Analyzing and Interpreting User Metrics on Google Analytics

Brody Hall
By Brody Hall
Joel Taylor
Edited by Joel Taylor

Published February 28, 2022.

A man points his pen towards an analytics report,  trying to understand the growth

Google Analytics is one of the most widely used tools for website owners and online marketers. It’s a free service that provides insights into user behavior, including where users come from, how they interact with your website, and what features most interest them. While the data collected by Google Analytics may, at first, seem daunting to interpret, it’s important to note that the more data you have on your users, the better prepared you are to create a site or curate information that interests them.

To help you get your head around Google Analytics, here’s a quick guide to assist you.

What Is a ‘User’ According to Google Analytics?

A user is defined as an individual who has visited a website at least once within the time period selected for analysis. User data is collected and stored by Google Analytics in order to provide website owners with information about their audience, including age, gender, interests, and how they interact with a website.

Google Analytics captures user data by setting up a tracking code on each page of a website. The code sends information about traffic to the Google Analytics server where it is stored and analyzed.

New Users vs. Returning Users

Through the use of cookies, Google Analytics (GA) can distinguish between new and returning users. The platform uses a randomly generated string (a unique identifier) that is then assigned to each user as a Client ID when they first visit a website. If a user revisits a website, their Client ID will be recognized, and GA will match and label any additional sessions carried out by the same IP address.

As great as this technology is, it has its limitations.

The most problematic of these is the use of separate devices. For instance, a regular visitor to a site may use different devices that possess their own unique IP address. GA will assign each device its very own Client ID. This has the potential to skew the data and subsequent outputs that Google Analytics produces, limiting your ability to get the complete picture when analyzing user behavior.

Reports That Analyze User Metrics in Google Analytics

There are a ton of user metrics that Google Analytics collects and stores. Although site owners and marketers most commonly use the following Google Analytics reports:

  • Google Analytics’ Behavior Flow Google Analytics Behavior Flow reports show how users move through your website. It shows the paths users take, the pages they visit, and how long they stay on each page. This visual report can help you understand which pages are most important to your users and how you can improve their experience on your website.
  • Google Analytics’ Conversions Conversion paths calculate whether customers are making decisions that are in step with your goals. This includes defining funnels for prominent actions like purchases so you can see how well your website influences their decisions.

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Why User Metrics Matter

With the use of user behavior analytics reports, e-commerce analytics tools, and software like Google Analytics, online businesses can easily change their website to improve the user experience and potentially increases sales or conversions. Additionally, user and entity behavior analytics can measure the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns, direct future efforts in the right direction, and provide valuable insight that can seriously boost your business’ performance.