Google Analytics (GA) has more features, details, and reports than you can shake a stick at. Which sounds good, except…
Well, it can be a bit intimidating.
Let’s talk briefly about three main categories of reports. The image below shows you where to find them within the GA dashboard.
A simple way of describing these categories is that they answer different types of questions—specifically Who, How, and What questions.
Audience Reports (Who) — Where on planet Earth are our site visitors? What devices do they use? How many are new visitors vs returning visitors?
Acquisition Reports (How) — How did visitors arrive on your site? How many visitors came from Facebook? How many from SEO? How many from links on referring websites?
Behavior Reports (What) — More specifically, the What of behavior. What did visitors do when they got to your site? What pages get the most visits? On which pages do people enter the website and from which pages do they exit?
So the next time you need to answer a business question, you should first ask yourself whether the business question is about Who, How, or What. That will, at the very least, point you into the right neighborhood.
One last thing to mention here. The true power of these reports is what they can tell you when you intersect them; GA calls this “adding a Secondary Dimension.” Think of Who, How, and What as circles in a Venn diagram; a lot of the more complex answers are found in the overlap. (For example, you might be looking at a highly-visited web page in a Behavior Report and add a secondary dimension of Medium, a dimension from the Acquisition Reports, to see where that traffic is coming from).