What is Google Analytics?

What exactly is Google Analytics? How do statistics help website owners boost their online website? How does it all work?

Google Analytics is a free statistics tracker that can be used to find out:

  • How visitors find your site.
  • How visitors interact with your site.
  • How your business is performing (see the health of your eCommerce and lead conversions).

Below are steps for users who have a Google Analytics 4 (GA4) property or a Universal Analytics (UA) property. If you’re not sure what kind of property you have, check out our guide to understand the differences between GA4 and UA.

Jump to your version of Google Analytics:

  1. Read about Universal Analytics (UA)
  2. Read about Google Analytics 4 (GA4)

The Universal Analytics ABC’s.

To gain a deeper understanding of how to view visitor stats, read through this guide to learn more about the essential areas of Universal Analytics:

Universal Analytics properties primarily measure the following:

  • Acquisition: Learn where your visitors are coming from.
  • Behavior: Learn what they are doing while visiting your website.
  • Conversions: Learn how your business is doing, such as the number of sales and lead generation data.


When a visitor turns into a lead, a sale, or performs a desired action in your marketing funnel.

Measurements are provided through visual reports (the building blocks of Google Analytics).

Universal Analytics Reports Overview

The primary pages or reports found in Universal Analytics properties are:

  • Home
  • Customization
  • Realtime
  • Audience
  • Acquisition
  • Behavior
  • Conversions
  • Attribution (Beta)
  • Discover
  • Admin

In addition to Acquisition, Behavior, and Conversions reports (as mentioned above), you can…

See an overview of your stats in Home.

Create custom reports in Customization.

View Realtime reports to see data on the visitors on your site right now.

View demographics info (if enabled), user tracking info, and more about your visitors in Audience.

Share access and adjust your account, property, or view settings in Admin.

Introduction to The Acquisition Reports in Universal Analytics

If you want to learn all about where your visitors come from, you’ll want to view your Acquisition Reports. In this report you can see whether your visitors came from:

  • Search or organic search
  • Adwords or Pay-Per-Click and paid search
  • Social Media
  • Referring sites
  • Direct (includes unknown)

Overview provides an at-a-glance overview of your traffic sources.

All Traffic » Referrals provides more details on your website referrals:

If you linked your Adwords account to Analytics, you can view Adwords and Campaigns and see details on your Google Adwords Campaigns

Social » Overview provides details on social media referrals, whether Youtube, Facebook, Reddit, and so on.

If you linked your Search Console to Analytics, you can view Search Console and see information on your Organic Searches from Google search.

Click into Search Console » Queries to view the Search Query acquisition report:


Introduction to the Universal Analytics Behavior Reports

To learn about what your visitors are doing while on your website, you’ll want to view your Behavior reports.


See Behavior » Overview for a general overview of your visitor’s behavior:


Behavior » Flow provides a visual of the most typical user flows your visitors are taking (including most typical site exits or drop-offs):


Site Content provides detail on behavior for individual pages.

Site Speed provides metrics on how fast your site is loading. A fast site means a better user experience.

Site Search provides detail on what search terms your users are searching for on your site. Learn how to enable site search tracking: How to Set Up Site Search Tracking.

The Events Overview report found In Behavior » Events » Overview provides an overview of events that ExactMetrics automatically tracks:

  • File Download Link clicks
  • Affiliate Link clicks
  • Outbound Link clicks
  • Form conversions

With our Forms Tracking Addon, you can track form events and compare form impressions to form conversions.

ExactMetrics automatically tracks File Downloads in Google Analytics as events.

Introduction to The Universal Analytics Conversions Tracking Reports

To track your online sales, you’ll need to configure your Google Analytics to track your product type, purchase tracking, and more. In short, setting up tracking on your eCommerce shop is exceptionally tedious. This is why we developed the eCommerce Addon for Google Analytics.

With ExactMetrics, you can get sophisticated eCommerce tracking for your online WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads store within a few clicks.

