Cookies — those tiny files that link our computers with specific websites — are part of our collective Internet knowledge now. We know that cookies coming directly from websites are usually okay (these are first-party cookies).
We know they store basic information about our computer.
And we know that when we clean out all trace of our cookies, we have to enter our user information into our favorite websites one more time.
But how do the cookies work?
There’s the interesting part.
Have a Cookie!
By continuing to use this site, you signify your consent to cookies.”
You’ll see something similar on lots of sites.
Why, aside from legal reasons, do you display this notice?
This cookie collects basic information about the requesting computer: the language used, the operating system and browser running, and whether this is the computer’s first visit to your site or not.
It can also tell how long visitors stay on each page and how many pages they view.
After the cookie has done its stuff, the information is sent to Google’s data processors.
Google Analytics Is Now Processing Your Data
Data processing is when all the information from various cookies is added together and sorted.
Google uses your own settings to determine what’s important to you — for example, you can tell Google to ignore any cookie information that comes from within your company so you don’t inadvertently skew your results.
Once your data has been processed, it’s displayed to you in the Google Analytics Dashboard.
From there, you can get into the real details of your site’s performance. This step, called reporting, is where the responsibility shifts to you.
Will you take the information and improve your site? Or will you simply admire all the shiny new graphs?
Next week, we’ll wrap up this series by talking about how you can get the most out of Google Analytics. Join us then or subscribe to our blog so you don’t miss a post!