Google Analytics is a free analytical tool available to anyone who runs a website or blog.
It not only measures your site’s traffic but can also provide statistics and in-depth data on:
- The speed of your site
- Whether the site is mobile-friendly
- How many visitors end up as a customer
- What part of the world your visitors are in
- Which websites drive traffic to yours
- How long visitors spend on each page
- Which marketing tactics are the most successful
These are essential questions that any website owner should be asking, and using Google Analytics can quickly provide answers. It is a vital tool for anyone who wants to understand where their traffic comes from and improve visitors and sales.
To begin using Google Analytics, you’ll need basic HTML knowledge, an internet connection, and access to your site’s HTML code. If you aren’t confident with HTML or don’t have access to the site’s code, you’ll need to liaise with your company’s webmaster.
How to Install Google Analytics
To install Analytics, you’ll need a Google account; if you use services such as Gmail or Dropbox, you will already have one.
If you don’t, you’ll need to set one up on the Google website, a simple process that takes about five minutes to complete.
You’ll also be able to grant access to others if you wish – however, you should always keep primary control over the account.
Set up your website
Once you have created your Google account, sign in to Analytics by clicking the button. The steps for setting up Analytics will then be displayed.
This step requires you to input all information for your website:
- Your account name
- Your website name and URL
- Industry category
- Time zone for reports
If you are managing more than one account, you can organize them into ‘hierarchies’ – you can manage up to 100 Analytics accounts using a single Google account.
If you manage both personal and business websites, think carefully about how you wish to set them up. There is no right or wrong way; it depends on which method is most convenient for you.
You can rename your properties (websites) and accounts if required.
An important point to note is that you can’t move one of your properties to another Google Analytics account without losing all of the data you’ve collected.
Once you’ve entered all the information about your site, you can choose whether you want your data to be shared, for example, with Google’s technical team or account specialists.
Install The Tracking Code
Once you have entered all the details of your site, click the button labeled Get Tracking ID and agree to all Google’s Terms and Conditions (in the pop-up box.)
Your personal Google Analytics code will then be displayed.
The method of installation will depend on your platform – here are three of the most common:
If your website is HTML based, add the code before the </head> tag on each page.
Use a program for text editing to create the file (such as Notepad for Windows or TextEdit for Mac) and then upload it to your web host using the FTP program Filezilla.
Using WordPress on your domain, you can add Google Analytics through a Plugin or add the tracking code through your SEO Plugins such as SEOpressor or All In One SEO.
If your blog is on Tumblr, you will see a button marked Edit Theme on the top right. Click on this and enter the Analytics ID in your settings.
Every host has its instructions for setting up Google Analytics, and you should be able to find these in the Help or FAQ section.
If you’re unsure, you’ll find instructions with a Google search for “installation of Analytics + your host.”
Granting Access to Other Users
The level at which you add a user initially determines their access. You can add a new user at the view, account, or Property levels, and you can change their access at any time.
The person will need to create a Google account if they don’t already have one.
To add a new user, go to the Admin tab and click on the account, Property, or view that you’re granting access to.
In the relevant column, depending on the access you wish to grant, click User Management.
Enter the person’s Google email address under Add Permissions For. Select the permissions you wish to grant, then click Add.
Modify User Permissions
To modify a user’s permissions, follow the first three steps above, then locate the user with the search bar (you can use a partial or full email address.) You can now add or remove permissions for this user by using the selector in the Permissions column.
Deleting a User
Users cannot be deleted at any level apart from the account level.
To delete a user, follow steps one and two, locate the Account column and click User Management (note that you must use the Account column – the delete option will not be displayed if you click on any other column.)
Locate the desired user with the search bar and click on the Delete button, which will appear on the far right of the row.
Setting up goals
Goals notify you when a significant event happens on your site. For example, when a visitor lands on a confirmation page after making a purchase or signing up to your email marketing list.
Ensure the goals are relevant to you and give you useful, actionable information.
Your goals will depend on the purpose of your site; some beneficial goals include:
- A donation
- Completion of a purchase
- Sign-up to an email marketing list
- A download of a free voucher/e-book etc.
- Completion of a contact form
The Goals setting can be found by clicking Admin, then selecting the Goals button (under the View column.) Click the New Goal button and choose either the standard option or the custom option, depending on which suits your needs.
After this, select ‘Next Step’. You’re now required to name your goal – choose something relevant and memorable. Click on Destination and then select ‘Next Step’.
In the Destination field, enter the URL of your confirmation or thank you page (following the .com of your site name.) Select “Begins With” from the drop-down box.
If applicable to your site, you can enter a value in dollars for the conversion and then click Create Goal. To create more goals, simply follow the steps again.
Adding additional properties or accounts
To add a new property, go to your Admin menu and click on the drop-down menu under Property, then select Create New Property.
If you want to add a new account, select Create New Account from the drop-down menu under Accounts.
To create more new properties or accounts, you can follow the steps again through the process.
Viewing your Data
Once you start receiving information, you’ll see an Audience Overview Report every time you log in to your Analytics account.
Alternatively, if you have more than one Property on your account, you will see a list of your sites; select one and view the relevant Audience Overview Report.
There are over 50 reports you can obtain through Analytics.
You can also gain access by clicking on the Reporting link at the top of the screen.
On the Reporting page, you’ll notice various types of reports on the left-hand side. To change the date ranges of the reports, use the box in the upper right-hand corner.
You can also compare different periods by entering the dates and clicking Compare. The standard report categories include:
You can see your users’ locations displayed on a map, who’s new to your site, and which devices visitors are using.
This section shows you which search engines visitors use to find your site and which other websites direct to yours.
You can also find the keywords your visitors typed into search engines to find you.
This information is valuable – you can optimize your website with those keywords to increase your visibility and traffic.
Here, you’ll find in-page analytics and extensive information regarding how your site works and how visitors are using it.
You can add your favorite and frequently used reports to the Shortcuts section for easier access, found in the left-hand menu.
When viewing any report, you’ll see a Shortcut button at the top of the screen; click on it to add a shortcut for the report. You can also email reports to yourself and other members of your team by clicking the email icon.
Google Analytics can look daunting for a beginner, and even the set-up process can appear complicated.
However, Google walks you through the process step-by-step, and once Analytics is set up, and you’re viewing reports daily, you’ll quickly become more familiar with how it works.
You’ll soon realize how valuable the information is and how you can use it to target your campaigns effectively.
Analytics provides you with all the information you need to take control of your site.
When used correctly, it can identify what tactics lead to increased visitors or sales, and the ones that may need improvement.
It’s worth taking the time to learn and understand how to use it to your benefit.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, there are even more advanced features that you can employ; there’s also lots of additional useful information and tutorials on the Google Analytics site.