When you are building your website, or it is ready to go "live" on your domain name, don't procrastinate and put off installing Google analytics.
The first reason is that delaying the setup means that any data capture is deferred. You can't go back and capture data that you haven't been tracking.
The second reason is that it is so simple to install that it would be criminal not to. Collecting complete and accurate statistical data is at the heart of any winning marketing campaign.
In this post, I'm going to show you how to accurately set up your Google Analytics configuration at the Account, Property and View levels.
Organise Accounts, Properties And Views
You will probably only have one or two website accounts to set up in Google Analytics in your lifetime. But it is useful to have an understanding of how the hierarchical setup works so that you understand what the design interface. In the image below, I've marked each identifier with a red underline.
You may have more than one Google account, or you may be managing an account for someone else. These accounts show up in the left column.
Each property (website) then has a unique identifier (UA-3071727-30) for example and the view column shows which reports are available for that property.
In this way, understand that a single Google user can have multiple Google Analytics accounts, and each account can contain up to fifty properties. Each property can then support a maximum of twenty-five "views" or reports.
Views are where you create your reports. Within each report View, you have varied options to set rules that affect how the data is displayed.
Each report can have settings for eCommerce data collection, Site Search, Goals, Filters, Segments, Annotations, Channel Groupings, Custom Reports, Content Grouping, and User access.
Creating several Views rather than using the single default View gives you a greater insight through the use of different Goals, Filters, and settings on each View but in the beginning, it is sufficient to set up the default View and begin collecting data.
Each report or View only collects data from the time they are created so if you create your Google Analytics account on the 1st January but don't create any Views then you won't see any data until you do. The minimum requirement is to create your Google Analytics account, add your website property and then create a view to start collecting data.
Integrating With Other Google Products
There are three other significant google products that you need to connect your Google Analytics account to:
1. Google Search Console for monitoring your organic search engine performance on Google.
Go to your Google Analytics account.
Go to Acquisition (left sidebar) > Search Console.
Click the Setup Search Console data sharing button.
Choose your Search Console account.
2. Google Adsense for monitoring your performance on the paid-for Ad network.
Sign in to your Google Analytics account.
Click the Admin tab at the top of the page.
In the "Account" column, select the Analytics account that contains the property you want to link with your AdSense account.
In the "Property" column, select the Analytics property you want to link, and click AdSense Linking.
3. Google Adwords for monitoring performance on the pay per click network.
Open Google Analytics.
Click Admin and choose which account and property you'd like to manage.
Under property, click AdWords linking.
Click + New Link Group.
Select the accounts you want to link.
Enter your Link Group Title.
Switch on all sites where you want AdWords data.
Click link accounts.
Do not, under any circumstances, allow your website designer or SEO professional to create a Google Analytics account on your behalf, if you do, because you are too lazy to create it yourself under your own Google account then when you part ways with them, they will take your analytics data along with them because it belongs to their Google account and not yours. You'll have to start again.
It may sound silly, but this also goes for domain names, any software you purchase and hosting space. Make sure it is all purchased and registered in your company name, or you might lose it all.
View Your Google Analytics Data
After a week or so of collecting data, you will be able to view a report and begin to understand how to analyse your data.
Using the date dropdown in the top right, you can select the date range to report on and also compare date ranges (for example this month to last month) to view your data.
Default View Reports
Audience reports give you information on your visitors, and where they came from, what language they speak, and how often they visit your website.
Acquisition Reports will give you a detailed breakdown of what channels and sources your website traffic came from.
Behaviour Reports will tell you the most visited pages on your site, how long people spend on those pages and the top exit pages.
You can also learn how fast your website loads as well as specific suggestions from Google on how to make your website faster.
Now that we have covered the basics and your Google Analytics account is set up and collecting data, in Thursday's blog we'll move on to some juicy content marketing and I'll show you how to set up goals and conversions.