Google Analytics is a very powerful analytical tool for your website.
It can provide you with a wealth of information and statistics about the people who use your website.
You can use Google Analytics to find out which of your blog posts and pages are most popular, which days of the week and times of the day visitors are most active on your website, where in the world your website is being viewed, how visitors are finding your website, how long visitors are staying on your website, and so much more!
I’ve used other website analytic tools in the past, but nothing comes close to Google Analytics in terms of accuracy and detail. And best of all, it’s free!
In this post, I’ll show you how to set up a Google Analytics account and link your website to your account. I’ll also be covering the very basics of using Google Analytics.
1 | Set up a Google Analytics account
First things first, you need to set up a Google Analytics account. To do this, head over to the Google Analytics website and click Sign Up For Free.
The next step is to log in to your Google Account. If you don’t already have a Google Account then you will need to set one up. Check out my blog post where I show you exactly how to set up a Google Account for free.
After you have logged in to your Google Account (or created a new one), you will see a page that looks like this:
Click on Sign Up to continue.
Next, you need to enter some details about your new account.
First, enter a name for your account. This can be anything you like, but it’s a good idea to name it after your website.
Then, enter your website name, your website URL, and select an industry from the drop-down list that you think your blog or website fits into.
When you’re done, click Get Tracking ID. This will open a pop up with the terms and conditions in. If you accept, click I Accept.
2 | Add the tracking code to your website
On the next page, you should see a tracking code.
You need to copy this code and paste it in between the <head> </head> tags on every page of your website.
If you are using WordPress…
If your blog or website runs on WordPress, there are a number of ways that you can add the code to your website.
The first is by adding the code to your header.php file. To access this, log in to your WordPress admin area and go to Appearance then Editor. Then on the right-hand side look for header.php. Click to open this file.
In this file, look for the <head> </head> tags and paste your tracking code right before the closing </head> tag.
Or, if you aren’t comfortable with messing around with code, you can use a plugin. I recommend a plugin called Head, Footer and Post Injections which has over 100,000 active installations. This plugin allows you to add code to your website without having to edit the theme files.
To install this plugin, go to Plugins then Add New, then search for “Head, Footer and Post Injections”. You should then see a plugin that looks like this:
Click Install Now and then Activate when prompted to.
Once you have activated this plugin, go to Settings then Header and Footer. You should see a page that looks like this:
Then, just paste in your code from Google Analytics into the first box on the page like so:
Then click Save at the bottom of the page.
3 | Get analysing!
If you have correctly added the tracking code to your website you should start seeing some results in your Google Analytics account within a few days.
I’m going to give you a little tour around Google Analytics just to give you an idea of how it works if you’ve never used it before. I’m planning on writing a more detailed post about using Google Analytics in the future.
This is what your Google Analytics homepage will look like when you log in:
(I have to admit my stats are quite low, but you have to remember I only started this blog in February!)
The main graph you will see shows your users over the last 7 days, and it compares it to the previous week (the dotted line).
You can change this to show the sessions, bounce rate or session duration by clicking on the links at the top of the graph:
You can also change the graph to show stats over a longer or shorter period of time. Just click on the Last 7 days link at the bottom of the graph:
To the right of this graph, you will see a blue box. This contains all the information about active users (i.e. people who are on your website right now).
If you scroll down your Google Analytics homepage you will see even more information such as acquisition (how people are getting to or finding your website), how well you retain users, the most popular days of the week and times that people visit your website, what country your users live in, what devices people are viewing your website on and which pages of your website are most popular.
The homepage is there to give you a brief overview of your analytics, but you can dig deeper into specific areas of your statistics.
On the left-hand side of the screen you will see a menu. Within this menu, there is a section called Reports.
If you click on any of these links a drop-down menu will appear with further options. As you will be able to see, Google Analytics collects a lot of information!
As I say, I’ll be writing a second post to give you a more in-depth tour of the Google Analytics interface. But feel free to explore and have a play around to see what information you can discover.
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Do you use Google Analytics on your website? Which data do you find most useful?