Skip to main content

Google analytics

Google analytics (GA) is a free tool from Google for web traffic analysis. Webmasters and SEO consultants can get important KPIs and web statistics with it. At the same time, they can also track marketing campaigns and perform A / B tests with Google analytics. Google Analytics is the most widely used web analytics tool worldwide. Although there are no exact figures, it is assumed that it covers an 80 percent market share.

History

Google analytics it was introduced in 2005. The fact that it is a free service caused a stir especially in the US because many companies already offered paid web analytics tools.

But the story of Google analytics It begins with the purchase of the «Urchin» company and dates back to 1995, the year of its foundation. Only two years later the first web analytics software was introduced to the US market. At that time the program relied almost exclusively on log file analysis, but it was already usable via the Internet. This was followed by many extensions to the Urchin software until 2004, which still represent core features of Google analyticssuch as e-commerce or campaign tracking.

In 2005, Urchin was acquired by Google Inc. at this time, the account ID still remembers Urchin, whose accounts were transferred to the Google Analytics system. The analytical identification begins with UA, which stands for "Urchin Account."

Following the Urchin acquisition, the web analytics system was adapted to Google. One important step was linking it to Google AdWords. With the market launch under the name "Google Analytics", Google expanded the original product so that it could be used immediately in 16 different languages. At the same time, the analysis software was free. Due to the hype that was created and the resulting server overload, the issuance of Google Analytics accounts was initially controlled by invitation codes. In 2006, Google had created the infrastructure so that Google Analytics was fully available for free to all webmasters.

In the following years, Google accelerated the development of its web analytics software and the development steps have been shortened. Due to numerous other IT company acquisitions, the functionality could be expanded gradually.

A major development breakthrough was completed in 2007 with a new design and improved reporting capabilities.

The last phase of development is "Universal Analytics", launched in 2013. It allows tracking with different devices and the "customer journey" is the center of the analysis.

At this time Google Analytics is enabled in 31 languages worldwide.

Implementation

In order to use Google Analytics you need a valid Google account. After entering Google Analytics and confirming the conditions of use, the user receives a tracking code that must be added in the section of each page to track usage data. Some CMS or store systems facilitate the incorporation of the Google Analytics code with the plugins in which you only have to enter your ID. In spite of everything, it is often not possible to make any kind of modifications to the tracking code thereafter.

A tracking code usually looks like this:

  

The ga (['_anonymizeIP']) parameter from Google Analytics must be added manually to comply with local data protection regulations. Prevents the transmission of users' IP addresses to Google servers in the United States. It is also feasible to use an asynchronous tracking code that does not affect the layout of the page:

  

Tracking can be configured with Google Analytics on HTML pages and PHP pages. At the same time, a web portal can also be analyzed using two Google Analytics accounts. To this end, the tracking code must be extended to include the ID of the second account. In addition, it can be done the other way around through cross-domain tracking, in which user behavior can be reviewed for multiple domains.

The tracking alternatives with Google Analytics are very wide. So that even beginners can use the necessary analysis methods, Google has implemented a Tag Manager. You can track events on the web portal, for example if you have previously flagged them in the login module. do here to go to the Tag Manager:

Properties

You can create different accounts in a Google Analytics account, which in turn can be divided into individual "properties". In this way, it is feasible to keep track of multiple websites in one account. Each URL has an individual ID or UA.

Within a single account, properties can be created. They can be subdomains or even mobile versions and versions in other languages of a web portal or apps.

Account or property management is especially important if Google Analytics is used in conjunction with other Google services, such as Google Search Console or Google AdWords.

characteristics

The report function is a very powerful tool. Custom reports can be created automatically and sent to a specific email address at a specific time. Therefore, important key performance indicators (KPIs) can be monitored very efficiently. With the "alert" reporting function you can get an email notification of any significant change in the number of visitors or conversions, etc. Any part of the reports can be exported in different file formats, for example as a PDF or an Excel spreadsheet. Web developers can also use an interface to process Google Analytics data with their own software, for example with a BI program. You can find information about the API here.

The Google Analytics interface is made up of five basic functions that can be further segmented into subsections.

In real time

Relevant data can be entered in real time from Google's servers. Using real-time analytics, you can review the current number of visitors, the sites with the highest activity, the origin of the visitors or the conversions. This function is especially useful for current marketing campaigns in order to be able to immediately make any adjustments on the home page.

