All websites have their own performance metrics — including unique visitors, average time spent on a page and conversion rate — that provide valuable insights into the changing trends and opportunities that might impact your business. You can track all these and more with Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a free, useful tool that gives you a comprehensive look at the performance of your website and/or mobile app. It also integrates with Google’s other marketing products, such as Search Console and Google Ads.
Follow these five steps to get started with setting up Google Analytics for your website.
Step 1: Create Your Account
To create an account, follow these steps:
- Go to the Google Analytics site. If you already have a Google account, then you can use that, or you can set up one specifically for your business.
- If you want to use your existing Google account, sign into that and click on “Access Google Analytics.” Otherwise, click “Sign Up.”
- Fill in your details, including your Account Name (your business name), Website Name (the website you want to track), Website URL and select an Industry Category and Reporting Time Zone.
- Under “Data Sharing Options,” select what data you wish to share with Google by checking the relevant boxes. Note: The more information you give Google, the better information it can give you to help track your metrics.
- Click on “Get Tracking ID.”
- Agree to the terms of service by clicking “I Accept.”
- Add the Tracking ID to your website.
You are now set up to start collecting visitor data for your website.
Step 2: Set Goals
A goal represents a completed activity, which is known as a conversion. This contributes to the success of your business. Common examples of goals are submitting contact information in a form, signing up for your newsletter, making a purchase (for an e-commerce site) or completing a game level (for a mobile gaming app).
Defining goals is crucial for a digital analytics measurement plan. Properly-configured goals allow Google Analytics to present you with such critical information as the conversion rate for your website or app and the number of conversions. This is fundamental in evaluating the effectiveness of your online marketing campaigns.
To set up goals for your website, go to your Google Analytics standard reports and click on “Admin.” Navigate to the “View” column and click on “Goals.” Then, click on “+ New Goal” or “Import from Gallery” to create a new goal, or click on an existing goal to edit its configuration.
Step 3: Link Google Search Console
The next step is to link your Google Analytics account to your Google Search Console account. If you don’t have a Google Search Console account, register for one.
In your Google Analytics account, click on “Property Settings” and scroll down to "Search Console Settings.” Here, you’ll find easy-to-follow instructions for linking the two accounts.
This feature provides search engine optimization (SEO) reports that contain vital information about your SEO efforts, including your organic ranking for different keywords, information about which keywords are driving traffic to your site and geographical data about your visitors.
Step 4: Link Google Ads
This step is relevant if you’re advertising on Google. Formerly known as Google AdWords, Google Ads gives you instant exposure to people who are more likely to buy goods and services than those browsing the internet for blogs or YouTube videos. Also, these ad campaigns can be optimized with the data available through Google Analytics.
To link your Google Ads account with your Google Analytics account, go to “Admin” and click on “Google Ads Linking.” Here, you’ll find simple instructions to complete the process.
Step 5: Set Up E-Commerce Analytics
This step is applicable if you are running an e-commerce website. E-Commerce Analytics help track the sales on your website, in addition to tracking product names, prices of products and total revenue. You can also use the reports generated here to measure the success of your ad campaigns or promotions.
The instructions for setting this up are available under “Admin.” Click on “E-Commerce Settings” to take the necessary steps.
After setting up your Google Analytics account and accumulating some data, you can periodically run reports to see which of your marketing channels are driving leads and eventually sales, and which are not working out. Information obtained from these reports can help you refine your digital marketing tactics.
How often you need to check your Google Analytics account will depend on the stage of your campaign. For example, if you are actively promoting yourself to drive more traffic to your website, then checking it daily is recommended — and allows you to make adjustments as needed. But if your system is well-established, then checking it once a week should suffice. Set up alerts to big changes, such as irregular spikes in traffic, sudden changes in bounce rate and so on.
Reports You Can Generate Using Google Analytics
Following are the standard pre-set reports that you can use to get better insights into your marketing campaigns.
- Real-Time Reports: This allows you to monitor activity (live users, events and goals) as they happen on your website or app. These also help you test if your Google Analytics tracking code is working properly.
- Audience Reports: These reports tell you everything about your visitors, including their demographics (age and gender), general interests, location, the language(s) they speak, how often they visit your website and the device(s) they use to visit your website (web or mobile).
- Acquisition Reports: These reports give you the traffic details for your website; for example, what drove the users to your site.
- Behavior Reports: Behavior reports tell you about your content, especially the main pages on your website. To see what terms and pages the visitors searched, you can set up “Site Search.” These reports also tell you about the loading speed of your website, and provide suggestions on how to make your website faster.
- Conversion Reports: Conversion reports answer the queries related to the goals defined by you.
Custom Reports: Apart from the five basic types of reports, there are custom reports that you can create on Google Analytics. Some examples of custom reports include:
- A benchmarking report allows you to compare your data with aggregated industry information from other companies who share their stats.
- An AdWords report gives you an indication of the efficacy of your marketing efforts if you advertise through Google.
- A mobile performance report is great for understanding how well your website is optimized for mobile.
Custom reports are easy to create. You can use a standard format to create one and then add segments or filters according to your needs, or you can create one completely from scratch.
To create a custom report, go to Customization > Custom Reports. Click “+ New Custom Report” to get started.