Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Web Marketing Today. Practical Ecommerce acquired Web Marketing Today in 2012. In 2016, we merged the two sites, leaving Practical Ecommerce as the successor.
Many small businesses use Google Analytics to track statistics related to their websites, such as site traffic, visitor information, page views, and conversions.
This article walks through the process of setting up Google Analytics for those who have yet to take that step.
Choose the Right Analytics Option
First, select the Google Analytics option that is right for your business. You have three to choose from: Analytics for Mobile Apps, Analytics Premium, and Analytics Standard (also known as “Universal Analytics”).
Analytics for Mobile Apps. Choose this option if your business has a mobile app for which you want to track statistics.
Analytics Premium. Larger organizations — those starting with one billion hits per month — should opt for this paid version, which includes a Service Level Agreement, technical and implementation support, expert training, and support for higher hit volumes.
Analytics Standard. This is the free version of Google Analytics and the one commonly used by small businesses. It has plenty of features to help you measure conversions, such as email sign-ups, form completions, and sales, as well as track website traffic and visitor information.
Google Analytics Setup Steps
You will need a Google account to use Google Analytics. If you employ services like Gmail, Google Drive, or Google Plus, then you already have one. Otherwise, you will be required to create a new account.
The account associated with Google Analytics should be one that only you control. While you can always grant access to others, such as a web developer, designer, or SEO consultant, it’s not a good idea to give someone else authority, as you run the risk of losing your data.
Follow these steps to set up Google Analytics on your website.
- Go to the Google Analytics site and click the “Sign In To Google Analytics” button located in the top right corner. Use your Google account credentials (i.e., username and password) to sign in, after which Google will present the three steps required to begin analyzing your site’s traffic.
- Click the “Sign Up” button. This step begins the process of setting up your Google Analytics account.
- Complete the new account form. Clicking the “Sign Up” button takes you to the new account sign up page for the website you would like to track. Give the account a name (your business name will do), and then complete the fields for the website name, website URL, industry category, and time zone in which you want Google to report tracking data.
- Choose data sharing options. These options let you customize how you share information with Google. Your data is secure and confidential, but you can give Google access to it in aggregate form, to help improve your site, and other sites as well.
- Click the “Get Tracking ID” button. Clicking this button gives you the HTML code you will need to insert on the website you want to track. Google will first present you with its Terms of Service agreement, which you must accept prior to gaining access to the tracking code.
Implement Google Analytics Tracking Code
After setting up your account, place the tracking code on your website, which you can do in one of two ways: Add it directly to each page of your site or use a tool called “Tag Manager.”
Add code directly. Adding the tracking code to each page of your site is the most straightforward method. However, it requires that you have an understanding of HTML and have access to the source code on your site. If that’s not the case, you will need to hire a web developer to handle the implementation.
Once you have successfully installed the tracking code, it will take 24 hours before you see data appearing in the analytics reports.
Configure User Management, Views, Goals, and Webmaster Tools
A few more steps are required to implement Google Analytics fully. These include setting up user management, views, and goals, and connecting to Google Webmaster Tools. Click the “Admin” link, found at the top of the Google Analytics dashboard, to access these components.
Here’s a summary of the functions each component performs.
User Management. You can allow other users to see reports and give them permission to make configuration changes. You can also set user access for the entire account, the website property, or individual views.
Views. You can add reporting views that filter out internal traffic from your company or that show traffic only for specific parts of your site. Each website can have up to 25 different views. Go to “View Settings,” found under the “View” column in the admin section, to configure the settings.
Goals. Set up Goals to see conversion rates in your reports. Goals can be sales-related, for ecommerce sites, or non-sales-related, such as completed forms or video views.
Webmaster Tools. You should consider linking Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, which you can do by going to “Product Linking > All Products,” found under the “Property” column in the admin section. Webmaster Tools allows website owners to check the indexing status of their site and optimize its visibility in Google Search.
(Note: Google now refers to Webmaster Tools as “Search Console,” but the former term is the one used with Google Analytics.)