Google Analytics is a web analytics tool that reports performance metrics of your website as well as provides insights into your website’s visitor behaviors and their activities while they are on the site. Google Analytics has been around for many years, and since that time has provided many individuals and businesses with reliable analytic data they have come to depend on.
Although knowing what Google Analytics can do is significant, it is also vital to understand what the software can’t do. As great as Google Analytics is, it definitely has some areas where it is incomplete.
What can Google Analytics Do?
Real Time Users
Real time reports in Google Analytics is an important feature for seeing the visitors who are currently browsing your website. Below are some of the reasons to keep track of real time reports:
- Verify if your tracking is up and running
- See the immediate effects on traffic from blogs and social media
- Test changes on your site by monitoring goal completions
What Device Types Visitors Use
Google Analytics can tell you which devices your visitors are using to visit your website. This report is supportive to track how your website is performing on different devices. To view device reports navigate to Audience → Mobile → Devices.
In GA you can see which channels are driving traffic to your website - whether social sites, paid campaigns or organic searches are driving the most traffic. You can keep track of top marketing channels and improve your marketing strategies to get more out of them.
You would be interested in knowing what your audiences are interested in. Are they sports fans, business people, individual employers or artists? You can find audience interests reports by navigating to Audience → Interests → Overview.
How Users Navigate Your Site
Google Analytics’ Behavior flow reports reveal how users navigate on your site. It shows where the user landed and what pages they visited next during their session. To view behavior flow reports navigate to Behavior → Behavior Flow in your GA reporting tab.
How Fast the Website Loads
Page load time is the main factor Google considers while indexing your web pages. Sites loading under 3 seconds are more popular and have a better chance of ranking higher than sites with a slow response time.
To check your site loading time in Google Analytics, navigate to Behavior → Site Speed → Overview.
What Can Google Analytics Not Do?
Track and Report Data from Individual Users - Prohibited by Google
Due to privacy concerns for visitors, Google took a stand long ago against tracking an individual user across a website. Google Analytics intentionally keeps user information anonymous so that marketers can understand far-reaching stroke visitor behavior on the website, but none of the information is too detailed. Some marketers prefer to track information such as actual user name and email to evaluate their behavior on the website. Google Analytics won’t let users do that.
Limited Storage of Website Analytics Data
Google Analytics data will remain stored in the account for at least the past 25 months. As you can imagine, keeping so much information for so many websites on the internet for free is a challenging task. Because of this, Google only agrees to keep at least 25 months of visitor data for any particular website. This helps Google because it limits the amount of time and virtual or effective storage that they have to provide free to Google Analytics customers. For the premium version there is no such limit.
Process Historical Data
Google Analytics will only process data from the time you installed GA script and started tracking your site. It won’t be able to process any past data that your site experienced before being connected to GA. For example; you have set up your analytics tracking on January 1, 2017 it will only process data from that date forward and no data will appear before the starting date.
User Activity on 3rd Party Sites (Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, etc.)
You can track page views, events, clicks, form submissions and how a user navigates on your site. You can’t track user activity in Google Analytics once a user leaves your site. What a user does on your Facebook page or any of your other sites, or what activity a user does on your competitor’s website is not recorded.
When a User Deletes Browser Cookies
Google Analytics identifies users based on cookies to keep track of new vs. returning visitors and once a user deletes his/her cookies, the next time the user visits your site, he/she will be considered a new user.