Tracking the effectiveness of every aspect of your business is something all business owners can agree is critical. Whether it be a sale, a marketing campaign or new tax software, understanding the effect and impact allows you to ensure your tactics are adding value.
While most small businesses have come to understand that a website is a critical component to every local business, many are simply launching them and then walking away. Just like your storefront, where you can visually monitor your foot traffic and purchase behavior, you want to do the exact same thing for your website.
Google Analytics is the most commonly used free tool for monitoring and tracking your website’s performance. If you have just launched a new website or are now looking to begin to track it, then this post is for you. We’re going to look at Google Analytics from the beginner’s point of view from getting you signed up to setting up initial tracking metrics.
Breaking Down the Lingo
The first step you’ll need for Google Analytics is to get an understanding of its terminology. Some of the language might not be as intuitive as you would hope, so before we start to set-up an account, let’s break down the words you will come across and their meaning.
Acquisition: how you acquire users.
Avg. Session Duration: the average length of a session.
Behavior: data to help you improve and understand your content’s impact.
Bounce Rate: the percentage of people who came to your site/page and immediately left.
Campaigns: the tracking of specific URL’s driving traffic to your website.
Conversions: the number of times goals have been completed on your website.
Goals: the feature that allows you to measure how often users take specific actions on your website.
New Sessions: the percentage of first-time visitors.
Pageviews: the total number of pages viewed, including repeated views of a single page.
Sessions: the period of time a visitor is actively engaged on your website.
Getting Started on Google Analytics
Getting started on Google Analytics doesn’t take much time, but it does take a bit of time to understand all the information you can gain through your account. In our Google Analytics guide, we’ll walk you through how to create your account and set yourself up to start receiving results.
Step 1: Sign-up for an account
The first thing you need to do to sign-up for a Google Analytics account is decide what email it will be attached to. While this may seem like a minor detail, it can have a big impact on your accessibility over time. If you have a primary Google account you already use for other Google services such as Gmail, Google Drive, Google My Business or YouTube, then you should set-up your Google Analytics account with this Google account.
Keep in mind that this should be the account you will use for the life of the website. While you can share your Google Analytics with other Google Accounts, to change account owners (even to just another Google Account you use) you risk losing some historical data.
Once you’ve decided on the Google Account you will sign up with, go to https://www.google.com/analytics/ and select “Sign-up” in the upper right-hand corner.
On the following pages continue to fill in your website information. You will need to name your website property (preferably something straightforward) so that you can stay organized.
Your Google Analytics account can have up to 50 website properties under it and under each website property you can have up to 25 website views. A little confusing? Let’s break it down into something more visual using an example of someone managing a business and personal website under their Google Analytics account:
- Google Analytics Account
- Website Property (LocalBusiness)
- Website View 1 (overall traffic)
- Website View 2 (state traffic)
- Website Property (PersonalWebsite)
- Website View (overall traffic)
- Website Property (LocalBusiness)
Don’t worry about changes to your accounts or website properties, these can always be changed and altered to better serve your needs down the road, just get it set-up so you can start seeing results!
Step 2: Start getting results
For the next steps we’re going to be filling out the information as if you are just looking to set-up your one local business website and only need one view (all the data comes with the default view).
Once you have filled in all this information, click to “Get Tracking ID” button which will bring a pop-up asking you to agree to Google Analytics terms and conditions, and then you will be taken to a page to receive code for your website.
This code needs to be installed on every page of your website, which can seem a daunting task, but can be fairly easy. If your website has a header or footer seen on every page of your website, you can insert this code into that section – and can then start seeing results in your Google Analytics account.
If you don’t know how to add this to your website or want some extra guidance, leave a comment below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll give you tips specific to your local business to get set-up.
Step 3: Set-up a goal
Now that you are set-up to start seeing top line results in Google Analytics, you want to be able to track important “events” happening on your website. For example, one event is being contacted through a “Contact Us” form that may be on your site. If you set-up your website to have a thank you or confirmation page following someone contacting you then you can track a “Goal” of how many visitors are taking that action.
Find your Goal setting by clicking on the “Admin” link at the top of your Google Analytics dashboard and then selecting “Goals” under your website’s “View” column.
Create your first goal by clicking on the “New Goal” button.
Next, choose the “Custom” option and then slick the “Next Step” button (if you want to create a different goal, look through your options to find the most applicable one).
Enter the name of your goal, something memorable and applicable, such as “Contact Us Form” then select “Destination” and the “Next Step” button.
You will then enter the thank you or confirmation page’s URL in the “Destination” field.
Lastly, you will have the option to add a specific dollar value to your goal. For example, if you know every person who contacts you becomes a customer who spends on average, $20 at your local business, then you would want this goal to be worth $20. But if you can’t attribute a value to your goal, it’s perfectly fine to leave blank.
Step 4: Explore the other features
Now you have a Google Analytics account, are tracking results, and can even see how many goal completions you have on a daily, monthly or yearly basis. Next, start exploring it for yourself!
Some important pieces you’ll want to be aware of to explore are found on the left sidebar in any of the views you have created for your website.
You can create customized views of specific aspects of your Google Analytics data using widgets. Dashboards are a great way to check in on specific aspects over and over again in one place, instead of going through all your metrics.
Shortcuts link to your top Google Analytics reports, making it easy to access important pieces of information.
These are alerts you can set up within Google Analytics to email you when a specific event occurs. These alerts can be for dramatic changes in the number of sessions, goal conversion or any other change in metrics.
Be able to see who’s on your website at any given time with Real-Time data. You can see current visitors’ page views, active pages, locations and more.
Audience, Acquisition, Behavior and Conversions
You will spend the bulk of your time in these sections which provide you with in-depth reports on your traffic, content and goal completions.
While you now have a Google Analytics account, you are bound to have more questions than the basics that we covered here. Comment below with any piece of Google Analytics you’d like us to dig into further and look out for further Google Analytics articles!