Google is the largest search engine in the world, responsible for 65% to 80% of all web searches depending on what estimates you refer to. As many as 50,000 search queries are processed every second by Google. This means that the traffic coming from Google to your website, whether paid or generic, can provide you with the best possible view of important business metrics.
Google Analytics (also referred to as GA throughout this blog post) is a Google product. It is a web-based application that reveals important traffic and behavior patterns in relationship to your online business. In Google's own words, GA is:
“… a freemium web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic. Google Analytics is now the most widely used web analytics service on the Internet.”Google.com
The free service has evolved since 2005 to answer, among other questions, the following:
- How many unique and repeat visitors go to your site/blog each month?
- What countries is your traffic coming from?
- Which websites, blogs, and search engines are referring your visitors?
- Do your visitors prefer to access your business on their smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop PC? (Super important info when having a website designed)
- Which web browser do they use?
- Which pages of your site attract the most traffic? (This helps you know what content to keep producing and what to stop)
- What type of content engages your prospects and keeps them on your site, and what kinds of content have them leaving in a hurry?
- Perhaps most importantly, which of your marketing campaigns and strategies are the most and least effective?
Understanding the answers to those and other important traffic questions is extremely powerful. Google sends two to three times the traffic to your website as all other search engines combined, so it makes sense to pay attention to what this Internet giant has to say about your traffic. Google has created this intelligent and free piece of software which integrates perfectly with your website to reveal important information you need for optimizing your online web properties. Read on to find out how to get started with this awesome free tool.
Creating a Google Analytics Account
Creating your Google Analytics account is a fairly simple process.
The first step is to visit the sign up page. If you currently have an email account through Gmail you can use it to sign into your analytics account. For those without a Gmail account you will need to create the entire account first.
Once you have created an account or signed into your gmail account you will be taken to the signup page. (More info on accessing analytics)
All of the information on the sign up page is quite self-explanatory, simply enter the URL of your website, create an account name, enter your time zone, country, etc. Once the information has been entered you will then get a tracking ID after agreeing to the terms and conditions.
Installing Google Analytics on WordPress
After you have created your Google Analytics account, it is important to copy your tracking code to use on your website. Since WordPress is one of the most popular website platforms out there, we will look at it.
There are several ways for installing Google Analytics through WordPress. They are:
- Using a direct copy/paste to your themes footer/header file
- Updating the functions.php page
- Or with plugins.
The recommended method is to use a plugins as this will make the entire process much simpler.
There are a ton of different plugins that are available that will help you add Google Analytics to your website. Using one of the simple, lightweight plug ins is recommended when you are first starting out. I use ExactMetrics on my site.
The direct paste method is fairly simple as well. You will simply copy your Google Analytics code to the header.php (or footer.php) file of your theme. It should be pasted right after your <body> tag (or right before the </body> tag in footer).
You should really only use the Functions.php method if you absolutely know what to do. You will want to use the appropriate code in the functions.php file for your theme on WordPress. You will also need to paste in the Google Analytics code you received when you signed up.
Using Google Analytics
Google Analytics is really a must have for every website. This service is free to use and will provide you with valuable insight into your websites traffic. By using the data provided by Google Analytics to fully understand your audience and what they are doing while on your site you will be able to improve our marketing campaigns and provide even more value to your audience.