Tracking your site performance is essential to understanding your audience and the customer journey. There are multiple solutions available for tracking your site’s performance, but one of the easiest to implement (and with the lowest barrier to entry) is Google Analytics. For those of you unfamiliar with Google Analytics, it is a free solution (up to a certain point) that still gives you powerful data. Moreover, it is one of the best documented online analytics solutions so you can easily find help with implementation, troubleshooting, and technical questions online. So how do you go about implementing Google Analytics? Follow these key steps below to ensure a successful Google Analytics setup.
1. Check for any previous Google Analytics Implementations
First ensure that your site doesn’t currently have a Google Analytics tag, or that if it does, that it is correctly implemented. You can take a look at your website’s source code to check for the GA pixel, or you can use Google’s Tag Assistant Chrome extension. This handy tool lets you see which pixels have been placed on the site as well as any issues surrounding them and areas of optimization. Once you know what tags have (or have not) been installed, you can see where to begin. Tip: We always recommend trying to recuperate a previously set-up Google Analytics account (find out how to here). But if you need to implement a new Google Analytics account, we recommend removing the old tag that’s on the site.
2. Create your Google Analytics account
If you’re starting from scratch and just implementing Google Analytics, you first want to create the Analytics account itself. To do so, begin by creating an account when prompted (start here). You’ll go on to set up a GA property (generally your website), and then a reporting view. Tip: you’ll need an email that’s associated with a Google account. Creating a Gmail address that can be shared with multiple members of your organization can be helpful in ensuring access isn’t lost if a stakeholder leaves.
3. Place the GA tracking code
Once you create the account, you’ll get a Tracking ID and tag to place onto your website. You can either place the Google Analytics tag directly within your site’s code following their instructions or implement it via Google Tag Manager. Tip: We recommend using Google Tag Manager because it will provide you greater flexibility when creating events and sets you up for any further tag implementation. You can learn more about the benefits here.
4. Create and update reporting views
By default, Google Analytics will set up you up with a “main” view for your website performance data. You should go ahead and create a couple more views: a “test” view, and an “unfiltered” view. These can help keep your data clean if you implement any changes such as adding filters to the views, such as excluding your company’s IP address.
You are now ready to start using Google Analytics! Take a look at the data coming in by using the Real-time report; though keep in mind that it can take about 24hrs for your site data to appear in the other reports.
Some next steps to consider
Now that your Analytics account has been implemented, here are some additional steps you can take to get the most out of your data.
- Set up Goals to understand the actions users take on your site as well as Events that show how a user interacted with a particular element (such as a file download, or a button click). You can also assign a dollar amount to your goals. Learn more about Goals and Events and how to set them up here.
- Set up dashboards within Analytics in order to easily monitor your KPIs and get an overview of your reports for a given period of time.
- Link your Google Ads and Analytics accounts, if you’re running Google Ads. This allows you to pull in a significant amount of Google Ads data into your Analytics account to better understand how your advertising impacts site performance.
You’re now on your way to gathering data and getting insights into your site’s performance!