A Basic Guide to Google Analytics

A team of analysts looking at google analytic data

Google Analytics: one of the world’s foremost web analytics services and an invaluable asset for any business that’s interested in growing and developing their website. But though it’s one of the most widely used web analytics services in the world and has been around for a little over ten years, it can still be tricky to figure out all the odds and ends to Google Analytics.

For those looking take advantage of this service but aren’t quite sure where to start, here’s a quick guide to some of Google Analytics’s basic terms and tools.

We’ll be discussing the three most important parts of Google Analytics: audience, behavior, and acquisition. These will help us answer the questions ‘who’s coming to our website’, ‘where are they going’, and ‘how are they getting here’, respectively.

Audience Overview

After selecting your website’s account from the Google Analytics homepage, you should be taken to the Audience Overview Page.

If the Audience Overview Page isn’t the first page you see, first, make sure you are under the Reporting tab at the top of the menu, After that, you can get to it by clicking the small arrow tab in the upper left-hand corner under the Google Analytics logo and opening the menu. There you should see a list of different Google Analytics services, and you’ll click the Audience Tab, then click Overview.


This is what you see once you have gotten to the page.

audience overview

The top half of the page contains a graph that displays data on your website over a period of time. The default period of time is one month, but you can adjust this by clicking on the date in the upper right-hand corner, which will open a calendar for you to adjust the time period the graph will display.

Example of calendar integrationIf you scroll down the page, you’ll see different sets of data from your site over the time period you have selected. You can view this data as a line graph by pressing the line graph button beneath each number. On the right, you can see a pie chart showing how many of your visitors are new and how many are returning.

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  • Sessions is the number of visits to your site.
  • Users is the number of different people that have visited your site.
  • Pageviews is the total number of times pages on your site have been viewed (repeat viewings of the same pages included)
  • Pages/Session is the average number of pages a person goes to when they visit your site.
  • Avg. Session Duration is how long an average person is on your site when they visit it.
  • Bounce Rate is the percentage of people who leave your site after viewing only one page.
  • New Sessions is the percentage of first-time visitors.

You can divide your site’s visitors into various categories, such as country they’re from, what browser they’re using, and whether or not they’re on mobile by clicking on the categories on the bottom left side of the page, with results showing up on the bottom right-hand side of the page. You can look at your audience in more detail, such as their age, gender, and location, through the right tab menu under Audience.

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You can also use this menu to access any other part of the report. The blue bar will show you where you are currently. You can click on each section to open its submenu.Display of google analytics with graphs and charts

Behavior Overview

Now that you know who your audience is, Google Analytics can show you what are they doing when they get to your site. If you select Behavior and then Overview from the menu, you should land on the Behavior Overview page.

behavior overview

This graph functions similarly to the one on the Audience Overview page. If you scroll down, you will also see a setup that is similar to the Audience Overview page.

behavior stats

  • Unique Pageviews is the number of page views from individual visitors, discounting repeated viewings from the same person.
  • Avg. Time on Page is the average amount of time any particular page is viewed.
  • % Exit is the percentage of visitors that exit your site from a particular page.

You can also look at which pages are looked at the most on the very bottom of the page, according to URL or Page Title. If you want a more extensive report on each individual page, you can click ‘View Full Report’ in the very bottom right-hand corner.

behavior stats super

Acquisition Overview

Now that you have an idea of who your audience is and what pages on your site are performing well, Google Analytics can show you how people are finding your site. If you select Acquisition from the tab menu, you should land on the Acquisition Overview page.

acq overview

The pie chart on the left breaks down how visitors discovered your website.

  • Direct is users that input the URL to your website directly into the address bar; they were already aware of your website and visited it directly.
  • Referral is when your website is visited through a link from a different website.
  • Organic Search is when your website is visited through a search engine such as Google or Bing.
  • Social is when your website is visited through a social media site, such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • Display is when your website is visited through a display ad, such as a banner ad or a popup ad.
  • Paid Search is when your website is visited through a pay-per-click on a search engine.
  • (Other) is a catch-all for when Google Analytics doesn’t exactly know how to categorize a visit to your website.

The graph in the middle is the number of sessions over your specified time period, similarly to the graph in Audience Overview. The graph on the right is the increase in conversions, based on a goal you have set. Conversions is the number of visitors that have taken a ‘desired action’ while on your website. This ‘desired action’ can take on many forms depend on how you set your goal, such as making a purchase, filling out a form, or contacting your business. The graph measures the percentage of visitors that have performed your ‘desired action’.

On the bottom half of the page, you’ll be able to view these statistics in more detail.

Google Analytics showing user table graphs

Clicking on any of the categories on the right will take you to the top pages that were involved in those visits. For example, clicking Referral will have Google Analytics show you the top ten sites that have referred people to your website, while clicking Organic Search will have Google Analytics show you the top keywords that your visitors searched for in a search engine. Here is an example for Social.
Example of Google Analytics showing results from each social media outlet

So What Can Google Analytics Do For Me?

A whole bunch of stuff! This guide has shown you how to find out information on your audience, what pages on your site are performing well, and how people are finding you, and we’ve only scratched the surface. There are a lot of useful tools in Google Analytics, so don’t be afraid to explore on your own, or contact our experts here at Turn the Page Online Marketing for all your Google Analytics needs! Give us a call at (816) 527-8371 or (844) 889-5001, or visit our office in Lee’s Summit.


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Author Molly Dillinger

Professional food consumer and amateur haiku enthusiast, Molly Dillinger is a summer intern here at Turn the Page. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Strategic Communications from the University of Missouri. Molly primarily works behind the scenes on SEO and keyword research, but occasionally pokes her head into blog writing and social media management.

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