Google Analytics is a tool for analyzing website traffic. It allows website owners to analyze the traffic on their website in terms of the geographic location of visitors, number of visitors, number of sessions per visitor, average time spent on the website, pages visited, and several other parameters. Google Analytics is used to understand the source and the behavior of visitors. This information can be used to optimize the content on the website and promote the business in a better way.
How does Google Analytics work?
Website owners can monitor the traffic on their website by adding their Google Analytics code to each webpage. Once the Google Analytics code is added to the website, it collects visitors’ data and sends it to Google Analytics. Google Analytics offers various options to study website traffic, such as Real-Time data, Report Snapshot, Dashboard, and Insights. Real-Time shows data about visitors who are browsing the site at the current time. Report Snapshot shows an analysis of visitor information according to a predetermined format. The Dashboard is where website owners can customize the data they see in the section. The Insights option is available only if your website has significant traffic; otherwise, it remains inactive. If active, the Insights option shows automated insights about unusual trends in visitor behavior. You can also create custom insights shown when certain predefined conditions are triggered on your website.
Data you cannot track in Google Analytics
Although Google Analytics is the most popular analytics tool globally, it does have a few limitations.
- Google Analytics does not track user-specific data such as Username, IP addresses, and other personal information about the user. This is because several international privacy-related laws prohibit Google from tracking such data.
- Google Analytics allows us to monitor and track user information based on two dimensions. Still, it doesn’t have the option to study user information based on multiple dimensions at the same time. For example, it may show you the number of users from a particular city but not the number from a specific city who used a mobile device or a desktop to access your website.
- Google Analytics does not show Heatmaps. Heatmaps let you visualize user behavior on your website. It represents where users click, move, and scroll on your website. It enables you to discover what attracts user attention. It lets you see which parts of your website the user is drawn toward and which features they miss. It helps you understand which parts of your website are ignored by visitors and where they stop scrolling. To see Heatmaps, you can use a tool such as Hotjar or Fullstory, which provides more detailed information about user behavior on your website.
- Google Analytics does not show a replay of the user behavior on your website. A replay or recording of user action allows you to see what visitors to your website see. It includes playback of visitors scrolling, moving, turning around, and rage clicking on your website. It allows you to map the visitor’s journey from when they land on your website till they leave your website. Tools like Hotjar and Fullstory will enable you to track these details.
- Google Analytics does not track the keywords users use to access your website. Without knowing the keywords, planning future content strategies will become a challenge. Google Analytics has to be integrated with Google Search Console to track the keywords used by users to reach your website.
- Google Analytics does not provide data about user experience and intent. This data can be acquired by integrating a platform like Typeform or Jotform or using the Surveys or Feedback feature in Hotjar. It is crucial to get information about the User’s Experience on your website and understand the intention of the user while accessing your website.
- Google Analytics has a few other limitations, such as it is not able to track data on your website before you install it, it is not able to track what users do before and after they visit your website, and it is not able to track any offline activity which occurs after seeing your website such as tracking calls to your phone number, etc. However, these limitations are very general and cannot be attributed to any specific platform or tool.
Google Analytics is the most popular and trusted analytics platform in the world. Google Analytics 4, along with Universal Analytics and Google global site tag, has a 70 percent market share of the global analytics market. Google Analytics does have a few limitations, but it has more positives than negatives. The limitations of Google Analytics can easily be overcome by integrating other platforms such as Hotjar, Fullstory, Typeform, and Google Search Console into your website. Despite a few limitations, one can safely say that Google Analytics is one of the best and most comprehensive analytics platforms available. It does not cost a penny to use it.
Also, check if Google Analytics certification is free.