Author Topic: How does Google Analytics work?  (Read 786 times)


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How does Google Analytics work?
« on: September 26, 2018, 05:48:39 PM »
Do you want to know how Google Analytics works?  Google Analytics can provide you with advanced metrics and data about your website traffic, but many beginners consider its data collection and reporting very complex.

In this article, we’ll show you how Google Analytics collects data, processes it, and prepares reports in simplest terms possible. By the time we’re done, Google Analytics will no longer feel like a complicated mystery to you; we promise.

How Does Google Analytics Collect Data?
Google Analytics uses a small piece of Javascript tracking code to collect data about your website visitors and their interactions on your website. The tracking code looks something like below:

After you create your Google Analytics account, you need to add the script on your website. MonsterInsights helps you properly and easily add Google Analytics to your WordPress site and makes sure that it’s sending all interactions to Google Analytics.

Once it’s setup, Google Analytics will drop a cookie in the user’s browser for your website. It will help to track every interaction that user performs on your site.

So, what are the interactions?

Interactions are all the types of actions users perform on your website. They can be as simple as loading a page or something more specific like clicking a link or a video play button.

With each user interaction on your website, the tracking code sends information to Analytics about your users and their interactions on your website. The information sent by the tracking code is called a hit.

A hit is a URL string with parameters of useful information about your users which looks something like the code in the image below.

The URL string shown above passes some useful information to Analytics about the user that triggered the hit. The highlighted parts are what information we can see when we break down the string. It can include information like:

The language of the user’s browser
The name of the page they’re viewing
User’s device and its screen resolution
The Analytics ID

How Does Google Analytics Process Data?
Google Analytics data processing starts with the categorization of data into users and sessions.

First, Google Analytics determines new vs. returning users.

When a user lands on a page with tracking code, Google Analytics creates a random, unique ID associated with the user’s browser cookie. It takes each unique ID as a new unique user. So, when a new ID is detected, Analytics considers it as a new user. But when an existing ID is detected, it’s considered as a returning user and set over with the hit.

However, a new user is detected if the same user clears out the browser cookie or uses another device to view your webpage.

Next, Google Analytics categorizes the hits into sessions to understand a user’s level of engagement with your site. A session is a group of user hits that take place within a given time frame.

How Does Google Analytics Generate Reports?
Google Analytics reports are made up of 2 components: dimensions and metrics.
Dimensions are attributes of your data. For example, Country is a dimension which signifies countries like the United States, India, United Kingdom, etc.
The most common dimensions that Google Analytics creates by default are country, city, browser, operating system, service provider, and language.

Metrics are quantitative measurements of your dimensions. For example, the metric ‘sessions’ is the total number of sessions.

After the configuration settings have been applied to your collected data, Google Analytics will create dimensions, and calculate the metrics for each dimension. Then, it’ll store each dimension in its own aggregate database table as we see in reports. Most reports in Analytics use rows for dimensions and columns for the metrics associated with the dimension.