, will be different each time.
We can present two examples to understand what advanced metrics are :
1. If we have a content website (such as a blog or news page) and we want to increase user loyalty, what are the advanced metrics that, in this specific case, will interest us? They would, in all probability, be the following:
- Percentage of new visits.
- Time spent on the web.
- Visit depth (number of pages of the site you enter).
- Visitors who end up subscribing to the page.
- Users who share content from the page.
2. If we have a website for the sale of a product and we want to increase sales figures, the metrics that will interest us are:
- The average amount of spending on purchases paid by each user of the web, dividing income by sales.
- Visits to the web that end in sales, or conversion rate.
- Amount of sales for each entry on the user website.