This is second part of our Google Analytics Complete Setup Guide. In the first part, we have already discussed some important concepts of analytics, why it is important for your blog and how you can make most out of the analytics reports.
We have also discussed Google Analytics benefits and some really useful and common analytics terms. It is strongly recommended to read that article first before proceeding in this section.
Here, in this section, we will discuss What Google Analytics does and how to actually setup and use Google Analytics, all step-by-step with easy descriptions for absolute beginners. Let’s blow the whistle.
Setting up Google Analytics
Let’s add a website or blog to Google Analytics by login to your Google account and create an account to be associated with your blog. We have already discussed in the first part that don’t confuse the term “Account” used in Google Analytics with your Google account which you use to access other Google services like Gmail etc.
You have to create an account to add a property which will be your website.
- Either create or sign in to Google Analytics using your Google account.
- Click Admin (with a gear icon).
- From the Account settings drop down, click Create new account. This account will hold all of your properties. Google Analytics Standard can have 100 accounts.
- Fill in the required fields most importantly Website URL and Industry Category. Leave all options as it is and press Get Tracking ID button at the bottom of the page.
- A Google Analytics tracking id and a tracking code will be generated for your website. Make note of both of them in a separate text file. We will use either of them later on.
How to Install Google Analytics tracking code
- If you are running a static website (HTML pages) then you have to open each page you want to track using a text editor like Notepad++. Look for HTML tag </head> and paste the analytics code just before this tag.
- To install Google Analytics script to WordPress site, first of all look in your theme settings as most of the themes already give an option to either insert Google Analytics property tracking id or tracking code to your blog.
- If the option is not there, you can also use a plugin like Insert Headers and Footers for the same purpose. See our guide how to install a plugin in WordPress if you need assistance.
- To add Google Analytics code manually to WordPress, you have to edit your theme’s header.php file. From your WordPress dashboard, go to Appearance > Editor and look for header.php file from the files list on the right hand side.
- Add analytics code to header.php file just after the <body> HTML tag.
It’s better to add the code using a child theme otherwise it may get overwritten next time you update the theme.Woopoo's Caution
Once you are done with adding analytics code by any of the above methods, it’s time to get back to Google Analytics to get familiar with the interface and how to see and read reports.
Verify Google Analytics Installation
We will show you two methods infact to verify that the code has been correctly installed. An easy method is by just viewing page source code and the other one is by using Google Tag Assistant. Let’s see the first one.
- Right click anywhere on your website in Chrome browser and from the menu, click View Page Source. Check for similar option if you are using a browser other than Chrome.
- Don’t panic by seeing a lot of code. Press Ctrl+F and find for the words analytics.js. If you find it, you are done.
We can also use Google Tag Assistant Chrome browser extension to verify the Google Analytics code we have installed in our website is working fine.
- Install Google Tag Assistant in Chrome browser. You will see Google Tag Assistant icon appear on the top right corner.
- Now open your website in a separate tab for which you want to check Google Analytics code validity. Now click the tiny icon, Google Analytics option should be checked and press Done.
- On the next screen, click Enable and then Record. Google Tag Assistant is now in recording mode.
- Browse some pages on your website. Google Tag Assistant will try to track Google Analytics code.
- Stop recording to see the summary. It will show your Google Analytics property tracking id if the code has been installed successfully.
A common question people ask when will Google Analytics update the data? The answer is you have to wait at least 12 to 24 hours to let GA analyze your website and gathers some data to show reports accordingly.Woopoo's Tip
Google Analytics Interface and Navigation
At first glance, Google Analytics interface looks overwhelming but it is not. Once you will get familiar with the basic structure of the program, you will see accessing any data will be at your tips. All the reports generated by Google Analytics can be accessed using the navigation menu on the left hand side.
There are four standard reports in Google Analytics:
- Audience Reports
- Acquisition Reports
- Behavior Reports
Click Audience to know more about your website visitors. The reports under this section will tell you how many people visit your website, where did they come from, which technology they used and even know about their language stats.
At the top of the page you will see line graph which shows by default the number of sessions per day. Hovering over your mouse on the dots of line graph will reveal more information.
Three important terms need to be understood here:
A session in Google Analytics is a time period for which a user accessed your website. The duration of line graph can be set to Hourly, Day, Week, Month from the top right hand corner.
This metric is about how long the average user stayed on your site.
Bounce rate is another important factor to measure your website content success.
A bounce in Google Analytics is a single page session which means a user has left your website without doing any further interaction. Not necessarily but it could signals Google that your website may hosts low quality content. Higher bounce rates are not good for your website’s health.
