Beginner’s Guide To Tracking Website Visitors With Google Analytics

how_to_add_google_analytics_to_your_website

Beginner’s Guide To Tracking Website Visitors With Google Analytics

Category : Business Tools

Beginners Guide to Google Analytics

PSA:  This post is for Google Analytics newbies.  It covers the very basics on how to set up a Google Analytics account and start tracking your website traffic. In this Beginners Guide to Google Analytics, learn how to start tracking your website traffic. 

 

What Is Google Analytics?

 

Google Analytics is the Gold Standard of website visitor tracking tools.  

It’s free, it can be used by anyone with a website and a Google / gmail account and it will suck you down a rabbit hole of charts, stats, goal tracking and the stark reality of how your website is really doing.  Haha!  

We won’t go down into the depths here, but merely get you started using the tool so you can – first and foremost – get an overview of how many people are visiting your site and which pages they are viewing.  The many more in-depth features of Google Analytics will be covered in future articles.  


Why Should You Add Google Analytics To Your Website?

 

If you’re not currently using a website analytics tool, you probably don’t know how many people visit your site on a daily basis, where they are from, how long they stay and which pages they spend the most time on.  This is vital information to know if you’re reaching your target audience at all.

And you NEED to be able to see visitor trends over time to know if your marketing efforts are having any impact.  

Let’s get started.


How To Set Up A Google Analytics Account

 

  1. Click here to go to Google Analytics.
  2. If you have a Google account, click Sign in. If you don’tt have a Google account, you’ll need to Create an account first.
  3. Once you have signed in to your Google account, click Access Google Analytics and Click Sign Up.
  4. Fill in your Account Name (probably your company name), Website Name (this can be your company name again or your url or whatever is useful to you), Website URL (www.yourdomainname.com), and select an Industry Category and Reporting Time Zone.
  5. Under Data Sharing Options, check the boxes next to the options that you want.
  6. Click Get Tracking ID.
  7. Accept the Google Analytics Terms of Service Agreement that pops up.
  8. Copy the Tracking code that displays.  This is not the Tracking ID number, but the several lines of code below that.


“I Can’t Find The Code”

 

If you’ve lost the code before you could copy and paste, never fear.  Just click on Admin in the navigation panel and you’ll see your new site divided into 3 columns of links.  In the middle column, under Property, click on Tracking Info and then Tracking Code.


Where To Add It On Your Site

 

There has been quite a bit of discussion about this and Google’s recommendation has even changed over time.  Here’s the latest: The tracking code should be in the <head> portion of your site, preferably before any other javascript code.  If you’re not sure how to do this, give the code to your web administrator and they’ll know what to do.

If you’re using WordPress as your website content management system, there are any number of plugins that can do this for you.  You may already have one installed.  If not, we recommend the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin. If you use this plugin, all you need is the Tracking ID number, not the code itself.


Check Your Real-Time Stats

 

Go back to Google Analytics and click on Reporting.  If you haven’t yet, bookmark this page because you’ll be visiting it often to see how your site is doing.

Your page probably looks like this: 

Beginners Guide to Google Analytics - GA screenshot

Now, it’ll take 24 hours or so before your reports will start showing traffic and trends over time, but right now, we can make sure your tracking code is properly installed and doing its job.

First, make sure your website is open – in another tab or window.  In Google Analytics, click on Real-Time (on the left) and then Overview.  You should see that the report is tracking visitors Right Now.  If not, go grab that tracking code again – make sure you get all of it – and re-install in your site.)


Check Your Reports

 

In the next day or so, you’ll see visitor tracking showing up.  Here’s the first place you want to look, in my opinion – to get your feet wet with these reports:

On the left, click on Behavior -> Overview -> Site Content -> All Pages.

 This will allow you to quickly see visitor counts by day, week and month and also to see which pages are most visited and for how long.

Remember, this is merely a beginners guide to Google Analytics.  We’ve barely scratched the service. There is a TON that Google Analytics can show you and if you’re a numbers and charts nerd like me, you’re in for a new addiction – I’m sorry. Enjoy!