The Ultimate Guide to Google Analytics

Successful marketing requires continuous learning and improvement. The best way to understand where to focus our efforts for the best possible rewards is to track and monitor performance. Fortunately, today’s marketers have access to vast amounts of data and tools to make the process much more efficient. One highly recommended tool that helps streamline this process by tracking your website and marketing performance across various channels is Google Analytics.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free web analytics tool by Google. The tool’s most popular features include real-time audience, acquisition and behaviour reporting, goal setting and campaign tracking functionalities. Google launched the service back in November 2005 after the firm acquired a web analytics programme, Urchin. Google Analytics has since become the most widely used web analytics tool on the market.

For those new to the platform, it can be quite tricky to ensure you are not getting lost in the data. In this guide, I will be sharing step-by-step tips to help you navigate the platform and make the most from your marketing efforts. 

Why you Should be Using it

  • 100% free
  • Provides key audience and performance insights
  • Easy to install and navigate
  • Ability to set and monitor performance goals
  • Provides real-time data

How to Setup Google Analytics

Setting up Google Analytics is quite straightforward. I’ve broken down the setup process below:

Simon Kingsnorth - How to Set Up Google Analytics
  1. Create Google Analytics Account

As with most platforms inside the Google Marketing Platform brand, Google Analytics requires you to use an existing Google account or create one in order to set up a Google Analytics account.

If/once you have a Google account, head over to and login using your Google account and click the ‘set up for free’ option.

Add an account name and customise the recommended options tick list as necessary then click the ‘next’ button.

Select the device(s) you would like to measure and click ‘next’

Enter your websites name and URL, select the appropriate business industry category, update location and time zone options as necessary and click ‘create’

The last step is to accept the terms and conditions and you’re live!

  1. Install the tracking code

Now that the account has been created, the next step is to install a tracking link to enable site/app data tracking. The way to do this will vary depending on the platform(s) you are using. For example if your website is self-coded, one way to do this is by pasting your global site tag after the <head> tag on each page of your site that you would like to track. Below I’ve included an example of how to install the tracking code in a few clicks on a WordPress website:

Once you’ve accepted the terms and conditions, you’ll be brought to a page which gives you the option to add a tracking link. Otherwise, you can find the same by clicking the ‘admin’ button on the bottom, left-hand side of your screen > clicking on ‘Tracking info” > then clicking ‘Tracking code’

Log into your WordPress dashboard > Install a web analytics plugin (we recommend Monster Insights) > click ‘install now’ >  click ‘activate’ > launch the setup wizard and follow the steps required > click ‘Connect MonsterInsights’ and login with the Google account you used to create your Google Analytics account, optimise access as necessary and click ‘Allow’ > click ‘Save and Continue’ and click ‘Finish Setup and Edit Wizard’.

The setup is now complete

  1. Start learning about your audience!

Now that you’ve setup your account and installed your tracking code, you can now begin tracking your marketing performance. I highly recommend running a test to make sure that everything is working as it should. Here’s how:   

  • Open an incognito window in your browser and enter your website’s name
  • Refresh your Google Analytics dashboard page
  • You should now be able to see the active user (you) on your site along with any other visitors to your site

You’re all set!

Navigating Google Analytics

Now that you have setup your account, you’ll want to know your way around so that you can gain the insights you require. Below I break down the key areas:

  • Homepage

Simon Kingsnorth - Google analytics homepage

When you first log into Google Analytics, this is the first page you’ll see. The first section gives you a summary of your audience data including traffic volume, sessions, bounce rate, current visitors to your site and pages they are currently viewing. This information is segmented into 3 sections or ‘cards’.

As you scroll down, you’ll find other key info such as how you acquire users to your site, which locations they are in, what devices they use, what pages they are viewing, goal completions (if you have setup some goals) etc…

All on one page!

  • Realtime report

Simon Kingsnorth - Google analytics realtime reports

The Realtime report is the first report option. The dropdown menu tabs provide you with insights into current visitors on your website e.g. where they are coming from, what pages they are looking at etc.

> Top tip: While it’s great to gain insights into current visitors, you’re likely to find other reports that allow you to look at the volume of traffic and behaviours over longer time periods e.g. weekly, monthly or quarterly, more useful 

  • Audience report

This report provides you with an in-depth overview of your audience’s analytics including demographics, geo location, devices used and much more. It’s worth clicking on the individual drop-down tabs to familiarise yourself with them and gain the data you require 

  • Acquisition report

The acquisition report focuses on sources of traffic to your website, be it social, organic, Google ads or others. Like with all the other reports, you are able to set and view specific time widows e.g., weekly, monthly reports. This is particularly useful to gage performance over longer periods of time, compare results and set targets.

> Top tip: Here you are also able set up new traffic sources such as email in order to make the acquisition data more accurate

  • Behaviour report

The behaviour report provides key insights into how users interact with your site and its content. From how long they spend on the site, which content they are looking at as well as key tips from Google to help you improve performance.

  • Conversions report

This report measures results against goals you have set. You are able to view whenever users convert and take the desired actions you have set. You are also able to optimise and prioritise goals in this section.

> Note: Further along in this guide, we will talk through how to set and track goals.

Key features

In this section, we take a look at key features and functionalities you may want to consider in order to get the most from Google Analytics:

Creating a new goal

Goals track actions users take against desired actions you have set and are reported in the Conversions report. Here’s how to set up a new goal:

  1. Select the admin option on the bottom left-hand corner of the dashboard
  1. In the VIEW column, click Goals.
  2. Click + NEW GOAL or Import from Gallery to create a new goal, or click an existing goal to edit its configuration.

Here you are able to create a goal using a goal template, implement a custom goal or a Smart Goal.

Custom reporting

Find the data you need easily with custom reporting on Google Analytics. Here’s how to create a custom report:

Simon Kingsnorth - Google analytics custom reports
  1. Click the Customization tab
  2. On the dropdown, click Custom Reports
  3. Click the ‘+New Custom Report’ option

You are then able to create and name a new report as well as organize the content you would like to view in that report


From setting up and finding key reports to goal-setting and utilising other key functionalities, this guide’s aim is to help you get up to speed with Google Analytics and explore its key features. I hope it has provided you with the information you need to start leveraging your web and audience insights and help you get the most from your marketing efforts.

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