Google Analytics Academy – First Impressions

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analytics academyThe Google Analytics Academy is officially open and the first four units are now available as a free course.  I’ve now studied the first set of units to find out how useful this course is and whether it would be of benefit to general website owners with little or no understanding of web analytics.  Here are my thoughts so far.
Google is offering this short introductory course over the month of October, to give users a greater breadth of understanding when it comes to web analytics. Analytics programs track user data for websites and Google Analytics is the most popular by a large margin, so it makes sense that Google is offering this free resource to get more people using and understanding their product.

If you’re interested in learning more about web analytics, the course is already open for registering. Simply sign up with an email and you can start looking through and learning immediately. Each unit comes with a short video (which you can translate to text if that’s easier for you to work from) followed by a short quiz on what was covered, which are then marked and go towards 20% of your final mark.

Everyone who passes the final test is also awarded a certificate to demonstrate that they have completed the Analytics Academy.  However, it’s important to note that this is NOT the same as Google’s Analytics Accreditation – which is a completely separate exam. Whilst you can use this short course (Google estimates it taking roughly 6 hours to complete) to improve your foundational knowledge of web analytics, this won’t result in a business level accreditation.

Who Can Attend Analytics Academy?

The Analytics academy is remarkably all encompassing and accessible, particularly if you know little about web analytics so far. The course begins with an excellent overview on how to get the most out of web analytics for monitoring the performance of your website (helpfully, this is actually applicable to all web analytics programs, not simply Google). This makes it a good foundation if you’re trying to get the first leg-up into understanding web metrics. However I think that those with a greater knowledge of analytics but who haven’t taken the Accreditation exam may also find the course useful.

I found this course to be informative and covering a great deal of ground for someone who is looking to learn the basics of web analytics and how it is relevant for business. As someone who has studied a great deal of pure SEO, it was actually surprisingly helpful to learn about how Google recommends you use analytics to track your conversions.

That said, if you’re interested in learning about the recent changes that have been taking place across Google Analytics, you are likely to be disappointed as there are very few specifics on this. Whilst so far the units have covered creating filters and goals, there are very few screenshots of the analytics dashboard and very little specific information about how to navigate around. That said, there may be more specifics coming in the final two modules and the course does encourage you to perform your own actions within analytics, which requires you to navigate around yourself to perform the tasks. In some ways this is actually annoying as I was completely unfamiliar with how to navigate to the “filters” area and happened to find my way there by luck. Those who don’t use Google Analytics very much may find themselves with a similar problem. There was also a broken link relating to a necessary page to complete the task as of the 10th, which wasn’t helpful. I could still look for the page and complete the goal but I hope Google restores the broken link quickly.

Gain An Entry Level Understanding of Analytics In October

As I mentioned, this course is only running in October and you will only be able to access your certification until the 31st of October, so you’ll need to print it out before then.

This course is designed specifically for anyone who is unfamiliar with analytics and how it works, or for someone with a basic level of knowledge who want to use it as a stepping stone towards the official Google Analytics Accreditation. Whether you’re interested in SEO or not, it’s still a great foundation to understanding how to measure the effectiveness of your website.

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