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Teaching Google Analytics

Google Analytics is so commonly used by websites that it is included in some classroom curriculum. Students are being taught how to set it up and how to use it. We've provided some resources and structure for teaching Google Analytics.

Google Analytics in the Classroom

This outline will provide help in creating basic lesson plans for teachers. We think all of our articles on this site are pretty good, but this will give a quick overview of the most essential topics for those who are getting to know Google Analytics for the first time, especially in a classroom setting.

Prerequisites

Before getting into any discussion about Google Analytics, students must have a proficiency in the following topics.

JavaScript
Google Analytics relies heavily on JavaScript. For students to understand what the reports mean or how to customize the code, they must first understand some basic principles about how Google Analytics uses JavaScript.
Cookies
Google Analytics also relies heavily on cookies. Cookies store important information about the visitor, their visit and how they got to the site. Students must understand the difference between first- and third-party cookies and what the limitations of cookies are. They must also understand how Google Analytics uses cookies to track visits.
Regular Expressions
The Google Analytics interface uses regular expressions extensively. They are used for creating filters, creating advanced segments and performing searches on tables of data. To fully utilize Google Analytics, students must understand the basics of regular expressions. We also have a regular expression tester to see how expressions will be interpreted within Google Analytics.

Setting Up a Google Analytics Profile

Students need to be able to set up a Google Analytics profile correctly and know how to troubleshoot issues before they can begin analyzing reports.

Add Tracking Code
Adding Google Analytics tracking code to a website seems at first glance like a very straightforward step. Implementation errors are so common, however, that it's important for students to know how to check that the code is set up correctly right away.

Students may also find it useful to use our code generator to customize tracking code for the most common scenarios. It can provide a template for students to use in learning about the JavaScript.

E-commerce Tracking
Students need to learn how to code a site to track e-commerce transactions in Google Analytics. This requires a more in-depth look at customizing the code for just one page, and the implementation involves both client- and server-side logic.
Create Goals
Using goals in Google Analytics permits more in-depth analysis of a site and advertising campaigns. Students must know how to set up goals and how to interpret the reports.
Clean Up the Profile
Google Analytics reports a lot of data. A lot of it is raw, unfiltered data that isn't intuitive. There are several things students can learn to do to clean up the data in a profile to make the reports more intelligible.
Tracking Ad Campaigns
Google Analytics makes analyzing advertising efforts much simpler. Students can learn how to set up campaigns that Google Analytics will automatically track and create reports on.

Analyzing GA Reports

Website analysis is a new, fast-growing industry, and Google Analytics is the most commonly used reporting tool. Students need to understand some basic analytical skills to prepare them for this field.

How GA Works
Students need to know how Google Analytics works at a technical level in order to understand what the reports it generates actually represent. This basic technical foundation is important for understanding the many nuances of web analytics reports.
How GA Gets Data
Related to the previous point, students need to know how Google Analytics gathers data and exactly what types of data are exposed to it.
Asking the Right Questions
Analysis starts with a question. Students can learn what types of business questions web analytics software can answer, as well as what types of common questions are not productive.
Report Navigation
Students can learn how to navigate the Google Analytics interface, including some frequently overlooked features that will make for more powerful analysis.
Measuring Marketing Efforts
In addition to appropriately tagging marketing campaigns, students need to know what to analyze to measure marketing efforts holistically without relying exclusively on conversion rates.

With these skills in place, students will be well positioned to use Google Analytics in real world situations.

Google Analytics for Intranets

Even though Google Analytics is wildly popular, it's not a good solution for every environment. More specifically:

Google Analytics isn't designed for Intranets