If you haven't yet set up Google Analytics for your site, or if you never take the time to look at the data it provides, then you're truly missing out. Google Analytics (GA) is filled to the brim with important information that you can use to boost your website's engagement, improve donation campaigns, increase search rankings, and more.
First, we'll start by making sure you have GA up and running with reliable data. Then be on the lookout for Part Two of this series, where we'll follow up with an overview of the basic metrics and reports that you should be using to your advantage.
Let's get started!
Setting Up Your Account
- First, head over to Google Analytics.
- Click “SIGN IN”, choose "Analytics" and enter your Google email account information. If you don't have a Google email address, you'll need to create one. Click the “Create an account” link to get started.
- Once you've logged in, click the “Start using Google Analytics” button.
- Enter an account name, the name of your website, your website URL, your type of industry (News), and your time zone.
- You'll also be asked to check or uncheck four data sharing settings. These help Google improve their service offering and are totally optional.
- Click the “Get Tracking ID” button at the bottom of the page and accept the Google Analytics Terms of Service Agreement.
- We'll want to make sure this snippet of code (the tag) is on every page of your site for you to start tracking and using Google Analytics. Next, we'll talk about how you can quickly and easily do this.
Wrangling the Tracking Code
There are a few different options for adding the tracking code to your site, with some being more manual and technical than others, and some that are tailored to your Content Management System (CMS). Take a look:
- If you're using WordPress as your CMS (including the awesome sites using our Largo platform), we recommend installing and activating INN Labs' No-Nonsense Google Analytics plugin. This plugin supports Universal Analytics (the newest type of Google Analytics tracking code at the time of this writing) as well as multiple tracking codes. Once activated, all you need to do is copy and paste your UA code into the settings.
- Use Google Tag Manager to add Google Analytics tags to any type of site. This route makes it easier to incorporate tags (snippets) from other sources like AdWords Conversion Tracking as well.
- If your site is on Drupal, you can use the Google Analytics module.
- Other CMS have settings for Google Analytics built in (like Squarespace), so you’ll just add your UA code into those specific settings.
- For all other sites, contact your webmaster to have them manually add the tracking code to your site.
Configuring Your Data
To ensure that you’re only capturing data from outside users (and not showing when you visit sites for testing, editing, etc.) you'll want to filter out your IP address from Google Analytics:
- Find out your IP address by going to whatismyip.com.
- Log into your Google Analytics account.
- Select "Admin" in the top navigation bar.
- Under "Account," select "All Filters."
- Select "+ New Filter."
- Add a filter name, depending on what IP you’re entering. For instance, if you’re adding your home IP address, I would suggest naming it "Home IP Filter."
- Select "Predefined filter," and then exclude traffic from the IP addresses that are equal to your IP address. Then enter your IP address.
- Apply the filter to the "All Web Site Data" view only.
- Select "Save."
Is It Working?
Once you have successfully installed the Analytics tracking code, it can take up to 24 hours for data such as traffic-referral information, user characteristics, and browsing information to appear in your reports. However, you can check your web-tracking setup immediately with one of the following tools:
The Real-Time reports let you see current activity on your site. If these reports have data, then your tracking code is collecting data and sending it to Analytics as expected.
To see the Real-Time reports:
- Sign in to your Analytics account.
- Navigate to a view in the property which has your tracking code. If you only recently added the tracking code to this property (website), it is likely that there will only be one view.
- Open Reporting.
- Select Real-Time > Overview or Real-Time > Behavior.
Google Tag Assistant
Google Tag Assistant is a free Chrome browser extension that shows you whether Google Analytics tracking codes (the tags) are firing correctly. It will also give you details regarding any errors, which is great for troubleshooting if you do have any issues. It's also great for other uses (see below).
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I find my UA code to put into a plugin or my CMS settings?
- Log in to your Google Analytics account and select your site's profile.
- Click on the Admin tab in the right menu bar.
- You'll see your UA code near the top of the page.
- Copy the UA code and paste into your plugin or CMS settings.
How and why should I connect to other accounts?
To get the full features of Google Analytics, I highly recommend connecting your other accounts. The accounts most commonly linked with Google Analytics are Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools), AdWords, or DoubleClick. You can find more information about this from Google here.
I’m having trouble getting my tracking code working, help?
How do I share accounts?
If you need to add, modify or delete users from your account, here's a handy guide.
How do I find out if there’s already a tracking tag on my site?
Google Tag Assistant comes to the rescue once again! It will show all the Google Analytics tags found on your site and you’ll be able to see if they are the new Universal Analytics (analytics.js) tracking tags or the classic, legacy (ga.js) tags.
What if I DO have another GA tag on my site?
If you have multiple Google Analytics tags, make sure that you only have ONE ga.js tag.
If you have more than one, it will compromise the data for all the accounts associated with your site. You can, however, have as many Universal Analytics (analytics.js) tags on your site as you'd like. Use the No-Nonsense Google Analytics plugin to easily add multiple Universal Analytics tracking UA codes.
We hope you've found this intro to Google Analytics useful and now understand how easy and important it is to have it on your site. In the near future, we'll be covering more advanced Google Analytics topics in our blog posts and webinars.
If you have any questions about Google Analytics, optimizing campaigns, Search Console, or anything else related to your site, let us know! The team at INN Labs is always happy to hear from you.