Not 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 https://analytics.google.com where you’ll be prompted for your Google login and password.
Putting Code on Your Website
- 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.
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.