If you haven’t come across Google Analytics before, then this article could have a real impact on how you manage your website in the future. Google Analytics is a valuable and free service that provides website owners with highly detailed statistical information about how visitors use their site. By analysing this data, owners can quickly understand the strengths and weaknesses of their website and make improvements that lead to better outcomes.
In this article, we’ll explain what Google Analytics does and show you how to install it on your website.
What Google Analytics can tell you
Google Analytics has an expansive range of functions, so many, in fact, that it would be impossible to write about them all in a single blog post. Some functions, however, are quite technical, so for this article, we’ll concentrate on the less technical aspects that beginners can benefit from straight away.
Visitors to your website
Google Analytics gives you lots of information about the visitors to your website. It tells you how many visitors you have and this can be analysed to see if there are particular parts of the year, month, week or even day when your site is most popular. Knowing the most popular day and hour can help you with timing the publication of new content, making sure it’s live before you have a surge in traffic and, therefore, ensuring more people get to see it.
Importantly, by monitoring visits, you can see if your strategies to increase traffic are succeeding. You can even do a comparative analysis, comparing visits over two different periods.
In addition, you can find the geographical locations where visitors come from so you know which countries you are most popular in. You can even drill down and look at which cities send you the most traffic.
Google analytics is able to inform you about the technology people use to visit your site. This will give you an understanding whether your visitors are searching on computers or mobile devices and which browser they are using. Knowing this can help you optimise your site for better performance on these technologies.
Some parts of your website will perform better than others and Google Analytics can help you find out what works best – and what doesn’t. You can easily discover which are your most popular pages and can drill down to find the most popular landing pages and exit pages too.
You can also track visitors as they pass through your website. This can be enormously important if you are trying to push visitors through a funnel towards the checkout page, as you can see which pages are most successful and which have the biggest fall off rates. This can help you improve content to reduce that fall off.
Google Analytics can help you understand when to Improve content by analysing the amount of time visitors spend on a page or from its bounce rate. If you have a landing page that has a high bounce rate and short time-on-page figures, then it is clear that the content is not working – visitors are turning away. Knowing this tells you that you need to improve the content and you can measure the impact of your changes by comparing the data over time.
It is always important to know where your website traffic is coming from. If you have tried to improve your SEO, you will want to see an increase in organic traffic from Google, Bing and other search engines. If you have been guest posting, you will want to see referrals from other websites, if you have been operating an email marketing campaign, you will want to see direct traffic and if you have been busy with Facebook and Twitter you will be looking for social media traffic.
Google Analytics shows you how much of your traffic comes from these sources and can break it down to give information on specific sources. This can help you understand how well you are ranking on search engines and how effective your other marketing strategies are working.
One of the most valuable functions of Google Analytics is the ability to analyse search queries – this tells you what search terms visitors used to find you. This can throw up surprising results about the use of keywords on your website. It can show you whether the keywords you wanted to rank for are successful and can sometimes indicate where terms you weren’t even aware of are helping drive traffic.
Tip of the iceberg
The features mentioned above are just some of the basic things that Google Analytics can do. There is much more to it than we have gone into here, but even the functions we have mentioned can be exceptionally useful in helping you improve your website.
Signing up to and installing Google Analytics
If you wish to use Google Analytics on your website, then follow the instructions below.
- Before you use Google Analytics, you will need to create a Gmail account.
- Once you have a Gmail account, you can sign up for a free Google Analytics account by visiting the Google Analytics Sign Up Page. Once there, sign in with your Gmail account.
- Once you have signed in, you will find the sign-up button below on the right-hand side of the page (see image below). Click on it.
- The next screen asks you whether you would like to track a website or mobile app – you will need to choose the website option.
- Complete the form underneath. You can use any name you want for the account. The rest of the form is straightforward.
- Once the form is completed, click on the Get Tracking ID
- At this point, you will be asked to agree to Google Analytics’ terms of service which you need to do to be able to use the service.
- The next stage is to install Google Analytics tracking code on your website. You will see the code on the page shown below.
There are several ways to install Google Analytics on your WordPress site, but the easiest and safest method is to use a Google Analytics plugin. There is a selection of plugins you can use to do this, one of the most popular being Google Analytics by Yoast.
The advantage of using a plugin over the other methods is that all you need to do is copy and paste the Tracking ID from your Google Account into the form field on the plugin. The tracking ID is the string of letters and numbers at the top of the page above, beginning with UA.
Other methods involve manually adding the Google’s website tracking code to your theme’s files and this can cause problems if not done correctly.
- Once you have added the tracking ID to your chosen plugin and saved your changes, Google Analytics will start collecting data from your website. You will need to give it a few days before it has gathered enough data to start to give you a realistic picture of how your website is working.
From reading this article, you should now have a better understanding of why you need Google Analytics installed on your website and the valuable insights it can give you into how your site is performing. You should also be able to sign up to and install Google Analytics easily on your site.
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