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When people find out what I do, I get the same couple of questions:

  • Can you optimize my website? Can you do it for $100?
  • Do I really need to be on social networks?
  • My AdWords campaigns are all screwed up, can you help me with them?
  • How can I get my Google Places account to merge with Google+ Local?
  • I hear I need to build links, do you know of a company that can do this for me REALLY cheap?
  • How can I get more people to my website?

But lately, I’ve had several conversations with small businesses and organizations that have left me completely dumbfounded – they have no idea how people are getting to their website, let alone how many. Simply stated – they don’t have web analytics setup.

The really disturbing thing is that in several cases, their website was recently designed and developed by an agency. How can this be? Shouldn’t this setup be part of the development of their website? I mean, Google Analytics is free, right?!?

Confused Construction Worker

With this revelation, I’ve decided to do a series of posts on Google Analytics. Today’s post, Google Analytics Part 1: Basic Setup will walk you through setting up your account and how to make sure it is working properly.

Google Analytics Basic SetUp

  1. Create a Google Analytics Account at http://www.google.com/analytics

    • If you already have an account that you use for Google services (including Google Apps), you can sign in with that account and get started.
      *NOTE: I recommend using an email address / account that is not linked to a personal home or work account. If that person leaves, you may lose access to your GA account – you don’t want to lose your historical data!
    • If you don’t have an account already, you can create a new account in about a minute. You just need an email address, password, location, and birthday.
  2. SetUp Website Properties
    Since this is a basic setup of Google Analytics, we’ll assume that you’re tracking only one sub-domain. If you have a more complicated setup, you can view Google’s Overview of Analytics Accounts, Users, and Dataarticle.Google will prompt you to set up a new web property. If it doesn’t, make sure you’re in the “All Accounts” section of your account and click on the Admin tab – as seen below.Google Analytics All Accounts Admin

    The form requires basic information about your website and location, but doesn’t require much technical knowledge to complete.
    Google Analytics Setup

  3. Place Google Analytics Code on WebsiteAgain, since this is a basic setup, you don’t need to make any changes to the standard, asynchronus tracking code they give you.Google Analytics Tracking Code
    The asynchronous code is placed on every page of your website right before the closing </head> tag of the page. Additional information on this process can be viewed in the Google article, How to Set Up the Web Tracking Code.

Verifying the Code is Working

Once you have the code on your website, you’ll want to make sure that the code is working. I like to look at two things to determine this.

  1. Tracking Code Page
    This is the same page that you got your tracking code from in step 3 of the basic setup process above. If the code is receiving data from your website, the status on this page will change from “Tracking Not Installed” to “Receiving Data” – see image below.
    Google Analytics Tracking Code Receiving Data
  2. The Real-Time Report
    To get to this report, click on the orange Reporting tab in the top navigation > Real-Time tab in the left side navigation > Overview. This report shows you how many people are on your website right now. If your code is working properly, you should see visitors.Google Analytics Real-Time Report

    If it’s showing zero active visitors, go to your website and click around to a couple pages. Check back to your Real-Time Report to see if “you” are showing up as an active visitor. If you’re still not showing visitors, double check to make sure that your code was properly placed on website. You can also refer back to the How to Set Up the Web Tracking Code article referenced in step 3 of the setup.

With that, you’re ready to start looking at your website’s data! For the most part, you can’t screw up anything in the orange Reporting tab so don’t be afraid to dive in. My next post, Google Analytics Part 2: Standard Reports & Metrics, will go over the standard reports that come with basic Google Analytics implementation and the key metrics these reports will show you.

Amplify Interactive offers Web Analytics and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) services for small to medium sized businesses. Contact us today to chat about your SEO strategy.

About Jessica Ward

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