Google Analytics – An Introduction

With the ever-growing internet, understanding how your online business strategies are performing is important. Google Analytics is a highly popular tool that helps you track your website performance or advertising campaign’s performance. The beauty of Google Analytics lies in the fact that you can simply use it regardless of platforms, meaning you don’t have to strictly use Google services to use Google Analytics. It is truly a free tool that provides valuable data for your business to grow. All you need is a Google account, and you are good to go.

Google Analytics tracks your website performance through the visitors visiting your page. It uses various metrics to generate data such as session duration, pages viewed per session, bounce rate. and many more. There are over 200 metrics involved in providing you with detailed insight. What’s more? It makes the job easier with visualised data. With this, understanding your strategy becomes easy and it allows you to make changes accordingly.

In this article, we are going to focus on the methods to set goals and generate reports in Google Analytics. But before we dive into that, let’s get a general idea about Google Analytics.

A short history on Google Analytics

Google Analytics was originally developed by Urchin Software Corp. Google acquired Urchin in April 2005, and ever since, they have been developing the platform. The first Google-branded version was released in November 2005, which immensely became popular within the first week.

Newer versions of Google analytics focused on improving the accuracy and detailing of the reports. Furthermore, they also aimed at improving the flexibility of using Google Analytics across a variety of platforms.

Currently, two main versions of Google Analytics are in play: Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4

How does Google Analytics work?

Google Analytics functions through page tags. This is a Javascript page tag that is inserted into the code of each page. It tracks the activities from your visitors and sends the data to Google’s data collection server. Based on the data received, Google Analytics provides a detailed analysis and creates customisable reports for your references.

There is a drawback to this though. If the visited user is blocking website cookies, then Google Analytics cannot track the user, and hence cannot collect the data. Furthermore, the data can be inaccurate if the user is on a private network, using content blocking addons, or using a VPN.

However the drawbacks are, Google Analytics is indeed a free and powerful tool to ignore. With its flexibility of providing personalised insights on your online presence and marketing strategies, you definitely should consider it.

Disclaimer: The information sourced below is purely derived from Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 support section respectively. Kindly refer to the links given in the article to access information related to respective keywords. Please note that we do not own the following information and the purpose of this article is to solely provide information to our visitors and users.


Setting up Goals in Google Analytics

Goals help you to understand the effectiveness of your strategy. In Google Analytics jargon, a ‘Goal’ represents a completed activity, called a conversion, that contributes to the success of your business. 

In Google Analytics, ‘Goals’ is a feature that allows you to track the conversion rate on your website. Insights on conversion rate will help you understand what generates the high conversion rate and which features may need some tweaking on your website. You can set up to 20 goals in Google Analytics per property. If you need to add more, you need to add additional properties. In Google Analytics, a property is a website, mobile app, or blog, which is assigned with a unique tracking ID.

As mentioned earlier, there are mainly two types of Google Analytics versions in play. We will see how to set up goals for each version.

a. Universal Analytics

Setting up Goals in the Universal Analytics version is a hassle-free task. Follow the four steps given below to set up a goal within a minute.

  • Sign in to your Google Analytics account.
  • Click Admin, and navigate to the desired view.
  • In the VIEW column, click Goals.
  • Click on +New Goal or Import from Gallery to create a new goal, or click on an existing goal to edit its configuration.

You have three basic options for creating goals:

Goal Templates

New to Google Analytics? Using predefined goal templates may help you in meeting your standard business objectives. There are sub-categories to choose from:

  • Revenue: Transaction related goals
  • Acquisition: Actions such as creating an account or submitting content.
  • Inquiry: Inquiries regarding events, reviews, FAQs and more.
  • Engagement: Interact with content on the website, such as media, sharing blogs.
Custom Goals

Create custom goals to better meet your needs. For custom goals, you have to understand different goal types. They are as follows:

  • Destination Goals: This will treat a page view as a conversion.
  • Duration Goals: Amount of time a user spends on your website a.k.a. the average session time.
  • Event Goals: Users interacting with your website’s features, or web apps.
  • Pages/Screens per Session: The number of pages a user will view per session.
Smart Goals:

Smart Goals is just like an adaptable AI robot that adjusts accordingly to the surrounding environment. It will automatically decide what’s best for your business and generate data accordingly.

Smart Goals is a restricted option to choose and you need to fulfil a few prerequisites. Those prerequisites are as followed.

  • Link your Analytics and Google Ads account.
  • The linked Ads account must send enough traffic to your web. According to the guidelines, your ads should get at least 500 clicks in the last 30 days.
  • Your ads should not be viewed more than 10 million times in the last 30 days.
  • Enable Data Sharing setting for your Analytics account.

If you fulfil the above eligibility criteria, then you can enable Smart Goals in Google Analytics. That’s it, you are set!

