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Learn How Google Analytics Work

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Google Analytics is a Freemium Web Analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic, it gives valuable insights about the customer behavior on a website.In today’s world having the right data about consumers is like having the key to the door which unlocks higher profits, better understanding about our customers.By learning how Google Analytics works you will be able to make better informed decisions and understand how to interpret , analyze our data across a variety of devices and digital environments.There are four main parts of the Google Analytics platform as below:

  • Collection
  • Processing & Configuration
  • Reporting
GA platform principles

GA platform principles

  • Collection

Collection means getting data into your Google Analytics (GA) account. To initiate this process first we need to add the GA Code to our website, mobile app or any other digital environment which we want to measure.Below is the image of how this code looks.

tracking id

tracking id

This tracking code can be found below the Admin tab inside Tracking Info of our Google Analytics account, this code provides a set of instructions to the GA telling it which data of our website it should collect. Here data means how many visitors visited, which page was most viewed and for how much time, what is the geographical location of the visitor etc., hence we can say that this code acts as communicator between the website which is analysed and the Google analytics account. Similarly if we want to track a mobile app in our GA account then we have to use SDK i.e. Software Development Kit.TheTracking code is triggered every time there is an activity on the website by a user and is recorded by the GA account. This data is then packaged and called as “hit” and sent to Google’s servers for the next step of data processing.

  • Processing & Configuration

Now that we know about tracking code and how it collects data the next step is processing, in this step GA transforms our data which it has collected using the settings in our analytics account, these settings are also known as the configuration. These settings/configurations help us align the data as per our measurement plan and business objectives. Just like a video game console when we press the up and down button of our remote control the game character/animation moves up or down, we do not know what happens inside the console but we have total control over it. Similarly, GA gives us the remote control in the form of configurations/settings and then it processes the data and gives the final output in the form of a report. Suppose someone wants to filter out data of their own employee from their GA account then they can configure it by setting up a filter to exclude all the visitors visiting their website from their own company IP address. During processing GA would then filter out all of the hits from their employees so that it does not show in the reports.GA also has a feature where we can import data directly into the reports from other Google products like Google Adwords, Google Adsense, and Google Webmaster tools.We can configure Google Analytics to import some data from non-Google sources, like our own internal data.During the processing stage GA merges all of these data sources to create the reports we want.But it should be noted that once our data is processed it cannot be changed.While processing data and applying configuration settings there are four major transformations that happen to our data-

  1. Google analytics organizes the hits that are collected into users & sessions
  2. Data collected from other source is joined with data collected using tracking code
  3. Google analytics processing modifies data according to any configuration rules added.These configuration rules tells Google analytics what specific data to include or exclude from the reports or change the formatting of the data
  4. Finally, the data goes through a process called aggregation. During this step, Google analytics prepares the data for analysis by organizing it in meaningful ways and storing it in database tables i.e Reports.
  • Reporting

Tracking code is in its place, we have configured the account as to what data you want to process,and the hits are packaged and sent to Google servers then comes reporting.In the reports segment of our GA account we can access and analyze our data which includes easy-to-use reporting tools and data visualizations.We can also create systematic reports using the customization tab or extract data directly into third-party reporting tools.Below is the image of the reports tab in Google Analytics

Google Analytics Reports

Google Analytics Reports

In this image we can see that under the reports tab we get many options to select on the left side and we can see the associated data in the center of the page, we get lot of options to select how we want to see the data. Do we want to see the data in line chart format or motion chart format, and we can even arrange it in day, week or monthly view.

All the Google analytics reports are based on different combinations of dimensions & metrics. Like in the above image under the graph we can see that the first column in the table contains the dimensions i.e. country, and the rest of the columns displays the corresponding metrics.We can say that this reporting interface acts as a layer on top of our data that allows us to organize , segment and filter our data with a set of given analysis tools.GA also allows us to extract data using an API i.e Application Programming Interface into our custom applications like internal dashboards programmatically.This helps us automate and customize the reporting process for our business.It is very useful to understand the building blocks of GA reporting system as it helps us to simplify the reporting process and better integrate analytics into our organization.

Thus with this information about how Google analytics works i.e the four platform principles likewise how it collects data, how the data is processed, configured, analyzed and reported helps us to make better decisions and improve our business.

Source: Google

  • web-analytics

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