Google Analytics is a free web analytics service that offers basic analytical tools and statistics used for search engine optimization (SEO) and marketing. The performance of a website and information about its visitors are monitored and analyzed using Google Analytics

In addition to identifying the most popular sources of user activity, it can provide valuable information about the effectiveness of a company's marketing initiatives and campaigns, keep tabs on how customers complete tasks (such as making purchases or adding items to their shopping carts), identify trends and patterns in customer behavior and gather demographic data.

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How Does Google Analytics Work? 

To collect user data from every website visitor, Google Analytics employs the usage of page tags. JavaScript page tags are added to each page's code. Google's data gathering servers get data from each visitor via the use of this tag, which is embedded in the visitor's browser. Customizable reports may then be generated by Google Analytics to monitor and show data on the website traffic, the average session lengths, sessions by route, page views, and more.

To collect visitor information, the page-tag acts as a  web beacon or web bug on the page. The system, however, cannot gather data from users who have deactivated cookies since it is reliant on cookies. 

Google Analytics has capabilities that allow users to see how visitors interact with their websites over time. Data gathering, analytics, tracking, visualization, reporting, and interaction with other applications are all made possible via the use of features. The following are only a few examples:

  • Tools for data visualization and monitoring, like dashboards, scorecards, and activity charts that illustrate data changes over time. 
  • Filtration, modification, and analysis of funnels of data.
  • Application program interfaces (APIs) for data collecting.
  • Actionable insights, intelligence, and identification of anomalies.
  • Segmentation for the purpose of analyzing subsets of data, such as conversions.
  • Tailor-made reports for advertising, audience acquisition, audience behavior, and conversion.
  • Sharing and conversation through email.
  • Integrations with Google Ads, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, Google Data Studio, Google Optimize 360, Google AdSense, Google Optimize 360, Google Display & Video 360, Google Search Ads 360, Google Search Console, and Google Ad Manager.

For each website, a unique set of metrics may be shown in the Google Analytics dashboard, with the option for users to store profiles for future use. Content summary, keywords, referral sites, visitors review, map overlay, and traffic streams overview are some of the categories that may be tracked.

In addition to being accessible via the Google Analytics website, a plugin or a widget for integrating the dashboard onto other websites is also made available. Independent vendors also provide customized Google Analytics dashboards, which may be customized to meet specific needs.

Google Analytics Metrics 

A metric is a quantitative measurement unit that is universally accepted. Google Analytics allows customers to monitor up to 200 metrics in order to assess the performance of their websites. While certain measures may be more beneficial to some firms than others, the following are among the most often used metrics:

1. Users

A user is defined as a unique or first-time visitor to a website.

2. Bounce rate

The number of visitors that only looked at one page. The Google Analytics servers received just a single request from each of these visitors.

3. Sessions 

This is the collection of visitor reactions that occur throughout a 30-minute period of activity.

4. Average Session Duration 

The average amount of time that each visitor spends on the site.

5. Percentage of New Sessions

The proportion of website visitors who are making their first visit.

6. Pages Per Session

The maximum number of times a page is seen during a single session.

7. Goal Completions

How often a visitor performs a desired activity. Additionally, this is referred to as conversion.

8. Pageviews

The number of pages that have been visited.

Metrics Vs Dimensions 

There are dimensions and metrics in Google Analytics reports, respectively. Understanding the difference between the two is essential for accurate report interpretation.

Dimensions 

These are descriptive or categorical qualities or labels that are used to classify and organize data. The dimension "Region" might be used, for instance, if the average session duration is being assessed over many distinct areas. Measures like "average session length" may be used to illustrate the concept of metrics. In Google Analytics, dimensions may be rearranged. Dimensions such as these are typical examples:

  1. Language
  2. Browser type
  3. City and country
  4. Models of devices
  5. User age group

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Metrics

These are quantitative analyses of a particular sort of data. Metrics such as average session lengths, website visits, web pages per session, and the average amount of time on site are all examples. Metrics are a unit of measurement that is used to evaluate measurements across several dimensions.

