Google search box at Imperial and logo This Web Skills module on Google Analytics is broken down into ten easy to read sections and will help you to understand how it works and what the metrics mean, and will help you with reporting and analysing the data.

Here are some interesting facts about Google:

  • Google's search engine finds 30 trillion+ unique URLs per year
  • crawls 20 billion sites a day
  • processes 100 billion searches every month
  • Handles 3.3 billion searches per day 

(Ref: August 2012, Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President at Google)

Google Analytics has been ranked as the most used analytics tool on the web with over 10 million websites using it.

Let's get started

Google Analytics web skills menu

1. What is Google Analytics and how does it work?

What is Google Analytics?

  • Google Analytics is a powerful tool that can be used for monitoring all aspects of your websites traffic, from referrals to search engine activity.
  • You can use it to track traffic patterns.
  • It’s a free tool that can integrate with other Google programmes, such as AdSense and AdWords.

What does Google Analytics tell me?

  • How many people are visiting your website.
  • The keywords they used to find you on search engines.
  • Which website referred them to you.
  • What page they saw first.
  • How much time they spent on your site.
  • How many pages they visited.
  • What page they left your site from.
  • The geographic location of your visitors.
  • The browser used by blog readers.

How does it work?

  • Google provides a unique tracking code (javascript) that is inserted into each page in your website.
  • When a visitor arrives at your website they load a page.
  • In the process, their browser loads and runs the Google code (Javascript).
  • That code (Javascript) collects information about the visitor.
  • The information is sent to Google.
  • A programme at Google's end then stores all the detailed observations (information) that were recorded.
  • At some point, all those details are analysed and displayed in graphs that you can manipulate and look at.

How does this work on the College website?

  • All College web pages contain the Google Analytics code.
  • The code is added automatically to every new page that is created.
  • Tracking a new page - after you first create the web page, it may take several hours for report data to appear in the analytics account.
  • Google Analytics generally updates your reports every hour, but data can take up to 6 hours to appear in your account.

2. Get access to the College’s statistics

To get access to the College Google Analytics area you need to:

  1. Set up a Google account login using your College email address.
  2. Email Peter Gillings and he will give you access to the College Google Analytics area.
  3. Login to Google Anayltics.

3. So what does our report tell you?

You will have access to the entire web statistics of the College website (main site duplicate). At a top level, across our complete web presence, you will be able to see:Google Analytics main site duplicate screenshot

  • Profile of overall visits over a time span.
  • Summary of site usage statistics.
  • Source of visitor’s country.
  • Top content report.

What do the metrics mean?

  1. Visits The number of visits to your site during a given time period.
  2. Page views The number of pages these visitors viewed.
  3. Pages/Visit The average visit in terms of page views.
  4. Bounce Rate The percentage of people who only visited one page on your site before they “bounced” somewhere else. (This can often seem deceptively high, but many people will get to your site and realise that it wasn’t what they were looking for, or you may have a popular image indexed by Google’s Image Search that generates a lot of “drive-by” traffic and skews your numbers. Alternatively, it may represent that your site is difficult to navigate or understand for new visitors).
  5. Avg. Time on Site The average amount of time a visitor spends at your site.
  6. % of New Visits The percentage of new visitors to your site as compared to all visitors. Some businesses might want lots of new traffic, while others might want generate repeat visits, driving down this percentage.

Main metrics dashboard on Google Analytics

4. The Google Analytics interface

There are three main menu tabs:Google Analytics main area - tabbed navigation

  1. Home – The Account Home page lists all of the properties, views and filters in your Google Analytics account. You can use this page to navigate between these assets and get a quick view of how each is performing using the 30-day visit and percentage-change metrics.
  2. Reporting – the main analytics area made up of Audience, Advertising, Traffic source, and content and conversion data.
  3. Customisation - Create your own report. You pick the dimensions (City and Browser, for example) and metrics (Visits, Page views and Bounce Rate, for example) and decide how they should be displayed.

You can create your own Dashboard that can give you a high level overview of what is going on with your site. Its made up of a series of widget that you can edit to display the data information that you would like to see at a glance.

  1. To create your own report click Customisation and New Custom Report:

1. Click on Customisation screenshot






2. Add metrics to your report, click add metrics and choose from the drop down list:


5. Standard reporting

Standard Reports

The main standard reports (found on the left hand navigation) include: Standard reporting options

  • Audience
  • Acquisition
  • Behaviour
  • Conversions

Click on any of these primary menu items to drill down on your data.

