Since your website is the online version of a brick and mortar business location, that would make your website analytics akin to keeping track of the number of people through your store. Yes, of course, you can track your sales, and even the mix of products (or services) that you sell the most of. But if you don’t have any idea how busy your business is, how long people stay when they stop in, what items they check out while browsing, what they hoped to find but aren’t, or what sent those people to your business, you don’t have any idea how good of a job you are doing at attracting and serving your potential customer base (nor where you may need to improve).
Google Analytics is a totally free, totally powerful, and extremely accurate website analytics tool that allows you to easily create an account and generate some code to add to your website so you can gain more information than you likely can put to use on all the traffic that comes to your website.
How to Set Up a Google Analytics Account
Start by visiting https://analytics.google.com/. First, you’ll log into your Gmail account. While you don’t have to have a Gmail account to have a Google Analytics account, it’s helpful because you can log in once (or stay logged in) and then be able to switch between and access all of the Google Suite of products without separate logins.
Click on the Sign Up button on the right side.
First, choose between creating Google Analytics tracking code for a website or app. Then continue moving down the page and entering the Account Name, Website Name and URL.
Note: A single Google Analytics Account can have more than 1 website “attached” to it. Meaning, if you are an admin of a few (or more) websites, you can access and manage all of your analytics from this 1 login. In fact, you can have up to 100 in one Account.
Next, select the Industry that best fits you and your time zone. The industries are pre-determined options, so just go with whatever is closest or choose Other. Google Analytics provides some benchmarking data (in aggregate) so that’s where the industry comes into play.
Lastly, decide about your data sharing options, then click to Get Tracking ID.
Your browser will refresh and you’ll be inside your new Google Analytics account. You are presented with a Tracking ID as well as Global Site Tag code. What CMS/website platform you use will determine which format you use. Some WordPress themes, for example, have a field where all you need to do is enter your Tracking ID (which starts with the UA-). Many sites have areas to copy and paste the block of code you see in the Global Site Tag box.
Visit your Google Analytics dashboard starting the day after the tracking code is installed to see your initial data.
If you have someone else helping you manage your website, it’s possible to add additional users to your Google Analytics account.
To go deeper with your website analytics (as well as identify crawl errors and gather more keyword data), go ahead and set up your Google Webmaster Tools while you’re at it.