Google Analytics Basics: Goals & Reports

Google Analytics report is a jumbled blur of statics of your website if you don’t know how to decipher the given data and utilize the information provided in a most efficient manner. So, if you have Google Analytics (GA) installed on your website you can track you audience, their behavior and the source from which they are landing to your website. I’ll dig deep into reading GA reposts later in this article, but first understanding how to set variables to assess your online performance or simply “goals” is important.


Setting up Goals in Google Analytics & Why is it Important

One important thing to consider when setting up GA on you website is you clearly define your business goals of objectives. Goals are actually desired actions you want your audience to perform on your website. Say you are an ecommerce business and your primary goal is to expand your reach, for which you want new visitor to sign up for a Christmas offer on your website. With GA you can track your website conversions as goals.

Website conversions give you a clearer picture of visitors interested in your product, service or anything you set up your goal against. Having enough conversions, Google Analytics give you some valuable information like, where do your paying customers come from? Which was the best email newsletter you sent last month? And, the number of times and through what sources people visited your site to purchase something. This is some valuable information to know so you can make more sensible decisions about what to do or what not to do with your business online.


Deciphering Google Analytics Reports

Now moving on to how to read GA reports, I’ll cover three important areas including audience, acquisition and behavior.

Audience Report

For reading GA reports it is important that you clearly understand the terms listed on the side panel of your GA dashboard. Like in the audience overview section you can see Sessions, Users, Pageviews, Pages/ Session, Avg. Session Duration and Bounce Rate etc. A Session is duration of a person’s visit to your website. Users are the number of people who visited your website and Pageviews is the count of page visits. Pages/ Session gives a ratio of average page visits in one session and the average time a user spends on your website is Avg. Session Duration. Bounce Rate is actually when a person comes to your website and leaves without clicking anywhere or visiting other pages on your website. Alternatively, you can simply hover on different sections to get a little description of each of these terms. You can select the data time range at the top right and narrow down to weeks, days or hours, which is set to one month by default.


Acquisition Report

While the audience report is about who is getting to your website, acquisition overview tells you the detail of how they are getting to your website or through what channels. Details like, is your website showing up in search results and your visitor are landing onto your website through organic search is important to plan your search engine marketing strategy. The traffic that comes to your website could be Organic, Direct, through external Referral links, via Social Media channels, Paid Search or Email. You can see the percentage of total sessions in the acquisition column, while in the behavior section you can see the bounce rate against each source. Narrowing down to your traffic sources will provide further details, like clicking on Social link will list social media channels through which people are landing onto your website. This way you can monitor what channels/ sources are working for you and what not, so you may improve your overall marketing strategy.


Behavior Report

Behavior is actually what people are doing on your website. You’ll see some sections like Pageviews, which is the same we have discussed earlier, Unique Pageviews are the number of unique pages viewed by visitors like they go to a different page and come back to the same page they were on previously. Rest includes Avg. Time on Page, Bounce Rate and Percentage Exit. Down at the bottom you can see how different pages are performing, like index is you homepage which is obviously the highest viewed page on your website. This gives you an idea of how you can improve your user experience on the website, like placing CTAs, change the content or improve overall design layout of certain pages.


Monitoring & Measuring Conversion Rate

Having the basics of reading GA report, we now go back to goals and how they are measured. Google Analytics helps you track 3 types of goals 1) Destination URL 2) Time on Site, & 3) Page Visits. Conversion rate is ratio of total number of successful transactions against the total number of unique visitors.

Successful transactions are the number of goals achieved. Like in our example of ecommerce Christmas offer, if a user successfully signs up by filling out the form, he is shown an acknowledgement message or page. You can place a GA code on this page which gives you the information of visitors who were shown this page, alternatively the number of goals achieved and thus you can track your conversion rate.


Shahrukh Saeed is a design savvy digital enthusiast focused to share latest tools, tricks & techniques of the web, digital marketing UX/UI & SEO with business startups and learn from experts in the field.


  1. Thanks , I have just been looking for info about this topic for ages and yours is the greatest I’ve discovered till now. But, what about the bottom line? Are you sure about the source?

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