The What & How of Google Analytics

The what and how of Google Analytics

When you launch a shiny new website, there’s an air of excitement and expectation. But then weeks go by and after the first high fives you received when you shared the news on Facebook, you think you might be hearing crickets. OR you decided to make the leap and do some type of paid advertising that sends people to your website. It could be radio, TV or something online. When you look at the stats that the company shares with you, you can see that your ad was viewed/listened to so many times. But, your website form isn’t being submitted. What’s up? How can you tell what’s working?

Enter Google Analytics (GA)! Google Analytics was born in 2005 and has grown in usefulness ever since. If you think of the WHY, it’s kind of obvious. If Google was going to take peoples money with PPC ads, they would want to know as granularly as possible what those ads were doing. But, it goes beyond that.

“Analytics” def: information resulting from the systematic analysis of data or statistics.

Why Google Analytics is Important

Google Analytics gives you a boatload of data and gives you a breakdown of that data into logical pieces. And, it also gives you the ability to slice and dice that data into what is meaningful to you.

  • So, how many people are coming to your website?
  • What location are they coming from?
  • How are they “finding” you (search, paid, email, social)?
  • What pages are they going to?
  • How long are they staying on your site?
  • Or, are they landing on a page and immediately leaving (bouncing)?
  • And so much more.

If you’re going to take your website as a serious marketing tool in your wheelhouse, GA is a must. If you’re not sure whether you have GA running on your site, connect with us — we’ll take a peek into the code behind the scenes and let you know (BTW, we do this setup for each site we launch to give clients a jump start). Let’s walk through the steps of getting it set up.

How to Set Up Google Analytics

The first step in the process is to create a GA account

It’s free, and if you don’t already have a Google (Gmail) account, you’ll want to create one. A couple of tips here:

  • Don’t use your “personal” Gmail account. Keep business and personal separate here. Create an account for your business.
  • For the Data sharing settings, take the checkmark out of “Account Specialists”. This will help lower the number of “Google Specialist” calls you receive by a bit.

Step 2 – creating your property

The form process they take you through is simple and self-explanatory. But be aware that over time they change how it looks, so many of the how-to screenshots you’ll find are outdated (b/c Google just recently changed it again). Here are a couple of explanations and tips as you walk through the form:

  • Website URL — make sure your site is running SSL (https, has a padlock showing), and select https:// from the drop-down option.
  • Select your industry — depending on your business, you won’t find an exact match. Aim as close as you can.

Step 3 – connect your website to GA

Once you confirm your property you’ll be taken to a page that has a tracking ID at the top and a chunk of code (see the screenshot). If you’re running WordPress, you don’t need to worry about the chunk of code… yup, there’s a plugin for that! We’ll walk you through the connection in a sec.

Step 4 – adjust your property settings

GA gives you kind of a split-screen navigation at this point. All the details related to your property are on the left side of the screen and the information for each will show on the right side of the screen (see screenshot).

Click on Property Settings > Scroll down and turn on Demographics and Interest reports and “use enhanced link attribution”. Scroll to the bottom and save your changes. We’ll come back here later when we cover adding your website to Google Console.

Connecting Your Website to Google Analytics

There are quite a few plugins out there for adding the GA code to your website. And, you can always skip a plugin and copy the chunk of code and add it to your theme. We really like the MonsterInsights plugin because it allows you to block your own “traffic” to the website. As long as you’re logged in, your trips to the admin area aren’t tracked. This gives you cleaner data. They do have a paid version, but the free does the trick.

True to their own words… they do make it effortless to connect your site with GA!

  • In the admin area of your website go to Plugins > Add New and search for “Monster”.
  • The first one that comes up is “Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights”.
  • Click the Install Now button, and once installed, click the blue Activate button.
  • Once activated, you’re taken to the MonsterInsights welcome screen. Feel free to watch their short video 🙂
  • Click on the big blue “Launch the Wizard” button. You’ll be taken through a short 5 – 6 step process. Step 2 is connecting to your GA account.
  • Once you click the button, you’ll need to give MonsterInsights and your Google Analytics account permission to talk to each other.
  • There are a few other settings that they walk you through… and you’re done!

What’s Next?

Connect Google Search Console to your GA account. The last piece is understanding how to read the reports in Google Analytics… that article will be coming soon.

Give yourself about a month to start collecting data so that when you start looking at the reports there’s something to look at. We’ll cover the report basics in another upcoming Web Tips episode.

Once the data is available, then GA becomes a tool that you can use to make sure that your website is performing the way you need it to.


Your Online Partner… for Success

As always, if you have any questions or need some geek translated for you, please don’t hesitate to reach out. We’re here to turn the geek into English and take care of you online!