3 Ugly Truths About Google Analytics:

Inconceivable! It may not mean what you think it means.

So you’ve learned enough about Google Analytics to have it on your site and to poke thru the data. You’ve even started calling it “GA” to save yourself precious seconds when talking about it.  But what you’re really longing to do is dig into it and get down to “What does this really mean?”.

Have fun. But be safe. Often times with GA something doesn’t mean what you think it means. It’s a little bit like this scene from The Princess Bride – inconceivable!:


In fact learning about GA is a lot like this:


Here are some ugly truths about GA…

  1. Understand what GA means by a word. Don’t rely on yourself and dimensions/metrics that seem “obvious”. Read GA’s definitions! You might be surprised to find out that a certain word does not mean what you think it means.
    1. For example, did you know that “Users” is defined two different ways and it all depends on what report you are looking at? Test your knowledge by reading up on something “obvious” like Users or Sessions.
  2. No setup = No data. You might think Google can do it, but as far as I know it cannot yet read your mind to know what data is important to you. First, place the tracking code on your site and set up Views. Now “tell it” how to collect data – by doing things like setting up Goals, Filters, or UTM tagging campaigns.
  3. If you succeed in generating a lot of site traffic (smiley face) your data will be subject to Sampling (sad face). You will definitely want to understand the implications of this and think of ways around it (like pulling shorter date ranges).

With GA you do not want to dive in too deep too quickly. Take your time and someday you will progress from Step 1 all the way to Step 7 – It’s conceivable! To get there? Read! Read! Read! Read what? The internet. Many resources are out there trying to get your click – find a few trustworthy sites (like LunaMetrics or Avinash Kaushik) and see what the experts are saying about a particular topic.