I see this a lot in my line of work: people create these great websites, but then don’t set up or don’t check their website analytics. To me, that’s like building a house and never using the kitchen. Ignoring analytics means ignoring one of the most powerful tools on your website, and missing a lot of information that could help boost your online presence.
The Google Analytics interface can be complicated at first, and sometimes it’s hard to know where to start. In this post, I’ll go over the basics of how to set up your Google Analytics account to gather the right information.
Once you set it up, you’ll need to leave it alone for a couple of weeks so it can collect enough data to work with. Then, in my next post, I’ll go over the basic reports you should pay attention to when you’re first getting started.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free service that generates detailed metrics about your website traffic and traffic sources. It also has the ability to measure sales and conversions on your website, if set up properly. Plain and simple, any website owner that wants to grow and expand their website should use it, even beginners.
With Google Analytics, you’ll gain more insight into your visitors than you ever thought possible. You’re able to view, analyze, and interpret data to help you understand visitor demographics, how they found your site, what they do once they’re there, why they end up leaving, and much more. It’s these insights that guide your decision-making when it comes to adjusting marketing efforts and making changes to your website.
But before you can get any of this information, you’ll need to set up Google Analytics the right way:
1. Connect Google Analytics to your website
1. Go to http://www.google.com/analytics/.
2. Click “Sign-in” and enter your Google email account information. If you don’t have a Google email address, you’ll need to create one via the “Create an account” link.
3. Once you’ve logged in, click the “Start using Google Analytics” sign up button.
4. Enter an account name, the name of your website, your website URL, your type of industry, and your time zone. You’ll also be asked to check or uncheck four data sharing settings. These help Google improve their service offering.
5. Click the “Get Tracking ID” button at the bottom of the page. You’ll also need to accept the Google Analytics Terms of Service Agreement.
6. Copy the snippet of code (similar to one pictured below), and enter this into every page on your site. Note: Depending on the CMS you use or how you built your website, there are different ways of inserting this code. I suggest that you check with your CMS provider to see what the best way to add the code is.
Jimdo users: You can enter this into the “Edit Head” section of the Site Admin. Simply log into your Jimdo website, select Settings > Website > Edit Head, and then insert the snippet of code. This will automatically place it on every webpage you ever create.
7. CONGRATULATIONS! You now have Google Analytics set up on your website. What’s next?
2. Set up different views in Google Analytics
Once Google Analytics is set up, I recommend creating three different views (i.e. profiles):
Since Google already creates one view upon signup (“All Web Site Data”), you’ll treat this as your MAIN VIEW. This will be the view that you monitor and analyze on a regular basis. I would suggest leaving this as Google suggests: “All Web Site Data.” We’ll make some minor adjustments to it in just a few minutes.
Next, you’ll create a TEST VIEW. This view will allow you to test new settings, new filters, and any other changes you make to your website analytics in the future. It’s a way to experiment with new features without sacrificing all of the data that you’re capturing if something goes wrong with a test.
The final view you’ll want to create is an UNFILTERED VIEW. This will collect all data from every source of traffic that ever visits your website (including your own traffic). Once this view is set up, you won’t ever need to look at it. It will be your safety net, in the event that something ever goes wrong with one of your other views. I would suggest naming this view “UNFILTERED VIEW – DO NOT TOUCH.”
To set these up:
1. Log into your Google Analytics account.
2. Select “Admin” in the top navigation bar.
3. Select “View,” “All Web Site Data” from the drop-drop menu, and then “Create new view.”
4. Enter the name of your view.
3. Remove your IP address from Google Analytics
Once you’ve installed Google Analytics on your website and you have your three different profiles, you’ll want to filter out all of your own traffic from the “All Web Site Data” view (i.e. MAIN VIEW). If you plan to visit your website from certain locations on a regular basis (e.g. home, office, etc.), you’ll want to add the IP addresses to a filter. This is to ensure that when you work on or visit your website, you aren’t affecting your actual website traffic metrics.
1. Find out your IP address. An easy option is to visit http://www.whatismyip.com/.
2. Log into your Google Analytics account.
3. Select “Admin” in the top navigation bar.
4. Under “Account,” select “All Filters.”
5. Select “+ New Filter.”
6. Add a filter name, depending on what IP you’re entering. For instance, if you’re adding your home IP address, I would suggest naming it “Home IP Filter.”
7. Select “Predefined filter,” and then exclude traffic from the IP addresses that are equal to your IP address. You’ll need to then enter your IP address.
8. Apply the filter to the “All Web Site Data” view only.
9. Select “Save.”
Start gathering data
Now that you’ve gone through these steps, you should do…nothing. Seriously, I recommend waiting at least two to four weeks before checking your data. If you’re patient and wait two weeks, you’ll be able to compare data from one week to the next. And moving forward, this is the best way to track your success as a website. As more time passes and you collect more data, you’ll be able to compare results from month to month, quarter to quarter, and year to year. Check back in a couple of weeks for my next post, on a few basic reports you should run in Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is definitely accessible and digestible for beginners, but it’s also an extremely advanced piece of software. I’m hopeful that this guide will give you a basic understanding of Google Analytics and how to get it started on your website. Please leave any questions you have in the comments section below.
Read Jesse’s next post on Google Analytics 101: Basic Metrics and Reports