2013 Google Analytics Setup Guide

Google Analytics Setup Guide

Are you using Google Analytics (GA) to its full potential? Is your site equipped with the proper tracking script to get the most out of this tool? The following information is provided to give you a step-by-step guide to ensure GA pops every kernel.

If you have a specific quandary, skip down to the various sections of this article:

The Simple Stuff: Enabling Standard Reports

Why This Is Important:
Google Analytics requires the placement of a simple tracking script on every page of your site. This little piece of code enables all of your standard Audience, Traffic Sources, and Content reports. Without this code, Google Analytics is about as useful as killer dance moves in Elmore City, Oklahoma circa 1984.

Here’s Where to Find It:
While logged in to your Google Analtyics account…

Red Arrow: Click on the Admin tab
Blue Arrow: Select the Tracking Info tab
Green Arrow: Cut and Paste the tracking script on every page of your website.

Google Analytics Tracking Script

Please note that if you are using a content management system, there is probably a place where you can simply provide your account’s “UA code.” For example, WordPress offers several plugins to easily place analytics script on each page. Drupal offers a module. Expression Engine has also has a plugin. Etcetera, etcetera. The UA code for my website is boxed in orange above.

Next Step: Tracking Conversions

Why This Is Important:
Monitoring conversions on your website allows you to see how well your site, your content and your marketing campaigns are performing. Using the insights provided by conversion tracking, we can make crucial adjustments to get more juice for the squeeze.

Here’s Where to Find It:
Please note that only GA users with “administrator” access can update Goals.
While in the Admin section, choose your site’s profile. Then navigate to the “Goals” tab seen below.

There are a few different Goal Types in Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Conversion Goals

  1. URL Destination: This is the most commonly used goal type. The URL Destination is a goal whereby the visitor arrives at a specific page. Here are a few sample questions using the URL destination:
        a. How many visitors accessed our Case Studies page?
        b. How many visitors completed our contact us form?
        c. How many visitors purchase a product?

    In the case of b. and c. above, the visitor must reach a “thank you” or a confirmation page for the goal to register. Selecting the URL Destination simply requires the identification of the confirmation page in question. In other words, what page must the visitor land on for you to claim success? In the example below, the visitor must land on the page https://example.org/Success.htm. Google also offers some helpful tips on how to do this correctly.

  2. Google Analytics URL Destination Goals

  3. Qualitative Metrics: Visit Duration or Page/Visit can indicate an engaged visitor, or someone who has spent some quality time with your website. The theory is, the longer the time spent and the more pages visited, the more engaged the visitor is. I don’t often use this Goal type, but you may find it valuable based on your program objectives.

  5. Events: Custom events are similar to URL Destinations. The difference is that they record actions that do not involve a “thank you” page. Examples include PDF downloads, clicks off to a partner site, clicks off to a 3rd party shopping cart, clicks off to an event registration site, clicks to play an embedded video, etc.

Google Analytics Goals Events

To create a custom event on your website, you will first need to identify which trackable actions cannot be measured with the URL destination type. (Note: If you can use the URL destination type do so, as Events require a little added step.) Once you have your list of events, rely on this handy guide. Event tracking requires the placement of a script that triggers an event when the visitor clicks. The script includes at least three parameters: a Category, Action and Label parameters to register the correct data in GA. Here are a few examples:

An event tracking downloads of a Sales Brochure PDF:

<a onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘PDF’, ‘Download’, ‘Sales Brochure’]);” href=”#”>Download</a>

An event tracking plays of some depressing video:

<a onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Videos’, ‘Play’, ‘Handicapped Hamsters’]);” href=”#”>Play</a>

An event tracking a click to a third party site that is even more depressing:

<a onclick=”_gaq.push([‘_trackEvent’, ‘Donate’, ‘Click’, ‘Re-Elect Congressperson X’]);” href=”#”>2 MORE YEARS! DONATE NOW</a>

Once your site’s code is updated with the proper event tracking, you can begin to see event activity pop up in the Content / Events section of GA. You can also create Goals that are tied to your events.

