Introduction to Google Analytics

10 January 2020
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics (GA) is an online tracking and reporting system which can provide you with detailed answers to these questions:

• Who visits your website?
• Where do these people come from?
• What do they do there?

So, if you own or manage a website and are inquiring more about Google Analytics - you have landed in the right place. Just keep reading.

What is Google Analytics used for?

The capabilities of Google Analytics are truly enormous. Once you embed the GA tracking code into your website, you will be able to access such information as:
Who your visitors are: gender, age, geo location, language, etc.
Where they come from: type your website's URL into the address bar, locate you through a Google search, or arrive to your site from a third-party web resource, social media, emailing or a paid advertisement.
What they do on your site: which pages they view, the search terms they use within your site, the actions they take while browsing your resource, and many more.
For example, you own a local flower store and you want people to learn about it not only from seeing it in the street when they are passing by, but from other channels too.

One of the channels you can use to expand your client base is to establish an online presence for your business. So, what you can do - just sit down and order or create your own website. This website may consist of a home page, a blog, and an online store, where your clients can place orders. However, they can also reach you offline, so you probably would want to add a map and directions to your shop, as well as mention your telephone number, so they can give you a call.

In this case you as a business owner can use Google Analytics to:
• Monitor the efficiency of Google Ads, emailing campaigns, and partnerships
• See what online sources bring the most traffic to your website
• Analyze the demographic characteristics of your visitors to better understand your target audience
• Understand the online behavior of your potential clients
• Test several content strategies and see what your potential audience is eager to read about
• Identify spots where users leave and work on an action plan to prolong a user session
• And many many more....
So, if you are still asking: "What do I need Google Analytics for?"

My answer is: "You need it because of its data which will help you understand whether your business is moving into the right direction, whether you are on the right path to achieving your results. If you are not - GA in combination with financial reports and other information that you may possess will be able to very clearly point it out to you."

Is Google Analytics free of charge?

As part of the Google Marketing Platform, Google offers:

Google Analytics - a free version of the product which will stay free forever and offer almost unlimited opportunities until your business grows tremendously.
Google Analytics 360 - a paid version of the product initially created for large Enterprises with strong requirements to data privacy and security, as well as huge data volumes that need to be processed by the tool.

So, if you are a representative of a Small to Medium business - the free version will be more than enough to satisfy your business needs.

Google Analytics Account: the structure

It is important to understand the hierarchy of Google Analytics to be able to set up an account which pictures your business and will help you organize your digital data flow.

The structure is built up of the following entities:
• Organization
• Account
• Property
• View
Google Analytics account structure
This entity comes first and refers to the highest level of an account. It is optional. In addition, it lets you maintain several Google Analytics accounts which belong to one group.
Next comes Account. Large companies often have multiple accounts, where small and medium ones - usually use one. Every Account acts as a separate database. Once you sign up for a Google Analytics Account, one Property and one View will get automatically created under it. One Account may have several Properties. Google recommends registering separate Analytics Accounts for different businesses or business units.
Later come Properties. Every Property has its own tracking ID available in the tracking code that you embed into your resource. As a result, you will be able to see data per each Property separately. However, it is impossible to view aggregated data for all Properties in one dashboard. One Property can have multiple Views.
Separate Properties are usually created to collect digital analytics from:
• A website and a mobile application of the same company
• Websites of the same organization adapted to different languages, geographical locations, or target audiences
• Websites belonging to one company that sell different products, or provide different services
Views can be found under Properties. The Google Analytics' Filter functionality allows creating separate views based on "include" or "exclude" conditions, and more.

When you first create a new View - it will be completely empty and will start filling up with data starting from the day when you first configure it. You can delete a View. But only Admins can restore it within a specific time frame.
In this case, a View may have:
Raw data: the View with no filters applied
Filtered by regions: these Views will showcase data from different geographical locations
Filtered by IP: these types of Views usually exclude internal company traffic which can largely distort data

Google Analytics Account: the permissions

An account Admin can grant permissions to other people in the company at these levels:
• Account
• Property
• View

It is important to note that every next level comes with permissions from the level above it.

Having access to Account provides you with the same permissions to Properties and Views which can be found under it.

Google Analytics allows the allocation of the following access permissions:
Google Analytics Permissions
Manage Users - provides a capability for a person to add new users and allot permissions to Account, Property or View where his/her own Manage Users right has access to. This type of permissions does not incorporate Edit and Collaborate rights.
Edit - allows users amend Google Analytics settings and configurations such as create or remove Accounts, Properties and Views, set up and apply filters, create goals. It contains Collaborate and does not comprise Manage Users permissions.
Collaborate - lets team members manage personal assets and work together on certain shared assets (Conversion Segments, Multi-Channel Funnels Settings, Segments, Custom reports, Dashboards, Custom reports, etc.). Assets include various types of custom reports and dashboards a person can compose to tailor analysis. The Read and Analyze permission is part of this set of permissions.
Read and Analyze allows users to view digital information as part of dashboards and reports, but they cannot amend data and configurations of Google Analytics. They can apply secondary dimensions and filters, create segments. In addition, they can create and share personal assets, as well as view the shared ones, but cannot work jointly with others on the latter.
Account owners get all permissions automatically enabled. So, their power is unlimited!
If you are the person like me, who thinks that Google Analytics' permissions are just too complex to comprehend, I advise to differentiate them into:

Manage users - for account admins, who don't use analytics itself. I have not met such people yet - so I would recommend combining this permission with either Edit or Collaborate one.

• I would give Edit permissions to a dedicated team member who is responsible for managing Google Analytics settings. Just to make sure that all changes go through one person who knows this topic best. It would be logical to grant this person with Manage users permissions as well.

• Everyone else on a team could get the Collaborate permission.

Read and Analyze - is a type of permissions I would provide to some external agencies or consultancy companies that need a temporary limited access to your GA data. So, once they complete their contract, you can easily recall this permission.
That's all I wanted to tell you about Google Analytics at first. Next I will publish an article which will try to answer the question "How does Google Analytics work?".
In the meantime, feel free to add comments, ask questions, raise new topics, correct me if I am wrong, recommend anything you think is relevant to any published post.
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