Whether you just want some basic information about the visitors to your site or are a data fiend Google Analytics can give you a variety of data about your visitors. You might also consider Google Analytics if you do not have a website logs stats program on your web hosting account.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a website statistics service provided by Google. With a basic Google Analytics report sent to you can:
- Get information about your website visitors
- Number of visitors in the last week
- Number of page views
- Number of pages per visit
- Your bounce rate
- Visitor average time on your site
- Percentage of new visitors
- See an overview of your traffic sources
- Direct traffic to your site
- Percentage of referring sites
- Search engine traffic (including search engines other than Google)
- Top keyword phrases
- A technical profile of your visitors
- Percentage of Internet Explorer (IE) visitors
- Percentage of Firefox (FF) users
- Percentage of Chrome users
- Percentage of Safari users
- Percentage of Mobile users
- Top content viewed
- Top pages viewed
- Number of page views for each page
- Percentage of total page views
- Increase (or decrease) from last week
- Countries your visitors come from
- The country they came from
- Number of visits from that country
- Number of pages per visit
- Average time on your site from that country
- The percentage of new visitors this country brought this week
- The bounce rate for that country
- The changes of each since last week
As you get more familiar with Google Analytics you can adjust the amount of information you wish to track. For more detaied information of each of the above sections you can log into your Google Analytics account.
What Do I Need to Signup for Google Analytics?
There are just a few things you need to be able to signup for Google Analytics:
- A Google account
Note: You should set up your Google Analytics account yourself then give the coding Google gives you for insertion into your pages to your web designer/SEO specialist/web developer for inclusion into your web pages. If you let someone else do it for you they will have access to all the Google services you use including your Gmail, Google Places, Google Plus profile, etc.
- A website or blog
- Access to the web hosting account where your site is (if you are going to do this yourself)
Set Up a Google Analytics Account
- Go to the Google Analytics home page.
- On the right there is a button that says Access Analytics, click it.
You are taken to a page where you need to sign into your Google Account.
- Sign into your Google account.
You are taken to the home page of your Google Analytics account.
- Click the +Add new site link.
If you can’t see it, it is under the Day|Week|Month|Year buttons at the top of the center section of your Google Analytics home page.
The Sign up page for Google Analytics appears.
- Click the Sign Up button in the bottom left of the screen.
The box has the title: Sign Up for Google Analytics.
You should be at the Analytics: New Account Signup screen.
- Enter your website/blog information:
- Website URL
At the beginning of the enter website url line there is a dropdown where you can select http:// or https://. Http:// is for your regular public website or blog. Https:// is for the secure part of your site.
If you want to keep the stats for your public portion of the site separate from the secure section of the site (for example an ecommerce site) create 2 sets of codes. One for the public side, one for the secure site. Do one set now. Once you have completed the one set, you can add the other set from your Google Analytics home page.
Note:When promoting your site online you should use the same version of your website url. e.g. www.basiccomputerinformation.ca is different from basiccomputerinformation.ca in the search engine’s eyes. It’s called the non www vs with www versions of your url. Pick one version to promote for best results in other calculations Google (and other search engines) make as to the quality of your site like the number of incoming links from out side sources. Incorrect versions can be corrected with your .htaccess file but that is another post. For now, pick one version, make a note of it and fill in the box with the version you decided to use.
- Account Name
Account name is a name for you to recognize which stats you are looking at in your Google Analytics home page and reporsts sent to you. For example, if you are doing this for your ecommerce site you could put Website Name – Front End for the public side and Website Name – Secure for the secure section of your site.
- Time zone country or territory
From the dropdown list to the right of this label select the country or territory of the site you are adding.
- Time zone
Select your time zone from the dropdown list to the right of this label. Selecting your time zone will help you understand the stats you see that are time related in your reports.
When you have completed all of the above click the Continue>> button at the bottom left.
The Contact Information screen appears.
- Website URL
- The Contact Information screen is pretty self explanatory, enter your Last name, First name and your country.
Click the Continue>> button in the bottom left once you are done.
Accept User Agreement screen appears.
- Read through the Google Analytics User Agreement.
Left click in the box in front of the “Yes, I agree to the above terms and conditions.” line at the bottom of the frame containing the user agreement.
Once you have read the agreement and clicked the agree box click the Create New Account>> button in the bottom left of the page.
The Tracking Code screen appears.
- Tracking Code
The tracking code screen has 3 tabs: Standard, Advanced and Custom. We are going to walk through the Standard tab.
Down the left of the screen there are some options you can select:
- A single domain is selected by default and your url is displayed below.
- One domain with multiple subdomains.
A subdomain is another part of your site. The url of a subdomain appears as subdomainname.yourdomain.com. You may have noticed that sites like Yahoo! use subdomains to organize their site for news (http://news.yahoo.com/), real estate (http://realestate.yahoo.com/), etc.
- Multiple top level domains
A top level domain is a domain name like basiccomputerinformation.com, basiccomputerinformation.ca.
We will continue with the default single domain option.
On the right is a block of code you are to put into each page you wish to track.
Copy the code given and paste into a plain text file then save it on your computer for safe keeping. A plain text file is created with Notepad and has the extension .txt at the end. Pasting into Word or similar word processing file could add some unwanted invisible characters that will cause your script to fail.
The instructions on this page says to paste the coding into the head section of your web pages. The head section is between the <head> and </head> tags of your page coding.
Note: If there is a problem with the connection to the Google web servers your page will hang up (stall) while it waits for the connection to be made. For this reason I put my coding at the end of the web page coding, just before the closing </body> tag. I might miss some stats if the visitor bounces off the page but my pages rendering quickly is more important to me. How fast your pages load is one of the many things Google looks at when evalutating your site. It is up to you if you choose Google’s instructions or follow my example. Kind of weird they tell you to put this in the head section because elsewhere they tell you to put 3rd party scripts at the end of your coding for better load speed, should the 3rd party script fails.
Once you have copied and saved your code, click the Save and Finish button in the bottom left of the screen.
You are taken to the home page for this Google Analytics account.
- On the home page for this Google Analytics account there is going to be a caution symbol under the Status column.
This makes sense because you just made this account, haven’t added the code to your pages and Google hasn’t had a change to collect data yet.
Add Google Analytics Code to Your Site
This is where the text file you made above is used. Open the text file you saved to your computer, copy and paste the coding you were given into the appropriate place.
How you actually add the Google Analytics code to your site will depend on how your site is constructed.
A static (regular) website you can add the code to the web pages you wish to track. Open each page and insert the coding Google Analytics gave you either between the head tags or just before the closing body tag.
If you are using a blogging software like WordPress there are a couple of options:
- Add the Google Analytics code the head.php file of your theme.
- Add the Google Analytics code to the footer.php file of your theme.
- Use a plugin that does this for you. Not crazy about using plugins to do simple stuff like this. Each plugin you add to your WordPress blog adds to the load time of your blog.
For ecommerce sites run using ecommerce software you are going to have to refer to the documentation of the software as to where in your backend you add the code or you can add the coding to the template that runs your site.
Set Up Google Analytics
Setting up a Google Analytics account is not too difficult. You can expand on the basic instructions provided in this tutorial by setting up reports, goals and linking it to your Adwords account.
Google Analytics is a great supplement to your web log reports available on your web hosting account or if you don’t have web log stats available with your hosting account.