Beginner’s guide to Google Analytics

by | Oct 19, 2017 | Online marketing advice | 2 comments

Discovering what people are doing on your website is the first step to understanding how to convert more of your visitors into paying customers. The best tool for this job is the amazing free resource that is Google Analytics.

This guide explains what Analytics is and why you should be using it, walks you through how to set it up and shows you how to create your first tracking goal.

Why you should be using Google Analytics

I believe that there is absolutely no point in investing your time and money into a website if you don’t measure its performance as a marketing tool. Google Analytics is one of the most effective ways to do this. Best of all, it’s a completely free to use.

You can use Google Analytics to:

– See how many people have viewed your website over a specific timeframe (day, week, month… whatever you choose);

– See how long people spend on your website and what pages they visit;

– Find your best and worst performing pages;

– See which of your blog posts are performing the best;

– Discover where your website traffic is coming from (search engine, social media, direct or referral);

– Investigate why people are leaving your website before completing a transaction;

– Analyse the steps people took to fill in your contact form or sign-up to your newsletter;

– Find out how many people triggered an event (such as watching a video on your website).

These are just a few of the things you can use Google Analytics for. Read on to find out how to set it up on your website and then create a specific tracking goal.

How to set up Google Analytics on your website

First you need to sign-up for a Google Analytics account here (you can use your Gmail account login details if you have one or simply sign-up for a new Google account.)

After signing up, you will directed to this form:

Fill in your details, making sure to insert your website’s correct URL (remember to select either http or https), and click on the blue button at the end that reads ‘Get tracking ID’.

You will then be directed to a screen that contains your unique tracking code.

Copy, paste and save to a text editor such as Notepad the script that appears in the box in the Global Site Tag (gtag.js) section:

This code then needs to be inserted into the <head> tag on every page of your website you want to track, which basically means every page.

Now to do this depends on how your website is set up.

For this article I am going to explain how to add the code for websites built using WordPress (dynamic website).

To find out how to add it on other types of website set-ups (static html, Shopify, BigCommerce, Magento, Blogger, etc), click here.

How to insert Google Analytics tracking code into WordPress:

Please note that these instructions are for a self-hosted website that uses WordPress as its CMS (content management system), not for websites hosted on WordPress.com.

Most premium WordPress themes will have an option in the CMS that will allow you to insert code into your website’s header, body and footer tag areas.

Check your theme documentation to find out where this is.

If your theme does not have this option then there is a free plugin called Insert Headers and Footers that will allow you to quickly and simply add the code across your entire website.

Once you have added the tracking code, Google Analytics will  begin collecting data about your website. You can then log in to your Google Analytics account to check out the metrics.

Setting up goals in google analytics:

Google Analytics can seem complicated and overwhelming to begin with. There is a lot of information and  so many options, which makes it frustrating to know where to start.

A great place to begin is to set-up a goal. Goals give you an enormous amount of extra and valuable information.

Using goals, you can start looking at whether users are doing what you want them to do on your website.

The goal I will be showing you how to set-up is a URL Destination goal. With this goal data you will be able to start comparing the number of visitors to your website against the number of visitors who take some sort of lead-generation or purchasing action, like filling in your contact form or buying a product.

This will be the starting point for you to start increasing your website conversions.

To measure lead generation in this way, you will need to make sure that whatever action visitors take (fill in a contact form, download an eBook, purchase a product, sign-up to your newsletter), then results in them being redirected to a thank you or payment confirmation page.

To set-up this goal from your dashboard in Google Analytics, click on the Admin option on the main left-hand side navigation panel:

You’ll then be taken to your account administration page that looks something like this:

Click on the ‘Goals’ option under the ‘View’ panel on the far right.

On the next screen, click on the red button that says ‘+New Goal’.

On the next goal setup page, ignore the first Template section and scroll down until you see the ‘Custom’ option, which you must select, and then continue to the next page.

On the next page, give your goal a descriptive name, keep the goal slot set to 1 (this just indicates that this is your first goal). You are allowed to set-up 20 free goals with Google Analytics.

Select ‘Destination’ under the Type of goal option and click continue.

Next you will need to fill in your goal details:

In the first field, ‘Destination’, make sure to change the default ‘Equals to’ to ‘Begins with’.

I’m not going to go into much detail as to why, other than to say that sometimes (especially with Google AdWords) URL parameters are added to the ends of URLs. If this happens, then ‘Begins with’ would still track the destination URL you have selected even if parameters have been added on to the end of that URL.

Now insert the URL you want to track. Don’t enter in the full URL, use only what comes after the domain URL (as in the example image above). So in the case of my URL I want to track – https://rubystudiodesign.com/thank-you – I would only insert /thank-you as the destination URL in Google Analytics.

Leave the ‘Value’ and ‘Funnel’ options as is. Click ‘Save’ to finish setting up your first goal in Google Analytics.

A note on Values and Funnels: You would assign a monetary value to a goal if it is connected to some sort of online purchase. Funnels are more in-depth goals that allow you to discover the steps a visitor took until they completed your lead-generation action.

What next:

To access the data collected about the goal you have just set-up, click on the home icon to return to the Google Analytics dashboard, and then click on the Conversion tab on the left hand navigation panel to access all information about your goals.

You can then begin comparing this data with the number of website visitors in total.

Next week I will be talking more about the steps you can start taking to improve your lead conversion rate.

Learn google analytics:

Google operates a completely free online training academy so anyone can learn Google Analytics.

It’s an amazing resource if you are serious about learning Analytics at your own pace so your website can become a lead converting machine.

Access the training academy here.

Article References:
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/critical-goal-types/
https://yoast.com/setting-google-analytics-goals/
https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1008080?hl=en
https://moz.com/blog/absolute-beginners-guide-to-google-analytics
https://blog.kissmetrics.com/awesome-google-analytics/

2 Comments

  1. Nicola Tweed

    Absolutely valuable information, thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Megan

      Thanks Nicola! Happy you found it useful 🙂

      Reply

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