ux interviews / How to use Google Analytics

How to use Google Analytics

Georgina Thorne
How to use Google Analytics

This post has been written to show you how to use Google Analytics and to get a better understanding of Google Analytics at a basic level.

I probably don’t need to tell you how important Google Analytics can be in the day to day monitoring of your website, but getting started can be a daunting thought and if you have already set yourself up with a Google Analytics account, understanding all the metrics can be overwhelming.

Small business guide on how to use Google Analytics

I will start with this link to the Small Business Guide To Google Analytics, from Simply Business. This is great and well worth a read, it will help you to get acquainted with Google Analytics and all it has to offer.

Once you’re in, there is a tone information available to you, and it’s difficult to know where to start and what to monitor, so here is a list of my top 5 Google Analytics metrics to watch and why:

Google Analytics - Behaviour


This section will help you understand how people find and interact with your content. In the Overview there will be a list titled Pages, this is the top ten pages that people go to on your site.

Use those as a guide to know which pages to optimise, i.e if your about us page has loads of views,  but the product page could do with more, push more content in the about us page that will direct users to your products.

You can go into each page for a more detailed breakdown of the behaviour from the overview, which will give you information on the amount of people who have viewed the page, how long they stay on the page for and the bounce rate.


Google Analytics - Acquisition


This section is where you compare traffic from search, referrals, email and your marketing campaigns. The overview will give a good idea of where your traffic is coming from.

Referrals – This will tell you where your external links are coming from.

  • Direct – This traffic comes from people directly typing in your URL.
  • Organic Search – Will help you find out what keywords people are typing into Google, and the search engines from which the traffic originated.
  • Social – Tells you which social media platform the traffic is coming from.
  • Email – This will show you which email campaigns the traffic came from.

You can view a full list if you go into All Traffic and the Source. Check where your traffic is coming from, if you’re receiving a bulk of visitors from Facebook for example but not from LinkedIn, that tells you your target audience is on Facebook and that’s where you should be concentrating your social media campaigns.

Acquisition > Social

Under Acquisitions, there is a Social section, this is where you can identify networks and communities where people engage with your content. This will not only help you to determine the effectiveness of immediate social media campaigns.

It can also can give you a sense of the kind of impression you’re creating on Twitter for example when a visitor returns to you a few weeks after the initial referral to convert.

This tool will provide you with in-depth metrics, so I have added a link to a guide from Kiss Metrics, which will help you to use this feature to the best of it’s ability.Google Analytics - Audience


The Audience reports provide insight into the demographics of your audiences, your mix of new and return users and the level of engagement of your users.

Audience > Bounce Rate

This is definitely worth keeping an eye on, it basically tells you the percentage of users that only visit one page of your site before heading off to another site altogether.

There can be many reasons why people bounce off your site, it might be that they just haven’t found what they are looking for or it could also mean that the page is poorly optimised and lacks clear calls to action.

You can view your bounce rate in the Behaviour section and All Pages will give you a list of information on all the pages.

I would advice if you have a high bounce rate on specific pages, check where the traffic is coming from, if it’s from a link, get rid of the link and only keep the ones that are relevant and clearly say where they will be going.

If the page just isn’t working for you, then consider changing the layout and copy on that page, it might mean that buttons aren’t obvious enough or there’s no call to action leading to the next step.

Google Analytics - Conversions


Conversion is what we are all striving for, we what our visitors to do something when they visit our site, whether, thats sign up to the newsletter, download something, click on a banner add or actually buy something. The aim is for them to go beyond casually viewing to taking measurable action.

But before you can monitor the conversion, you need to set up Goals, and you can choose what activity you want to monitor by the goal type you set up, from placing an order, creating an account or sharing to a social network.

To set up a goal you need to go into the Admin tab in the header, Goals will be listed under the account you have selected. It’s a step by step process from there. Here’s a link to the Google goal set up page, where it’s explained in a bit more detail.

I think that should just about do it to get you started, and Google offer lots of guides to help you along your way. Look out for the Mortar Board symbol on each page in Google Analytics, as this will give you a description of the section with a little how to on the best way to use it, so click on it if you get stuck.