How to add Google Analytics to a WordPress website

Google Analytics on WordPressNot long ago a client sheepishly admitted that she knew nothing about Google Analytics and asked me where to start. That got me to thinking that there may be a lot of other people wondering the same thing. Google Analytics can be very overwhelming, so start slow and don’t worry if it doesn’t all make sense at once. Just understanding the terminology is a good first step.

Why is Google Analytics Important?

First, it’s important to remember that the best websites are being improved continuously. Small tweaks can sometimes yield big payoffs in terms of engagement, sales, subscriptions and other business objectives.

If you intend to improve your website’s performance, you really have two options: make guesses about what would improve it, or measure what does. Obviously the measuring route is the stronger option. Google Analytics is an awesome tool for measuring your website’s performance. Armed with the analytical data that Google Analytics furnishes, it is much easier to make informed decisions to help achieve your business objectives.

Setting up Google Analytics

Google Analytics is free, but you must have a Google account and a Gmail address before you can use it. Here are some great step-by-step directions on how to set up a Google account and Gmail.
Once you have your account and Gmail address, click on where you’ll be prompted for your Google login and password.

Putting Code on Your Website

Although this is the hardest part, it’s really not that bad. When you log into Google Analytics for the first time, you will be prompted to enter some basic information about your website. Then, Google will give you some JavaScript code that you will need to put on your website to make Google Analytics work. There are a few ways you can add the code to a WordPress website:

  1. Install a free WordPress plugin designed to help you add the Google code to your site. We prefer Monster Insights, but there are many others.
  2. Directly insert the JavaScript code provided by Google on the website. Themes vary on if, how and where you can do this. Look for a place where your theme allows you to add code to the <head> section.

While you are logged into Google Analytics, you can view myriad information regarding your site and request that reports be sent to you via email. There are a lot of options for these reports. We recommend that you start with simple reports, such as page views, that will give you basic information without making you feel overwhelmed.  Perhaps you can think about improving the content on your less popular pages to improve the statistics on them.  After you get comfortable with that, you might want to check out user explorer information to see all of the things that a user does on your site during a specific visit.

Analytics Academy and Other Resources

One of the best beginner’s guides for Google Analytics can be found here.  In addition, Google offers free online courses to help you learn Analytics at its Analytics Academy.  Google has a free, pretty robust knowledge base available to support users and answer basic questions about Google Analytics.  There is also a Google Analytics YouTube channel with some helpful videos.  You can find even more Google Analytics resources here.

I’d like to make two more important points.  First, all information is anonymized meaning you can’t identify any individual visitor.  Second, there is no way to use Google Analytics to get historical data on your website.  This is all the more reason to start using Google Analytics today!

Stay tuned for my next post on setting up Google Analytics dashboards.

2016-10-17T10:29:41+00:00 July 1st, 2016|Analytics, Newsletter|