There are multiple tutorials online on setting up and running Google Analytics accounts, including the one by Google Analytics team. There are very detailed and written to cater for different categories of users: from amateur bloggers to advanced webmasters. Still, there are some pitfalls that require additional explanation, or a number of overlooked opportunities that need an extra focus.
Google Analytics is a tool with endless opportunities, yet you need to organize it properly for it to really provide the answers you need. What I mean is that your needs go beyond traffic stats. You’re looking for deep insights into how people who land on your pages interact with your site, why they come and what you can do to give them more value so that they convert better.
I’ll be running a 3-part series on Google Analytics basics here at Steamfeed, and here’s the breakdown of topics to be covered:
Part 1. Setting up your account and grabbing your code
Part 2. Putting together your goals to measure impact, not Visits
Part 3. Google Analytics tweaks that help you see how exactly users interact with your site
In the first part I’ll be going through the process of setting up a Google Analytics account with two scenarios in mind: when you have and you don’t have a content management system.
How to set up your Google Analytics account
First go through the sign-up procedure at Google Analytics start dashboard. Having completed the fields with your URL, account name and other details, you’ll be asked to choose between Universal and Classic Analytics.
It’s worth choosing Universal Analytics because it has a number of advanced technologies behind it that make the data customer-centered rather than visit-centered.
Then you’ll get a sample tracking ID, which looks like this:
You need to add this code to every page of your site that you wish to track.
At this point, there might be two options:
(1) You have a CMS (content management system)
(2) You don’t have one
How to insert Google Analytics code if you have a CMS system
You might be using WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or some other services as a CMS system. As an example I’ll show you how to insert your code into WordPress because it’s one of the most popular options.
In Appearance -> Editor, choose Header on the right of your menu.
Insert your Google Analytics tracking code before </head> and Update file.
This single action lets you set tracking for all pages on your blog.
After you hit Update File, view the pages in your browser to make sure you’ve made no accidental changes.
Then visit your Google Analytics account and check out if the status of your account has been changed to Receiving Data. This can be checked in Admin – Tracking Info – Status.
For solutions with other CMS providers, please check corresponding Help sections or contact their Support teams directly.
It’s also often the case that you had your website built with a design or web development agency, so you’ll have an agency-branded CMS. It might have a sort of Edit Themes option where you find templates for separate sections of your site, so you can take actions similar to the ones described above.
If you don’t find anything similar, contact your developers for instructions on pasting the tracking code.
How to add Google Analytics tracking code if you don’t have a CMS
If you don’t have a content management system, you’ll have all components of your website as separate files. If there’s some sort of IT guys in your team, ask them for help when installing the code.
If you’re in a DIY mode and want to add Google Analytics code yourself, follow these instructions:
(1) Download an FTP client
An FTP client is software designed to transfer files from a remote server and edit them. One of the popular options is Filezilla FTP client, a free tool that can be installed on Mac, Windows and Linux.
(2) Install the FTP client
(3) Connect your remote server
Your hosting provider has informed you on your host (IP), username and password for FTP access. Populate your FTP app with this data.
Now you have all your pages displayed as separate files and you can edit them, adding the tracking code.
Filezilla operates mostly like any desktop file manager. It will be relatively easy to find the files (pages), where you want to insert your Google Analytics tracking code.
Open these files with a text editor of your choice (e.g. Notepad) and insert the tracking code before < / head >. To speed up the process, use Ctrl+F < / head >. When finished, view the pages in your browser to make sure the layout remained intact.
Then verify your web tracking setup: visit your Google Analytics account to check if its status has changed to Receiving Data.
If things go right, in a few hours you’ll start receiving your first traffic data in Google Analytics. If you’re mining for SEO data with Rank Tracker, SEO SpyGlass or WebSite Auditor, you can connect your Google Analytics account to your SEO PowerSuite tools at this stage.
Web tracking with Tag manager
Alternatively to the actions described above, you can enable web tracking to your site with Google Tag Manager. This Google service lets you update all your tags and tracking codes from Tag Manager, without the need to alter your site’s code. Apart from Google Analytics, Tag Manager lets you control your AdWords and DoubleClick Floodlight campaigns.
You can follow the instructions in this introductory video to create your account and add Tag Manager tracking code.
Now that you’ve set Google Analytics account, get started on setting up your online goals and stay tuned for the second part of this beginner’s series on web analytics.
Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics Series
- Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics – Part 1: Setting up your account and grabbing your code
- Beginner’s Guide to Google Analytics – Part 2: Setting Up Your Goals to Measure Impact
- Beginner’s guide to Google Analytics – Part 3: Measuring how visitors interact with your site