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Google Analytics is a powerful tool.
It gives you access to critical information about your site traffic that can shape your entire strategy.
Unfortunately, it can be challenging to set up.
Don’t worry—our guide will show you how to do just that so you can stay ahead of the competition.
Why Setting Up Google Analytics Is Worth It
You may be thinking something like, “is setting up Google Analytics worth all the effort?” The answer is simple: “yes, absolutely.” It’s a tool that, once set up, you’ll find difficult to be without for long.
For example, let’s say you run an online store.
It’s crucial to understand what your customers are buying, where they’re coming from, and whether you’re doing everything you can for them.
Google Analytics provides you with a level of detail that can answer all of your questions, and once you get used to it, it can even become enjoyable to use.
As a business, the need to attract more customers is one of your central aims.
To do this, you need to create compelling marketing campaigns that convince potential customers to come to you. How do you know which of these campaigns is effective, though, and which is a waste of time?
What’s more, you need to understand the content you create and which of it is providing the best value to your customers and visitors.
Google Analytics allows you to track all of that, generating a breakdown of page views, and includes key metrics such as bounce rate, interactions per visit, and the average amount of time spent on each page.
It’s an essential bit of kit that can dramatically help a business.
The Investment Needed To Setup Google Analytics
Setting up Google Analytics isn’t quite as impossible as it sounds, but it does need some patience and an investment of time to get going.
While the process to set it up can be completed in a matter of hours, the data for your site doesn’t tend to appear straight away. It can take up to 24 hours, sometimes even 48 hours, to see anything that you can work with—your site’s complexity does affect this as well.
What’s more, while initially setting up Google Analytics can be quick if you know what you’re doing, it takes a significantly longer period to understand the platform entirely.
This isn’t something you set up and learn within days—rather, it’s a tool you progressively get better at using over months and even years.
In terms of how much it will cost you: Google Analytics is free to use. That is, there’s both a free and paid version of the tool.
The free version will likely be enough for small and medium-sized businesses, but it might feel limiting to enterprise-level companies.
The paid version, known as Google Analytics 360, offers advanced features, including better funnel reporting, more views and metrics per property, and attribution modeling. In the vast majority of cases, the standard Google Analytics is enough.
Throughout this guide, we’ll go over how to do the following:
- Set up the Google Tag Manager tool
- Create your Google Analytics account
- Set up your analytics tag
- Set up your goals
- Link to the Google Search Console
5 Easy Steps To Set Up Google Analytics
Here are the five steps you need to follow to set up Google Analytics. Let’s get started.
#1 – Set Up Google Tag Manager
The first thing we are going to want to do is set up Google Tag Manager.
Google Tag Manager allows you to manage all of your tags without editing code.
Effectively, it allows you to add tags to your Google Analytics code, saving a lot of time and pain. For instance, if you wanted to track clicks on a specific link, this would be much easier with Tag Manager.
Many people ask which is better, Google Tag Manager or Google Analytics, but the truth is you need to use both of them. These tools work together to make things easier.
In a nutshell: Google Analytics is an analytics tool, while Google Tag Manager sends data from your site to other marketing and analytics tools, such as Google Analytics itself. They’re a potent combination and should set you up with all the data you need.
So, we’re going to need to create an account with Google Tag Manager. We need to start by going to the homepage here.
You’ll be asked to sign in with your Gmail account and can do so, or you can create a Gmail account from scratch.
After doing that, you’ll be taken to a page that looks like this:
We want to click where it says Create Account.
A new section will appear that looks like this:
We need to fill in these details, so account name, country, and Container Setup. For the latter, use the name of your site and categorize it under Web:
Click the blue Create button. Agree to the terms and conditions on the next page, and you’ll be given a snippet of code. It looks like this:
Notice there are two codes: one for the <head> of the page and a second one for the <body>. We’ll need to paste these into your site.
If you’re using WordPress, things, as expected, are a lot easier here. All you need to do is paste the codes into your WordPress theme. You can do this directly with the Theme Editor.
However, the easiest way of doing this is to install the Insert Headers and Footers plugin for WordPress.
Search for the plugin, install and activate it and then go to Settings on the WordPress dashboard and look for Insert Headers and Footers.
You’ll be presented with something that looks like this:
We want to paste the two codes in as required.
This will implement the Tag Manager codes across your entire site, with a single copy and paste.
