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Google Analytics: How to Set-Up One of the Most Valuable Tools in Your Digital Toolbox

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Is your website working for you? If you can’t answer with an enthusiastic “yes!” we need to talk.
These days, a website is a key part of doing business. Your website should be helping people find you, generating quality leads, and boosting your bottom line. A simple online presence may not be enough to grow your business, and there’s a chance that high-dollar website you just launched isn’t performing any better. Before you sink another dollar into online marketing, you need to know for sure.

Google Analytics can help.

Google Analytics is a free tool that gathers website data, including who is visiting your site, what they are doing while they are there, and where they are from. It can help you zero in on your target audience, track website performance, and make tweaks to your website to generate more leads. It’s also something you can set up and manage yourself.

Here’s how to get started:

1. Install Google Analytics

If you had your website professionally designed by a reputable marketing company, there’s a good chance Google Analytics is already installed on your website, but you’ll need to be sure before you can get started. Tag Assistant, a Google Chrome extension, is the best way to find out. First, bring up your Chrome browser and check for a small blue Tag Assistant icon in the upper right corner. If you don’t see it there, you’ll need to add it. To do that, copy this link into the search bar and go through the download and activation process. After Tag Assistant is installed, go to your website and give the Tag Assistant icon a click. It should tell you if Google Analytics is installed. If you have Google Analytics installed, it should be active on every page of your site, so double-check by navigating to a few of the pages of your site and clicking the Tag Assistant icon.

If you don’t have Google Analytics on your website, it’s an easy installation process. Go to Google.com/analytics to set-up your account and follow the installation process. If you have a WordPress site, install Google Analytics by adding the Google Analytics plugin using this link. To be sure the installation worked, use the Tag Assistant to double check.

Install Google Analytics

2. Google Analytics Access

If you’ve just installed Google Analytics, you have the account access needed to continue. However, if Google Analytics was installed by someone else, you’ll need to be sure you have the highest level of access, which is necessary to take the following steps and make changes to Google Analytics. To find your level of access, click on the admin (gear) icon and click on “User Management.” It’s important to note here that access to Google Analytics is part of owning your website, and you should have the highest level of access, or what Google Analytics refers to as permissions. That includes the ability to edit and manage users. Make a call to your website designer or marketing company today if you don’t have full access to Google Analytics on your website. There should be no reason you should not have full access to this valuable asset.

Google Analytics Access

3. Configure Google Analytics Filters

With a basic installation, Google Analytics will need a few modifications to ensure the data you’re viewing is accurate. To get started, click on the admin (gear) link in the lower left corner of your Google Analytics screen. The first thing you’ll want to do is set up a filtered view by clicking on the blue Create View box and follow the steps to create a custom view configured to measure what’s important to you.

Under the Settings tab, the first thing you’ll want to do is exclude what web developers call bots. Essentially, they are non-human visitors to your website, computer programs launched to automatically search websites for bits of data. Bots can inflate the number of visitors to your site. Be sure the box that says, “exclude all known bots and spiders” is checked.

Configure Google Analytics Filters-1

Next, you’ll want to exclude visits to your site that are made for administrative reasons, as they can skew the visitor data as well. Click on the Filters tab to create a new filter. We like to name the filter hostname. Click Custom and “include traffic from Hostname”, followed by “equal to.” Below that enter your website (no http or www) and hit save.

Configure Google Analytics Filters-2

You’ll also want to create another filter to exclude your own visits and those of your team. For this one, you’ll go through the same process, but under filter field, click IP address, and in filter pattern, enter your IP address. If you’re unsure what your IP address is, type “What is my IP address?” in Google’s search bar. The series of numbers provided at the top of the search results is your IP address.

Configure Google Analytics Filters-3

4. Set Google Analytics Goals

Now, you’ll want to set up goals related to the objectives of your website. Continue working under the View tab and hit Goals. From here you’ll create a new goal or goals based on the objectives of your website and what you want to know. This will depend on what your website offers. If you offer a phone number, contact form, or web chat, those actions by visitors to your site can all be analyzed. Since not all sites are the same, you’ll want to follow the on-screen instructions to create goals that are unique to your site. Most Google Analytics users create a Destination goal for the content form and an Event goal for the phone number click-to-call feature.

Set Google Analytics Goals

5. Configure Google Analytics Segments

If you’d like, now would be a good time to create segments for location and traffic to view the website data for specific segments of your visitors. Still working under the View tab, click on Segments. Here you’ll find a variety of demographic information including location. Follow on-screen instructions to create a couple of segments, one for city and one for region, which you can identify as your state. Below Demographics, you’ll find the Traffic Source tab. If you’re running a social media campaign or email campaign, you’ll want to know if your visitors are responding to your efforts. Follow the on-screen instructions to create segments for each campaign.

Configure Google Analytics Segments

6. Link Google Search Console with Google Analytics

As a final step, you’ll want to set up Google Search Console and link it to Google Analytics. To do that go to search.google.com/search-console and enter your website or URL. Follow the steps for verification, and once that’s complete, head over to Google Analytics and access the Admin screen. Under the Property tab, go to All Products and scroll down to Google Search Console and hit the link button. Google Search Console provides another layer of data to Google Analytics, and is a powerful tool for measuring how well your website is performing on Google searches by tracking clicks and impressions along with other key factors. Another reason to set up Google Search Console is that it gives Google a way to reach you if it notices suspicious activity on your site. If your site is hacked or infected with malware, Google will contact you and let you know.

7. Next Steps in Google Analytics

After you’ve completed the setup steps above, you’ll want to hit the Google Analytics home button and view your data. If you just installed Google Analytics, you won’t have much to look at, but over time you’ll accumulate a data set that will be helpful in determining the effectiveness of your website and digital marketing efforts. For more information on how to use Google Analytics, check out our Using Google Analytics blog post.