Web analytics

How to become a web analyst?

Occasionally I hear about someone wanting to be a web analyst.
I’ve tried to mentor a few people and help many just with analytics.

When will I become a web analyst?

“I want to be a web analyst ideally yesterday.” He’d like to skip all the context learning from an online marketing perspective and would like to become a great full-fledged web analyst right away. A phrase I’ve heard a lot of times really, the problem is you can’t do it that fast, it will take a bit more time and energy. Most of the time it’s just about knowing everything along the way from the creation of the data to the final processing, presenting it to the reasoning for the person who doesn’t believe the data. And that’s knowledge that is learned incrementally.

For me, it’s important to go step by step.

The first step is always to start measuring, where you don’t measure, there is no data, and you can’t decide anything without data.

But what to do if I don’t have a website? And I don’t even work in the industry yet?

Well you just got the chance… take the first step.

Where to get a website for my first attempts?

Make your own website, maybe a simple web hosting site that’s free. A website on a third tier domain that is free, often you can install wordpress there with a few clicks and you’ll be able to play around. So you get a place where nothing is a big deal and you can cash everything in and nothing will happen if you mess up, at worst you click in the admin of the site and it will install the whole wordpress again in a minute. Don’t worry that it doesn’t look nice, there’s no text, just that the site works.

How do I install Google analytics?

For example, you can install a plugin in WordPress with a few clicks, which will put Google analytics there, I activate it. This plugin will ask you for your Google analytics ID. So it goes to Google analytics and you just set up there. A matter of minutes. There’s almost nothing you can do wrong with it.

Congratulations you have taken the first step.🎉

I myself had a few smaller sites from the beginning for things I enjoyed and tried things on them regularly. I currently have and still use these sites, some even have just a few bare pages and even those are enough to test how the analytics work. Think of it as a first step, if you don’t want to do even that, it might not be the field for you. Web analytics is by name about websites and that’s why you need it.

Do I need any complicated expensive tools besides Google analytics?

For working with data tables, you can use a Google Sheet or anything you enjoy working with and know how to use. To knock up nice customized ones, you can even use Google looker (data) studio, which is also free for a lot of people.

Then maybe try to do something more complex, first custom reports, first troubleshooting. Trying to understand things. You still don’t need some super expensive tools, you still just need everything that is free and online and a little bit of knowledge and most importantly dedicate time to it.

Get some training.

It’s great to see the effects of all the other online marketing disciplines on the final numbers. This is also why I often say it takes a really long time, maybe 2-3 years to be in the industry.

The first thing you can do is go to Google’s Digital Garage where you can easily get, at least a minimal overview of online marketing. Then the higher paid version is the digisemester from Jindra Faborsky. It will certainly help you get started.

How about an online course?

There is also a free small Youtube course from Google on Analytics.

Get hired as a junior and keep learning and trying.

Another thing I recommend is to get a job at a full service online marketing agency where you can try everything. This will give you context to all disciplines (PPC, SEO,UX,copy, how online marketing works etc.). With a variety of different clients you’ll gain a lot of experience, meet a lot of problems to solve. Make sure you set up a time to learn there and that someone from the company will educate you regularly, budget for industry events. Then you’ll know what the numbers you see mean. This will give you an incredible boost in knowledge in the future. Jump around departments from PPC to SEO, UX etc. find out how they work and all the while be interested in reporting and measurement. You might not become a web analyst, but you’ll be doing something you enjoy even more and that’s a good thing. By solving problems from all different sectors you will gain experience not only in technical aspects, but also how to work with people or companies, how to deal with your boss or counterparties. Agency experience is taken as very important because as a web analyst you will often be solving problems with agencies. You’ll be auditing them and looking under their fingers, so it’s very good to know the pro environment etc.

This implies to me that a web analyst is already an experienced online marketing specialist from the start. I say on purpose that a junior web analyst doesn’t exist, because really the first one has to have online experience and try to report it himself and set it up in GA, GTM or in an agency under the supervision of other specialists.

Yes, it goes past junior in a couple of months because they really live it, enjoy it perfectly and spend 95% of their time doing it. They listen to an analytics podcast while walking and read the latest news on their phone in the bathroom. You want it a lot of time and it’s a journey, but of course it takes a lot of effort.

But yes even total junior web analytics can be and are, but I take this as the ideal path. Teaching a total novice everything from scratch seems inefficient to me. By pushing it into his head under pressure, not much knowledge will stay there because he himself doesn’t know why he should know it and hasn’t experienced the problems related to the subject.

I’ve already gone through an online agency and don’t know where to grow.

Mix in more web analytics, there is surely no company that would not support it, because it will gain an even more valuable team member. But you can mix in other things, like business intelligence (databases connected to reporting tools), or more complex data work where you use a lot of math and maybe do machine learning. There’s no limit to creativity, any such combination of disciplines is super desirable and brings a new precious perspective to the online world.

Doesn’t the company have anything else to give you? You’ve been there for maybe 1-2 years and you’re not moving anywhere? Ask your boss for it, you want to do something interesting, bigger. And if that doesn’t work change the company, there is a lot of interest in people with analytics knowledge. Pick a new firm, with better clients, something you enjoy even more. Build rapport with clients, understand their problems and help them.

For me, probably the final stage is a senior web analyst freelancer or on a big analytics team that has huge great clients. From there, the growth is probably just to leave CR and go global, and even there there is a hunger for web analysts.

Am I suitable for this journey?

I guess I would see curiosity, a desire to know, a desire to understand things as the main qualities for a web analyst.

Web analytics is a field that is always changing and will continue to change in the future, so you have to keep learning and have fun.

