There are many different analytic platforms you can use to monitor this data, but Google Analytics is a must. Not only is it free, but Google has you covered with an extensive and thoroughly customizable suite of analytic tools.
As a disclaimer, there is a very high technical ceiling to using Google Analytics. This article covers setting it up at a basic (but extremely useful) level of functionality.
Call 888-601-5359 to speak with a strategist about digital marketing services and analytics from WebFX, or keep reading to learn how to start using Google Analytics on your site.
1. Get your tracking code
Google’s tracking code is what allows the platform to access your site’s data. To get your code, head over and log into your Google Analytics account. If you don’t already have one, they’re free to make and use!
If you just signed up for an account…
Google’s process for new accounts is pretty straightforward. After you click to sign up for analytics, you’ll arrive on a setup screen that looks like this:
Fill out the information, click “Get Tracking ID,” and accept the terms and conditions. You’ll be directed to a new page that has your tracking code front and center:
If you already have an analytics account…
It’s even easier! Log in, click on “Admin” at the top, and then navigate to “Tracking Info,” and finally “Tracking Code”:
2. Include the tracking code on your website
The exact protocol for this step changes based on how your website is structured and whether you’re using a CMS or not.
If your website is static HTML…
You may have read that the code should be included at the bottom of your HTML, in the footer. This used to be true years ago, but in 2009 Google implemented their Asynchronous tracking code model. Asynchronous code loads separately from your web page, so it won’t cause any hang-ups when users load your page (and therefore can be placed in your < head >).
If your website is dynamic…
You can put the tracking code in its own include file, and then simply push it dynamically onto all of your pages through templates or by hand.
If you’re using PHP, for example, you could save your tracking code in a file named “analyticstracking.php.” Then, on each page template, you would add in the code line < ?php include_once(“analyticstracking.php”) ? >.
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This will automatically place the tracking code on any page using a template that has the include line in it.
If you’re using Wordpress as a CMS…
There are a few ways to integrate Google Analytics with a Wordpress website.
The easiest and most common method is using a plugin. There are many plugins that simply provide a field for you to paste your tracking code into and add it to all of your pages.
3. Test your analytics code
After you’ve integrated your code into your website using one of the methods above, it’s extremely important to make sure it’s sending and receiving user data properly.
Luckily, Google makes this easy to do. Head back to the “Admin > Tracking Info > Tracking Code” area of your Google Analytics account, and look for “Status” up at the top:
If it looks like the above screenshot, go ahead and click the “Send test traffic” button. If everything’s working properly, it’ll then look like this:
If the test traffic works, you know everything is set up correctly and good to go!
What to do if you run into trouble
This basic setup will work the vast majority of the time.
However, if you’re experiencing issues implementing the tracking code, it’s likely an error with the tracking code itself (maybe it wasn’t copy/pasted in its entirety), or an error relating to the architecture of your website.
Looking for professional help?
If you’re not comfortable working with HTML, PHP, and other website backend languages, it can be helpful to seek out a professional to implement Google Analytics on your website.
WebFX is a full-service digital marketing agency that’s been using Google Analytics since its inception to shape digital marketing strategies for hundreds of clients. We’d love to help you get started with Google Analytics!
Contact us today for more information or a free quote.