So you have Google Analytics installed. Congrats!
Don’t mess it up! Or perhaps it’s better to say “configure it correctly.”
That’s what this article is for: how to set up Google Analytics.
Before wading too far into the ocean of analytics, make sure you have everything set up right.
After all, web analytics relies on having complete and accurate data in the first place.
To get the most relevant insights from Google Analytics, you need to make some basic but important changes.
This Google Analytics Configuration Quick Start Guide will help you ensure you are pulling in accurate data from Google Analytics and you are not missing out on any relevant data that’s available.
Many essential Google Analytics recommended settings are actually not turned on by default. It is important to set these up from the beginning to get the data flowing that otherwise wouldn’t. If you wait a month until you “get around to it,” well…that is one month of data lost. Precious, precious data gone forever!
Don’t forget Google Analytics cannot process any data retroactively.
If you have not yet installed Google Analytics I would recommend installing through Tag Manager. This method has several benefits for maintaining your tracking code and enabling powerful event tracking. We will not cover Google Analytics installation in this article.
OK, so assuming you have GA rocking and rolling, let’s get started…
Configuration settings are found in the admin section of Google Analytics (gear icon).
I know there is A LOT in the Admin section. Much more than the settings section of a typical SaaS tool. Try not to get overwhelmed and just glaze over it all. Take it step by step. We’ll start you off with a few of the important settings to address from the jump.
There are three columns in the admin screen: Account, Property, and View.
Create your three views
First, set up 3 views: one for raw data, one as your main view, and one test view.
- Raw data view doesn’t filter anything out so you always have a view with all the data
- Main view is the view you will be analyzing in day to day customized to your liking
- Test view if for testing any major changes before going live in the main view.
To create raw view
In Admin > View, click the drop down under “View” and select “create new view.” Name it “Raw Data” and make no further changes (besides time zone). The whole point is you want one view collecting all data without filtering anything out to prevent data loss. Any data you filter out of your other views is gone forever so a raw data view is a safety mechanism. Next, create your main and test views. In these two views, you can implement all the recommended options below.
Go to the first column, Account
In Account, set up a filter. The advantage of creating filters in the Account section (you can also set them up under View) is you can then apply the same filter to one or many views. This saves time and effort rather than creating the same filters multiple times in each view it’s needed in.
Filter out internal traffic
You don’t want you and your internal team’s activity counting as users and pageviews in your analytics. Create a filter to exclude any traffic from your internal IP.
- To find your IP, first Google “What’s my IP?” or go to fetchip.com and it will pop up
- Under account, click Filters, then “+ Filter” red button
- Name filter something like “Exclude Internal IP”
- In the drop downs, select “Exclude”, “Traffic from the IP Addresses” and “that contain”
- Then add your IP in the IP Address field
- Apply it to your Test and Main views and save
You can see if this is working by visiting a page on your website and then checking the real-time report. You should not see any activity in your main view from your current, internal session.
Note: you may want to exclude the IPs of other common locations as well. For example, if you or your team works frequently at a local coffee shop, consider excluding that IP.
Go to the second column, Property
Configure Property Settings
Under “Property settings”
- Turn On “Enable Demographics and Interest Reports” to get valuable demographic information about your visitors. This information will appear in the audience section
- Turn On “Enable Users Metrics in Reporting” to add user statistics to reports instead of just sessions
- Turn On “Use enhanced link attribution” for two reasons
- To distinguish between engagement of similar elements on a page. For example, if you have two of the same links on a page, find out which link gets clicked more (a default configuration doesn’t provide this)
- For In-page Analytics which allows you to visually overlay clicks and other engagement information right on your site’s pages using a Chrome Extension https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/page-analytics-by-google/fnbdnhhicmebfgdgglcdacdapkcihcoh .
- Note you may need to update your tracking code for these options: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/6047802
Set team access settings
Under “User Management” you can add any users and set their access permissions
Enable Adverting Features
Under “Tracking Info” > “Data Collection”
- Toggle on “Remarketing” which will let you target ads to users who visited your site. The sooner you enable this, the sooner your remarketing audience starts to build (and the larger it will be).
- Toggle on “Advertising Reports Features” which you need to get the detailed demographic information GA offers (this is related to the above demographic setting we turned on). Enable even if you don’t plan to advertise.
Integrate Ad Accounts
Next, under “Product Linking” add your AdWords, Adsense, and Ad Exchange accounts if you use those services.
Go to the third column, View
Filter out Bots
Under View Settings > Bot Filtering, check “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders” to remove any traffic hits from automated bots and spiders that crawl your site. Bots crawl your site for various reasons like product comparison tools or search engines. Your pageviews will be overinflated if you don’t enable this option. Better to do now rather than finding down the road your (real human) traffic is much less than you thought!
Under View Settings > Site Search Settings, turn on “Site search Tracking”
This will capture all the keyword searches visitors conduct on your site via the search box. This is great information to find out what people are looking for and expecting from your site.
Also, strip out the “query parameters.” This is simply a letter or phrase that appears in the url of a search that you don’t need in reports. For example, I strip out ‘s’ which is the search query parameter from my WordPress site:
Create your first goal
Goals are the basis of the all-important Conversion section. Let’s add a basic goal so you can at least start populating statistics in that section and see how it functions.
Under Goals, create a goal for sessions consisting of 4+ pageviews:
- Click “+ New Goal”
- Choose Goal Setup > Custom
- Name Goal “Engaged Users”
- Select Type: “Pages/Screens per session”
- Enter Greater than “3” and save
Now you will be able to see conversion rate and other conversion metrics which are crucial to GA. Of course, you don’t want to stop here. Also add other relevant goals as soon as you can to start collecting conversion data.
There are 4 main types of goals to add:
- Destination: reaching a certain page, like the thank you page of a form submission
- Duration: spending a certain amount of time on your site
- Pages/Screens per session: visiting a certain number of pages during a session
- Event: completing a non-page user interaction like a video play (requires event tracking)
You really don’t want your tracking code to malfunction or even your site to go down. Maybe worse, is not knowing these have happened! By setting up a custom alert, you can track and catch many things including sharp traffic drops, a potential symptom of Google Analytics not working properly.
Under Custom Alerts, add two custom alerts. One alert will be for a traffic spike and another one for a traffic drop. This will alert you of any major changes in traffic so you can respond appropriately
- Under View > Custom Alerts, click “+ New Alert”
- Make sure to click “Send me an email when this alert triggers”
- Under Alert Conditions (for our traffic drop alert example)
- For this applies to, select “All Traffic”
- For Alert Me When, select “Sessions”
- For Condition, select “% Decreases by more than”
- For Value, enter “33%” or whatever value is appropriate for your site
- Keep Compared to at “Same day in previous week”
Next, create a similar alert for Traffic Spike (same process just change condition to decrease instead of increase).
There are many other important configurations, settings, and integrations in Google Analytics but these are a good start for a new Google Analytics account!
We hope you enjoyed this Google Analytics Tutorial on how to set up and configure a new Google Analytics Account.
As a next step into some more intermediate concepts, check out our on-demand webinar: Conquering Google Analytics.