Please note that you have to maintain the criteria in order to continue using Smart Goals. If your ads get less than 250 clicks in the last 30 days, Smart Goals will automatically disable itself until you fulfil the criteria again.

You can also import the Smart goals into Google Ads. Follow the procedure given below:

  • Sign in to your Google Ads account, click Tools and Settings. Under Measurement, click Conversions.
  • Under Conversion actions, click +.
  • Click Import, then select Google Analytics.
  • Click Continue.
  • Select the items you want to import, then click Import and continue.

Remember, you must have Smart Goals activated in Analytics before you can perform the above operation.

If you need further information, you may refer to this detailed manual provided by Google.

b. Google Analytics 4

The concept of Goals is no longer available in Google Analytics 4. Instead, you can define ‘Conversions’ to generate data. GA4 has a defined set of automatically collected events. You may manually mark an event as a conversion to keep track and generate records and insights.

To mark an existing event as a conversion, follow the steps below:

A marked event will appear in your Conversion Events table. It may take up to 24 hours for the event to appear in your reports. To turn off a conversion event, you can simply follow the steps above and turn off the Mark as conversion option in the last step. If you don’t see the data being reflected in reports, you may want to ensure if your data is being collected. Follow this guide to troubleshoot the problem.

If you want to modify or create a custom event, you can also set it to generate conversion data. To identify a conversion event, follow the steps given below:

  • Sign in to Google Analytics.
  • Select your property.
  • In the left pane, select Events > Conversions.
  • Click New conversion event.
  • Enter the name of the event you will create or modify. Make sure the name matches.
  • Click Save.

It’s as simple as that!

For further details on the matter, follow this detailed guide provided by Google.


Generating Reports in Google Analytics.

A report is nothing but a collection of data about your business. In Google Analytics, we get this information in the form of flowcharts, graphs, diagrams, and numbers. Reports are important to understand how your online business is faring and whether your strategy needs any tweaking. It allows you to see the flaws and loopholes in your strategy and help you in fixing them.

Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 work differently in terms of generating reports. Your choice may differ based on your familiarity and easiness of using either version. Regardless, we are going to note down a proper method to acquire reports for both versions in this article.

a. Universal Analytics

In Universal Analytics, you can generate a variety of different reports based on different factors. They are as followed:

Custom Reports

Furthermore, you can also set up custom reports in Universal Analytics. They will allow you to use your preferred set of metrics and dimensions to generate customised reports for your online business. Follow the procedure given below:

  • Sign in to Google Analytics.
  • Navigate to your View.
  • Open Reports.
  • Click Customisation > Custom Reports > +New Custom Report.
  • Enter a Title.
  • (Optional) Click +add report tab.
  • Select a report type: Explorer, Flat Table, Map Overlay, or Funnel.
  • Define your dimensions and metrics.
  • (Optional) Click +add filter to limit the report to specific dimensions.
  • (Optional) Select where the report should appear.
  • Click Save.
Report Types
  • Explorer: The standard Analytics report. Has line graph and data table plus dynamic elements such as search/sort option and secondary dimensions.
  • Flat Table: A static and sortable table displaying data in rows.
  • Map Overlay: Perfect for demographic data. This shows a map of the world with different regions and countries in various gradients to display traffic and engagement volume.
  • Funnel: Conversion funnel chart defined by you.

To know more about creating and managing custom reports, follow this article by Google Support.
To know about Universal Analytics reporting tools, check out Universal Analytics Reporting tools.
Everything you need to know about reports is summed up in this Report and Analyse section.

b. Google Analytics 4

Google Analytics 4 provides a more sophisticated report on the following data.

  • Acquisition: Generating user traffic on your website through various means such as sources, campaigns, social media and other mediums.
  • Engagement: User engagement on your website by events and pages.
  • Monetisation: Revenue by items, promotions, coupons. Also, the statistics about buyers on your website.
  • Retention: Retention by new and existing users, or a group of users.

In addition to that, Reports also cover:

  • Demographics: User volume by demographics.
  • Technology: Refers to the platforms used to access your website.

In Google Analytics 4, there is no way to create a custom report. But instead, you can create custom insights on various dimensions and metrics. Optimize Smart has written a tutorial article on the same.


Google Support Links and Conclusion

No matter the type of business, you will always need an anchor of measurement to understand the actual effectiveness of the strategies. Google Analytics is a free tool that lets you achieve your targets.

The purpose of this article was to provide you with basic, step-by-step information on goals and report related procedures. If the above information does not fulfil your requirements, you may refer to Google Support and find the desired information with the links given below.

Furthermore, if you need third-party, personalised assistance and expertise with either of the analytical tools mentioned above, Digital Lime Green can help you with the process. Feel free to contact us for more information.