Almost all of Google Analytics standard reports resemble the above picture. If you have multiple websites or are managing multiple websites, you can click on the drop-down arrow in the top left next to your website to switch back and forth between your different Google Analytic properties. For example, as a marketing consultant, we have all of our clients websites in the dropdown menu that we go through to track and manage.
If you want to change the date range, in the top right report you can click on the dates to do so. This will change the data range of whatever data you are currently viewing. To get a little more in-depth, you can even compare your data from a selected timeframe (i.e. last week) to a previous timeframe (i.e. the week before last week).
If you're confused about what any of the data on your Google Analytics screen is, you can hover over a majority of areas within the reports to get more information. For example, if you are in your Audience Overview, you can hover over the line on the graph and it will tell you the number of sessions for a particular day. In addition, you can also get more information on the metrics beneath the graph by hovering over each data point. Google will tell you what each one means.
Within your location view, hover over each state to see the number of visitors from that specific state. If you hover over the column name, Google will provide you with more detail on each metric. If you want to go more in-depth, click on the name of each state (i.e. Illinois) to see visitors from cities within the state (i.e. Chicago).
As a rule of thumb, anytime you see a '?' next to something, you can click on it or hover over it to learn more. Get curious with your analytics. The deeper you dive into your data and the more effort you put into understanding what it all means not only will you be able to find more interesting information but you will be able to make calculated decisions and optimize your site based on data.
Learn anything and everything you want to know about your visitors through Audience Reports. You will find detailed reports for your visitors’ age and gender (Demographics), what their general interests are (Interests), where they come from (Geo > Location), and what language they speak (Geo > Language), how often they visit your website (Behavior), and the technology they use to view your website (Technology and Mobile).
What drove visitors to your website? These reports will tell you everything you want to know (All Traffic). You will see your traffic broken down by main categories (All Traffic > Channels) and specific sources (All Traffic > Source/Medium). You can even segment to learn everything about your social network traffic (Social). You can also connect Google Analytics to AdWords to learn more about PPC campaigns and to Google Webmaster Tools/Search Console to learn more about search traffic (Search Engine Optimization).
Analyze your content through behavior reports. Find out what the top pages are on your website (Site Content > All Pages), the top entry pages on your website (Site Content > Landing Pages), and the top exit pages on your website (Site Content > Exit Pages). These are our personal favorite reports, as they have clear actionable insights. These are invaluable insights, as you can work to understand what makes your top pages different from your exit pages. Unless it’s a conversion page, you will want to focus all of your efforts on improving your exit pages.
If you set up Site Search, you will be able to see what terms are searched for (Site Search > Search Terms) and the pages they are searched upon (Site Search > Search Pages). You can also learn how fast your website loads (Site Speed) as well as find specific suggestions from Google on how to make your website faster (Site Speed > Site Speed Suggestions)
So why do these reports matter? You can use all of the reports above to further optimize your marketing campaigns, your website, your content, and anything else you think the data shows. For example, you see in your acquisition reports that Instagram is your greatest performer amongst all the other social platforms. Why not divert some spending away from some of the other social platforms and double down on Instagram?
Looking to learn more about the components of Google Analytics? Choose from one of the various sections below to find out about another facet of Google Analytics.