Google Analytics can seem like a daunting tool for many beginners, but is quite user friendly once you know your way around the platform. It’s hard to imagine an organization in healthcare, real estate, or any other industry that wouldn’t benefit from tracking website traffic in Analytics.
Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but it cannot report on traffic that occurred on your website before being set up. The best time to set this tool up is the day you launch your website, but the second-best day is today. Therefore, we’ve created this guide to help you understand the value of Analytics and to start tracking your website now!
Why Is Google Analytics Valuable for Beginners?
Data-driven decisions are essential to optimizing your website and understanding which of your digital initiatives are successfully creating traffic. Google Analytics is an incredible tool for tracking traffic sources, visitor interaction, and the aspects of your site that convert visitors into customers. Other useful stats you can learn about your website’s audience include:
- The number of visitors your website is receiving
- Where these visitors are located geographically
- The types of devices your visitors are using
- The pages on your website that receive the most interaction
- How many visitors are being converted into patients or filling web forms
Google Analytics Set up for Beginners
First, we’ll give you some advice on what not to do: Do not allow your web developer, or anyone else for that matter, to set up your website’s Google Analytics account under their own Google account. Do not do this, even if they ask to do this to manage it for you.
The account that tracks your website’s data owns your website’s data. A parting of ways between you and the account owner would result in you losing this data, forcing you to start over with none of your previous traffic data. If you have already assigned Analytics to a personal account, look to set up new tracking under an account owned by your business.
Step 1: Create a Google Analytics Account and Website Property
If you already created a Google account to use Google’s other services such as Gmail, Drive, Calendar, or even YouTube, create an Analytics account under the Google Apps menu. If you do not already have a Google account, create one now.
This account will be responsible for warehousing all your Analytics data.
One of the first questions you’ll need to answer in the signup process is whether you’d like to track a website or a mobile app. Be sure to select the website option.
Next, you’ll be asked to create an account name, which should likely be your organization’s name. You’ll also need to fill in your website’s name, URL, industry category, and time zone that your business primarily runs on. This will set up your website as a “property.”
Google organizes all these properties in a hierarchy. Your Google Account contains your Google Analytics accounts, which contain your website properties. Properties allow you to set up reporting views. These views allow you to view a specific subset of your data through unique configuration settings.
- Primary Google Accounts can have up to 100 Google Analytics accounts
- Google Analytics account can have up to 50 website properties
- Website properties can have up to 25 views
You need to set up websites as properties under the same Google Analytics account if they are run by the same business entity. If you want to set up Analytics for two websites run by separate companies, you should set them up under two separate Google Analytics accounts.
It’s critical to set up properties under the correct Google Account. You may always rename your accounts or properties down the road however, so don’t stress out about picking the perfect name during this setup process.
Once you have named your account and entered your website information, you’ll also need to set your Data Sharing Settings and get your tracking ID.
Step 2: Install Tracking ID on Your Website
Once you agree to Google Analytics terms and conditions, you’ll get your Google Analytics tracking ID code. This code must be installed on every page on your website to get complete tracking data.
How you’ll install this code depends on how your website is constructed. You need to add the tracking code before the </head> tag on each of your pages. One way to doing this is to copy the HTML code into a word processor and paste it into the provided code. WordPress users can use the Yoast SEO plugin to easily install your code across many themes and frameworks.
You can easily find instructions for installing your Google Analytics Tracking ID code on any website by searching for “[your platform] + how to install Google Analytics.”
Step 3: Setting up Goals
Goals are intended to mark meaningful events on your site. For example, you can set up goals to record visitor signups for a newsletter or visitors booking an appointment. You may set up 20 goals per view.
Goals not only count the number of visitors that complete the goal but also provide insight into the journey that led up to the goal’s completion. If you assign a monetary value to your goals, you can use Google Analytics to determine with goals are bringing in this value. You can also set funnel paths to measure where traffic is entering and exiting a goal path.
The easiest way to start tracking goals is to select “custom” on step one of the three-step goal creation process. Then, on step two, enter in a goal name and select “destination” under goal type. This will take you to step three, goal details.
Analytics tracks destination goals by the visitor landing on a specific URL. For instance, you could track online appointment signups, assuming your website displays some type of confirmation webpage. Patients viewing that page would be a destination goal for your Analytics account.
In the future, you can use the “verify this goal” to ensure your goal is functioning as expected. However, this function won’t work for a tracking ID that’s just been installed. This is because Google Analytics hasn’t had time to start collecting data for verification.
Set up goals for all the important conversion pages on your website. Feel free to experiment with the template and other custom goal types. Note that goals can be created, edited, and changed at any time. They will not affect the front-end performance of your website.
Repeat for Any Additional Websites
Once your initial goals are set, you’ve finished setting up your first website in Google Analytics. Congratulations!
You’ll start to see Analytics data appear in the next 24 hours. In the meantime, set up any other websites your organization owns under your business’s Google Analytics account.
If you’d like more advice on Google Analytics for beginners and other website tips, be sure to check out these links:
- [Blog] 3 Common Google Analytics Mistakes (And How to Fix Them)
- [Webinar] How Prisma Health’s Transparency Program Increased Provider Appointments by 50%
- [Blog] How to Improve Your Digital Front Door Strategy
- [eBook] Transparency in Healthcare: Using Online Ratings to Earn Patient Trust
- [Blog] How to Improve Organic Search Rankings
About the Author