Reporting period

This is an essential feature of Google Analytics.

  • Use the calendar to search for the data you want to report on.
  • Date range – from: day/moth/year to: day/moth/year.
  • Compare to – compare previous day/month/year results . This is a great way to show progress.

The calendar reporting view

Adding dimensions

Many of the reports that include a table of statistics let you view those statistics by different dimensions.

  • Along the top of the table, you see a list of viewing options. Each of those options is another dimension.
  • For example, in the Location report, you can view visitor statistics by the dimensions Country/Territory, City, and Continent.Primary dimension table menu options

Click an option to change how statistics are displayed in the table.

6. Analysing your data - Audience


The Audience reports are designed to provide insight into:

  • Who makes up your audience (Demographics, Interests, Geo).
  • How that audience reaches and consumes your content (Technology, Mobile).
  • Loyalty and engagement (Behaviour).

Audience Overview - This primary feature gives you a good, high-level overview of how your site is doing. A High pages/visit, high average time on your site, and a low bounce rate give you an idea of how useful visitors are finding your site once they arrive.

This report tells you:

  • how much traffic you have.
  • how many page views.
  • the average length of visit.
  • bounce rates.
  • the demographics of your visitors.
  • You can delve deeper depending on your needs, finding out how much new traffic you’re getting.

Demographics - Understanding the age-and-gender composition of your audience gives you an opportunity to precisely tailor your content and advertising, from the graphics, language and technical sophistication that you employ on your site to the creative contents and placements for your ads.

This report shows you the average age and gender of your audience.

f Geo - It’s important to know where your main audiences are located for the opportunity to localise information to those areas or languages and speak more directly to a lucrative market. You might want information from the areas that you already target in your advertising, but you should also know about traffic from other geographic areas whose users exhibit a natural interest in your products.

This reports shows:

  • Language - the list of top languages used on the internet browsers of the visitors. These languages are abbreviated into codes representing the names of languages. A list of all of language abbreviations: Location - geographic map detailing how many visits were from users in each country. Drill down to see visits by city, continent, and sub- continent regions.
  • Location - geographic map detailing how many visits were from users in each country. Drill down to see visits by city, continent, and sub- continent regions.

Behaviour - Measure the gravitational pull of your site, and the extent to which you’re encouraging first-time users to return. You can also see the economic impact of new vs. returning users (e.g., the 30% of users who are returning account for 45% of total transactions).

This report shows:

  • New vs. returning - breakdown of new visitors to your site and returning ones. You can explore top browsers, operating systems, screen resolutions & colours.
  • Frequency & Recency - number of times a visitor has been to your site, % of total visits/page views, number of days since the last time your visitors have been to your site.
  • Engagement - number of seconds and pages that visitors spend on your site.

Technology - Understanding the technologies users employ to reach and consume your content lets you fine tune current versions, and plan upcoming implementations. For example, you want to be sure that your site is fully functional in current browsers, but you also want to stay abreast of the extent to which users are migrating away from desktop to mobile browsers and apps, and plan your development accordingly.

This report shows:

  • Browser and Operating System – lists the type of browser your visitors are using and which operating system.
  • Network - details the host network that your visitors are using to browse your site.

Mobile - As your users migrate to mobile devices, understanding which devices they use, the input methods they use to interact with your content and the screen sizes on which they're viewing your content lets you tweak current versions, and plan for future development.

This report show:

  • how many visitors used mobile devices and how many did not. You can set these dimensions against other standard metrics.
  • Model.
  • Brand.
  • Service provider.
  • Input selector – eg touch screen, click wheel.
  • Operating system.

Users Flow - High level visual view of visitors journeys through your site.

  • Can be filtered by Visitor, traffic source, content and systems variables
  • See the volume of pageviews per collection of pages.

 (References: Google Analytics Help Guide.)

7. Analysing your data - Traffic sources

Acquisition Overview – Where did your visitors come from?

Search engines, other web sites, social media, email or did they type your URL into their address bar? This report breaks it down and tells you your best traffic sources.

Direct Traffic Typing the web address directly into their web browser’s address bar, clicking on a bookmark, or where they’re directed to a page from an offline source such as a link in a PDF document.

