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Wednesday 23 April 2014

How to use Google Analytics: Beginners' Guide

This will guide you on how to use Google Analytics even if you have just started out. Google Analytics as the name implies is a tool (one of the best) that allows you to measure your website traffic (this which greatly influences your ability to be found on the web through search engines - you can use Alexa to find out just where you are roughly), giving you valuable information for you to make informed decisions. With just a little bit of setup and effort, this tool will give you a war chest worth of information, on who is visiting, what they are looking at or what they are looking for. With that information I am sure that you would be able to take it from there, and with a bit of time practicing with Google Analytics I am sure you would be able to use it like a pro!

This page was designed to ease you into the application and teach you how to use almost all aspects of Google Analytics. In future there will be more in-depth tutorials that will show you what other things can Google Analytics do to empower you.

Google Analytics Interface (Video Tutorial).

What better way to show you the route than to have a 'personal' tour from Google themselves. This Google Analytics Interface Introduction Video shows you the different reporting sections on the Google Analytics dashboard.

Getting Started

Now that everything has been formally introduced, let's get down to business and fix up everything!!

Step 1: Account Setup

Before you start anything the most important step in order for you to use Google Analytics, you will need to (obviously) set up an account with them. This will provide you with a unique code/identifier/number to add to your website. *important note: you can only access information about your own website. You will not be allowed access to other people's information, unless given special permission, and likewise for other people who want access to your information.

Permissions can be granted to those that you give special permission to. Other than that if that step was not taken into account the only person that can access your website statistics will be none other than yourself.

  1. Go to the Google Analytics website - here.
  2. If you do not have a Google account, you can sign up here, but if the link does not work you can always find the "Sign Up" button which is located somewhere above the top right-hand corner of the Google Analytics Website. (If you have a Google Account already skip this step and just sign-in.)
  3. Click the "Sign Up" to continue. (You may be wondering why there is another sign-up button just when you have done registering for a Google Account, or if you already own a Google Account; this "Sign Up" was meant to define signing up or registering for the Google Analytics Service.)
  4. In the next window, provide Google Analytics with the URL of the website you wish to analyze.
  5. Give the website an account name that is easy to remember (This is important if you have multiple websites). 
  6. Select a country your website is based in.
  7. Click Continue.
  8. In the next window provide your contact information.
  9. Click Continue.
  10. In the next window, read the Google Analytics terms of service, and if you agree with them click the Yes Box.
  11. Click Create New Account.
  12. Google Analytics should now provide you with code. This is needed for Google Analytics to track your website, you will need to copy this and insert it into your website according to the instructions given. 

Step 2: Insert Google Analytics JavaScript into your pages.

Previously in Step 1: Number 12; Google Analytics provides you a code. You MUST insert the code that Google Analytics provides to you with into every page you want it to track. (If you have a technical division all you need to do is pass them the code and they should know what to do with it.)

Inserting Google Analytics Code - this works for most websites.

To insert the Google Analytics code, you need to get into the HTML of your website. If you are using Wordpress, you will need to open the footer.php file to insert the Google Analytics code.

  1. Find the </body> tag at the very bottom just above the </html> page.
  2. Do you see the code urchinTracker(), utmLinker(), utmSetTrans(), or utmLinkPost() above the </body> tag? If you see either paste the Google Analytics code above those codes, if not just paste it immediately above the </body> tag.
  3. Once done, and uploaded you should be able to begin tracking information (please wait for 24hrs-48hrs for Google Analytics to kick into action!)

Step 3: See an Overview of Your Website's Performance. 

Once you have already signed up for an account and successfully inserted Google Analytic's JavaScript into your pages, Google Analytics will be ready to provide you with an overview of your website's performance. (However, the service may take up to 24 hours to begin gathering data on your website.)

  1. Log in to Google Analytics.
  2. In the center of the page is a section titled Website Profiles. Click on the View Reports link to the right of the name of the site you are interested in. This will bring you to the Dashboard.
  3. At the top of the page there should be a default chart that gives you a visual representation of your website's traffic over the past month.
  4. Immediately beneath that chart you will see a header that says Site Usage, with six small charts underneath. You will be able to find quick information on various site traffic statistics for the time period shown in the main chart.

Step 4: Detailed Performance View (Hourly & Daily)

If you want to find out when exactly your website has its peaks (at what time or what day) Google Analytics can tell you.

  1. In the menu to the left, click on the word Visitors.
  2. To the left beneath the main chart you will see a number of different statistical data.
  3. Click on any of the words to get a bar-chart breakout of the daily performance for that aspect of site traffic measurement.
  4. Click the word Hourly button to see an hour by hour graph.
  5. To compare two different time periods, click on the dates above the line graph. Select the first set of dates you want to work with, check the Compare to Past box, then click on the second set of dates, and click the Apply Range button.

Although Google Analytics, does involve a few technical steps that may be hard to learn at first, but using Google Analytics is something that gets much easier as time goes by and as you get a better feel for the service.

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If I have missed out anything, or you have experiences on Google Analytics that you would love to share, please feel free to add your input in the comments section below!

photoby liferoiblog | reference Mahalo


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