How Web Analytics works is incredibly complex so it is important to get a basic understanding of what it is and how it works BEFORE you start making decisions based on what you see.
Since Google Analytics is free it is the most commonly used Web Analytics program.
I encourage anyone reading this far to keep reading because we’ll be explaining analytics so that anyone can understand it.
First, a Warning
Google Analytics has been around for a long time now. That means there are a ton of tutorials, posts, and how-tos around.
The problem with that is trying to figure out which are new enough to be talking about the CURRENT version of Google Analytics.
Trying to learn about it using old information will only confuse you. So always check the dates before you jump in.
The courses mentioned below should be from this year.
Free Google Analytics Academy Ecourses
The first thing I recommend is taking the completely free Google Analytics Academy ecourses.
- Lesson 1: Google Analytics for Beginners
- Lesson 2: Advanced Google Analytics
- Lesson 3: Google Analytics for Power Users
- Lesson 4: Getting Started with Google Analytics 360
- Lesson 5: Introduction to Data Studio
- Lesson 6: Google Tag Manager Fundamentals
There are many other free Google Analytics courses. The trick is knowing whether they are for the current version.
I recommend starting with TracSoft’s Best Free Google Analytics Courses for 2021. (But I did NOT check them all so you will need to do that.)
When you finish the free ecourses you’ll only have a basic understanding of what Web Analytics can do for you and why you need to know more.
The lessons give you a good big picture view of Google Analytics and what it can do for you in plain English.
What These Analytics Courses Don’t Do
You will NOT be an expert on analytics or necessarily know how to install and set up Google Analytics once you take these.
Maybe you will. But, you will know more about how to use it.
To really get the most out of Google Analytics you’ll need either further training or to buy the book.
Even better, I really recommend you hire someone to set up your Google Analytics and train you to use it.
Why You Should Hire an Expert to Set Up Google Analytics
Google Analytics is complicated. It is NOT set up by default. And if you do it wrong, you may lose access to valuable data forever.
So, if you can possibly afford it, hire someone to at least set it up for you. Then you won’t lose data and can take your time learning to use it.
But you have to stay active with using it. Google is continually changing it. So by the time you get the hang of using it one way, tomorrow it may be different.
I once took a two-day seminar on using and setting up Google Analytics.
What I learned was it would be best to hire someone unless you want to become an expert yourself.
When I was done I advised the client who paid for it to hire an expert to configure Google Analytics because of the complexity of his business.
If you have a blog, Web site, or online store you really do need to know more about Web Analytics.
So you may as well take advantage of the free Google Analytics courses.
The Downside of Analytics
There was a time when I used analytics to manage AdWords and other pay-per-click (PPC) platforms for clients.
And that was when I realized Google Analytics can be dangerous to your pocketbook.
I was regularly talking with other people who were managing PPC accounts for their clients.
It really bothered me that decisions they were making based on analytics were all wrong.
They didn’t understand last click attribution. So they were eliminating the broad-matched keyword phrases that filled the top of their client’s funnels.
That might work, but there is a good chance that it will eliminate their client’s businesses from being considered, too.
Data analysis is a complex skill. And it is so critical to business success that it is currently a very well-paid skill.
Going into business intelligence is a wise career move if you have the mind and desire to learn it properly.
How Does Google Analytics 360 Fit into the Science of Analytics?
Google Analytics 360 is a premium offering originally targeted at Enterprise corporations.
But Neil Patel mentioned that small businesses (SMBs) can still use the free Google Analytics 5 but may want to look into the enhancements in 360:
- Google Analytics 360 (formerly Google Analytics Premium)
- Google Optimize 360 (for A/B testing without writing code)
- Google Audience Center 360
- Google Tag Manager 360
- Google Data Studio 360
- Google Attribution 360
Infotrust wrote about what Google Analytics 360 is and who might want to upgrade to it.
And they also created this infographic for more information:
Originally published Mar 6, 2009; updated 9/9/21 to replace outdated information and provide a useful link to the free Google Analytics training ecourses and to add an infographic about Google 360.
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