The process of collecting Analytics data

Google Analytics is a platform that collects data and compiles it into useful reports.

Tracking a Website

To track a website, you first have to create a Google Analytics account. Then you need to add a small piece of Javascript tracking code to each page on your site. Every time a user visits a webpage, the tracking code will collect anonymous information about how that user interacted with the page.

For the Google Store, the tracking code could show how many users visited a page that sells drinkware versus a page that sells houseware. Or it could tell us how many users bought an item like an Android doll by tracking whether they made it to the purchase confirmation page.

But the tracking code will also collect information from the browser like the language the browser is set to, the type of browser (such as Chrome or Safari), and the device and operating system used to access the Google Store. It can even collect the “traffic source,” which is what brought users to the site in the first place. This might be a search engine, an advertisement they clicked on, or an email marketing campaign.

Keep in mind that every time a page loads, the tracking code will collect and send updated information about the user’s activity. Google Analytics groups this activity into a period of time called a “session.” A session begins when a user navigates to a page that includes the Google Analytics tracking code. A session ends after 30 minutes of inactivity. If the user returns to a page after a session ends, a new session will begin.

Processing and Reporting

When the tracking code collects data, it packages that information up and sends it to Google Analytics to be processed into reports. When Analytics processes data, it aggregates and organizes the data based on particular criteria like whether a user’s device is mobile or desktop, or which browser they’re using.

But there are also configuration settings that allow you to customize how that data is processed. For example, you might want to apply a filter to make sure your data doesn’t include any internal company traffic, or only includes data from a particular country or region that’s important to your business.

And Justin, one very important thing to remember.

What’s that?

*Once Analytics processes the data, it’s stored in a database where it can’t be changed*

Great point, Krista! So remember, when you set up your configuration, don’t exclude any data you think you might want to analyze later. Once the data has been processed and stored in the database, it will appear in Google Analytics as reports. We’ll show you what these reports look like a little later.

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