Google Analytics is Google’s robust system for analyzing the data connected to your website. It tracks website visitors, traffic sources, visitor behavior, and more. If your business is data-driven in any way (and we’ve never encountered a business that wasn’t), you need data on your website’s performance just as much as you need data on your social media performance, and Google Analytics is a great way to get it.
So let’s dive in.
How to set up Google Analytics
If you already have Google Analytics set up for your website, feel free to skip to the next section. If not, here’s how to set it up.
- Go to analytics.google.com and log in with a Google account.
- In the bottom left corner of the dashboard screen, click “Admin.”
- Click the blue “Create Account” button towards the left side of the screen.
- Fill in the required information, then click “Get Tracking ID.”
- Accept the terms and conditions.
- You will be taken to a screen with some HTML code. This code needs to be inserted into the header of your website. If you have a WordPress site, there are many good plugins that will insert the code for you. If not, send the code to your webmaster.
Once you have that code in your website’s header, you’re good to go! It may take some time for data to start showing up in the Google Analytics dashboard, but once it does, you’ll have all that data sitting in your Google Analytics account ready for analysis.
How to use Google Analytics
Once you have Google Analytics set up, the next step is being able to find and use the data. Accessing the data is easy – just go to analytics.google.com and log in with the Google account you used to set up. That will take you to the Google Analytics dashboard.
The dashboard has lots of data for the past seven days. The first chart compares traffic over the past seven days to the seven days before that. Other charts break down where your traffic came from (organic search, direct, etc.), how many active users your site has had, your user retention (Yoast has an excellent article about that report), visiting times, user locations, devices your site was viewed on, and most popular pages. Most of these charts have a blue link underneath them to give you a detailed report.
There is also a lot more data in the menu on the left. Clicking on any of those options will expand a list of reports you can get about your website visitors, from audience demographics to conversion data. In fact, there’s so much data that one of the business decisions you’re going to have to make (unless you have an employee dedicated entirely to data analysis) is which metrics are important to you.
Some good options for data to track when you’re new to analytics data are traffic amount and sources, bounce rate, day of the week and time people visit, and conversions. Those will give you a basic picture of how your site is doing and give you an idea of where to focus your future efforts.