Definitive guide

Google Analytics and Small Business Owners

A Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics for Small Business Owners

Google Analytics is a free yet powerful website performance tool companies use to achieve a competitive edge and higher profits. This beginner’s guide to Google Analytics for small business owners is a rundown of this powerful tool’s history, benefits, sections, and features.

Small business owners, after all, don’t need to be Data Analysts or Specialists to understand the basics of Google Analytics.

A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics_Google Marketing Platform

Google Analytics Over Time

If you’re a small business owner who’s just recently launched your first-ever company website, hearing about Google Analytics from a multitude of online resources could be daunting.

This is especially true with the many terminologies and the several versions of this powerful tool being used.

Well, I know I was overwhelmed with it when I started in business. But the learning curve does become easy over time. So let me make it easier for you with a little overview of Google Analytics’ history.

Google Analytics was first developed in 1999 with the name Urchin by Quantified Systems, which was eventually called Urchin Software Corporation.

In six years, Urchin became a renowned tool for website traffic analysis. This popularity prompted Google to acquire the software in 2005 and rename it Urchin by Google.

As per Justia, updates in the features of Urchin by Google such as the “ tag” called the Synchronous Code in 2007 and the Asynchronous tracking code in 2009 gave birth to Google Analytics Classic, which is also known as GA2.

The third version of Google Analytics (GA3), Universal Analytics, was first introduced in the last quarter of 2012. Google introduced a premium service (paid) to large enterprises during the software beta phase enabling more in-depth data harvesting on user behavior.

This was through the analytics.js tagging that replaced ga.js. Google later opened the feature to the public two years after the product rollout.

Further updates in the features of Universal Analytics were released in 2017 with the gtag.js code also known as the global site tag code.

The feature enabled companies to enjoy a unified framework of Google Services with Google Analytics, simplifying the tracking process and making it more powerful.

Companies can integrate their Google Ads accounts with Google Analytics. By this time, the Classic Google Analytics was also fully integrated into Universal Analytics. Universal Analytics is free much like Classical Analytics.

However, Google also has a paid version of Universal Analytics called Analytics 360. This paid or premium version has more advanced features such as a dedicated account manager, unlimited data, roll-up reporting, and advanced funnel reporting.

The most recent version of Google Analytics (GA4) was released in its beta phase in October 2020 and was fully rolled out in July 2023. Universal Analytics is fully integrated into this final version during rollout.

GA4 is seen as the most powerful version so far. It integrates App and Web properties in one platform while using Artificial Intelligence.

As of January 2024, 14.2 million websites already migrated to Google Analytics 4 from Universal Analytics. This makes GA4 the top website performance tool since its beta phase.

For clarity, the Google Analytics mentioned in the rest of this post pertains to GA4. Now let me highlight the benefits of Google Analytics for small business owners.

A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics_Google Marketing Platform2

The benefits of using Google Analytics for Small Business Owners

Google Analytics has several benefits for small business owners in attaining valuable insights for data-driven business decisions. The primary benefits of Google Analytics are an awareness of website traffic, recognition of high-performing website content, and boosting website performance.

The interpretation of user behavior, maximization of user experience, measurement of marketing campaigns, identification of business growth opportunities, and augmenting business income as its secondary benefits.

1. Awareness of website traffic

One of the primary benefits small business owners derive from using Google Analytics is the awareness of their website’s traffic. Google Analytics provides detailed information on the most visited web pages, the frequency of page views, the duration spent per webpage, bounce rate, and clickthroughs, among others.

The higher the numbers, the better. Well, except for the bounce rate, which pertains to the percentage of visitors who, after browsing a webpage, leave or do not explore the rest of the website. According to SiegeMedia, 50% is roughly a good bounce rate for all industries. (Feel free to read “Bounce Rate Statistics 2023 – 13 Facts That Will Surprise You” for more details.)

That and the number of dead links and 404 Error pages you have on your website.

2. Recognition of high-performing website content

Google Analytics also helps small business owners asses the high-performing content on their website. Small business owners can see if their creative assets such as videos, CTA buttons, and graphics are attractive to visitors.

The number of clickthroughs, downloads, and views are some of the determinants of this. The higher the number, the better the engagement of visitors, and the higher the performance of a website’s content. This translates to which type of content you need to put more on your website since this is what your visitors resonate more with.

