This is the second of a five part series designed to help you understand Google Analytics, improve your site, and enhance your digital strategy.

Previously we talked about what kind of data is displayed in Analytics about your website’s visitors and how to read that data in order to identify your market and audience. If you missed the first post of this series on Audience, you can find it here on our blog. As promised, here is the second post on Acquisition, where we will teach you how to sort all the traffic sources of your website or app. Here are the other areas we’ll focus on in this series:


Let’s start by explaining the concept of Acquisition in Google Analytics. As the word “Acquisition” suggests, the concept behind Google’s tool is very similar. In this area we access the data regarding how people reached a website, or how we have acquired our audience, and through which channels or referrals they were at before they got there. As with all the major sections of Analytics, we’ll go into more detail about how Acquisition is broken down:


This component is used to compare different channels from which you have acquired visitors to your website (example: Social, Direct, Referral). Besides regular acquisition information, you can also find a table with users’ behavior and goal conversations. Channels are helpful to determine which source of traffic is the best when promoting your website.

All Traffic

All traffic, as the name states, is responsible for showing all sources of incoming traffic responsible for visits, behaviors or conversions. It works similar to channels, but with a more detailed view of specific websites, displayed as URLs from those sites. Initially, the primary dimension the All Traffic section shows is “Source / Medium,” where “Source” is the specific URL of a website that visitors are coming from, and “Medium” represents the kind of traffic—like referral or organic. Referral traffic comes when a visitor clicks on a link from an external site and is brought to your site, whereas organic traffic comes when a website is searched for in Google or other search engines. You can also choose to look at other specific dimensions like just the Source or just the Medium, the Keyword searched, and others.

All Referrals

This view is almost identical to All Traffic, with the difference being that it only shows all referral traffic. We are able to see which domains are referring traffic to our site, and what sources of traffic we are getting. This might be helpful to you if you are placing banners or links to your site on different websites.


This is a great tool if you are running or planning different campaigns (AdWords or other) to promote your website. You can determine the number of visitors coming to your website from a specific campaign—for example, a “Fall Campaign” linked from an email blast. We find this tool beneficial for different email marketing campaigns, where instead of a regular link we insert one provided by Google Analytics URL Builder, where it can show us the specific Campaign Source, Medium, Term (optional), Content (optional) and Name.


If your website is packed with good content and coded properly (with good heading tags, for example) then you should be experiencing high organic traffic. If you’d like to determine which keywords or content are performing better on your site, the Keywords section can provide you with that data, broken down into two segments—“Organic” and “Paid.” As mentioned above, Organic traffic is responsible for all visitors finding your website through Google or a similar search engine, while Paid is all your Pay Per Click (PPC) campaign results.

Cost Analysis

Although at the time of writing this, Cost Analysis is in beta mode, this report shows session, cost, and revenue performance data for all your paid marketing channels. Here, you can compare your paid campaigns and associated revenue (ecommerce or goal value), in order to calculate your Return on Investment (ROI), Revenue per Click (RPC) and profit margin. Basically, you get insight into which of your paid campaigns are performing the best.


This report would work the best if you are familiar with Google AdWords, which is pay-per-click platform provided by Google. In a few words, this report is an integration of your AdWords account with all the data from your campaign, accessible through Google Analytics. Therefore, it’s only helpful if you’re currently running AdWords campaigns.


Social media is becoming one of the most important marketing channels on the Web in today’s fast-paced world. Google Analytics allows us to effectively measure that data and the impact of social media channels on our websites. The Social section is divided into four main elements, which define your social impact:

  • Network Referrals – same as with “All Referrals”, it shows us data about which social network is bringing the most visitors.
  • Conversions – by sharing our links across social sites and acquiring visitors, we are able to determine how and if they are converting into our ecommerce or value goals.
  • Landing Pages – by looking at the Landing Pages report, we can see which of your pages are the most visited by social channels and exactly which channels.
  • Social Plugins – by installing a social plugin (like a Facebook share button on your site), you allow visitors to share content from your site directly to social networks. Therefore, the “Social Plugins” report shows which content is being shared and on which networks.

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO

The Search Engine Optimization (SEO) data provides you information about Google Web Search queries that have returned your website’s URL as a result, as well as the most popular landing pages or geographical summary of your Google searches. Each one of those views exhibits Impressions (the number of times your URL was displayed in Google Searches), Clicks (the number of clicks on those impressions), Average Position (the average page position of your website in a search index for a specific keyword—not available in the Geo summary) and the Click Though Rate (CTR). This report is only available if you have setup your Google Webmaster Tools and configured SEO reporting with Google Analytics.

BONUS: The Acquisition Behavior Conversion (ABC) Cycle


You have probably noticed that many sections in the Acquisition report contain information on behavior and conversion. This ABC cycle lets you figure out how you have acquired users, their behavior on your site after acquisition, and their conversion patterns. Instead of just looking on how you got the users, you get to analyze behavior and conversion in one place.

Conclusion of Acquisition

Now that you have learned the basics of the Google Analytics Acquisition section, we’re sure you are eager to see how your site has been performing when it comes to acquiring visitors. For our next post we’ll take a look at the Behavior section, which provides you with insight on the second part of the ABC cycle. We hope you’re having fun learning about Google Analytics! Make sure to stay tuned for all this series has to offer, including valuable insights and downloadable materials!

Leave a Comment