Google Analytics Tutorial For Beginners
Are you ready to learn about Google Analytics 4? This 1 hour Google Analytics tutorial for beginners will get you going with understanding theory and putting that into action.
Let’s do it!
The days of Universal Analytics are nearly over and the new Google Analytics is here. Mass panic ensues for digital marketers and analysts everywhere. At least, it did for me.
The good news is that the new GA4 isn’t all that bad once you understand what you’re dealing with and how to use it properly. And that’s precisely what this 1 hour Google Analytics tutorial is designed to provide.
Whether you were a Universal Analytics wizard or whether you want to learn Google Analytics for the first time, this video guide is designed to be both comprehensive and actionable.
You can read below the embedded video tutorial for a brief explanation of each section. Timestamps included! Or, just hit that jazzy red play button below and we’ll get rolling!
We review the agenda beginning at 1:08 mark in the video. From there, it’s time to jump into Part 1. Remember, the written content below is *not* an exhaustive written version of the 1 hour training video. Instead, it’s simply a guide to the various sections with timestamps so you can more easily find what you’re looking for.
Google Analytics Part 1: Background and Basics
In order to understand where we’re going with Google Analytics, we first need to understand how we got here. This is all starts at 2:20.
In this section you’ll learn why Google is doing this to us. What seems to be the rationale behind the new Google Analytics?
You’ll also learn what it means to say that the new Google Analytics has an “event-based data model”. This is a critical distinction compared to Universal Analytics as you can see below. Knowing what this actually means will help the rest of the platform make sense.
In this section of the Google Analytics tutorial, we’ll also cover sessions and users. The fun wraps up at the 10:29 mark.
If you want to go deeper on any of the Part 1 material, these written resources can help.
Relevant Resources for Further Reading for Part 1
- All about Google Analytics users.
Part 2: Google Analytics 4 Events
Part 2 starts at the 10:30 mark in the video. It’s arguably the most important one for understanding the data that lives within your Google Analytics 4 property.
All data in GA4 is treated as an event. Check out the list of event names in the reporting snapshot below. These are all events. But not all events are created equally!
Google Analytics will collect some of these events by default. The automatically collected events (Google support article here) can’t be turned off even if you wanted to. They are always on. The enhanced measurement events will also be collected by default. These, however, can easily be toggled off if you choose.
The other types of events are called recommended events and custom events. These are similar to one another in that you need to do all the work to set them up. The only difference is that Google will provide a recommended event name and recommended event parameters for the recommended events.
The video goes through 33:52 focused on events and event parameters. I’ve also included some links below to key portions if you want to supplement your knowledge.
Relevant Resources for Further Reading for Part 2
- A snapshot of events in GA4 vs. UA.
- How the heck do event parameters work? Note: this had been the single most confusing part of all of GA4 for me. It’s just so different.
- What does it mean to register a custom dimension for a new event parameter and how do I do it?
- How can I create a custom event without Google Tag Manager?
- Some tutorials for custom events that do require Tag Manager: button click event tracking, custom scroll tracking, and internal link click tracking.
Part 3: More Big Changes in Google Analytics
Part 3 begins at 33:53 in the video.
In this section you’ll learn about 3 more important big changes in Google Analytics. One of the big ones is that there has been a fundamental shift in reporting. This is what the home screen of Google Analytics looks like today in GA4.
And below is what the home screen looked like in the days of Universal Analytics. At first glance it doesn’t appear all that different. But if you expand the nested standard reports in the left-hand navigation you’ll see that the new Google Analytics has less than half of what Universal Analytics offered. That’s big!
Fortunately, it’s not as simple as all that. The new Google Analytics simply treats reporting differently, which reports living in multiple places in the platform. You’ll get the full scoop in Part 3.
There are also important distinctions as it relates to conversion tracking and even to certain metrics like bounce rate. Part 3 of the Google Analytics tutorial explains all of this in detail. Once again, there is more reading if you’d like to go deeper.
Relevant Resources for Further Reading for Part 3
- The comprehensive guide to Google Analytics reports. This includes both standard reports and the “advanced reporting features” known as Explorations.
- How to navigate and understand standard reports in Google Analytics.
- All about GA4 Explorations.
- The new Google Analytics bounce rate. Did you know it’s a fundamentally different calculation?
Part 4: 10 Steps to Set Up Google Analytics
Part 4 begins at 42:52. We’re in the home stretch!
In this final section of the tutorial you’ll be able to follow along and properly install and configure your Google Analytics 4 property. You’ll create a new property and data stream (below) and properly install the tracking code on your site.
But you’re not done yet! Did you that you need to change your data retention settings if you want more than 2 months worth of data in your Explorations? It’s true!
This is one of the important 10 steps we’ll go through. So if you haven’t yet done this completely, you’ll want to watch to the end (or skip to the end if you already know Parts 1 – 3!).
The video ends at, you guessed it, the 60 minute mark. Boom!
Relevant Resources for Further Reading for Part 4
- Here’s the written version of that 10 step set up guide.
If you’ve been watching, congratulations! You have invested 1 hour in learning the new Google Analytics and I sincerely hope it’s been time well spent.
Looking for something else? Feel free to leave a note in the comments or on the Root and Branch YouTube channel at youtube.com/@rooted-digital. We’re always looking for new content ideas!
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