Relax—that’s step one sorted.
#2 – Create a Google Analytics Account
As we did with Tag Manager, we’re now going to need to create a Google Analytics account. So, to start, we’re going to need to go to Google’s homepage here and sign up.
Click where it says Set up for free. Sometimes it might say something slightly different, such as Get Measuring.
Once that’s loaded, we’ll come to a page that looks like this:
Here we need to fill in the details, so account name, data sharing options, and a host of other self-explanatory fields you need to fill in.
The only thing you need to look carefully for is where it says Show advanced options. Click it like so:
In there, fill in the URL of your site and be sure to click the switch to Create a Universal Analytics property:
After doing that, you want to click Next.
Once the other fields are filled in, click Create at the bottom of the page and accept the terms and conditions.
It’ll take you to a page asking about your email preferences, so fill that in and dismiss the overlay.
Inside, we want to locate the Tracking ID. To find this, look under Property and select the one starting with UA.
From there, click where it says Tracking Info and then Tracking Code. On this page, you’ll find your Tracking ID and your code. Be sure not to share these publicly.
With this Tracking ID, we can now move onto the next step.
#3 – Set Up Your Analytics Tag With Tag Manager
In this next step, we’ll be setting up Google Analytics tracking tags.
So, let’s go back to the Google Tag Manager dashboard in our already open tab and click where it says New Tag:
With this, we can create a new site tag.
Once that’s loaded, we’re presented with a page that looks something like this:
First, we want to click on the Tag Configuration circle. We need to choose the type of tag we want to create.
So, let’s find where it says Google Analytics: Universal Analytics.
We’ll now be able to choose a track type and adjust the settings:
Pick the type of data you want to track, and with the second box, click New Variable from the menu that drops down.
We’ll be taken to a new window where you can put in your Tracking ID from before. This is how we’ll send site data to Google Analytics. So, place in your ID from Google Analytics.
Now we need to sort out the Triggering section. Click on that second circle, and you’ll see this appear:
Click where it says All Pages.
Now click Save like so:
You now have a Google Tag sending data to your Google Analytics page.
This is a great time to grab yourself a celebratory drink.
#4 – Set Up Your Goals
Now we need to set up your goals over on Google Analytics. Goals allow you to track specific user interactions on your site.
Let’s start by going to the Google Analytics dashboard on your other tab. We need to find the Admin button in the bottom left of the screen, like so:
A new window will open up. We need to select our site property starting with ‘UA,’ and then find where it says ‘Goals’:
Here you’ll be able to create a new goal. Click on the big red button inside, and you’ll be asked what goal template you want to use.
What you fill in here is up to you and depends on your business, but you can see how much you can track from this alone. It can be precise, from buying tickets to creating an account on your site and how long people need to spend there to trigger this.
You’ll be able to track it all.
This can be overwhelming at first, so start small with the goals you want to track and think about what’s most important for your business.
Maybe you want to start by tracking how many people create an account on your site?
Once you’ve picked, be sure to save everything up.
Now you know how to create goals.
#5 – Link to the Google Search Console
Linking to the Google Search Console grants you access to key metrics. For example, you’ll be able to see what keyword queries you rank for when people are searching for them.
To have this extra tool at your disposal, we need to start by clicking the Admin button in the bottom left as we did before.
From there, we need to find where it says Property Settings:
Click that, and scroll right down the page until you come across Adjust Search Console:
Click the button, and you’ll find a small Add link appear under the text:
Naturally, we want to click this.
Upon doing so, we’ll be taken to a new page altogether.
All you want to do here is fill in the URL of your site and click continue. You’ll be asked how you wish to verify this, so pick an option you prefer here, follow the steps, and then click Verify:
An easy way to verify is to sign in to your domain name provider and copy the TXT record shown into the DNS configuration settings.
All you’re doing here is joining up the dots and proving you own the site.
Now that’s done, you’ll have to wait to view the data. Be sure to check back later to see it start appearing.
That’s how to set up Google Analytics with your site.
If you find it all a bit intimidating at first, never fear—it takes a long time to master the tool, but once you’re all set up you shouldn’t have to do any of these steps over again.
The data you will have as a result of setting up Google Analytics will be indispensable, too, so use it wisely.
If you’re wondering what’s next, we recommend checking out these guides: