Google Analytics: An Introduction
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) uses Google Analytics to track traffic (anonymously) to and through our websites.
Use this guide to start leveraging the wealth of data that Google collects in order to maximize your site's potential: make sure that people can do what they need to do (and what you want them to do) on your site.
This introduction was created for use by the staff of the UUA, so some references and examples are particular to “in-house” use.
Skip All the Data and Make Good Pages Anyway
Basic usability principles have been supported again and again by the analytics and other tests we've run on UUA.org. Follow the simple steps at Website Usability to “cut to the chase” and help ensure the success of your pages.
Before Looking for Answers, Define the Questions
To get started in Google Analytics, choose one page that’s important to you, and name one or two major goals for that page: what do you want people to do? Some ideas about how you might measure the success (or failure) of a page are on Sample Questions & Answers.
Beware Being Misled
Averages, estimates, trends, and context: some things to keep in mind as you navigate data to help you Beware Being Misled.
Mouse over almost any term in Google's charts to read its definition, or refer to the context-specific help pages within each report in Google Analytics. Some of the more common terms are included in Vocabulary in Google Analytics.
Navigating Google Analytics
Navigating the reports in Google Analytics can seem a bit overwhelming. Sure, it's exciting and exhilarating to have access to such a vast quantity of information, but how do you pull meaning from that wealth?
- Data Over Time
- Rows, Columns, and Chart Types: Dimensions and Metrics
- Goal Sets
- Exporting Data
- Saving and Sharing Reports
- Different Sets of Users: Advanced Segments
- Where People Look & Click: In-Page Analytics
Sample Questions and Directions to the Answers
- How are visitors using my pages?
- Am I creating effective content?
- How do people use a particular site feature?
- Through analytics, could we establish best practices for arranging website content?
- Could we create an ongoing system of reporting?
- Who are the visitors to UUA.org?
- What external sites are sending folks to UUA.org, and to which pages?
- In Lynda.com's Google Analytics Essential Training, Corey Koberg shows how to use the Google web analytics platform to generate and evaluate information about the visitors to a website, including data on site traffic, user behavior, and marketing effectiveness.
Lynda.com is a subscription-based online training service. Particular segments of their very helpful training on Google Analytics will be called out in relevant areas of this introduction, but watching them is not critical to this basic introduction.
- Google Analytics IQ Lessons doesn't require a login, but the Lynda.com videos more compelling and easier to follow.
Notes to UUA Staff
Contact analytics [at] uua [dot] org for access to Google Analytics for UUA.org or to schedule an individual training/review session.
Data can be misleading! Before changing your action plan, run your conclusions by the Web Team. Our years of experience in analyzing this data and administering web & user tests can help ensure you don't make a sweeping change based upon an incomplete picture.
Accessing the training videos referenced in this introduction: fill out Lynda.com's registration form to create your account. When registering, you must do so from the UUA’s network. If offsite, register through Jefferson or get an onsite staff person to create your account.