Google Analytics is one of the most useful tools currently available to website owners. This is especially true for businesses, who can use Analytics to keep tabs on web traffic, customer engagement, ROI for online marketing campaigns, and many other bits of useful information, all from one free platform.
In this post, the first of a two part series, we’ll be going over the basics of Analytics, what kind of information it can provide, and how to install it on your website.
Why Use Google Analytics?
Google Analytics provides an enormous amount of information about how visitors engage with a website, including (but not limited to):
- Visitor demographics: Analytics is able to record a range of potentially useful information about the demographics of a website’s visitors, from their geographical locations and the languages they speak, to what time of day users visit the site most often and which devices they use.
- Website engagement: Perhaps the most important information recorded by Analytics is how visitors engages with a website. Analytics is capable of recording bounce rate (how many visitors left the site without clicking through to a second page), the length of time visitors spend on each page, which pages they visit the most, and what paths visitors take to get to each page.
- Tracking web traffic: Another type of useful information that Analytics tracks is how visitors arrive at a site. Did they discover your site on Google, Yahoo, or Bing? Was it a normal page listing, or a paid ad? Or maybe they came across your Facebook page, and followed a link posted there? This information is especially useful to businesses that run online marketing campaigns or use social media, as it gives them a complete breakdown of exactly how much web traffic their online engagement efforts are generating.
How to Install Google Analytics
The first step in installing Analytics is to go to www.google.com/analytics. In the top right corner of the page, you’ll see the words “Sign In” next to a dropdown symbol.
When clicked, the “Sign In” button opens a dropdown menu with 5 different options. “Google Analytics” is the 4th option from the top/2nd from the bottom.
Click “Google Analytics,” and you’ll be taken to a sign-in screen. NOTE: you don’t have to use a Google/Gmail login to create an Analytics account.
If you are using an existing Google account, sign in and you’ll be taken to the analytics page.
If you are not using a Google account for your Analytics, or you need to create a Google account, click the “Create an Account” button and you’ll be taken to the “Create a Google Account” page.
Creating a Google Account:
On the right hand side of the “Create a Google Account” page, you’ll see a number of fields that need to be filled out.
Enter your name, email address, and the password for your new account (if you are not going to be using a Gmail account, click “I prefer to use my current email address” and you’ll be able to enter any email address).
Enter your birthday, gender, mobile phone number, and backup email address. You don’t have to share your mobile number, but doing so can be incredibly helpful if you ever forget your password of find yourself locked out of your analytics account.
Once you’ve completed all the registration fields, click “Next Step” to continue. You’ll then be asked to verify your email address.
Log in to the email you just used to register for Analytics. You should see an email from Google asking you to verify your new Analytics account. Open the email, and click on the verification link. This will open a new window and take you to a “Welcome” page. Click on the blue “Back to Google Analytics” button.
Setting Up an Analytics Account:
Click the “Sign Up” button under the header “Start using Google Analytics” on the right side of the screen.
At the top of the next page, you’ll be asked whether you would like to track a website or a mobile app. For this tutorial, we are assuming that you are setting up Analytics for a website.
Next, scroll down to the “Setting up your account” section. Under “Account Name,” enter the name you want to use for your account.
Now scroll down to the “Setting up your property" section. Enter the name of your website, your website’s URL, the Industry Category your business falls under, and the time zone.
Below this, you’ll find a section labeled "Data Sharing Settings." This section allows you to choose how much info from your analytics account you want to share with Google. Choose whichever settings you feel most comfortable with, then scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “Get Tracking ID.”
Agree to the Terms and Services page that appears to continue.
Installing Your Tracking Code:
On the next page, you’ll be given your analytics Tracking Code.
This snippet of code is what allows analytics to record information on your website. Your new tracking code will need to be added to every page on your site that you want to collect tracking information from (for most people, that means every page). If you’re not sure how to do that, provide your webmaster or web developer with the tracking code and they’ll be able to add it to your website.
Once the tracking code has been added to your website, Google will start recording all the tracking information mentioned at the beginning of this article, which you’ll be able to look up from your newly created Analytics account! If you’re not sure where to start looking, don’t worry: in our next post, we’ll go over where you can locate all the relevant information analytics is recording from your site, and what it means.