Goals Reporting

If you’ve set up on goals for your online store, you’ll want to look into your Conversions report to measure the performance of your website.

Conversions » Goals » Overview provides a quick glance into your online store’s goal completions or conversions:

Ecommerce Reporting

With ExactMetrics, you can more easily configure Google Analytics’ Advanced eCommerce reporting in Universal Analytics properties. To learn more about what’s possible, check out Google’s free course on eCommerce Analytics.

When you install and activate our eCommerce Addon for your WooCommerce (or Easy Digital Downloads), you will be able to view more metrics within the Conversions » eCommerce report such as:

  • Popular product
  • Average order value
  • Ecommerce conversion rate
  • Shopping Behavior
  • Checkout Behavior
  • Product Lists Performance
  • Sales Performance
  • Funnels

Conversions » Ecommerce » Overview provides revenue and conversion data:


Conversions » Ecommerce » Product Performance provides data on your individual products:


With detailed eCommerce data on the most popular products, visitor shopping behavior, and referral information, you can make data-driven decisions to contribute to your shop’s success.

Google Analytics 4 Overview

In this overview, we’ll focus on the essential areas of Google Analytics 4:

Introduction to Google Analytics 4 Reports

Reports in GA4 properties are different from UA properties. In a GA4 property, you’ll find the following reports:

  • Reports snapshot
  • Realtime
  • Acquisition
  • Engagement
  • Monetization
  • Retention
  • Demographics
  • Tech

In detailed reports, where available, you’ll be able to either change what data is being displayed in the report (by clicking on the current active parameter under the “Search…” bar) or add another column to the report by clicking on the “+” button and then choosing from the available options in the dropdown list.

Below we’ll briefly go over each report.

In the Reports snapshot, you will see an overall view of these reports, organized in cards with links for more details on the data.

The Realtime report provides user activity within a 30-minute window and a variety of cards. In each card, you’ll be able to see a quick overview data of users by source, users by audience and etc (as indicated in each card) in real-time. You’ll also be able to interact with the cards to view more data.

Within the Acquisition tab, the following reports are:

  • Acquisition overview
  • User acquisition
  • Traffic acquisition

In the Acquisition overview report, you will see a general overview of how users find your website as well as Lifetime value. You’ll also see a mini real-time card and a Google Ad campaign performance card.

The User acquisition report provides a more detailed breakdown of new users and their source (not returning visitors).

And the Traffic acquisition report displays a detailed breakdown of the Source/Medium of your site visitors.

Within the Engagement tab, the following reports are:

  • Engagement overview
  • Events
  • Conversions
  • Pages and screens

In the Engagement overview report, you will see a general overview of user engagement on your website as well a daily vs monthly ratio of your user activity (User stickiness).

In the Events report, you will find an overview of all events such as page_view, session_start, as well as all custom events that ExactMetrics tracks for you.

You can click into each event to see a detailed report for each event. For example, to check your form impressions for a particular form on your website, click into forms_impression and locate the card Form ID.

If you prefer to see more granular data or to have more control over the data you would like to view, you’ll be able to create a custom report, known as a custom exploration, which we will cover in the next section (or, if you prefer, click here to jump to the Explore section).

In the Conversions report, similarly to the Events report, you will see events as well, but these events have been specifically marked as conversion or events found under the Configure » Conversions page.

In the Pages and screens report, you will be able to see views, user count, average time on page, and conversions of your WordPress pages.

Within the Monetization tab, the following reports are:

  • Monetization overview
  • Ecommerce purchases
  • In-app purchases
  • Publisher ads

In the Monetization overview report, you will see a general overview of your total revenue, ad revenue, number of purchasers, as well as cards for ecommerce purchases by item name, item list name, promotion name, and revenue by coupon and product ID.

In the Ecommerce purchases report, you will see a more detailed breakdown of your product performance, with metrics such as views, add-to-carts, cart-to-view rate, eCommerce purchases, purchase-to-view rate, item purchase quantity, and item revenue.

