Getting started with Google Analytics

For good measure

Take it from the great Peter Drucker: “What’s measured improves.” As such, a key step in improving the business performance of your website is to set up analytics to track its effectiveness. While there are a raft of analytics packages available, we’re going to focus on the most popular, Google Analytics™.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a Google® service providing detailed statistics about a website’s traffic, visitors, conversions and sales. It contains a well-appointed dashboard and a high degree of configurability, and is friendly those with and without technical backgrounds.

Google Analytics Dashboard

The service can track those visiting from referring sites, search engines, direct visits and social network referral traffic. Furthermore, it helps you to market your services with pay-per-click networking, email marketing and more.

Measuring site activity in Google Analytics produces reports that contain valuable information to let you know how well you are doing. You can toggle between various metrics, set reporting date ranges, and select date ranges for comparison purposes. You can also define dimensions such as city, region and browser. Widely available plugins and add-ons can expand Google Analytics’ reporting features.

While static (i.e. daily, weekly) reports are good, sometimes you want to know what’s going on right now. This is where Real Time reporting comes in. This awesome feature shows you how many people are on your site, where they’re from, and just what they’re looking at…now. You’ll know what content is hot and what is not, so you can focus your time improving on those areas that need more work. You’ll know how much traffic a promotion is driving to your website, and which blog brings best results.

Google Analytics Real Time Data

Millions of sites use Google Analytics because of all the insight — tracking and otherwise — it can provide. And it doesn’t hurt that the basic service is free.

How can you get started with Google Analytics?

It’s as easy as 1-2-3 to start working with Google Analytics. Check it out:

Step 1: Sign up for your account  

To open your Google Analytics account, visit the Google Analytics website. Click the Access Google Analytics button and follow the instructions that you see on the screen.

Step 2: Set up your account properties

How you configure your account will affect how your report data will look. You should read information on the following pages to educate yourself on the best way to perform your configuration: overview of accounts, users, properties, and views. There are a lot of different ways you can slice and dice the data.

Step 3: Set up your tracking code in your site

You’ll need to include the Analytics tracking ID and code in your website or mobile app in order to collect and send usage data to your Analytics account. You can track multiple properties in the same account, but each property must be set up individually. Follow different processes to set up web tracking and to set up mobile app tracking.

Once you’ve completed setting up Google Analytics on your website, you can always return to the Google Analytics Help Center to learn more about managing your account, using your reports, and linking Google Analytics to AdWords™.

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Christopher Carfi
A veteran of both startups and the enterprise, Chris has a deep track record in developing customer community and evangelist programs for brands such as Adobe, H&R Block and Aruba Networks while holding executive positions at Ant’s Eye View and Edelman Digital, and he was co-founder and CEO at Cerado. He currently lives in the Bay Area with his family.