Benefits and Applications of Google Analytics

Benefits and Applications of Google Analytics

Before using Google Analytics, it is very important to know what it can do for you exactly and how it works. Google Analytics is a useful tool for web analysis that can collect and analyze internet data, as well as measuring the effectiveness of your marketing and aiding you to optimize web usage. It can help you especially by showing how visitors engage within your website property.

What can Google Analytics tell you?

Google Analytics can act as a valid measuring tool. It can tell you about:

  • How often your website is visited
  • How users find your site, if it was a search result in Google, Yahoo, Bing … or by entering direct URL
  • Where the users come from
  • When they are visiting the website
  • How long users spend on your site
  • Which pages are interesting, which pages terms turn them off
  • Details on specific page interactions, like which links are most commonly clicked, how much research users make before requesting a product or service, how much they spend as a result, how long they watch a video or an animation, which PDF documents they prefer to read and much more useful information.
  • How many likes or tweets your site is getting
  • What browser and platform users use to view your site
  • What quality your user’s network has
  • Which are the top pages on your website and also the countries that visit those top pages

How Google Analytics works

Before diving into using Google Analytics, it may be helpful to understand how it works.

Google Analytics begins collecting data the moment a visitor navigates to one of your web pages in his/her browser. Embedded in your web page content is a small block of JavaScript code referred to as the Google Analytics tracking code (GATC). When the visitor’s browser loads your webpage, it runs the GATC that does a couple of interesting things:

 

  • First: It loads the Google Analytics master JavaScript file, by downloading it from Google servers.

 

  • Second: The code within ga.js runs and collects data about the visitor from his/her browser. Information such as who referred them to your site, his/her browser’s name, version, the title of the web page, screen resolution, color depth, and so on.

 

  • Third: The code sets some cookies that are used to determine whether the visitor is a returning visitor to your site or a new one. It also tracks his/her activities within a session and collects reference information each time he/she arrives at your site.

 

  • Fourth: It transmits the collected data to Google’s data collection servers by making a request to get a file that contains a single transparent pixel referred to as a tracking pixel. The collected data is cleverly included within tracking pixel requests as part of the questioning parameters in the URL used to retrieve it. All of this data is collected in log files at the Google Analytics data collection servers. These servers also collect the IP address of the visitor to determine the geographical location of the visitor.

 

Google does a quick intraday, first passes these log files on an hourly basis and then runs one more through reprocessing. It is collecting the log files from all the data collection servers around the world and storing both raw click data and summary data in its massive table database.

 

This means you can see visitor’s data appearing in reports as short as one hour after the visitor’s activity. However, it most commonly takes three to four hours behind real-time.  As the entire logs are reprocessing at the end of the day, you may see different numbers in your reports. In scenarios where some intraday Log files that were not processed during the first pass were included by the more accurate one at the end of day reprocessing. You can view the data collected at any time via reports accessed with a web browser from the Google Analytics website.