The SEO specialist’s toolbox for the basics of web analytics

DSM Digital School of Marketing - web analytics

The term ‘web analytics’ refers to the collection, reporting as well as the analysis of website data. The focus of an SEO specialist is on classifying measures based on your organisational and user goals in addition to using the data gathered from your website in order to determine the success or, alternatively, failure of those goals.  Web analytics helps you to drive strategy as well as enhance the user’s experience.

Quantifying content

Of critical importance to the development of relevant as well as effective web analysis is creating goals as well as calls-to-action from your organisational in addition to your site visitors goals. You’ll also need to identify Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) so that you can measure the success or failure of those objectives and calls-to-action.

How to understand Google Analytics reports

Having an understanding of Google Analytics reports as well as capabilities necessitates an understanding of the basic principles of SEO and web analytics. Knowing the data which Google Analytics can capture, in addition to how it interprets it, is the key to making sense of the software.

At its most fundamental level, Google Analytics comprises:

  • JavaScript code on each page of a site,
  • A data collection service on Google’s servers, and
  • A processing engine which creates report data.

Google Analytics JavaScript Code

When a visitor arrives at a web page that has a tracking code, the code is executed by the user’s browser. It gathers information about the visitor’s browser in addition to computer settings, such as screen resolution, operating system, etc. The visibility of the script is pretty limited and can typically only see what it’s told to see.

Then, the script sets a few cookies that have some basic visitor information. These cookies determine if it is new or returning visitor, among other things.

Google Analytics Data Collection Service

Next, all of this data must be sent to the Google Analytics servers so that it can be processed. The tracking code for Google Analytics sends the information by asking for a very small file, named __utm.gif.

It adds all the cookie data as well as information that it has just collected to the query string for __utm.gif. In this way, Google’s servers possess a record of the time at which a file was requested as well as all of the visitor information about that pageview.

Processing Visit Information

In the final step, Google Analytics processes all the __utm.gif requests. In addition, it applies filters as well as configuration settings in addition to making the data available to your account.  Visitor data is typically processed every couple of hours, although this frequency has increased over time.

Information that the cookie collects:

  • How users got to the site
  • When they arrived at the site and which part of the world they were when they arrived
  • If the user had been on the site before
  • What devices they were using to access the site
  • How long the user stayed on the site and what actions did they take on the site
  • When and where they exited the site during their journey on the site

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