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September 16, 2014

How to Set Up Google Analytics

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Having a website without any analytics is like playing darts with your eyes closed. The odds of hitting your target are stacked against you. Online marketing and SEO is no exception. You need to be able to see how your website is performing so the odds of reaching your target goals are all in your favor. It starts with learning how to set up Google Analytics for your website.

It never ceases to amaze me how often I come across business owners who have websites, but no analytics installed on them. While they may understand the value of research and data in their decision making process, they don’t know how to collect that data. I love that I can solve that problem for them through the modern magic of Google Analytics. They’re excited to learn that after they add some simple code to their site they’ll be able to:

  • Track and measure the results of their efforts
  • See how many visits their website is getting and where visitors are coming from
  • Access a clear vision of the role their website plays in the grand scheme of their business

Without this type of data to inform your business decisions, you are potentially wasting valuable time and resources on strategies and activities that do nothing to increase your bottom line. So, without further ado, here’s how to bring on the data! And know that BCI is standing by with supportive Analytics services including setup, data analysis and data-based optimization to boost your online efforts.

Setting Up Google Analytics

Now that you know how much more your website can do for you, it’s time to start collecting data so you can step up your online marketing game and optimize your website for SEO.

Step 1: Sign Up for Google Analytics

sign up screen for Google Analytics

The process for setting up Analytics on your website is fairly simple. The first step is signing up for Google Analytics. If you’ve been using AdWords or already have a Google account, then you can use your existing Google account to sign up. Pretty simple and straightforward, right?

Step 2: Set Up a New Account

An Account is an organized way of managing your digital assets in a way that makes sense to you. Accounts are organized by Properties and Views. A Property would be a website, mobile application or other digital asset for which you’d like to collect data. A View would be your access point to the actual data on your website providing you with a unique perspective of an associated Property.

If you have more than one website you’d like to track, then you can add them all as a new Property under the same Account.  You don’t need to create a new account for each website property unless they are unrelated. For example, if you are an SEO consultant with two clients, then you would  have two separate accounts for each of your clients and their website properties.

By default, each Property comes with a standard View of all the website data for that particular Property. If you only want to see a specific portion of your data from a different lens, so to speak, then you would need to create a different View for that Property. For example, you can use one View to see unfiltered data, and another View to see data filtered by IP address so that you are not tracking your own website views from your computer.

Once you’ve signed up for Google Analytics (step 1), you’ll be prompted to set up your new account.

how to set up new Google Analytics account

  • For Account Name, enter the name of your business.
  • For Website Name, enter the name of your website.
  • For Website URL, type in your web address or copy and paste it from a separate browser window.
  • For Industry Category, select the business category that best fits your website. If nothing is a good fit, then select Other.
  • For Reporting Time Zone, select the time zone most relevant to your business.

Then scroll down and click the blue “Get Tracking ID” button.

Step 3: Install the Analytics Tracking Code

example of Google Analytics tracking code

This is the part of setting up Google Analytics where most novices stop dead in their tracks and throw their hands in the air in exasperation. As far as you’re concerned, this tracking code might as well read like ancient hieroglyphics, but it’s actually a lot less intimidating than it looks. All you need to know is how to copy and paste.

If you use a content management system, like WordPress, to make updates to your website with minimal technical know-how, you have two options for adding the Google Analytics tracking code to your site.

Option #1: Copy and Paste Tracking Code into Your Site’s header.php File

setting up google analyticsMost CMSs used today allow you to modify the header.php file ━ that’s the top section of code that’s used on every page of the site. For WordPress sites, you can find your header.php file from the WordPress dashboard by navigating to Appearance, then Editor. From the Editor, you’ll see a long list of page templates along the right side of the screen. Select Header to open up the page template. Then click inside the template, and use CTL+F to search for the closing </head> tag near the top of the page template. Paste the tracking code immediately before the closing </head> tag.

There’s just one caveat. If you decide to update your theme or use a different theme altogether, this header.php file will most likely be replaced with a new or updated version, in which case you’d have to add the code again into the new file. If you have a different CMS than WordPress, you may need help from your webmaster to locate the header.php file to edit.

Option #2 (WordPress Only): Copy and Paste Tracking Code into a GA WordPress Plugin
setting up Google Analytics with YoastIf your CMS is WordPress, there are plugins specially designed to add the Google Analytics tracking code to the site header. Add a new WordPress plugin by navigating to Plugins, then Add New from the WordPress dashboard. Type in Google Analytics for WordPress in the search field, and click Search.

Google Analytics by Yoast is considered an industry standard plugin for tracking analytics in WordPress. Once installed, navigate to the plugin’s settings where you’ll be able to manually enter or copy and paste the tracking code in the provided field as shown below.

Once installed, it can take up to 24 hours for Google Analytics to update its servers. It usually starts tracking sooner than 24 hours, but if it takes longer, you may want to review your setup and try again.

In order to make Google Analytics really work for you once you’re ready to start collecting data, you’ll want to configure your filter settings so that the resulting reports are best aligned with your business needs. This instructional data from Google will introduce you basic filters you can use to narrow your views, transforming how data appears in reports.

Armed with the right data, you’ll be well on your way to measuring your online marketing and SEO efforts with great precision.

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6 responses to “How to Set Up Google Analytics”

  1. Mike Seddon writes:

    Hi Niki,

    Thanks for such an clear article on how to set up Analytics.

    I’m amazed out how many businesses I come across who do not have any form of analytics on their website. I regularly tell them to get Google Analytics installed and usually have to talk them through it. In future, I’ll send them the link to this article. Thanks.

    Mike

    PS: I love the description that “Having a website without any analytics is like playing darts with your eyes closed.”

    I’ve tried it and actually you can hit the board but the problem is you have no idea what number you hit and so have no idea what number to aim for next. That probably fits your analogy quite well!

  2. Niki Payne writes:

    Hi Mike, thank you for validating my analogy! I remember the first time I installed Google Analytics for a website. I had zero coding experience and barely knew what an FTP was for getting into the backend. So I can totally relate to first-time Analytics users without the faintest clue as to where that piece of code goes. I wanted to create a resource that made it far less intimidating than it actually is. So glad to hear you plan on using it as a resource to send to the people you come across who don’t already have Analytics installed. Mission accomplished. For us and for them.

  3. Shelby writes:

    Great post and excellent tips. I am definitely going to keep those in mind when I set up a Google Analytics account. Thanks for sharing.

  4. suzyspring writes:

    Nice post. Pretty useful to know how to use it. To know about the site it is one of the best tool to use.

  5. Marian writes:

    This is very important, Setting up Google Analytics the right way. Worth sharing to others.. Thanks…

  6. adeem writes:

    The tutorial is quite simple and perfectly explained Niki :) . Google analytics is one such thing that we all check hundreds of time .And having it installed in WordPress is very helpful and essential too :) . Even I have to install it it now . Hope your guide will a help a lot of people.



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