An Overview of Google Analytics

By Eric Cruet

Google Analytics is a free service offered by Google that generates detailed statistics based on the number of visitors to a website.  It will show you who is visiting your website, where they came from and what they searched to find you [1].

In addition to traffic breakdown, interpretation of Google Analytics can also show you how visitors are engaging with your site by reporting on key areas such as:

  • A measure of your best content, by indicating the most popular pages of your site
  • Visitor traffic over specified periods of time giving you a feel for how sticky your site is and how many visitors come back for future visits
  • The length of time spent on your site

  • Visitors
    1. Characteristics
    2. Browser, new vs. returning user, originating location
  • Traffic
  1. Origins
  2. Keywords, refers, pages
  • Content
  1. Effectiveness
  2. Bounce rate, paths, navigation summary

To get started all you need is a Google account.  Once you go the site you sign up, add the name of the website you want to track, and it will generate a tracking ID and the tracking code you  will need to add to each page that you want to generate statistics on [2].

This is what the tracking code looks like in my attempt to track visits to my CCTP 903 blog:

(i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o),

ga(‘create’, ‘UA-41934475-1’, ‘’);
ga(‘send’, ‘pageview’);


This code needs to be pasted in the html header of each page you want to track.  There is a specific procedure to perform this task within WordPress.  Unfortunately, when I attempted to do this, I did not have administrator privileges to copy it in the correct location (I copied it in the wrong place and was not able to get any statistics).  Consult with the systems administrator of the website you need to monitor.

Once the code is installed, there are numerous variables that can be set up in the dashboard section of the program.  Below you will find the links to the all the measurements available through the Core Reporting API [3].  Use this reference to explore all the dimensions and metrics available.  Besides the ability to call these programmatically by code, the majority can also be set up for real-time monitoring using the dashboard.  Click the category name to see dimensions and metrics by feature:



Traffic Sources


Goal Conversions

Platform / Device

Geo / Network


Social Activities

Page Tracking

Internal Search

Site Speed

App Tracking

Event Tracking


Social Interactions

User Timings

Exception Tracking


Custom Variables


Google Analytics offers a host of compelling features and benefits for everyone from senior executives. professionals in marketing, advertising and politics, to social media site and content developers.  It’s free and easy to get started.  If you want to see what Google Analytics can do first-hand, take the (short) tour.




[3] Ledford, J. L., Teixeira, J., & Tyler, M. E. (2010). Google analytics. Wiley.