3. Boost website performance

Google Analytics enables small business owners to address the technical issues of their websites and ensure better performance. Technical issues like slow loading time, dead links, downtimes, and security issues.

By being aware of the website’s traffic, small business owners can make changes to increase site performance. If the numbers are low, A/B testing is often used to see which color entices visitors to interact more with CTA buttons and lead magnets for special offers and features.

Small business owners can also improve the navigation and layout of the website by using additional software such as Heat Map Analysis.

4. Interpretation of user behavior

Google Analytics provides geographic and demographical information about a website’s visitors. Small business owners can see which country their website visitors come from and the keywords or referrers that brought them to their website.

The age, gender, interests, and behavior of visitors while on their website are presented by Google Analytics. This information would be most useful in formulating marketing campaigns to be incorporated into your website for better performance and returns.

Knowing what keywords brought visitors to your website, on the other hand, would be helpful for your search engine optimization strategies. (Do check “How to Use Website Analytics for SEO Optimization” if you need more information on how this works.)

5. Maximization of user experience

User experience is the key to success online. Ensuring visitors to your website have a pleasant experience translates to higher returns for your business. Through Google Analytics, small business owners can maximize the user experience on their website.

After interpreting user behavior, small business owners can reduce pain points in their websites such as difficulty in online ordering, limited payment facilities, non-functioning website features, dead links, page errors, downtime, and slow-loading content, among others.

Improving navigation, replacing hard-to-read typography, rewriting confusing copywriting, and creating more appealing visuals are other means to maximize user experience on your website based on Google Analytics data. (You can check out “The Benefits of Creating a Customer-Centric Website” for more details on this.)

6. Measurement of marketing campaigns

As mentioned previously, Google Analytics has now become a more powerful tool since you can integrate Google Ad accounts and other App and Web properties into it. This powerful tool lets small business owners see the effectiveness of their ongoing marketing campaigns.

It presents how many visitors went to the website from online advertisements in real-time and over some time. This can help assess ad placements and campaigns to zone in on for future investments. It also identifies which type of advertisements bring more engagement to the website.

7. Identification of business growth opportunities

Google Analytics can help small business owners identify areas for business growth. Areas such as untapped market segments, new products or services the company can supply or develop, and regions for business expansion.

8. Augment business income

Most important of all, Google Analytics helps small business owners augment their business income. By improving navigation, addressing pain points, and monitoring marketing campaigns, business owners can enhance the purchasing funnel online and lead to higher conversions. This in turn leads to higher sales and better returns on investment.

Now that you have an overview of the benefits Google Analytics has for your small business, it’s time to set up your account before I give a brief introduction to its sections.

A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics_Analytics Account Creation

Getting Started With Google Analytics

Anyone with a Gmail account already has ready and free access to Google Analytics. Small business owners only need to set up Google Analytics for their websites. How is this done?

Setup is pretty easy since Google has provided the process with ready guides to better understand the different fields and terminologies in it.

To begin with, simply log in to Google Analytics with your Gmail Account. Then do the following:

  • Go to the Admin Section by clicking the wheel icon on the left menu. It’s the last section of it.
  • Once in the Admin Section, click the “Create” button and choose the Account option. This will go to the Account Setup Page.
  • Fill in the account details needed in the “Account Creation” page and click “Next” when you are done. This will open the “Properties Creation” page.
A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics_Analytics Property Creation
  • In the “Properties Creation” page, simply choose the time zone you are in and the currency you’d like Google to present your income from ads and conversions. Click “Next” when you are done. The “Business Details” page loads afterward.
A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics_Analytics Business Details
  • In the “Business Details” page, just choose your business industry from the dropdown menu and tick your business size from the options before clicking “Next”.

A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics_Analytics Business Objectives
  • Click on your most important goal in setting up the Google Analytics account from the options provided once in the “Business Objectives” page. Click “Next” when you’re done. (You can change these objectives over time as it applies to your business needs.)

