Once you have created a generic Google Account you can begin creating your first Google Analytics Account. I’ve included a Google Analytics Account walkthrough to help new ninjas begin there journey.
Step 1: Navigate to Google Analytics
In your Internet browser, go to the Google Analytics page located at: http://www.google.com/analytics/
Google Analytics Page
Step 2: Fill out Necessary Information Forms
On the home page, click the “Sign Up Now” which is located just below the big, blue “Access Analytics” button. (The url is: http://www.google.com/analytics/sign_up.html in case you want to go directly to the page.)
A – Sign in using Google Account
That will bring you to the Sign Up page (below). Use your Google Account and login on the right side of the screen to begin the process.
Google Analytics Sign Up Page
B – Confirm that you would like to create an Account
Simply click the “Sign Up” button on the left hand side of the screen. This is a task that even a Reporting Squirrel could do!
Google Analytics Sign Up Process Account
C – Provide General Information
This is where you’ll have to give Google your website domain name for the account as well as an Account name. You’ll also want to pick your geographical location and time zone so that all of your reports are configured to your local time zone.
Google Analytics Sign Up General Info
D – Provide Contact Information
This is where a few ninjas begin to sweat. Yes, you must fill in your contact information. If you are worried, use an alias to keep your identity under wraps.
Why does Google Analytics want my Phone Number? So they can call you if it looks like you are violating their terms and service agreement (by tracking personally identifiable information – such as name, credit card info, etc. – in your analytics data).
Google Analytics Sign Up Contact Information
E – Select Tracking Code
New Tracking Code – Has a lot of cleaner functionality and will automatically incorporate new features (Event Tracking, etc.) that Google rolls out. As Justin Cutroni mentions it’s also smaller for quicker download times.
Legacy Code – I would only use this if you have altered an existing version of urchin.js to manually track downloads/pdfs or other “hacks” (this will be less than 1% of the Ninjas here). Some rogue ninjas have done a stealthy job building additional functionality on top of the urchin.js legacy code.
Pick the Tracking code that fits your needs (99% of you will want to use the New Tracking Code). Copy this information and paste it into a text editor like Notepad. You’ll need this later in Lesson 2: Installing Google Analytics Tracking Code.
Google Analytics Sign Up Legacy Tracking Code
Google Analytics Sign Up Account Overview
F – User Agreement
This is the final step in the create account process. Read through the agreement and click on the “Create New Account” button at the bottom (you are finally creating a new Google Analytics Account).
Google Analytics Sign Up User Agreement
G – New Account Overview
And voila! You now have a new Google Analytics Account – you don’t have tracking yet but most reporting squirrels can get this far using Google Analytics, as it just involves a few good clicks of the keypad and mouse in the right order. If you’ve done everything up to this point right, you’ll see the following Google Analytics Account Overview screen.
- Gotcha! No include files here.
Now you just need to get that code on your website!
Step 3: Install Tracking Google Analytics Tracking Code on your Website
There are a few different ways you can get the Google Analytics Tracking Code from Step 2: E installed on your website. Before we begin, you’ll want to answer the following question:
Who does your basic content updates to your website?
- I do! My website was built from scratch and I know how to change spelling errors and recognize HTML code (and I have access to my website’s files on the hosting server).
- I can and use a content mangement tool like WordPress to update my website (I may or may not have access to the hosting server but I can make updates).
- My IT department does, and by IT department I may mean some guy I met through a friend who is tinkering with my site on the side. In fact, I think his email is somewhere around here (and I don’t have access to my website’s files on the hosting server).
If you answered 1.
Congratulations! You are showing the signs of being an analytics ninja. You have beat the odds and decided to craft a website from scratch, weeding through mind-numbing HTML, CSS, and a host of ther acryonyms.
Once you have confirmed access to your website files on your hosting server (and you can see each page and open them in a file viewer like Notepad, Notepad ++, or Dreamweaver), try to locate a header or footer include file.
