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Whether your website is brand-spanking new or a seasoned Internet veteran, now’s the perfect time to set up Google Analytics if you haven’t already. Without it, you’re essentially in the dark about what’s going on with your site, how it’s performing, and possible areas for improvement. Installing Google Analytics takes the guesswork out of website optimization. It’s a simple process that will produce manifold benefits almost immediately, so here’s how to do it in three easy steps.

Step 1: Set Up Your Google Analytics Account
First things first. Set up your GA account here. You’ll see an option to Access Google Analytics, which, when clicked, will take you to a new screen that will guide you through even more simple steps to finalize your account.

Step 2: Determine the Web Properties You Will Track
A “property” can be a website, mobile application, a blog, or any entity that receives web traffic. One account can track multiple properties and within those properties, you can grant custom permissions as to users, views, and reports.

Terms to be Familiar With

  • Account: This takes the top spot in the hierarchical structure. It’s your access point to Analytics.
    • Need at least one account to use Analytics, and to populate with properties to track.
    • May have multiple accounts and assign properties to each, in a one-to-one arrangement, or assign multiple properties to one account, depending on your organizational needs.
    • There’s no limit to Analytics accounts you can set up.
  • Property: The site, mobile app, or blog that you will be tracking and accumulating data on.
    • By adding a property, Analytics gives you a tracking code that you’ll use to sync Analytics with your property and begin tracking. More on that in a minute.
  • View: The customized setting through which to view data reports for the given property.
    • A view gives you access to the reports containing the valuable data about your site. You can customize these views by applying filters that will either block out or allow certain data sources. The default view will include all data with no filters applied. Types of filters include:
      • Include and exclude
      • Search-and-replace
      • Advanced
      • Exclude internal traffic
      • Exclude referrers
      • Geographic
      • Social network
      • Custom
  • Users: In the interest of collaboration and efficiency, you can add users to an account.
    • A social media strategist might add his or her team members to an account as users and then assign different permissions to each user depending on their job roles. When adding a user, you add their email address and choose from the following permissions to assign them: manage users, edit, collaborate, or read & analyze.

Step 3: Install Tracking Code
When you add a property to your account, you’re given a tracking code that you then add to the code in your website or mobile app. This code will begin collecting and sending data to your account in the form of reports. Every property will need its own tracking code.

There are two ways to do this:

  1.  Use Google Tag Manager to add a universal Google Analytics tag.
  2.  Add the tracking code directly to the HTML of every page of your website. If you’re running a basic site that requires standard Analytics functionality, this is the best option.

What Google Analytics Will Do for You

Be an informed website optimizer. Analytics will provide the tools you need to begin strategizing improvements to your site. No site should be static if it hopes to succeed, so start accumulating the data you need to make informed choices now. For a free service, Analytics provides a nothing-to-lose option that every website owner should be taking advantage of.

What do you feel are your website’s biggest hang-ups right now?