Who is it for?

This menu item contains a lot of data about site visitors. It provides analysts with the indispensable metrics on the origin of the visitor, the operating system used or the behavior of the user. At the same time, this element reveals more demographic data, or gives information on how many users accessed the site with mobile devices. With the "page flow" function you can follow the movements of users through its web portal. Therefore, the page value of different pages can be set. A web portal is accessed by more than one type of mobile device. In Google Analytics you can check if it consists of smartphones, tablets or desktops. At the same time, customer journeys can be analyzed through cross-device tracking.

Catchment

Under this heading, Google has included all the important key figures regarding visitor sources. In Google Analytics, the respective channels are ordered by organic search, shortcuts or accesses through referrals, etc. If you are using campaign tracking, you can also track traffic and conversions for individual campaigns. If the Analytics account is linked to an AdWords account, your data will also be monitored. The "Search Engine Optimization" field provides information on the number of visits and includes data from the Google Search Console. In this case, the list of these accounts is also a requirement for additional information.

Behavior

Even though it may not be recognized by the title, under this menu item you can find relevant data about the most popular subpages of a domain, exit pages and bounce rate. At the same time, with "In-Page Analytics" you can place a page overlay on a specific subpage, to see in what proportion the page visitors clicked on the individual items on the page.

Conversions

If Ecommerce tracking is enabled, you can track relevant sales figures, data related to best sellers, and individual goals. Defined goals would be, for example, subscription to a newsletter or a certain amount of time that visitors spend on the web.

A / B tests

Content testing can be done using Google Analytics to establish a correct page version prior to relaunch.

Analysis

Even when the Google Analytics account has already been pre-segmented, all the most important access data can be analyzed based on its own definitions of objective and also interrelated. Thus, for example, access can be viewed directly together with conversions without having to open "Conversions".

For more precise analysis, all data can be represented in various types of tables, such as a pivot table.

Relationship with other Google accounts and services

If you use Google AdWords, you must link your account with the Google Analytics account. So not only do you get more accurate ways to browse, but you can also create remarketing categories in your Analytics account that are controlled as remarketing campaigns through Google AdWords.

The relationship to the Google Search Console is of particular interest to SEOs since the Analytics account can be enriched with additional access data.

You can also configure social websites in the settings. Therefore you can get an even more precise traffic allocation from social networks.

Privacy

The privacy practices of Google Analytics have been considered critically from the outset by data protection stakeholders in Germany. There have always been incidents in which even the mere use of Google Analytics was already cause for warning. At the end of 2011 an agreement was reached with the German data protection institutions. Now the following requirements must be met:

  • A special contract must be concluded with Google
  • The tracking code must contain the parameter "_anonymizeIp ()", since only then can IP addresses be transferred without leaving a trace.
  • The privacy policies must be modified and advise on the use of Google Analytics:
  • All existing data must be deleted (this usually means that old accounts will also be deleted)

Benefits for Marketing and SEO

Google Analytics is an important tool for both webmasters and SEOs for reliable monitoring and reporting on websites. The main benefit of the tool is that it provides a variety of analysis alternatives, without the customer having to pay for it.

Benefits for SEO:

  • Important traffic figures and KPIs, such as percentage of bounces or pages per visit
  • Assistance in optimizing a page
  • Detailed analysis of visitor sources
  • A / B tests

Benefits for Marketing:

  • Analysis of advertising campaigns and campaign monitoring
  • A / B tests
  • Creating remarketing categories
  • Live data at large events

Beyond the aspects mentioned above, the benefits of Google Analytics always depend on the previously defined objectives. To simply take advantage of the system's efficiency, you must first determine analysis or monitoring objectives. Otherwise, the mass of data can quickly lead to confusion.

Perspective

With increasing data protection restrictions and cookie limitations, it has become increasingly difficult, especially at the keyword level, to achieve reliable tracking results. You will find the term 'not provided' most often under keyword level visitor origin in analytics reports. Many paid web analytics tools have already found ways to provide customers with relevant information. In this way, it is widely assumed that Google Analytics will also be offered as a paid version that allows you to establish the exact origin using keywords.

Web Links