Now, your global include files are normally in this format – header.inc or footer.inc – but depending on your programming language they may have a different extension on the end, or may even be in an “includes” folder (or “_inc” folder).
Here’s a quick glimpse of a website I’ve worked on.
- Don’t let this happen to you!
Once you find a suitable include file, you’ll want to pull out your tracking code and paste it into your include file so the tracking script gets called on every page.
Your tracking code script (from Step 2:E) should look something like this:
Now you may be wondering if you should install the code in your header include or your footer include (if you have both to choose from). Google officially recommends that you place the tracking script in your footer file (or just below the closing “</body>” tag but there are actually pros and cons for each installation so you might want to look at each one.
- Putting the Google Analytics Code in the Header Include: This will allow you execute the tracking call before a page fully loads. The benefit of this is that if you have quick-clickers or a slow page load time you will get these visits as the tracking function will execute before they even see page content. Another benefit is that if you are using additional functionality scripts that auto tag downloads or mailto links, these often require that the core Google Analyitcs script runs on the page load.
- Putting the Google Analytics Code in the Footer Include: This ensures that you are only tracking full page visits. Also, because tracking code is really an added functionality that should only execute after other more important user-experience items (like graphics and content) this line of thinking is more “safe”. Since when are ninjas safe. Ninjas are actionable so this really doesn’t seem like a compelling enough reason.
- Putting the Google Analytics Code before the “</head>” Tag: There is also a rogue philosophy that you should put your tracking code within you head tag. As far as I know this is okay and will work. I have yet to venture here…
Once you have located an include file for your website and included the tracking script, save your changes to the server. That is pretty much it. I can’t stress enough how important it is
If you answered 2.
Most content management tools have plugins that work with Google Analytics. Usually this invloves finding a plugin for you CMS tool and installing through the tool or in your hosting environment.
Here are a few Google Analytics Plugins I’ve found for the most popular CMS tools:
Have any other good ones? Send them to me and I’ll add!
If you answered 3.
This one is probably the easiest but most time consuming to implement. This step involves coordinating an update with your IT Department or with your best friend’s sister’s cousin’s uncle who is working on your website for trade. Since there are a lot of personal and impersonal ways to get this implemented, there will not be much this ninja says. Simply email them the tracking code and if neccessary point them to Google’s Installation Page (also a good resource to review).
Step 4: Verify all pages are tagged on your Website
Once you have contacted the necessary parties or installed the code yourself, you want to make sure that you have tagged all pages. It is important to make sure that all pages are tracked so that you can analyze complete data, not having each page tracked will leave you with numerous holes in your Top Content Report (you’ll learn about that one later one) or create numerous Return Visitors who aren’t really returning because they never left!
How do you do this, you ask? EpikOne has a great free Google Analytics tracking code scanner tool called SiteScan. For basic installations, this is a great tool to use after you’ve installed the code to verify it.
- Google Analytics Sign Up Account Overview
Along with EpikOne’s tool Google also has a few analytics troubleshooting techniques as well.
Step 5: Verify Tracking Code in the Google Analytics Tool
So you’ve verified that you have Google Analytics Tracking Code on all of your website pages. The last step is to log back into the tool and verify your tracking code is installed.
In your Internet browser, go to the Google Analytics page and log into your account. You’ll get to the Account Overview page that lists the account you created earlier.
- Google Analytics Profile Settings
To the far left of your website profile is the last column titled “Actions” in that column, click the “Edit” link.
- Google Analytics Tracking Code Verification
This will bring you to your Profile Settings page. Right above the first box there is a tiny link that says “Check Status” with a small question mark next to it. Click this link to check your status.
Google Analytics Tracking Code Verification
In the yellow highlighted box, find the “Tracking Status” line. If you installed tracking code on a page of your website then you should see a small green check mark and the text “Recieving Data”.
If you did everything correctly you’re now set to begin cleaning up your data so you can start getting actionable! If not, contact a Google Analytics Authorized Consultant or find a Google Analytics Professional.