To have a moral compass that says the number is only supposed to be the right number and you can’t bend it because someone wants to.

And then of course there’s English… you don’t need to be able to speak it at first, but reading English is really a must. It’s good to know how to listen to English as well, because then you can listen to, for example, a podcast about how Simo Ahava got into analytics.

It’s a long journey, try to help people and be inquisitive. Be understanding of the world.

You can focus more and more on analytics if you enjoy it and one day you find that you are doing it 70% of the time and people come to you for advice in GA.

Where to get knowledge besides work?

You can help other people get out of their problems and this will give you a deeper understanding of the field and test your limits. And the more problems you solve, the better analyst you are.

If you help people, you’ll create a community of people who know that you know. That’s how you build a good brand, you gain trust, and that’s the most solid currency. I’ve always done almost all of this part of helping for free. People didn’t pay me with money, they paid me with the opportunity to know more by solving their problems. Yes it’s not a way to instinctively gain a brand, but it’s a way to build it gradually as your knowledge grows. This brand will have a solid foundation backed by lots of little references.

Pak je otázka kde pomáhat?

Most often in Facebook groups, namely Web Analytics , but you can also find groups about SEO, PPC, etc. there are people everywhere solving analytics problems that you can help with.

Where is the mythical meta?

For me, it’s probably Measure Slack, where you meet all those mythical foreign analytics guys solving complicated things.

Is there a project you like?

Help him, maybe for free. I did, too. Your investment is time and you get a good feeling and lots of problems to solve.

Want to get a super boost?

Talk to people in the industry, go to conferences, solve their vexing problems. Measure camp is probably the most famous in our country  and this will be a must for you. And you can even present connections of your own first ideas.

I don’t have people around me, I’m self-taught, I enjoy it, but can I teach myself?

Yes, just like me, I never had a mentor, never had anyone teach me GA and through the energy I put in I learned. And as a result, I’ve often taught others. But of course having people to push you forward can speed things up quite a bit.

What if I don’t want to be that web analyst after all?

Even if it doesn’t ultimately make you a living, knowing the basics of Google Analytics is really useful.

Running your website or helping a client without GA skills is like driving a car with your eyes closed.

What about technical knowledge?

If we’re talking about basic measurement, you don’t even need to know the javacript it’s based on and you’ll just need GA and GTM. Yes, you can even just click it. But you’ll learn it over time as you troubleshoot anyway, so you don’t need to push it. The best way to learn anyway is in the troubleshooting, so I rather say when you come across javascript, don’t be afraid of it and try to understand it.

If you have to do an analytics implementation on an e-commerce site, that already requires knowledge of javascript. Without that, it’s pretty tricky, just knowing how to read code at first, but being able to fix errors like, you’re missing a semicolon there and a comma here, and being able to debug the analytics to see if it’s measuring correctly.

The more you know it, the more you’ll be able to do more complex things, just incremental development.

If you want to do mainly implementations, you need a very good knowledge of javascript + HTML. Know the language of programmers etc.
Certainly it’s good to go to Google to hunt for documentation sites:
If you want to do implementations in GTM then read properly the blog and read most of the article for the last 2-3 years and try to implement it on your test site.

And what’s not there you can surely google and if you don’t know for a long time you can ask in the web analytics Facebook group. Just please before asking a question, try typing “search in group”, chances are someone already had the same question as you. Otherwise, there are no stupid questions, just stupid answers.

Data view

Then if you’re already measuring it, you can focus on the purpose of getting the data, of course, and that’s diving into the data, finding the truth, doing reports.

In the beginning, you won’t need more than the Google analytics interface and possibly some spreadsheet tool like Google sheets. For your first customized data visualizations, Google looker / data studio will certainly do the trick.

When that’s no longer enough you have R, SQL and Python, DataStudio, PowerBi etc. , but you’ll get to that over time as you solve more and more complex problems. Then of course there is the next league and that is business intelligence itself. Knowing how to work with data is very important, personally I like when people are able to use multiple environments to view and work with data and choose it based on need and better usability.

In terms of reporting I like an evolutionary approach, first GA itself, then move to a bit more business reporting in Data Studio and Google spreadsheets and when people use it enough move to BI solutions (Tableau, PowerBi, Qlik). From my point of view, it is very hard to shortcut this path because it is not about the technology, it is about the change in mindset in people’s heads. Gradually, minds have to change from accepting that there are numbers to understanding numbers to wanting to work with data.

The output of an analyst is not pretty data or a pretty graph, but the main goal is to help the company make better decisions by looking into the data and adding context to the data. The context that illuminates why what is happening is happening can be from internal db, from GA, Google Ads (Adwords), but also weather, a change in the market, an event that changed the market, sometimes you just need to dust off old data or look at it from a different angle today. So an analyst has to know the client’s business very well and all the nooks and crannies of it that he may not even know about himself. It is also important to gradually feed this data to the client so that they understand and accept it. You can’t give a client a data table with a detailed breakdown and expect the client to see it. Such a client will usually block and not move on because it is important to dose the data in digestible chunks. Data that is not used is wasted time and money.

Prepare to get meaningless questions and tasks and your output should be meaningful answers to things users want to know/solve, not what they say they want.


Have a tweet with follow actively:

I recommend listening to the podcast as well The Digital Analytics Power Hour

They just have to live by web analytics. If you think of it as a well-paid job, forget it, because the field is evolving so fast that you can’t do it without enough effort and desire for knowledge.

I’ve been doing web analytics myself for about 8 years, for the most part analytics has been my livelihood for 5 years
I estimate I’ve spent about 6-8k hours learning and carpentering regularly over the years.