Can Google Analytics Academy Help You?

For those of you who haven’t already started using Google Analytics as a tool for learning more about your blog audience, your eCommerce sites customers, whether your app users are college students or stay at home moms, it’s well past time to implement your GA Tracking Code.

Google Analytics offers a very handy course called “Analytics Academy”, comprised of 4 Units each containing about 3 subsections each. This guide took 2-3 hours for me to complete fully, answering each question and reading transcript Google provides (can be found above the video). It is an incredibly comprehensive guide, and should set you on the path of understanding the depths of the Google Analytics web platform.

Unit 1 is about the platform fundamentals of GA. This is just a broad overview of the concepts the user will be learning about. While it is useful for the user to get a general outline on what we’ll be learning, it could have been slightly more useful if there was an external link the user can follow to get some more background on GA.

Next we get to Unit 2, Collection. We learn here a lot about the details and technicality of Data Collection. If you’re someone who doesn’t know much about website design, this section may be a little bit confusing. If your objective is to pass the GA Exam, then you’ll need to know all this information, but if you’re just learning about GA for the sake of your blog, don’t be too upset if some of this goes over your head.

That being said, it’s incredibly useful information to know how your website tracking is going to work, that way you can optimize the data you’ll get back from GA. With some HTML tweaks, you can really benefit from the reported data. Essentially, you need to know that JavaScript and first-party cookies are at work to deliver your data. The JavaScript determines your visitors language preference, the browser type, device type, and operating system. While I personally don’t see the benefit of this, except for maybe device type, I suppose some people may deem this important.

It’s important to know that there are very different methods of data collection whether you’re working with a mobile app or a website. App Makers should be well aware of how to use a SDK (Software Development Kit). Data will not be collected in real time through a mobile app. 

Unit 3 focuses on the Processing and Configuration of the data. The key takeaways (for me) from this section are:

  1. Being able to customize your analytics reports! This is awesome. As someone who works in eCommerce, I’ve set up my work places analytics account to give me the exact kind of data I want and need.
  2. AdWords can be be configured into your analytics reports. Very helpful.
  3. You can learn the percentage of returning vs new users. This is an awesome feature if you’re configuring your data alongside your paid AdWords campaign, because you can really see the relationship between your paid marketing and the new traffic it may (or may not be) driving.
  4. Dimension Broadening. Great for helping you organize and learn more about different segments of your traffic. These would be dimensions that aren’t generic to everyone else. For example, you could track an Author, or Book Title. Which is great if you’re using GA for untraditional purposes.

 

Finally, we come to Unit 4. I would argue that this is the most useful Unit to really understand fully. This unit teaches you how to navigate the dashboard and gives you great examples of the differences between key terms like dimensions and metrics, and how to combine reports for both (and which dimensions cannot be combined with which metrics). It also brushes the surface of API’s, which you would use if you wanted to fully customize your dashboard and essentially make it your own.

 

While I hardly delved into the core of Google Analytics Academy – Platform Principles, I do hope that you can get a feel for whether this information is useful to you. It focuses less on the functionality of GA, and rather on the backend of the information software. Regardless, it would be a good idea for anyone to take a look at – as analytics become a staple of every online service. Whether it be a cooking blog, your personal online retailing page such as Etsy, or any other content-publishing site, GA will certainly give you a better grasp on how to reach out to your audience.

 

Thanks for reading! Time to go celebrate my excitement for the Sasquatch! line up.

Shilpa

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