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[3QF-GA-1] 3 Quick Facts: What is Google Analytics?

Updated: Aug 31, 2020

Maybe you've heard people mention it. Or perhaps someone has sent you a login. Or you may have even taken an online course.

Yet you've never quite 'gotten into' Google Analytics.

And it's totally understandable. The system, originally designed to report on how people were using a website, has evolved into a bit of a beast. It has around 10 different sections and probably 100 different reports - and it now seems like it must cover a lot more than how many people clicked on what page.

All true. Yet, if you spare a few minutes to understand the basics, you may find that there is information buried in it to help you with your marketing. Information that will help you sell more things. Information that you cannot get anywhere else. Information that will give you a competitive advantage over other marketers.

Hence this series. 3 Quick Facts (3QF) will take a look at different aspects of Google Analytics and keep to the 'need to knows' about GA. It will also presume no previous GA product, technical or analytics knowledge.

And while it will be written in plain English, no details will be left out, either - and, believe me, there are a lot of new details to learn about GA in 2020.

So, even if you think you have a handle on Google Analytics, it might be worth at least glancing at the bullet points just to be sure.

Also, just so you know, I run a 2-day Google Analytics Certification workshop for those interested in really learning how the beast works - and obtaining a professional certificate in the process. More details here.

Ready? Let's gets started.

3QF Topic: What is Google Analytics?

1) Google Analytics is a bunch of reports

The dirty little secret of web analytics - Google Analytics is just a collection of reports. That's it.

OK, there are a lot of reports and many are difficult to understand - but essentially it is just a bunch of different views on how people are using your website.

And while some are really, really useful - many are so obscure that I'm not sure that anyone uses them at all.

Exhibit A: Obscure Google Analytics report

So, keep reading and I'll be sure to share which out of the whole collection are good for normal humans - and which are only for the die-hard data nerds. (Spoiler alert: All Pages, Channels and Goals Overview)

2) Google Analytics is owned and managed by Google

Perhaps the name gave it away, but just to be absolutely crystal, Google Analytics is a Google product, run by Google.

One might wonder why Google - a search engine - wants to spend its time and effort on a bunch of reports for marketers but stick with me and all will become clear.

What is important to know now, though, is that Google Analytics is just one small tool in a very large Google marketing toolbox - and it's actually a very good tool to start with for your Google marketing journey.

A whole bunch of things you probably don't understand - yet...

Also, as I'll talk about next time, it is so easy to set up that there is no excuse for not setting it up. I set up GA for sites which were getting like 5 visitors a day - and it provided info that helped those grow into large, successful businesses.

So, yes, GA is owned by a trillion-dollar company but it's useful even for a small, teeny-tiny business or micro-micro-micro-influencer with 5 followers.

3) Google Analytics is and will (almost certainly) always be free for you

The best part about Google Analytics is that it's free. You can go to Google Analytics right now, sign up and harness the power of Google's mega-warehouse of servers and not pay a cent.

In fact, I'm not even sure you could pay if you wanted to. If you go to Google's site comparing the paid vs. free version there's a button which says you have to 'Talk to sales' before they even tell you the price (rumoured to be US$150k per year).

But you will almost certainly never have to find out. You get everything you are ever likely to need in the free version - and if you are pushing the limits, I suspect Google comes looking for you.

So, you're convinced and excited about getting started on your Google Analytics journey. Where to now?

Well, that's for next time.

(But if you're really dying to try it out go here and click on ACCESS DEMO ACCOUNT (Google uses all caps occasionally)

Action shot from recent Google Analytics Certification course


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