A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics_Analytics Data Collection
  • In the “Data Collection” page, you will see the different platforms from which Google can harvest data to create different analytics reports. Click the “Web” button so you can add your website address.
A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics_Analytics Data Collection2
  • One website is one stream, to which you can assign a name. This means you can create several streams should you have several websites, such as in the case of a dedicated website for each product or a campaign website for a special event.
A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics_Analytics Data Collection3
  • If your website is hosted in WordPress, you can even integrate into your website the Google Analytics ID tag. You simply need to have the MonsterInsights plugin installed in WordPress to do this and paste the Google Analytics ID tag in it using the WordPress Dashboard.

  • Complete the process by clicking “Next” and you’re done!

After setting a Google Analytics account for your website, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the different sections.

A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics_Google Marketing Platform3

An Introduction to Google Analytics’ Sections

Familiarize yourself with the different sections of Google Analytics to better understand how to use it. The following are the five major sections of Google Analytics and a description of its contents: Home, Reports, Exploration, Advertising, and Admin. Since Home is the landing page, let’s discuss the four other sections.

1. Reports

The Reports Section is the main section of Google Analytics that contains the information a business needs to see how its websites is doing, its visitors, and the factors that lead them to the website. The Reports Section contains five subsections: Reports Snapshots, Realtime, Life Cycle, User, and Website Objectives.

1.1. Reports Snapshots

The Reports Snapshots used to be the Overview in Universal Analytics and presents a summary of the different reports usually for the past week. The summary includes Top Campaigns, Active Users Trending, and status of user retention.

1.2. Realtime Reports

Realtime Reports, on the other hand, give a snippet of the different reports as they happen on a daily basis. This is very advantageous for a business to make necessary adjustments to the website and to current campaigns to ensure goals are achieved.

1.3. Life Cycle Reports

There are four Life Cycle Reports or segments: Acquisition, Engagement, Monetization, and Retention. Acquisition Reports provide insights on the mediums and sources that aided visitors to access the website, which will help a business assess its best campaigns.

Engagement Reports provide detailed information on the website visitors’ activities, duration of engagement, files downloaded, and how far a page is scrolled or viewed. Monetization Reports, on the other hand, help maximize revenue generation, especially for e-commerce websites. While Retention Reports presents information that reflect customer loyalty to a website.

1.4. User Reports

User Reports provide detailed information about visitors and have two segments: Demographics and Tech. Demographics pertain to the age, gender, interests, and language of visitors to a website. Tech pertains to the type of device visitors used to access a website, which could be a desktop, mobile, or tablet.

1.5. Website Objective Reports

Website Objective Reports provide information on the effectivity of a website’s design and the marketing strategies implemented in and for it with respect to KPIs. It has only one segment: Events, which used to be called Conversions in Universal Analytics.

Events have four subsections: Conversions, Audiences, Custom Definitions, and DebugView. Events can be created and modified based on tracking elements such as pageviews, outbound clicks, file downloads, and other visitor activities on the website.

2. Exploration

The Exploration Section enables businesses to harness customized insights from charts and tables, uncover user journeys, and breakdown user funnels. In gist, this section helps business get in-depth insights on their website visitor’s behavior.

3. Advertising

The Advertising Section has two segments: Performance and Attribution. Performance presents information from all advertising channels being used by a business and integrated into the website. Attribution presents a comparison of advertising models in use and the conversion paths taken by visitors.

4. Admin

The Admin Section is more of the Settings Section where you can create several accounts for your company and its corresponding properties and data streams. This is also where you can make the necessary modifications needed for your Google Analytics account.

Google Analytics: Summing It Up

Learning the basics of Google Analytics will help small business owners in leveraging this tool for their company’s success in a highly competitive market. Google Analytic’s powerful features will help small business owners provide a pleasant user experience to their customers while ensuring a higher return on investment through their website and higher revenues.

Sources Used:



1. What is Google Analytics good for?

Google Analytics is good for assessing the status and performance of a website over some time. The assessment also helps assess the effectiveness of marketing campaigns, efforts, and channels used by a company

2. Is Google Analytics free?

Yes! Google Analytics is free for the public to use. Though Google Analytics also provides premium services to businesses for a certain fee.

3. How can Google Analytics help small business owners?

Google Analytics can help small business owners in several ways. One is it provides accessible and human-readable information to maximize the returns on investment for the company website. Another is to consistently ensure a pleasant user experience on the website. Lastly, improve marketing campaigns and sustain overall business growth.