Easy but Advanced: Site Search

Why This Is Important:
Site search is a function that allows visitors to search for content within a website. In essence, it’s a search bar that complements site navigation, allowing visitors to find specific content on your site. If your site includes a large amount of content (i.e. dozens of pages and posts), I recommend enabling it. In addition to providing visitors a helpful utility, it empowers marketers to learn more about what is important to site visitors and what content deserves greater prominence and/or attention.

Google Analytics Site Search

Here’s Where to Find It:
Access the Admin portion of your Google Analytics account once again. Select your site’s profile and find the Profile Settings.

Google Analytics Profile Settings

Then scroll down until you see Site Search Settings.

Google Analytics Site Search Settings

Once you have arrived at Search Settings, you must select the “Do track Site Search” radio button and identify what your search parameter is (e.g. “search” is the parameter in the field above). This is actually not too difficult. Assuming your site has site search, follow these steps:

  1. Conduct a search for anything on your site.
  2. Review the result URL
  3. The query parameter will typically follow a question mark (?)

Here are a few examples:

Search Parameter = q. Keyword = chicken fajita pita


Search Parameter = search. Keyword = applewood bacon pot stickers


Search Parameter = s. Keyword = garlic and chive cheese curd hero


Some query parameters are easier to identify than others Once you have your settings saved, you can access your Site Search reports under Content / Site Search.

Cha-Ching: Ecommerce Analytics Tracking

Note: Providing every piece of detail that would be possibly necessary for your ecommerce website would be overkill here. So I’m going to explain how ecommerce tracking works within Google Analytics and provide some general instruction. If your setup process is causing aggravation, please feel free to contact me, and we might be able to tackle it together.

Why This Is Important:
Ecommerce tracking in Google Analytics is an absolute must for anyone who relies on GA and sells product online.

Here’s Where to Find It:
To enable Ecommerce tracking, simply follow the same steps above for Site Search. Navigate to Profile Settings within the Admin menu. Make sure your settings indicate you have an Ecommerce site.

Google Analytics Profile Settings

Then scroll down to find:

Google Analytics Ecommerce Site Settings

The next part is either extremely simple or somewhat complicated. Once you have indicated your Ecommerce status within GA, you can simply input your UA code within your shopping cart of choice (e.g. Shopify, 3D Cart, Magento, etc.). If your shopping cart does not have a seamless and easy-to-use Google Analytics integration, you might consider finding a cart that does (and avoid utter hell).

For a little more background, each shopping cart software platform pulls specific information from each transaction and feeds it to GA, thus allowing you to measure the performance of your product sales marketing program. Here’s the GA guide to ecommerce tracking, but in basic terms, the code required includes three methods:

  1. _addTrans() creates a record for an individual transaction including transaction ID, store name and price.
  2. _addItem produces information for each item purchase including product SKU, product name and price.
  3. _trackTrans actually pushes the information over to Google analytics for your reporting and analysis needs.

Here’s a sample of what the code looks like (and a shining example of why it’s important to work with a cart that provides integration).

Google Analytics Ecommerce Code

When your site has Ecommerce enabled within Google Analytics, look under Conversions / Ecommerce to find all the relevant reports.

Ongoing Measurement: Campaign Tracking

Why This Is Important:
Campaign Tracking helps you monitor performance by individual campaign. Once campaign data is loaded into GA, you can create custom segments to isolate the reporting metrics for each of your individual marketing programs.

Here’s Where to Find It:
You can find your existing campaign data under Traffic Sources / Sources / Campaigns.

To setup Campaign Tracking, you will need to update the URLs used in your various marketing campaigns (i.e. search, email, online advertising, etc.). While you can likely create your own spreadsheet in Excel or Google Docs, check out the Google URL Builder. This tool allows you to append the Campaign tracking code to your website address. See an example below.

Red Arrow: Identify your landing page URL.
Blue Arrows: Input your campaign Source, Medium and Name tags. Hint: Choose carefully and label strategically as this is what will show up in GA Campaign reports.
Green Arrows: Generate your tracking code-appended URL and apply it to your campaigns.

Google Analytics Campaign Tracking

Make sense? What other methods to you use to setup your Google Analytics program?

2 thoughts on “Google Analytics Setup Guide

  1. Thanks for this article… it always amazes me at how difficult GA can be to navigate and understand. You’ve done a great job explaining how to setup goals (which is what we’re working on right now).

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