"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" This philosophical thought experiment has left many people smarter than I puzzled.
A website without Google Analytics installed poses a similar question. Does website traffic exist if you can’t track it? More importantly, if you can’t track your website traffic, how can your website serve its purpose
I still remember the first website I created. I took it live and then sat there wondering “now what?”. I knew about my site and thought it looked amazing (it didn’t but practice makes perfect, right?), but would the rest of the world find my site? Would they love it enough to come back again and again? How would I ever know the answer to any of these questions?
The answer was, and still is, Google Analytics. A free tool that can answer more questions about my website traffic than I could ever comprehend. And when I say free, I don’t mean a dumbed down version. Google offers a ridiculously high-quality piece of software -- and is giving it away for free. All you have to do is install a little code on your website. You would be crazy to not take advantage of it.
Back then I was new to websites and I didn’t know how to install Google Analytics. Lucky for you, below I have outlined the process. It has become very easy for me - with plenty of practice - but it was quite difficult at the time. Hopefully, I can save you some headaches and get your Google Analytics up and running in the next five minutes. Let’s go!
How To Install Google Analytics
Step 1: Visit The Google Analytics Website
I’ll save you a Google search. Just click here. You will then be asked to log in using a Google Account. If you don’t already have a business email, just use your personal one. You can easily share access to as many email addresses as you desire at a later date.
Step 2: Complete The New Account For
Once you have logged in, you will see the following form.
For the sake of this post, we will assume this Google Analytics setup is for a website. The Account Name will only be visible internally, so name your account whatever you would like. If you plan to manage multiple websites, you will want to name your accounts in such a way that it is easy to tell them apart.
The rest of the form is fairly self-explanatory so let’s move ahead to the exciting part, installing your Google Analytics tracking code!
Step 3: Install Your Google Analytics Tracking Code
Right after you finish creating your account, you will be routed to the page shown below. This is the most important to set up because installing your tracking code is what bridges the gap between Google and your website. No code, no tracking.
Don’t get overwhelmed by the code you see. Unless you are a developer, you probably have no idea what you are looking at. That’s ok. You have two options at this point:
- Copy the Tracking ID so you can install it yourself
- Send the tracking code to your developer so they can install it for you
While the latter might seem easier, I will show you how easy it actually is to install the code yourself. Installation will depend on how your site is built, so let’s take a look at a couple common website types.
For Wordpress, the easiest way to install Google Analytics is via the Google Analytics plugin. Again, it is completely free and will take all of the technical requirements out of the equation
Once you have installed the plugin, it will ask you to enter your Tracking ID. You will see this number at the top of the page. Simply copy and paste it into the Track ID field and you are good to go!
While using a plugin is easy, there may be an even easier way, depending on your Wordpress theme. Many themes now have a section for Header Scripts. If your theme has this feature, you can simply copy and paste the entire chunk of code listed on the page. This will insert the code correctly on every page of your site without you having to do any development work. Thanks, Wordpress!
Each eCommerce site is different, but most support Google Analytics integrations. This means the process will be very similar to the plugin method we just discussed. A simple Google search will provide you will specific instructions for your eCommerce site.
All Other Sites
Sites like Wix and Squarespace have grown in popularity due to their ease of use. When it comes to installing Google Analytics, they live up to their reputation. Look through your settings for a section to enter a Google Analytics Tracking ID or header script. Again, simply copy and paste the correct information.
Step 4: Test Your Tracking Code
The final step is testing to make sure your tracking code is working properly. The easiest way to do this is to open a new tab and visit your website. While you have your website open, open an additional tab and navigate to the “Real Time” section of Google Analytics. Here you will see any active people on your site, which means Google Analytics should be registering the fact that you are currently visiting your site.
If you see 0 active website visitors, then you need to backtrack and ensure you followed each step correctly. However, if you see 1 active website visitor then you successfully installed Google Analytics!
Now that your Google Analytics is installed and tracking properly, there are several next steps we would recommend:
- Set up automated reporting: Google Analytics can automatically generate and email you reports, so you are always up to date. To set this up, simply navigate to the analytics view you want regular updates on and hit “share”, which will be right above the data. Enter your email and the frequency of updates.
- Set website traffic goals: Without clear goals, it is hard to increase your website traffic. Google Analytics has a built-in goals feature to keep you accountable. At Outspoke we use Goals to easily monitor progress and identify when we are getting off track.
- Create a plan: Installing your Google Analytics code is a huge first step. Doing so allows you to measure success, but will not necessarily lead to success without a plan. When setting goals, tie those to actions. Whether you want to write a certain amount of blogs per month or budget for paid advertisements, having a plan will allow you to reach your goals.
Congratulations! By this point, you have successfully installed Google Analytics and are ready to share your website with the world. Consistent growth is hard to achieve, but proper tracking makes it measurable and trackable.