How Does Google Analytics Work? (Explained) – How To Learn SEO

This guide answers the question, “How does Google Analytics work?”

Below, you’ll discover how Google Analytics works to generate user reports for website tracking, data collection, and analysis for site owners on their digital marketing campaigns.

The ultimate goal here is to help you understand the entire process behind the Google Analytics tracking code as well as the features GA provides based on recorded measurements. There’s also a bunch of resources at the end of the page that teach you how to use Google Analytics to improve search engine optimization (SEO) for your website.

How Google Analytics Works

How does Google Analytics work?

Google Analytics works by using tracking codes to retrieve user data from each website visitor. Every time a user visits a web page, the Google Analytics tracking code works to collect anonymous information about how the user interacted with the page and reports that data to the site owner.

Google Analytics Data Collection Process

The Google Analytics data collection process begins by adding a small piece of Javascript measurement code to each web page of a site. Each website associated with a Google Analytics account has its own Analytics property ID for this purpose.

As users visit the site in real-time, JavaScript tracking code collects data from each session to track how visitors are interacting with each web page. These measurements are then packaged and sent to Google Analytics for further processing in visual reports.

The data that is collected and processed by Google Analytics is aggregated and organized into categories for site owners to analyze more easily. Additionally, Google Analytics uses a set of cookies to collect user information and usage statistics without personally identifiable information (PII). These two processes protect user privacy by not allowing site owners to track individual user behavior on the website or collect personally identifiable information.

Another important thing to keep in mind about how Google Analytics works is that once the data is processed, it is stored in a database where it cannot be changed. Therefore, if you have set your Google Analytics configuration to prevent any data from being collected by users of your website, it will not be available in your reports.

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Also, Google Analytics only works to collect user data from the date you set up the measurement code on your site. This means that historical data is not available for tracking or reporting after the first installation date.

Google Analytics Features

Below is a list of the features and how they work in Google Analytics 4 (GA4). GA4 is the new version of Analytics that replaced Google Universal Analytics (UA), which will stop working in 2023.

  • The Real-Time User Data feature allows you to monitor activity on your site as it happens.
  • Acquisition data informs you about how users arrive at your site and reports traffic sources for each session.
  • Engagement data lets you measure user engagement by events triggered on the site and the web pages and app screens that users visit.
  • The Monetization Data feature reports the revenue generated from items, ads, and subscriptions on your website or app
  • The Retention Data report helps you understand how often and for how long users are engaged with your website or app after their first visit.
  • Demographics data categorizes users by age, location, language, and gender, along with interests expressed through their online browsing and shopping activities, which Google can track through its Chrome browser and other methods.
  • The technology feature shows the different types of technology your visitors use when visiting your site, such as device (e.g., desktop, mobile, and tablet), browser (e.g., Chrome, Safari, or Edge), and screen resolution .

Note: Google Analytics has a variety of interactive charts, diagrams and tables to help you visualize the data in a way that works best for you.

Using Google Analytics for SEO Work

If you want to improve search engine optimization for your website, the following resources can help you use Google Analytics more effectively for your SEO marketing campaigns.

As new guides about Google Analytics for SEO work are published, they will be added to this list. So make sure to check frequently as this page is updated with new links and information.

Summary of how Google Analytics works

I hope you have enjoyed this guide answering the question of how Google Analytics works.

As you found out, Google Analytics works by using Javascript tracking code to retrieve user data from each website visitor. And each time a user visits a web page, this measurement code collects anonymous information about user interactions and sends the data to Google Analytics to be processed and stored in its database for further analysis. This may be reported to the site owner.

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