If you have a website but aren’t using Google Analytics, you are doing something wrong. Having a website without knowing important data like the number of people visiting your site is like running an advertising campaign without recording sales. I mean, you did spend a lot of time and/or money building your website didn’t you? So doesn’t it only make sense that you would want to know if your site was effective and serving its purpose?
On this page I’m going to give you all the information you need to use Google Analytics and get the most out of it. Best part is that it is free to setup and run Google Analytics! It’s also much easier than you may have anticipated. So let’s get started.
What You Will Need
– A website
– Your html/php files or your webmaster
– A Google account (such as gmail)
First Step: Setting up your account
The first thing you need to do to set up Google Analytics on your site is visit analytics.google.com. If you already have a Google account, fill in your login info in this box:
If you don’t have a Google account, click the link right above the sign in box:
If you are creating your first Google account, or an account you would like to use primarily for Google Analytics, the sign up process is very quick and easy. You will be asked for your current e-mail address, a password of your choosing, your location, birthday, and word verification so Google knows that you are not a spam bot.
Account created? Great! Let’s sign in.
Go back to www.google.com/analytics, and click the blue button that says “Access Analytics”
On the next page, click the gray “sign up” button in the bottom left.
You will then be asked for the URL of the website you would like to track. Enter the URL of your website or a client’s website, and then enter an account name below it if you don’t want the account name to be your default URL.
Click continue after entering the information above, as well as your timezone. You will then enter your first and last name and have to accept the user agreement. Below the user agreement you will see that data sharing settings are opted in, leave it as such for now. If you would like to learn more about data sharing, click the “learn more” link.
Finally, you are on the most important step in setting up Google Analytics on your site: adding the code. Now before you freak out because you read the word “code”, know that adding the code is merely a matter of copying and pasting into the right spot. You can do this yourself if you have access to your website’s html or php files, but if not, contacting your webmaster should suffice.
First, let’s make sure we are putting together the right piece of code. Google will ask you a series of questions when setting up your code. They are the following:
1. What are you tracking?
The default option is: a single domain. In my case, it would be www.searchandperch.com
You also have the option of choosing one domain with multiple subdomains (e.g. about.searchandperch.com, contact.searchandperch.com) or multiple top-level domains (e.g. searchandperch.net, searchandperch.org)
2. Do you want to integrate your Analytics with an Adwords campaign?
If you are already running an Adwords account, or you plan on running one with the same Google account you used to sign up for Analytics, you definitely want this box checked.
Now, if you need to track more advanced data, such as mobile websites, dynamic content, and php pages, click on the “advanced” tab.
Select the appropriate buttons for what you need. If you’re not sure, ask your webmaster.
3. E-mail and/or insert your code
If you would like your webmaster to do it for you, copy the text and code under the “Email These Instructions” expansion arrow, and paste the content into the body of your email and then send it to your webmaster. He/she should know what to do.
If you would like to do it yourself, simply copy the code provided, and paste it right before the </head> tag on each page of your website. You can quickly add the code to all pages on your site using a text editor like BBedit, or simply adding the code to a template you’ve created for your site using a program like Adobe Dreamweaver.
If you are adding the Analytics code to a WordPress site or blog, check out this great plugin for quickly setting up Analytics on WordPress.
4. Save and finish
After clicking “save and finish” you will be brought to the dashboard/homepage for Google Analytics. Next to your domain name you will see an icon that indicates whether or not your tracking is working or not.
As you can see, the yellow triangle with the exclamation mark is showing under the status section for my website. This indicates that the tracking is unknown. For the first 24 hours or so, you should see this icon; it is perfectly normal. After about a day, the icon should turn into a green check mark, which means the code was installed properly, and your site is now gathering data on your site’s visitors.
That’s it. After completing these steps you should be up and running with Google Analytics. The best way to learn to use it is by playing around with it and getting an overall feel for the interface.
If you are uncomfortable with venturing into unfamiliar territory, check out our free guide on using Google Analytics.