For all mobile streams (iOS app or Android app streams), in the In-app purchases report you will see revenue grouped by product ID, and in the Publisher ads report you will see revenue from ads grouped by ad unit relating to your mobile app.

In the Retention report, you will be able to view data on retention and engagement of new vs returning visitors.

Within the Demographics tab, the following reports are:

  • Demographic overview
  • Demographic details

In the Demographic overview report, you will see a general overview of your users’ demographics, organized in cards with data on city, gender, interests, age, and language.

In the Demographic details report you will see a more detailed breakdown of your user demographics. By default, the report will load Country data, but this can be swapped by clicking on the “Country” parameter (under the “Search…” bar) and choosing other demographic options available in the dropdown.

Within the Tech tab, the following reports are:

  • Tech overview
  • Tech details

In the Tech overview report, you will see a general overview of users’ activity organized in cards with data on platform, operating system, browser, device category, screen resolution, app version, and device model.

In the Tech details report, you will see a more detailed breakdown of your users’ technology use. By default, the report will load Browser data, but this can be swapped by clicking on the “Browser” parameter (under the “Search…” bar) and choosing other options available in the dropdown.

Introduction to Google Analytics 4 Explore

Exploration reports allow GA4 users to create custom reports using various dimensions and metrics as needed, not easily available in the standard reports provided.  When creating a custom exploration, there are a number of templates to use:

  • Blank
  • Free form
  • Funnel exploration
  • Path exploration
  • Segment overlap
  • User explorer
  • Cohort exploration
  • User lifetime

As well as a link to view the Template Gallery for more. Each form can be used to visualize data in different ways and will require experimentation on which is best suited for your needs.

To set up a custom exploration you will need to first import Dimensions and Metrics under the Variables column.

Once imported, you’ll then drag and drop a dimension into the Rows or Columns section, and drag and drop a metric into the Values section. Rows, Columns, and Values are found under the Tab Settings column.

Lastly, in a custom exploration, the Date Range stays set to whichever dates are selected and need to be updated if you wish to see more recent data.

Introduction to Google Analytics 4 Advertising

If you’ve connected your GA4 property to your Google Ads account, you will be able to view your Google Ads campaign data in the Advertising section.

Within the Advertising page, the following reports are

  • Model comparison
  • Conversion paths

In the Model comparison report, you will be able to see how each attribution model is performing, depending on which one is selected. To learn more about attribution models, see Google’s guide: [GA4] Select attribution settings.

In the Conversion paths report, you will be able to see your conversion path performance.

Introduction to Google Analytics 4 Configure

In the Configure page you’ll be able to add, edit, or manage the following:

  • Events
  • Conversions
  • Audiences
  • Custom definitions
  • DebugView

In the Events page, you’ll be able to see a list of events that are created for tracking in your GA4 property. With ExactMetrics, we automatically create and manage events for you.

In the Conversions page, you’ll see a list of events that are being tracked as conversions. ExactMetrics will automatically create and setup eCommerce events for tracking, but you can also mark other events to be tracked as a conversion by enabling the marked as conversion toggle in the Events page.

Once enabled, the change will take place moving forward and will not affect historical data. It will take up to 24 hours to show in standard reports but the change will appear sooner in the Realtime reports.

In the Audiences page, you’ll be able to see a list of audiences as well as create new ones to help segment your traffic using dimensions, metrics, or events.

In the Custom definitions page, you’ll be able to see a list of all of your custom dimensions or custom metrics. When you connect ExactMetrics to your GA4 property, we automatically create all custom dimensions needed for tracking, and this is where you’ll be able to see them. The description will be “ExactMetrics custom dimension”.

Lastly, in the DebugView page, you will be able to view data in real-time, which is useful for troubleshooting issues as they come up.  To monitor events on this page, you’ll need to Enable debug mode first.


You did it! You learned a little bit more about what Google Analytics does and why it’s essential for websites.

What’s next? Take a look at our guide to setting up Affiliate Link Tracking, or eCommerce.