Referring Traffic The sites that visitors were on at before they arrived at your site and clicked on a link to your site, not including search engines.

Search clicking on links in search engine results pages (Google, Bing, Yahoo! etc).

  • Organic Natural search.
  • Paid Pay-per-click search ad.

Use with other metrics to give meaning to your results, such as, Bounce rate, average time on site - try to monitor the traffic sources that provide visitors who spend the most time on site. eg, if you notice that Twitter is sending visitors that spend a few minutes on each page, it would be worth investigating the site's Twitter presence.


What words did visitors use at Google and the other search engines to find your site?

Throughout the traffic sources reports you can see which keywords were used to arrive at your site. Understanding which keywords are used is important:

  • when writing for Search Engine Optimisation.
  • when advertising on Google to determine which search results will display your ad.

NB: The top result in keywords reporting is always ‘not provided’ because when a search is made over a secure connection the keyword data is not made available to the destination website.


After creating an AdWords or custom campaign, track its activity. Custom campaigns - useful for newsletters, events promotions, publications such as prospectuses. Use Google URL builder to create unique URLs which you can then add to your promotional material and track the traffic that is generated.

8. Analysing your data - Behaviour and Content


Behaviour Overview - can show you what pages get the most traffic on your site. On the content overview page, the graph represents page views rather than visits, so the numbers used should be a lot larger than on the visits graph.

Pageviews and unique pageviews are both shown.

The difference is that a pageview is recorded every time a page is loaded (so if a user clicks refresh, a second pageview is logged, or if a user navigates to a different page and then uses their back button, a new pageview is counted), whereas a unique pageview is only logged once per browsing session.

Site Content - all pages

  • The pages on which they enter and exit your site.
  • How often and how long they view individual pages.
  • The extent to which they search your site for specific content.
  • The extent to which they interact with things like slide shows or embedded videos.
  • How frequently they click AdSense ads, and the revenue you see from those clicks.
  • Based on this data, you can develop an understanding of how well your content addresses the purpose of your site
  • For example, if your landing pages have a high bounce rate and visitors spend only a few seconds on those pages, you might conclude that the page content does not meet visitors' expectations, or that the page isn't designed to effectively draw visitors further into your site.

Site Speed

This allows you to examine how quickly your pages load in different browsers, geographic areas, etc. No setup is required and you can see your data in the Overview and Page Timings reports. Things to look at:

  • Content which landing pages are slowest?
  • Traffic sources which campaigns correspond to faster page loads overall?
  • Visitor how does latency compare by visitor type or geographic region?
  • Technology does browser, operating system or screen resolution impact latency metrics?

can I look at data for a specific page group?

Filtering a content report will allow you to get statistics about your own content.

  • Go into the Content area and choose Overview and view the full report
  • then at the bottom of the report Filter search by the name of the page/page group you want to analyse.

9. Custom reports

You create your own customised reports in the Customisation section. Here you can manipulate the dimensions and metrics that you would like to analyse.

10. Using the data with other Google tools

Google AdWords is one of the various tools that can be used to make the most of the data that Google collects You can link Google Analytics to AdWords

  • You create ads and choose keywords, which are words or phrases related to your business.
  • Your ads appear on Google - When people search on Google using one of your keywords, your ad may appear next to the search result
  • Tracking these ads - these are linked to conversions in Google Analytics
  • Payment for this type of advertising takes many forms but Pay per click is the most common


The Business School currently have an Adwords campaign running for each of their programmes.


  • To supplement organic search on Google
  • To inform their search engine optimisation (SEO) work;
  • what keywords people are searching for
  • what keywords convert how visitors are interacting with the site etc.


  • Become less reliant on AdWords
  • Through the increase in knowledge gained through the analysis of AdWords campaigns they hope to gain better understanding about their customers behaviour and tailor their SEO to exploit this.

11. Using AdWords


The Business School currently have an Adwords campaign running for each of their programmes.


  • To supplement organic search on Google.
  • To inform their search engine optimisation (SEO) work;
  • what keywords people are searching for.
  • what keywords convert how visitors are interacting with the site etc.


  • Become less reliant on AdWords.
  • Through the increase in knowledge gained through the analysis of AdWords campaigns they hope to gain better understanding about their customers behaviour and tailor their SEO to exploit this.

11. Need more help?