Google Analytics is a powerful digital marketing tool. You may have heard that Google Analytics as we know it is changing, and the classic platform will stop gathering data as of July 1, 2023. You may also be wondering what this entails, what Google Analytics does, and how these functions might change. In this blog post we’ll briefly review what Google Analytics does, and what the change might mean for your business or website.
What is Google Analytics?
First, what is Google Analytics? Google Analytics is a data-gathering platform that provides important insights about your website. This platform is constructed and maintained by Google, and it’s free to use. When you install Google Analytics on your website, the platform monitors entrances and exits to and from your website, how long users spend on your site, what pages they visit, actions they take on your site, and much more. Later in the post, we’ll discuss in more detail what Google Analytics does and why this data is important.
How is Google Analytics Changing?
The original version of Google Analytics is referred to as Universal Analytics or UA. The new platform is referred to as Google Analytics 4 or GA4. There are significant differences between UA and GA4, and this transition is not automatic. Though Google will create a new Google Analytics 4 platform for current Universal Analytics users, actually using the new platform requires more set-up.
If you are currently using Google Analytics and your website is older than two years old, you are most likely using the classic version, Universal Analytics. This means Google Analytics will stop collecting data as of July 1, 2023. If you have not set up the new version, Google Analytics 4, prior to this, you will have gaps in your marketing data. If you set up GA4 now, you will be able to start using GA4 as soon as you like, and you will have historical data to inform your decisions.
What Does Google Analytics Do?
So, what does Google Analytics do? And why is it important? If you’re unsure about making the transition to GA4, this overview about Google Analytics insights and functionality might help. If you haven’t installed and used Google Analytics before, now is a good time to start. Or, if you’re currently using Google Analytics and you’re not sure you’re maximizing its utility, you can take a closer look at some of its valuable features.
Google Analytics, including UA and GA4, collects vast amounts of data. There are hundreds of ways to use Analytics and insights that might be beneficial to you. We’ll be looking at a few of the most commonly used and useful insights, though there are many, many more.
Assess Your Traffic
Traffic assessments are one of the most useful things that Google Analytics does. Google Analytics, including UA and GA4, both collect a wide array of detailed information about the traffic to and from your website. GA4 is unique since it allows you to see traffic to all of your webpages, as well as your apps. This can provide many insights about your website’s and your marketing campaigns’ performance. One of the simplest metrics is simply the total traffic to your site. You can see how your website is performing year over year and see if you’re improving or not, and what works or what doesn’t.
Find Your Most Valuable Pages
Google Analytics can help you see which pages get the most visits, organic traffic, dwell time, and which pages generate the most conversions or sales. You can access all of this data from your Google Analytics dashboard, including UA and GA4. However, you’ll need to set up GA4 to gather this information before it will be available. When you know which pages are performing best, you can make more informed decisions about future pages to create and what future products or marketing campaigns are likely to perform well.
Analyze Devices and Sources
Google Analytics shows you the devices that users are most commonly using when they’re visiting your site or making purchases. The platform also shows you the country your web visitors reside in, and even more specific location data (though this is changing somewhat in GA4 to protect users’ privacy).
This can show you how to alter your site or marketing content to best fit your users, including their culture and language, their preference for mobile or desktop devices, and more. This can also help you assess your impact on particular audiences, and help you out-maneuver your competitors when capturing the attention of particular market segments.
Improve Paid Ads
If you’re using Google Adwords, Google Analytics is a valuable addition that will help you improve your ad performance and reduce your costs. These two programs are separate, but they integrate together to provide additional insights about keywords, traffic, demographics, and more. This can help you hone in on valuable keywords and key phrases, and optimize your landing pages to reduce per-click costs and improve performance.
Google Analytics can show you which pages are not performing well. This toolset, combined with Google Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools), can show you what problems may be affecting your pages, such as slow load speeds, broken links, and other issues. Page performance is an essential part of SEO and online sales, and ignoring these assessment tools may mean leaving money on the table.
Missing Out on Google Analytics
Google Analytics provides many more insights than those listed above. These are just a few of the most common and easily usable data metrics you might use. If you’re not using Google Analytics to monitor your website, it can be difficult to assess your site’s performance. Not using Google Analytics and not setting up the new version of the toolset means working without essential data. This can leave your web developers, designers, and digital marketers in the dark.
If you’re wondering how to make the switch to GA4 or you’re confused by the new platform, join our webinar. We’ll discuss the similarities and differences between UA and GA4, some new capabilities provided by GA4, and some preparations you can make to help you take advantage of this powerful platform.