User Acquisition Data Vs. User Behavior Data

Businesses might use Google Analytics to collect different sorts of data for promotional reasons.

1. User Acquisition Data

Allows for a better understanding of how visitors arrive at the website. Customers may arrive through a number of routes, including sponsored search engine results, organic search engine outcomes, social media links, or by putting the URL directly into the browser. It is vital to understand user acquisition statistics in order to maximize website traffic.

2. User Behavior Data

Demonstrates how visitors interact with the website and their level of engagement. This covers the time spent on each page, the number of pages visited, and whether or not they interact with videos and visuals. This data may be employed to develop web layouts that more effectively link users to the information they want, resulting in a more successful user experience. Optimization of user experiences based on user behavior data increases the likelihood of sales and conversions.

What Is Google Analytics 4?

The most current version of Google Analytics, known as GA4, was published in October 2020. Google Analytics 4 is a significant upgrade over prior iterations. Machine learning is used instead of third-party cookies to improve data accuracy, and a totally new user experience is provided. The following are some of the new features in Google Analytics 4:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning
  • Interaction with Google Ads at a higher level
  • Customer-focused reporting is based on data collected throughout the lifecycle
  • Tracking capabilities that don't need any extra coding and can deliver data in real-time
  • Increased data management and regulatory compliance features

Universal Analytics Vs Google Analytics 4 

Google Analytics 4 

Universal Analytics

Interface 

It features a smaller number of sidebar reports. It also provides analytical reports for both users and events.

The sidebar of this Google Analytics property features additional reporting. It makes no distinction between user analytics and event analytics.

Tracking 

Even-based monitoring will be included in Google Analytics 4. Every encounter is referred to as an event. A set of measures, such as these, may be set up by the system administrator.

  • Session Start 
  • First Visit 
  • Page Views 
  • Form Submission 

The hit-based technique is used by Universal Tracking Property. This includes the following:

  • Page Hits
  • E-commerce Hits 
  • Event Hits 
  • Social Media Hits 

Events

Google Analytics 4 frees you from the constraints of values, labels, actions, and categories. There are many different kinds of events:

  • Automated Data Collection
  • Measures that need extra parameters to be added
  • Recommendations such as logging in, sharing, or registering
  • Custom Events

Not all hits are counted as "events" in Universal Analytics. There are many different kinds of events:

  • Category 
  • Label 
  • Action 
  • Value 

Goals

In Google Analytics 4, there is no measuring system. Some events may be labeled and their values can be changed by an administrator. It allows users to design their own events and collect the data they need to make informed decisions.

It is possible to measure events as conversions and objectives in the Universal Analytics Property.

Page Views

The event page_view is used in Google Analytics to monitor 4 page views.

While in Universal Analytics, page views have distinct attributes:

  • Page_path 
  • Page_title
  • Page_attributes

Sessions 

The beginning of a session is referred to as an event in Google Analytics 4. The length of the event is determined by how long it takes people to travel between the first and final events.

The time a user spends on a website is referred to as a "session" in Universal Analytics. It is possible to have:

  • Page Views
  • Conversions
  • Interactions

It doesn't matter whether the user has been idle for a long time if they still conduct an activity.

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Benefits and Limitations of Google Analytics 

Using Google Analytics offers both advantages and disadvantages. In general, users like the platform since it is flexible, powerful, and cost-free. In addition, the following advantages are provided by Google Analytics:

  • Free, simple to use, and beginner-friendly are just some of the advantages of this service.
  • Metrics and dimensions may be customized in Google Analytics. This platform is capable of capturing a wide range of valuable information.
  • There are other features in Google Analytics, including data visualization, monitoring, reporting, and predictive analysis, amongst other things.

Some past weaknesses of Google Analytics have been identified as potentially affecting the accuracy of its data. These include the following:

  • By blocking Google Analytics cookies, some browser plugins, ad filtering tools, and private networks, users may lower their data's overall accuracy and precision by a significant margin.
  • Samples of 500,000 random sessions are used to lessen server load. Only the total number of visitors is shown as an error margin in these reports. As a result, extremely significant error margins might exist even for short pieces of data.
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