Unless your small business is focused on internet marketing already, it will probably feel like you are staring at a foreign land when you sign up for a free Google Analytics website tracking account. The bottom line is, Google Analytics can be pretty complicated for even those with a lot of technical website experience. But, before you give up or throw your computer out the door, take heart! You can overcome the overwhelming initial impressions of this insanely beneficial website tracking platform by just getting to know five basic features.

1. Acquisition

Whether you are getting high traffic numbers to your website or your numbers seem to be falling, it is helpful to see just how visitors are getting to your site. The Acquisition report shows you what route visitors took to pay you a visit.

For instance, you can see if visitors hit the site through a search engine, email, social media, another website that links to your site, or if they came to your site directly. The Acquisition report also shows what page on your website these visitors entered your site on.

Is traffic arriving at your site from social media campaigns?  Email marketing? Organic search? Knowing which channels most of your traffic is coming from can show you where your marketing efforts are paying off, and which channels are worth investing more in.

Are there opportunities to turn traffic into customers? Seeing which landing pages are getting a lot of traffic can clue you into places to optimize for conversions.  So if you have a blog post that’s picking up a lot of organic traffic from a Google search, you might want to add a lead magnet to that page to turn more of that traffic into leads for your business.


2. Behavior

Keeping tabs on what users do once they have landed on your site is crucial to keeping your website visitors happy. Discrepancies between the number of hits on your site and how many people actually navigate away from that initial landing page could mean that there is something wrong with the customer experience. By looking at this report, you can see what it is about the website that is keeping users engaged and what features may be sending them off in a different direction.

Using the Behavior Flow tab, you can see the typical path of a visitor to your site.  This tool makes it simple to identify pages where most users are dropping off, providing you with areas to optimize.  For instance, if most visitors enter your site on your home page, then navigate to your product page, only to bounce, there may be opportunity to simplify your product page, adjust your messaging, or add a video to keep visitors on your site and on the path to conversion.

A high bounce rate or low time on your site means that visitors aren’t seeing what they’re looking for. Use this data to evaluate the effectiveness of your website content and design. Simplify design and test images and messaging to increase pageviews, time on site, and decrease bounce rate to improve the user experience.behavior flow


3. Audience

Who is looking at your website? Google Analytics Audience data can tell you a lot about the people visiting your website.  Data is not presented  on an individual level, but in aggregate you can learn helpful insights like:

You can see the average age and gender of people visiting your website.  

Geo Location
Where are your visitors located? How often do locals visit your site and how are they accessing your web pages? All of this can be incredibly helpful to know when you are working toward marketing your small business online.

Audience reports can also show general areas of interest your audience has.

Is it the first time on your site, or have most of your visitors been to your website before? How frequently to people come back to your website?

The audience reports from Google Analytics give you the inside scoop on your audience.  This data works both ways – helping you determine if you’re attracting the right type of visitor to your site as well as giving you insights about the type of person who is interested in your product.


4. Real-Time Data Analysis

There are a lot of analytical services that are used by small businesses, but not all of them offer a real-time reporting feature. With this feature on the Google Analytics dashboard, you can take a look at what is happening on your website almost as it happens. The information takes mere seconds to update and you can see who is visiting your site and what they are doing while they are there hanging around, all in real time.

real time data

5. Conversions

When you set up specific goals with on your Google Analytics dashboard, Google will take this information and provide you with a conversion report that shows you how effective your online marketing efforts are. With this report you can track customer objectives that you have put into place, such as new member sign-ups or app downloads.

You can then go back and apply goal conversion rates to the other reports.  For instance, you can go back to Acquisition reports to see which channel is converting at the highest rate.  Or you could look at Audience data to see which city most of your conversions are coming from.


While the initial experience with Google Analytics may leave you feeling perplexed and overwhelmed, just keep the basic features in mind in the beginning. Before you know it, you will be navigating through and pulling out analytic data about your website like a pro and using it to drive your website to a completely new level of success.