If you own a website, you will likely be interested to find out how many visitors you are getting to your site, where they came from and how long they spent on your website, what devices are they using and which pages are most popular. If you are running a marketing or email campaign, you will also want to know how effective it was.
This is where Google Analytics steps in: it can do all of the above and more and, most importantly, it’s completely free! All you need is a Google account (again, free). If you already have a Gmail account, then you can simply use the same log in details for Google Analytics.
How to set up Google Analytics for your Website
Our website design clients often ask us how to set up a Google Analytics account and while we can help integrate it with their site, it is important not to let anyone else sign up under their own Google account, even if they plan to manage it for you. This is because if you ever part ways, you will have to create your own account to continue using Analytics and will lose all your historical data.
So, the first thing you need to do is head over to the Google Analytics sign up page:
- Click on Sign up For Free. This will take you to a log in page. If you already have a Google account (for anything Google – Gmail, Drive, etc) then you can enter those details here. If not, then simply sign up for a new account.
- Next you will need to set up your website information:
- Enter an account name. You can monitor a number of different sites with Analytics, so this could be ‘Personal’, ‘Business’ or just your website or company name. Likewise for the Website or Property name.
- The website url must be entered correctly. Choose http or https (which ever is relevant to your website although Google Analytics will offer stats for both, so don’t worry if only a few pages use https), then enter your full domain name, including the www.
- Choose your industry from the drop down box – or the closest you can find. It doesn’t really have any relevance to your stats.
- Choose your time zone.
- Below these setting, you have the option as to whether or not you wish to share your data with Google. This is an entirely personal choice, to check and uncheck the boxes as you see fit.
- Click on the Get Tracking ID button and agree to Google’s terms and conditions.
After you have set up your account, you will be presented with your Tracking Code which is what you will need to allow Google to start collecting data for your website. You must copy and paste all of the Global Site Tag code in the box into the <head> tag of each website page you with to track…. or send it to your website designer to do it for you!
If you have a WordPress site or blog, there are many SEO plugins, such as the All in One SEO Pack which simply asks for your tracking ID alone (shown at the top of the Tracking ID page, for example UA-1234567-1).
Setting up Goals within Google Analytics
Every website generally has at least one Goal. A Goal is a user interaction that can be anything from completing a contact form to completing a purchase on your ecommerce website. Depending on your business, from the minute someone visits your site, your aim is to get them to contact you to gain more information, to download an ebook, sign up to a newsletter, or purchase you product directly.
Analytics can track these interactions via Goals, so that you can see where those particular visitors have come from. This valuable information can help you to improve on this process and ultimately increase your conversions.
So how to set up a Goal? There are many complex Goals that you can set up, but easiest way is to create a Goal based on the url of the ‘end page’, i.e. the thank you page after a completed contact form or download, or the payment confirmation page after a successful purchase, so that is what I will show you here.
- Go to Admin > Goals
- Click New Goal
- Give you Goal a name, such as ‘Contact Form Submission’
- Click Destination and then Continue
- Choose Equal To (selected by default) and then enter your url slug – that is everything AFTER your domain name. So instead of http://www.mysite.com/success you just put /success or rather than http://www.mysite.com/download/success just put /download/success.TIP: If you are unsure of the link, just complete the Goal yourself and copy the url slug from the browser address bar.
- If you wish, you can add a monetary value to your Goal or turn on ‘Funnel’ if your aim is to guide people through a number of different pages to complete the goal.
- If you are interested to see how often this Goal would have converted over the last 7 days of your stats, click Verify this Goal
- Save – and that’s it!
Linking Google Analytics with AdWords
If you have an AdWords account, it is REALLY helpful to link it with your new Analytics account as it will help give you a better understanding of how your ads are performing and what visitors are doing after they click on your ad:
- Within Analytics, go to Admin > AdWords Linking
- Click New Link Group
- Select the AdWords accounts you want to link, then click Continue.
- Turn linking ON.
- It is recommended to use Auto Tagging
- Click Link Accounts.
Now that your accounts are linked and Analytics has started tracking data, you will be able to view your AdWords Stats under Acquisition > Adwords
How to Use Google Analytics to View Your Website Stats
Once your account is set up and the tracking code in place, Google will start collecting data about visitors to your website.
When you initially log into Analytics, you will be presented with the Home Dashboard including the Audience Overview which shows you data from the last 7 days by default. This gives you a snapshot of how your site is performing.
On the left hand column, you will see a number of reports available to you: Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition, Behaviour and Conversions.
Real Time Reports
Real Time gives you a snapshot of who is on your site right now. You can see their geographic location, the traffic source (how they arrived at your site) and what page they are engaging with right now.
This report tells you all about your website’s visitors, or audience. There is a wealth of information here, from visitor demographics (age and gender) and their interests to their geographic location, whether they are new or returning visitors and how long they stayed on your site (engagement). Typically, the greater engagement, i.e. the longer visitors are staying on your site, the better.
And that’s not all! Google also tells you what web browsers and mobile devices your audience are using. Particularly interesting is the User Flow as this shows you how visitors move through your site and and which point they leave so you can see where you need to make improvements.
The Acquisition Reports show you how visitors are finding your site – by direct links, organic (finding you on search engines), via Google Adwords (if you have connected Analytics with your AdWords account) or via Social networks.
This all serves as extremely valuable information so that you can see what is working for you and which areas you may need to focus your attention on in order to drive traffic to your site.
These reports will tell you about how fast your web pages are loading, the top performing pages on your site, the top entry pages and top exit pages (i.e. what page visitors see first and the last page they view before leaving your page).
Conversion reports show how many ‘conversions’ your site has made. If you have an ecommerce website (and have linked the system with Analytics) then here you will see which visits turned into sales and the path the visitor took to get to that point.
Likewise, if you have set up a Goal, such as when a someone contacts you via your contact form, then you will see here where that visitor came from and what pages they visited before contacting you.
With any of the above reports, you can customise the date range at the top right or the report and also hover over or click on various areas of the report to drill down for more information.
And that’s Google Analytics in a nutshell. As you have probably gained, it is a very powerful tool to help you optimise both your onsite and offsite marketing efforts.