Would you drive a car without a dashboard? Of course not, and that’s essentially what analytics are for a website. They tell you not only the basics regarding the health of your site (how many visitors are coming, where they’re coming from, and what they’re doing) but also allow you to dig deeper (what pages people are going to, how many conversions you’re getting, what are the usual paths towards a conversion) and optimize from there.
In another post we’ll take you through building a basic dashboard to make sense of the various metrics you can see in an analytics program, but today we’re going to talk about setting up Google Analytics and beginning to collect data.
There are a few reasons to use Google Analytics. First and foremost, it’s free (with some rare exceptions at the highest end). Second is that it’s a service that’s so widely used that there’s an abundance of support documentation and an ample user base to rely on.
If you get to the point where you feel the need to hire an analytics point person, there’s no question they will be familiar with this platform.
Assuming you already have a Google Account, you’ll want to go to google.com/analytics and sign-in to Analytics. Next, follow Google’s instructions.
Once you’re in your new account you’ll want to go to your Admin tab, this will be on the top left hand of the page
Next you’ll go to the Account menu and select the option for New Account. This lives on the left side of the page.
Here you’ll set up a number of things, such as what you’re calling your account (generally this should be your business name), the website you’ll be tracking, and what industry you’re in. Google asks for your industry because they’ll use your data to create benchmarks that you and others can compare your success against. For more on benchmarks, check out this helpful support document.
You’ll also be asked to agree to a few data collection services, we suggest you say yes to all of these as they’ll help Google get you out of any jams or answer any questions you may have down the road.
You’ll then click on Get Tracking ID at the bottom of the page and accept Google’s Terms and Conditions.
This will give you a tracking code to add to your website, it should look like this one, with a unique UA code:
ga('create', 'UA-00000000-1', 'auto');
If you have a standard website and are not using an overlaying content management system (CMS) you’ll need copy and paste this tracking code in the header of each webpage. However, we suggest that if this is the case that instead you install Google Tag Manager, and attach Google Analytics through there as this will make it significantly easier to implement tags for other services going forward.
If you are using a standard CMS, here are some helpful instructions for adding the code to your site through popular systems:
Finally, go back to your tracking page and you should see the following at the top of it:
Click Send test traffic and after a few seconds, you should see that there’s an active user on your site (that’s you!).
Great, you’re done! In future posts, we’ll explain setting up dashboards, conversion goals, and more, but for now, you’re collecting data and that’s terrific.