Google Analytics Basics

As a certified Measurement Marketer, so many people come to me looking for Google Analytics basics. They say Google Analytics is so overwhelming and they can’t figure out what they are looking at, let alone where they should be looking.

I’m going to give you a high-level overview of the Google Analytics basics and how it is organized so you feel confident the next time you open the tool.

Google Analytics reporting section is on the side navigation and is organized into five sections. I will help you make sense of these so you can understand your data and use this data to leverage your business.

If you are a visual person I recommend having your Google Analytics open to reference while reading through this article.

And yes there really are only 5 sections.

When you open Google Analytics up and see all these data points your brain goes into information overload. You are not sure what means what or what you should even be looking at, leaving you feeling more confused than knowledgeable.

I want to squash those feelings by helping you understand these 5 sections in Google Analytics to give you some really good indications of where you should look based on what you are looking for. And the best place to start is in the overview sections of each report, so let’s dive in!

Realtime Reports

Realtime Reports are exactly what it says. It shows you who is on your site in REAL-TIME, RIGHT NOW. You will see the current visitor count on your website, what pages they’re browsing, and for how long.

Reattime reports allow you to monitor activity on your website as it occurs from moment-to-moment. This can be helpful by providing insights on how people are reacting to your marketing campaigns.

Audience Reports

Audience Reports tell us WHO the people are that are coming to my site. It gives detailed information about your website visitors.

Do you want to know your user’s gender, age range, where they are located in the country, and what kind of device they are using? Then let the audience reports be your friend.

You can find out active users, demographics, interests, behavior, and technology in your audience reports. The overview report in your audience report is where you will see how many users come to your site, how many users are new, how many sessions they are doing per visit, the total number of page views, average session duration, and bounce rates.

You can also search for more information such as how many people are coming to your site and how long they are spending on your site. The demographics overview will tell you the gender and age range of your users coming to your site.

TIP: If you don’t have data in your demographics overview it just means you need to activate this report and it’s really simple to do in 5 simple clicks.

  1. Click Admin in the bottom left corner of your Google Analytics account.
  2. Navigate to the account and property where you want to use Demographics and Interest data.
  3. In the property column, click Property Settings
  4. Under Advertising Features, set Enable Demographics and Interests Reports to ON.
  5. Click Save- Yes it is that easy!

Acquisition Reports

Acquisition Reports are a  group of reports that tell you HOW you acquired the audience you have. In your overview report here it tells you your traffic channels, your users, and where they are coming from.

My favorite report in the acquisition section is under All Traffic ‘Source/Medium.’ The source/medium report will tell you exactly where they came from and further information on behaviors and conversions once you have those parameters set up.

Now we know who is on your site, detailed information about your visitors, and how you acquired them.

Behavior Reports

Behavior Reports tell us what the user did when they were on your site. There are a couple of useful pieces of information you can quickly see in the overview report. We can see the top pages on your site based on page views, you will see bounce rates, average time on page, and unique page views.

My favorite behavior report is under site content- ‘all pages.’ This will tell you the top pages by page view. Another interesting report is ‘landing pages.’ This tells you the first-page people hit during their visit to your site.

The behavior reports are going to help you optimize your site and user experience.

Conversion Reports

Conversion Reports are about how your audience is converting BUT based on the settings you have in Google Analytics. If you are brand new you probably won’t see anything. This is because in order for this report to work you need to have goals set up and/or eCommerce set up.

With this being said if you have a Shopify account of a sales cart that is integrated with Google Analytics you will have some information in eCommerce.

When you have this set-up when someone makes a purchase Google Analytics stores the information. You are able to see exactly what products were purchased over a certain period of time, how much money you made off each product, average order values, and conversion rates. All very useful information if you sell digital products and want to dig deeper.

Not every cart tool does this and has this connection and this is why I use ThriveCart, it integrates really nicely with Google Analytics (check out my ThriveCart review and walkthrough here).

(Ps.. have you seen our Traffic Insights Dashboard? This is the perfect tool to help bloggers measure their marketing efforts!)



Data tells the truth and this will allow you to be a better decision-maker in your business. Knowing Google Analytics basics will help you leverage this powerful tool. It will take work, time, and patience but it does pay off so it’s important.

Want to go deeper in each section? Check out our deep dive into: