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Search Marketing in 2016: What Is Google Analytics?

by Lyndsay Peters - Feb 23, 2016
search marketing traffic tracking

We’ve laid a lot of the foundation of getting great search marketing data, and in this post we’re going to visit the tool that many small business owners start with, Google Analytics.


Read the Search Marketing in 2016 Series
How Does a Search Engine Work?
Search Engine Special Features
Introduction to Search Console
Keyword Analysis in Google Search Console
How Does Google See Your Site?
What Is Google Analytics?

There’s no reason to do any of these steps in a particular order, but it’s useful to understand how the search engine that you’re trying to relate to works and sees your websites. Now that you’ve followed all of the previous steps in the Search Marketing in 2016 blog post series, it’s time to take a look at how to collect Google Analytics data, and read what it’s telling you.

What Is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics provides you with a code that you place on your website, inside the Head section of your HTML. This loads on every page of your site. By using this code, Google Analytics can listen in on what happens on your website. You are able to observe how people get to your website, what they do on your site, and when they leave your website.
As soon as you put the code on your website, Analytics will start delivering data to your website’s Google Analytics account. It’s recording a massive amount of data, and one of the most common challenges that we hear about are people finding Google Analytics too overwhelming to use. This is true! Sometimes it feels like you’re driving a Ferrari to the corner store.
Before long, however, you’ll feel right at home in the driver's seat of your Google Analytics, and you’ll be able to prioritize what information is important to your business. With such a wide range of applications and features, there are many parts of this tool you simply won’t use. Don’t sweat it! There are only so many hours in a day.

Protecting Your Data

Because Google Analytics offers so much data, they have a lot of base-level tools that allow you to filter traffic and data. This is very useful and powerful. The first thing we’re going to do is secure your unfiltered view of all data being collected by Analytics.
By securing your unfiltered data, you’ll be able to recover information in the future if filters or other configurations start reporting data improperly. Once you edit your unfiltered data view, you can’t get back the data that was filtered out. It’s important to keep it untouched as a baseline.

In the top menu bar, select the Admin option. In the third column, the dropdown offers you the opportunity to create a new view. Create a view, call it something that describes the setup (In this case, Filtered View would work), and then switch to that view by selecting it in the drop-down. In the future, you’ll be able to get straight to that view when you log in to Analytics.

The Google Analytics Layout

You’ll do most of your navigation in the left-hand column. In here, Google Analytics has been broken down into some basic traffic monitoring categories, as well as some tools that make it easier to check your Analytics in the future.



The Dashboard feature allows you to pull out the most important data you want to know at a glance. As a beginner, you may not know what that is for your website. ATAK’s Inbound Marketing Manager Renee Smith has a post about building a Google Analytics dashboard.


When you have decided the most important overview reports in Analytics, marking them as shortcuts in this section allows you to access them quickly.

Intelligence Events

Intelligence Events offer at-a-glance monitoring of changes in traffic and usage patterns, and allows you to be emailed if you have a sudden spike or drop in traffic. There are a variety of alerts that can be sent.
This is the last of the build-your-own tools that Analytics offers in the sidebar.


Real Time traffic lets you see when visitors are on your site, and get information about their browsing patterns while they are on it. For many users, this is a novelty. It’s pretty fun. However, it can be interesting to see traffic on your website if it is being mentioned on a platform, or if you are attending a conference or event.


Audience offers you data on your visitors. See the country and city that they are visiting from. Discover the device and browser they are accessing the site with. Google Analytics will also offer demographic estimates of Age, Gender, and marketing Affinity Groups.


Acquisition provides data on how visitors arrive on your website. If you want to know how most visitors arrive on your site, the Acquisition section is going to give you the data that you need. This is also where you’re going to be able to access your search keyword data. If you are running an AdWords campaign, this is where you’ll see that traffic data as well.


This section offers the data about the performance of the pages on your website. What’s getting the most visits, how quickly your site is loading, how your site is being searched, and more. This is where you find out how to capitalize on the pages getting the most traffic through your site.


Conversions are goals that you custom set in the Admin area of your Analytics account. These will vary based on what the business goals for your website are. For an ecommerce site, this would be a “Thank you for your purchase!” page. For a company like ATAK, it’s filling the form on a Contact page, or reading a downloadable piece of marketing content.

That’s a Lot to Take In!

It’s true – there’s a lot to take in. At the top of this post, I mentioned that it can be quite like being handed the keys to a Ferrari and being told “Have fun!” But with a bit of investigation and a clear idea of your business goals, Google Analytics can supercharge your website and content decision making.

If you need a Search Engine Marketing pit crew, ATAK Interactive can help you with site evaluation, optimization, and ongoing content evaluation. Drop us a line about all of your custom website needs.

Lyndsay Peters

Lyndsay Peters is Director of Search Marketing at ATAK Interactive. She's also the one who brings a dog to work to keep everything around the office just a little more human.

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