Even the smallest of organisations are using web analytics to improve their business, and Google Analytics is one of the most popular tools available today.

Google Analytics might be free, but it's a robust tool that can meet the needs of many businesses large and small.

So where should beginners start? Here are seven tips.

KISS

Google Analytics has powerful capabilities and many go unused by even the most experienced users.

For beginners, Google Analytics can be downright overwhelming. Fortunately, getting real value from Google Analytics doesn't require that you use all of the capabilities and it's important to remind yourself that you can get a lot of insight even if you keep it simple to start.

Learn to segment

One Google Analytics capability that you will want to use right away is the ability to segment sessions and users.

For instance, you may want to look specifically at users who are located in a particular geographic region, or sessions in which a conversion occurred.

Set goals

Whether you're selling products through your website or trying to generate leads, another Google Analytics capability that shouldn't go unused is the ability to set goals that correspond to specific activities that take place on your site.

For example, you could set a goal that is associated with a specific page URL that a user would only reach if a conversion occurred.

You can also set goals associated with session duration, pages viewed per session and custom events. 

Use alerts

Google Analytics supports email alerts that are triggered when there are meaningful changes to key metrics. These alerts can be customised very granularly and with specific thresholds.

For instance, if you want to be alerted when traffic from a particular geographic region increases by more than 10%, or when traffic from a particular referral source decreases by 20%, you can set up custom alerts to do just that. 

Connect your AdWords account

If you're using AdWords, you can link your Google Analytics and AdWords accounts to get even greater insight into how your campaigns are performing.

Once linked, you can also use your Google Analytics data for AdWords retargeting. The process of linking takes just a couple of minutes, so there are very few reasons not to do it.

Don't become a chart junkie

Google Analytics can be habit-forming, so be careful about checking Google Analytics constantly just because you can.

Instead, consider scheduling how often you review your Google Analytics data and make a list of what you get the most value from.

Wherever possible, try to have Google Analytics data pushed to you (eg. through alerts) so that you get the information you need as quickly and effortlessly as possible.

Explore thoughtfully

Google Analytics is like a candy store, it's filled with enticing goodies. But for beginners looking to grow their knowledge, it pays to focus on the features that have the greatest potential to be of use.

From site search to ecommerce reporting, identify the features that are most relevant to your business and website and focus on learning and adopting those first.

For more information, check out:  

Patricio Robles

Published 17 June, 2015 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

2495 more posts from this author

Comments (12)

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Anne Schofield, Owner at Anne Schofield

Excellent article. Terrific screen shots, no hype, intelligent, and to-the-point. Thank you, Anne S.

about 2 years ago

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John Smith, Owner at website devlopment

Nice information, I have set a goals & alerts, When I see dashboard of GA it shows zero visitors. Should I made a separate page view sections? or try for another stats like GoStats.

about 2 years ago

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John Smith, Owner at website devlopment

Nice information, I have set a goals & alerts, When I see dashboard of GA it shows zero visitors. Should I made a separate page view sections? or try for another stats like GoStats.

about 2 years ago

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Tony Bury, Google Approved Professional at ekmPowershop

Was this article really worth writing home about? Probably the worst 7 tips I have ever read! even for beginners, absolutely no value at all. Over 15 years as a Google approved professional, this has to be the worst

about 2 years ago

Chris Nawrocki

Chris Nawrocki, Head Of eCommerce at Drakes

John Smith, setting goals takes time to show results. How long ago did you set them?

about 2 years ago

Christopher Ratcliff

Christopher Ratcliff, Editor at Methods Unsound / Search Engine Watch

@Tony - unduly harsh I feel, this is a post for beginners.

about 2 years ago

Vikas Singh Gusain

Vikas Singh Gusain, SEO & SMO Executive at GemPundit

Can you let me know "What is Custom Report & How to create"?

about 2 years ago

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John Smith, Owner at website devlopment

Its been a month now, I have setup visit duration goal, URL destination goal but still I'm not getting satisfied result.

about 2 years ago

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Tony Bury, Google Approved Professional at ekmPowershop

I disagree, your title is 'Seven Google Analytics tips for beginners' yet you mention

Where are the tips, even for beginners? Surely explaining how to set up ecommerce tracking would be a must in these 7 tips... after all you have mentioned briefly to link their adWords account albeit with a link to Google. Maybe explaining how to link their webmaster tools to analytics etc would have been more appropriate, don't you think?

The reason I criticise this article is because their is no thought process in what as you say a 'beginners' requirements really are. If this was for beginners, you would have explained the setup process, how to link webmaster tools, how to turn on conversion tracking on etc etc... instead your article is simple sub standard with links to Google because this is a lazy article... talking about segmenting and setting up goals is not for beginners? Maybe a little thought or even ask a GAP to help would have produced an actual article that would have helped a beginner and have substance, instead of lazy links to Google. But I guess with the title of your article you ACTUAL got what you wanted - traffic, which I applaud you for

about 2 years ago

Chris Nawrocki

Chris Nawrocki, Head Of eCommerce at Drakes

@John A month is more then enough for reports to show correctly. I would review what you have set up. Without seeing it first hand its hard to make a more informed comment.

about 2 years ago

Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles, Tech Reporter at Econsultancy

Tony,

It's ironic that you noted ecommerce reporting because I mentioned it under "Explore thoughtfully." Ecommerce reporting is not very useful if you aren't engaged in ecommerce, which proves the point I made: "for beginners looking to grow their knowledge, it pays to focus on the features that have the greatest potential to be of use."

I'm sure there are dozens of good tips for Google Analytics beginners. Since you seem to take issue with some of the tips I chose (eg. linking to AdWords versus linking to Webmaster Tools) and appear to believe that an article written by a Google Approved Professional would be of greater value, I'm sure our editors would consider your offer to write a guest post that provides additional tips and/or an alternative perspective on what matters most to Google Analytics beginners.

Patricio

about 2 years ago

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Tony Bury, Google Approved Professional at ekmPowershop

Hi Patricio

I would be willing to guest post for Econsultancy. Please provide me with your email address so that we can discuss further.

about 2 years ago

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