google analytics help

OK. You’ve got your website up and running. Now what? How do you know if it’s getting looked at? Unless your phone is magically ringing off the hook, you might want to take a peek at how your site is performing and see what you can do to improve it.

This is where Google Analytics / Google Webmaster Tools comes in. Trust me, this is as easy as it gets to see what’s going on.

Step 1: Sign up for an account.

Visit the Google Analytics website to sign up for a new account. Click the Create an account button and follow the on-screen instructions.

Step 2: Set up account properties.

Google Analytics is flexible and can support different account configurations, but your setup affects how data appears in your reports. To help plan your setup, consult the articles in our overview of accounts, users, properties, and profiles.

If you’re setting up Google Analytics to track an app, consult us for our best practices for mobile-app analytics setup.

Step 3: Set up your tracking code.

Now this is about as tricky as it will get.  You have to include the Analytics tracking ID and code in your website or mobile app in order to collect and send  data to your Analytics account.    You will need to have access to the source code for your website.

  1. First, find the tracking code snippet for your property.
    1. From any Analytics page, click Admin.
    2. Select the property you want to track.
    3. Check that the URL at the top matches the one for your website.
      If the settings are showing the wrong web property, click the link in the breadcrumb trail for your account, and select the correct property from the list.
    4. Click the Tracking Info tab.

    You’ll see something similar to the code snippet below, where XXXXX-Y indicates the property ID.

    <script type="text/javascript">
    
      var _gaq = _gaq || [];
      _gaq.push(['_setAccount', 'UA-XXXXX-Y']);
      _gaq.push(['_trackPageview']);
    
      (function() {
        var ga = document.createElement('script'); ga.type = 'text/javascript'; ga.async = true;
        ga.src = ('https:' == document.location.protocol ? 'https://ssl' : 'http://www') + '.google-analytics.com/ga.js';
        var s = document.getElementsByTagName('script')[0]; s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
      })();
    
    </script>
  2. Turn on the tracking options you want, then click Save.
  3. Copy and place the code snippet
    Once you find the code snippet, copy and paste it into your web page, just before the closing </head> tag*. If your website uses templates to generate pages, enter it just before the closing </head> tag in the file that contains the<head> section. (Most websites re-use one file for common content, so it’s likely that you won’t have to place the code snippet on every single page of your website.)
  4. Verify and customize
    Verify that your tracking code contains the correct web property ID for your profile (it should if you copied it from the Profile Settings screen). Double-check that the tracking snippet installed on your website matches the code shown in the profile. For more details on verifying your setup, see Verifying your setup.Add any customizations back in using the asynchronous syntax. The Usage Guide and Migration Examples (English only) on Google Code provide many examples of customizations with asynchronous tracking.

So now you’re set up.  I can see you asking yourself, “So what?  What good does this do me?”  Now the real fun can begin.

Keep an eye on your analytics …  

  • See how many people are really seeing your website  .
  • See where your customers are coming from.
  • Find out which online campaigns bring the most traffic and conversions.
  • Visualize what people click on the most.
  • Determine where people abandon the shopping cart.
  • See what they’ve been typing into Google to find you.

That’s just a fraction of the information that can be pulled from Google Analytics!

What Awesome Things Do You Learn from Google Analytics?

Now it’s your turn – what awesome things have you learned about your website from Google Analytics? Please share your tips and tricks in the comments!
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Gina is a pretty nifty web designer who started out in this world as a software programmer. She works mostly with small and medium sized businesses who need a superhero to help turn trainwreck projects around. She enjoys reading, learning new web design tricks, Star Wars and playing tennis (badly).

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