There are multiple great resources for a beginners guide to Google Analytics. Our interest in adding our hat in that ring is to provide you with a dense mash-up of best practices to guide you through optimizing your Google Analytics for ultimate usage. Big Data is very real and very much here, so understanding the inbound traffic you have to your websites is crucial for businesses to succeed in 2014 and beyond.
By 2020 there will be 50 billion ‘things’ connected to the Internet. That’s 3.65 devices per person that could be accessing your website. Understanding Google Analytics is paramount to your success both now and then. Google Analytics is a tool with endless opportunities and variances for collecting data and metrics.
Unfortunately, if you don’t have it set up and organized properly, you’ll never get the treasure trove of answers it can produce. Let me burst a bubble for you: You have to be able to both go beyond and still understand simple traffic stats. You need to extract deep insights into the how/why/when people are landing on your pages, engaging with your site, how long they stay, where they come from and what you could have done to provide them more value so they come back.
Oh, and the coup de grace, conversions. Improving your conversions with actual data and insights is the holy grail that is Google Analytics. This quick guide to Google Analytics will cover setting up your account and grabbing the code needed for your website. To follow, we will have a five-part series digging deeper into the war chest that is Google Analytics. Those parts are:
- Part 1 : Setting up impact measurements and conversion goals
- Part 2 : Navigating the Google Analytics interface
- Part 3 : Understanding your traffic and trends to watch
- Part 4 : Data segmentation: Advanced segmentation tips to improve conversions
- Part 5 : Calculating the ROI of your marketing channels and campaigns
How to set up your Google Analytics account
The first step is to go through the sign-up procedure at the Google Analytics page. Once you’ve logged in or created a Google account, you’ll need to create an account name, and set up your ‘property’ including website name, URL, industry category, reporting time zone, and your data sharing settings. Click Get Tracking ID and accept the Google Analytics Terms of Service Agreement and your account will be set up. Now that you’ve completed the setup process, you’ll see your Admin page that has two key areas. The first is the ability to upgrade to Universal Analytics.
Second is your unique tracking ID which comes with pre-populated tracking code to paste into the code of your website or of every page you want to track. You should have a Content Management System (CMS). If you don’t, get one. The favorites of the web are WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. We like and recommend WordPress. WordPress is used by 60.6 percent of websites that use a CMS, and 22.9 percent of ALL websites. Whatever CMS you chose, you’ll want to insert the code directly into your website’s source code. Insert your Google Analytics tracking code before the source code and Update File.
Here is an example of how to insert the code using WordPress. In Appearance > Editor choose the Header box on the right side menu. Insert your Google Analytics code the line before and then select Update File. Voila! You now have tracking setup for every single page on your website. –
*Pro Tip* After you’ve hit Update File, open your website in a new tab and make sure you haven’t made any accidental changes to it. –
Checking that Google Analytics is up and running
Now, return to your Google Analytics account (my advice is just leave it open in one of your tabs so it’s easier to get back to) and check if the status of your account has been changed to Receiving Data. This is crucial because if it hasn’t, you’ve done something wrong and nothing is being tracked yet. Your status can be checked in Admin > Tracking Info > Status. I suggest that you absolutely have Google Analytics directly on your website, but there is an easier solution, too. WordPress offers a gaggle of WordPress SEO plugins that provide Google Analytics integration.
If you’ve had your website built by an agency, there is a chance that there will be multiple themes for your website pages, which means you will need to do the same steps above for multiple themes. Go to Appearance > Editor and on the right hand side you will see Select theme to edit. Select all of the active themes you have, and do the same step of choosing Header on the right side bar and inserting your Google Analytics code before the line. If this becomes too cumbersome, contact your website developer for help with adding the code.
Google Analytics will be the most important step you take in the success of your website. Collecting and analyzing the data of where people are coming from, where they are landing and how/why, means more to your bottom line than most businesses realize. Before you know it, you’ll understand how to comprehend key features and how to run a split test, and you should be well on your way to better conversions.
Better conversions = increased revenue… it’s a fact.
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