This is the first post in a series about getting started in Google Analytics. Normally, I post Tableau Tutorials but as a marketing data analyst most of my data comes from Google Analytics. In this post I’ll be going over the Google Analytics layout. If you do not have your own site, I recommend using Google Analytics demo account as practice.
The layout of the Platform
Google Analytics layout has three parts. I call them the header, the sidebar, and the reports section.
The header runs along the top and contains a dropdown of the Google Analytics Accounts you can access.
The sidebar is along the left side of the platform and contains several sections and reports to view.
The reports are the main part of the platform. This is where the data will be displayed and where you’ll get the data to do your analysis.
The header contains, from left to right, the Google Analytics logo, the Google Analytics accounts drop-down, search bar, alerts, a square symbol that lets you switch between google products, help button, three dots, and your personal google account menu.
Don’t confuse your personal Google account which is associated with your Gmail with a Google Analytics account which is associated with a website. One Google account can have multiple Google Analytics Accounts.
The Google Analytics account dropdown is the only part of the header that’s pertinent for this guide. Below is a picture of the expanded Google Analytics account dropdown. There are three columns: Analytics Accounts, Properties & Apps, and Views.
Analytics Accounts – A general grouping. These are high level. Usually, it’s one account per client.
Properties & Apps – Associated with a specific domain. If you have subdomains or landing pages these tend to have separate properties associated with them. However, that’s a more advanced topic. Often just referred to as properties.
Views – The area where data is collected and viewed after potentially being filtered and manipulated.
Views can have filters and custom modifications applied to them. For that reason, there is a best practice for views to have the Main View, a Test view, and a Raw Data view. In the example above, “Jon Elordi (Filtered)” is the main view, “Jon Elordi (Test View)” is the test view, and “All Website Data” is the raw data view.
The raw data view has no filters, and never will. Google Analytics is unforgiving about historical data. Once the data is lost, it will never get it back. Therefore, the raw data view stores all data in case you need it.
The main data view is where you’ll do most if not all of your analysis. It usually has filters on it to exclude the computers of the developers. Or anyone else who is often on the site, and shouldn’t be measure. The most common way is with IP filters.
Things To Know –
The test view is where you’ll put changes to the view before applying them to the main view. Like I said Google Analytics is unforgiving with lost data. Consequently you’ll want to test out all changes before applying them
- The main view is where you will spend the vast majority of your time. If you’re not a developer you really have very little reason to venture into the other views.
- It’s very common for best practices not to be in place. Or for people to omit the test view. Additionally, but don’t be surprised when you only see one view under an account.
- Properties are often referred to by their “UA Code”
- Each section Accounts, Properties, and Views have an identification number associated with them. UA codes are generally the most used ones. Some times people share views. And you’ll almost never share an Account number.
- UA codes generally have this format: UA – XXXXXXXXX
- You can use the search to find properties or accounts. It’s not uncommon to have access to many accounts.
The Side Bar
The side bar is what you’ll use to navigate through the different reports in Google Analytics layout. I’ll briefly touch on each of the sections in the sidebar, and will expand on the important sections.
From top to bottom:
- This will take you to the Google Analytics home screen, and will be of very little use to you
- Where you can make customized reports and dashboards and is beyond the scope of this guide.
- It contains real-time time statistics of your website. You’ll almost never use this.
- It contains breakdowns of the visitors to your site. Examples: Geography, device type, demographics.
- It contains breakdowns of how your visitors arrived at your site. This is the main report I use in my work.
- It contains reports of what visitors did while they were on your site. What pages they visited and what they interacted with.
- It shows reports about user activity related to certain business objectives.
- This is a new feature that’s currently in beta and is beyond the scope of this guide.
- A market place where google tries to sell you training products
- It contains configuration settings for Google Analytics. It’s very important, but beyond the scope of this guide.
I bolded the three areas that this series will cover: Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior. In addition, conversions and Admin are very important, but they contain more advanced topics that can only really be covered once you understand the basics of Google Analytics.