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Webucator's Free Google Analytics Tutorial

Lesson: Overview and Background of Web Analytics

Welcome to our free Google Analytics tutorial. This tutorial is based on Webucator's Introduction to Google Analytics Training course.

This lesson gives you an overview of web analytics, while beginning to show some of the benefits Google Analytics can offer to your company's website.

Lesson Goals

  • Fundamentals of web metrics and web Analytics.
  • Understand what web analytics can do for your business.

Introduction to Web Analytics

Basic Definitions

Here are the basic definitions of analytics to get us started with the course.

Web Metrics

Web metrics are measurable parameters which reflect different activities occurring on your website. Some examples:

  1. The number of pages served.
  2. The number of unique IP addresses that have accessed the site.
  3. The amount of time a visitor stayed on a particular page.
  4. The number of times a particular file was accessed.


Clickstream refers to the data that occurs inside the web environment, which may include a record of the user's browsing patterns.

Web Analytics

Bruce Clay, an SEO specialist, attributes this definition of web analytics to the Web Analytics Association (WAA):

Web Analytics is the objective tracking, collection, measurement, reporting and analysis of quantitative web metrics data to optimize websites and web marketing initiatives.

We weren't able to find the original quote on the WAA's site, but we agree with the definition.

Evolution of Web Analytics, An Historical Overview

Just after the birth of the Internet, IT technicians started maintaining server logs. The server log files store information about parameters such as:

  1. The IP address of the visitor.
  2. The browser identifier.
  3. The operating system identifier.
  4. The referrer (website from which the request originated).

People began developing scripts to extract relevant data from the server log files in order to compile useful information. In this way, web analytics came to life.

Why Learn Web Analytics: Analytics vs. Reporting

The success of your website is largely dependent on the overall user experience of your visitors. Here are some of the important drivers for using web analytics:

  1. Web analytics provides insight into the online behavior of your visitors. The visitor data can be used to optimize your website to best meet the requirements of your audience.
  2. Web analytics can provide business intelligence in context to customer segmentation, identifying trends, product development, targeted marketing, etc.
  3. Web analytics can be used to track a wide variety of metrics to measure the overall success of your website.

Note: Unlike web reporting, web analytics is actionable. Web analytics helps in making informed decisions about changing your online strategy.

Fundamentals of Web Analytics

Web Analytics Methodology

Web analytics is an art and a science. Here is a structured approach for incorporating web analytics into your business:

  1. Identify the objective(s) of your website: Why do you have this website?
  2. Define Key Performance Indicators (KPI): Aligning measurable web metrics with your business objectives.
  3. Reporting: Generating relevant reports.
  4. Trinity Analysis: Understanding the What, Why, and How.
  5. Optimization: Recommendations for improvement and identifying opportunities.

Successful implementation of web analytics can drive your bottom line; however, it requires organization-wide buy-in.

We will discuss each step listed above during our classroom session. (See if you can find a case study of a successful implementation involving collaboration from business, marketing, and IT departments.)

Definitions and Significance of Important Parameters

Parameter Definition
Session A period of interaction between a visitor's browser and a particular web server.
Visits A count of all the sessions during a given period of time.
Visitor A logical construct designed to measure actual people who visited a website. Generally achieved with the help of cookies.
Cookies Text files which are stored on your hard drive by some websites to capture information about you or your computer. Types of cookies include first party cookies, third party cookies, persistent cookies, and temporary cookies. All cookies are browser-specific.
Unique Visitor A count of all the unique visitor IDs during a given time period.
Page Any web document delivered by the webserver. (Files such as .jpg or .gif are generally not considered to be pages.)
Pageviews Number of pages requested during a visitor's session which are tagged by Google Analytics code.
Unique Pageviews The number of visits during which a page was viewed--whether one or more times.
Conversion A conversion is recorded when a visitor reaches a desired page within the website.
Bounce Rate Percentage of single-page visits during which a visitor left your website from the landing page.
Recency Number of days that have passed between each visit.
Loyalty How often visitors return to your site.
Stickiness Amount of time spent on a single web page.

Tips for Building KPIs

KPIs tie business objectives with web metrics.

KPI is always a ratio, a percentage, or an average bounded by time.

Important KPIs for Common Types of Websites

Site Type Business Objective Suggested KPIs to Monitor
E-Commerce website To increase online sales Average order value, percentage of visits that add to the shopping cart (begin shopping), percentage of visits that abandon the shopping cart, revenue generated per product.
Content website Increase visitors' engagement on the website Percentage of visitors who left a comment, average time on the site per visit, average page depth per visit, average page views per visit.
Lead generation website To obtain a potential sales lead Percentage of visits which complete a 'Contact Us' form, percentage of visits which abandoned the registration process, bounce rate.
Branding website To increase brand awareness Direct traffic vs. referred traffic, percentage of repeat visitors, keyword analysis.

Overview of How Search Engines Work

Search engines rely on complex ranking algorithms to decide the search result rank of any website. This process is dynamic and rankings are continuously updated.

Search engines also use "spiders" or "web crawlers" to gather information about your site and bring it back to be analyzed by a powerful central engine.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) refers to a diverse set of activities that you can perform to increase the number of desirable visitors who come to your website via search engines.

Google Analytics Case Study

Duration: 15 to 30 minutes.

Google Analytics Case Study Review: In this exercise we will review a case study to understand how other businesses have benefited by incorporating Google Analytics. Please review the case study at the following link: http://www.google.com/analytics/case_study_wnyc.html.

  1. What were some of the challenges WNYC faced before incorporating Google Analytics?
  2. What specific benefits did WNYC realize from Google Analytics?
  3. What benefits does your company hope to realize from using Google Analytics?
  4. Please review the following case studies and think about how each of the companies was able to leverage Google Analytics in their business model.

Note: Reference case studies on Google Analytics can be found at: http://www.google.com/intl/en/analytics/customers.html. In the following presentation, we will also discuss a case study on Best Buy.

Identifying Common KPIs

Duration: 15 to 20 minutes.

If you were responsible for the following websites, what KPIs would you develop and which metrics would you use to measure them? List at least three KPIs for each of the websites listed below.

  1. BestBuy: http://www.bestbuy.com
  2. The Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/home-page
  3. Webucator: http://www.webucator.com
  4. Panera Bread: http://www.panerabread.com


Site Name Site Type Possible KPIs
BestBuy E-Commerce website Average conversion rate, average order size, items per order, percentage revenue from new visitors.
The Wall Street Journal Content website Visitor's engagement with each page (depth and length of the visit), page views per visit, new vs. repeat visitors, recency.
Webucator Lead generation website + E-Commerce Percentage of people who submitted the contact form, percentage of people who registered for course, percentage of visitors who watched the presentation.
Panera Bread Branding website Percentage of visits by medium type, percentage of repeat visitors.