Keep in mind though bounce rate percentage fluctuates a lot so you don’t need to panic seeing higher bounce rates. Just pay attention to produce good quality content to control bounce rate.
More detailed information about your website traffic is available under Demographics, System and Mobile sections, mostly self explanatory.
The geographic report under Geo > Location is one of the important reports which will show you the country names from which you are getting most visits.
This could be helpful for your business to shift focus to the country you are getting most traffic from or to redefine your business strategy if you are not getting the traffic from the region or country you want.
Acquisition brings forth report about the channels through which users are finding your website. The report then can be used to measure which channels are performing better and what could be done to make other channels performing well.
The four main channels are Social, Organic Search, Direct Traffic and Referral.
As the name specifies, Google Analytics Social reports will show you all the traffic you are getting for social networks. This will show you a good picture how your website is performing on social networks. Google Analytics identifies the referring URL and network where people are sharing your content and the data will pops up here accordingly.
Organic Search report will show you all the clicks you get from search engines like Google with un-paid traffic. In the beginning, the share of Organic Search in terms of sending traffic to your blog will be quite limited but as the time passes, you will see an increase in these numbers.
Reports under Direct Traffic will show you the visits when a user directly type your blog URL in browser to visit your blog directly. Nothing more special here.
Referral acts like a recommendation. So Google Analytics Referral report shows you traffic estimate you are getting from referring websites. A referral could be a hyperlink, an image linked to your page or anything which upon clicked, sends visitor to your website. All referrals will be shown under this place.
Two more channels in Google Analytics are CPC and Email which will appear if you launch Google AdWords campaign (paid traffic) or email marketing respectively.
Using Acquisition reports collectively, you can redefine your content promotion strategy and how to promote your website or blog on different channels.
Google Analytics Behavior reports will show what articles on your website are popular among your visitors. These reports are all about visitors interaction with your website content. The reports under Behavior > Site Content are the most important ones.
Here you can see All Pages which are most popular on your website. Landing Pages report will tell you what are the pages through which visitors “enter” your website. Exit Pages as the name suggests will report you about the pages from where your visitors exit your website.
Conversion Reports in Google Analytics will reveal how well your Goals are performing if you have setup one (Goals > Overview). You will be able to see even the path through which a user has reached to fulfill your Goal (Goals > Reverse Goal Path).
Google Analytics Additional Features
Under each report main title at the top, you will find a menu underneath which let you email Google Analytics reports and exporting reports data into multiple formats including CSV, Excel, Google Sheets and PDF.
If the report is the one you visit more frequently you can also create a shortcut which will appear under Customization main menu on the left hand side.
Likewise, customized dashboards can be created in Google Analytics with the reports most important to your business.
Google Analytics Questions and Answers
Is Google Analytics free?
Although Google Analytics is totally free for basic use which is suffice for most of the users but Google Analytics premium and paid version is also available for businesses.
As there is no official statement from Google on why Google Analytics is free, the most common reason given by experts is that Google can effectively gathers data from websites running Google Analytics to learn user behaviors to make it services and products more accurate specially Google Adwords.
Why organic keywords not provided in Google Analytics?
Google Analytics once listed all the keywords which were used in search engine to land on your page but the functionality has been added to Google Search Console now. See our detailed article on how to setup Google Search Console for your website.
You can also link your Search Console account with Google Analytics which will show the data under Acquisition > Search Console.
How to prevent Google Analytics to count your own visits?
Remember we discussed about filters can be set in Views? That is the place where you can set a filter to let Google Analytics not to include your own visits or even visits from your company.
Let’s add a filter for the same purpose.
- Click the Admin menu item (gear icon) all the way down from Google Analytics navigation main menu.
- You will land on your Account, Property and views. Under Views, click Filters.
- Click Add Filter button.
- Give your filter a name in Filter Name field. In the Filter Type, set the settings as Exclude, traffic from the IP addresses, that are equal to respectively. Finally add your own IP address in the field as shown in the image below. You can Google “what is my IP address” to know yours.
- Click Save.
You just configured Google Analytics to ignore your own visits to your website or blog.
We are pretty done with our article here. In short, Google Analytics is a program used by amateur bloggers to big business setups to define their future strategies and goals based upon the reports from Google Analytics. Do consider using it if you are still guessing about your website traffic.
We hope you will find this article of great help in understanding Google Analytics and how to use it to get the most out of it. If you still have any questions do let us know using the comments section below and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook.