Google Analytics is considered by many to be the most complete package for tracking traffic on a website. It allows you to track the success of your content, your most popular items and a wealth of information regarding your visitors. Using this information effectively will allow you to improve your traffic, more effectively market your products and services and make sure your visitors keep coming back for more. The only barrier that stands in your way is the initial setup, so this guide aims to help you do just that. With this guide, you’ll be analyzing your bridal store’s website in just a few minutes.
What You Need
In order to use Google Analytics, you don’t need very much. Obviously you need a connection to the internet, a purpose for the tool (a website you’d like to track) and an internet browser. The main issue here is to make sure that you have access to edit the code of your website. Whether you do this by using a program, edit by hand and upload the files or use a service which allows you to edit the files in a web editor, it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is to make sure you can edit the actual code (HTML). If you don’t have access to the HTML of your site (contact your webmaster and tell him you’d like Google Analytics setup).
Step 1 – Signing Up
Navigate via your web browser to http://google.com/analytics and if you do not already have an account, create one by clicking the Sign Up Now link shown below.
Once you’ve clicked the link, you’ll advance to the next stage and you’ll need to confirm your desire to sign up to Google Analytics by clicking the Sign Up button shown below.
Now comes the important stuff. You should get a form similar to the one shown below. You’ll need to enter the URL of your website (basically the address your visitors and the rest of the public uses to gain access to your site) as well as provide an account a name (I usually just accept the default name the form generates) and specifying your time zone. After you do all of this, head on to the next screen.
Here you’ll enter your name, phone number and country in another form which is shown below. After you finish this form, go on to the next screen.
You’ll be taken to terms and conditions statement for the Google Analytics service. Read through it and if you agree to the terms then select the check box at the bottom of the statement to agree to the terms and conditions. It is worth noting here that by default, you are opted in to share data with Google. If you’d like to change these settings, you’ll need to click the Edit Settings link.
The next screen you should come to is the screen which contains the code (shown below) you must insert into each and every one of your pages you wish to be tracked within Google Analytics. You’ll need to copy the entire contents of the text box to get all of the code. Once you’ve got it all selected (ctrl-a on a PC or cmd-a on a Mac) and copied (ctrl-c on a PC or cmd-c on a Mac) you may want to save it to a plain text file for future reference or in case you forget and copy something else before you’ve pasted it in your code. If you don’t remember to do this, it is no big deal. We can get back to the code later. When you’re finished with this screen, go ahead and click the button at the bottom to finish the process.
Step 2 – Inserting the Code
This step is going to be different for each individual site, so we’ll cover the most basic methods here. First of all, let me reiterate that for most basic sites, you must insert the tracking code on every page you want tracked. This may not be true in the case of a site which is running a content management system or a self hosted blogging solution such as WordPress which has header and footer files which are included on every page. In this case, you could put the tracking code in the header or footer files and it should theoretically work for each page without having to insert it multiple times. For a standard static site, though, your basic method is going to be as follows.
You’ll need to use your normal method of accessing your site code. Make sure you’ve copied the appropriate tracking code and navigate to the file for the page you want to be tracked. For the example below, I’ve just used a basic index.html file, which would be the root of my site – for purposes of this example, let’s call it http://www.example.com. Open up the file and look through the code until you’ve found the tag. This should be toward the bottom of your page. Immediately before this tag, paste in your tracking code. Do this for each page you’d like to track. See below for my example.
Note for WordPress users – you can setup Google Analytics without editing any files by installing the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin
Step 3 – Getting Acquainted
Once you’ve signed up for Google Analytics and have successfully logged in to your account, you should find yourself at the overview screen. From here, there are some important things to notice. First of all, you may notice that you have a warning icon (shown below) in the status column of one of your sites. This means that either you haven’t correctly pasted the code into your webpages or that there has been no traffic to the site since it was pasted so you haven’t received any data yet.
One way for you to get information regarding the success or failure of your tracking code is to go into the edit menu for that specific site. To get to the edit menu, you’ll need to look to the far right of the overview table along the row for your site and find the Edit link as shown below.
Once you’ve advanced to the next screen, you’ll see the Profile Settings for your individual site. You’ll see the information you supplied during your setup of the site as well as some additional information on Goals and Filters, but at the top right of the table, you’ll also see a check mark or or a warning sign as well as a Check Status link. Click the link to see some tracking status information as well as gain access to the tracking code, just in case you didn’t insert it correctly or forgot to insert it at all.
Another thing you should know is that in order to add more sites or domains for tracking, you’ll need to click on the Add Website Profile link below the table. When you click on that link, the site will essentially take you through a similar process to the one we’ve just outlined above. There is also a similar link at the top right of the overview table.
You should be set up by now to actually use Google Analytics as intended. You’ll find that it is extremely useful to be able to shift between reports based on Day, Week, Month or Year at the top right of the table. You’ll get access to different reports this way and you may find interesting trends you may not have discovered on some of the more long term views. Aside from that, it is best just to delve into the wealth of information Google Analytics can provide. Just click the View Report link and you’re on your way.