Note that Google Analytics now sets you up with the newer ‘Google Analytics 4’ property by default. I still recommend using ‘Universal’ property as well for the moment. More on that towards the end of this article.
“When should I install Google Analytics” is a common question when you suddenly realize you can track website traffic.
Understandably, installing Google Analytics can also be daunting. Or you’re unsure if now is the right time to do it. Let me put it into perspective…
You wouldn’t track your diet progress without a scale. Maybe that old pair of jean will fit eventually. However, many dietitians agree that tracking your weight daily helps you stick to your goal.
You wouldn’t stick a turkey in the oven without using a thermometer to check when it’s done. You could eyeball it, but why risk salmonella?
Yet, every day new website owners launch sites without Google Analytics. Hell, even sites running for years don’t have it installed. Or if Google Analytics is installed, site owners never look at the data. They’re making costly decisions about their websites… but they’re just eyeballing it.
The web is built to be measured, but are you reluctant to hold up the yardstick?
My advice as a web consultant: do it now.
But my site is brand new and has virtually no traffic!
Do it now. You will have put a flag in the sand that helps you be objective about what happens when people land on your site. Even if you haven’t started building traffic yet, Google Analytics helps you see growth in real time! Also, it can provide a lot of insight into how you should write your content. Coming out of the gate knowing what to write (and what not to bother with) is a great place to be.
I plan to re-haul my site soon, so why bother?
This is the PERFECT time! You can glean a little or a lot in those 60 days. Yes, this does depend on how well you can read analytics (psst, I offer super accessible and easy training for that!). But knowing how people use your site even for two months can save you $$ in the long run. How? By helping you understand if your major issue is tech related or content. If you need to add more pages or should focus on a few. If you need to hire a copywriter or a whole web team! Later, compare the data of the new and old sites to measure the outcomes of said decisions.
I’d like to start, but it looks convoluted to set up -correctly- sooooo forget it!
I’ll level with ya. Even if you’re not 100% sure if you have it configured correctly, it doesn’t mean Google Analytics “won’t work”. The only way to do it “completely wrong” is to not have it installed at all. Tweaking can happen at any time down the road.
My goal for you today is simple: to start collecting data now. You can always Google how to make the most of Google Analytics later or ask a friend for help. But trust me when I say this: no data is worse than some data.
I don’t need Google Analytics because Facebook/JetPack/Squarespace/my sales team/my gut tell me how people use my website.
You can whack a nail into wood with a shoe, but a hammer does a better job. Google Analytics is specifically designed to monitor what happens when people are on your website. It’s also free and takes 10 minutes at its most complicated to set up. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the right tool for the job, especially one as low-cost (no cost but time!) as Google Analytics. Additionally, using it in tandem with everything else help cross reference and verify. Win win. You can have it all. In fact, I encourage it.
Ok, you convinced me. I want to install Google Analytics now!
Welcome to the world of objective website management! I’ve gathered links for setting up Google Analytics on the most popular platforms. If you still have problems, contact me and I’ll help you out.
- First you must create your account (free, requires a GMail account).
- Then, create your property so that you can have your tracking code ready. There are currently two version of GA you can use. At this time, I recommend you create a property for each. This is because Universal (around a lot longer) has a lot more documentation at the moment. GA4 has a lot of great features, but it’s still too new to rely completely on. Here is the Universal property setup and here is the newer GA4 property setup.
- Depending on what platform you use for your website, you follow these instructions:
– For WordPress (self hosted) without using a plugin (note that you must be comfortable editing WordPress php files. Check with your theme documentation first to see if there is a user-friendly area to paste the code in before going this route or others)
– For WordPress (self hosted) via Google Tag Manager
– For WordPress (self hosted) with the plugin MOnser Insights
– For WordPress.com (also includes the difference between their analytics and Google’s)
– For Squarespace
– For Weebly
– For static sites
Oh, a handy Google Analytics cheat sheet!
Get everything you need to dive into Google Analytics without all the fuss. Includes interface, terminology and easy-to-follow housekeeping.