So, you’ve heard about Google Analytics and want to get on board, but you’re a little confused about how the whole thing works. No biggie! This post will introduce you and guide you through using Google Analytics so you can familiarize yourself and get the most out of it.
Setting Up Your Site
First, you’ll need to set up your website with Google Analytics. To do this, go to the Google Analytics home page and click “Sign Up.” Google will then give you a form to fill out with basic information about your website, like its title, URL, etc. After you’re done filling out this information and click submit, Google will present you with a custom tracking code to implement on your site. The code is different and customized for everyone, so make sure you use the one Google outputs for your particular site. Copy this code and paste it into the <head> section of your header.php html code: this way, the tracking code will be implemented on every page of your website and you’ll be able to view analytics for each page.
At the top left of Google Analytics, you can click and select which property of yours you’d like to view the Analytics for (if you have more than one). At the top right, there are a few controls that do the following:
The left sidebar includes the navigation for Home, Customization, Reports, Discover, and Admin.
- Home will bring you to the main overview page for your site’s analytics.
- Customization includes Dashboards, Shortcuts, and Custom Reports.
- Reports is where you can click a Reports category to view that section of your Analytics.
- Discover allows you to view some of Google’s available add-ons.
- Admin lets you manage your accounts, properties, and views.
When viewing graphs of your analytics data, you can:
- Change the metrics plotted on the graph – you can compare up to two metrics on the graph, for instance: Sessions vs. Bounce Rate
- Change the graph time-scale – you can select either day, week, or month as the time-scale for your graph
Filters are an essential part of Google Analytics because they let you block your own IP address from being tracked. This way, you can focus on actual visitors to your website instead of seeing all of your own visits tracked.
To add a filter, go to the Admin link in the sidebar, then click “Filters” under “View > All Web Site Data.” Then click the “Add Filter” button and, to block your own IP address, select “Create New Filter,” name your filter whatever you’d like, choose the filter type “predefined,” then select “Exclude > Traffic from the IP addresses > That are equal to” and then input your own IP address (if you don’t know your IP address, do a simple Google search for “what is my ip address” and it should output it for you in the search results – copy and paste this into the “IP Address” box in Google Analytics).
Once you’ve set up your filter, you shouldn’t see any traffic coming from your own IP address. This is helpful because you don’t want to skew your analytics data by including your own traffic history in the reports. If you visit your own website using multiple IP addresses (for instance, at home and at work), you’ll want to create another filter that excludes any other IP addresses you may be using as well.
Here are a couple of links to some other Google Analytics guides if you want to read more about it:
Alright, that’s the end of my beginner’s guide to using Google Analytics. I hope this was helpful for new users of Google Analytics and possibly even to seasoned users who may not have been getting the most out of their analytics data. If you found this guide helpful, feel free to share it on social media or leave me a comment letting me know you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading!