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How to Set Up Google Analytics in 2019 [Ultimate Guide]
Olha Diachuk, Creative Writer at OWOX BI
Each website — be it a news site, an online store, or a personal blog — has its own performance indicators: number of unique visitors, average order value, conversion rate, etc. Web analytics systems track those indicators, analyze them, and make decisions. In this article, we’ll show you how to set up Google Analytics, the most popular web analytics tool, and how to use as effectively as possible.
Before setting up a Google Analytics account
Your account is your access point to Google Analytics and organizes everything you’re tracking. You can have multiple accounts (up to 100), such as a personal account and a corporate account that your colleagues also have access to. An account can contain one or more properties.
A property is a website, mobile app, or internet-connected device (e.g. a point-of-sale terminal). When a property is added, Google Analytics creates a tracking ID, which is required to collect data from the property.
A view is where you see the data from a property. You can have several views per property. For example:
- An unfiltered view (master view) with all website data
- A view that includes only sessions from Google AdWords campaigns
- A view that includes only data from a specific subdomain
This hierarchy — account, properties, views — can be represented as follows:
Let’s move on to setting up your Google Analytics account.
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Step 1. Create a Google Analytics account
Go to Google Analytics, sign in with your Google account and click on the Create a new one button. Then do the following:
- Choose what you’re going to track: a website or a mobile app.
- Give your Google Analytics account a distinctive name.
- Enter your website’s name.
- Enter your website’s URL.
- Select the industry category that best reflects your business.
- Select your country and a reporting time zone.
Remember that the time zone settings affect how the beginning and end of each day are calculated for reports, regardless of where the traffic originates. Choose the most relevant time zone for you.
We recommend that you leave the data sharing settings as is (meaning don’t uncheck any boxes). This helps Google improve their services and ensures that technical support representatives can access your account should any problems arise.
Next, click the Get Tracking ID button and accept the Terms of Service.
You’ll see a window with a Tracking ID for your property.
There are two ways you can track your data with Google Analytics:
- Place the tracking code snippet before the closing tag on each web page you want to track.
- Add the code using Google Tag Manager (GTM). This will make future changes much simpler and save you a whole lot of time. Read how you can set up tracking using Google Tag Manager here. It takes only a few minutes but saves hours of managing all your tracking codes and tags.
Haven’t thought about the Google Tag Manager application? If you plan to work with additional analytics tools other than Google Analytics, we advise you to check out our Google Tag Manager setup guide to install GTM correctly and manage all of your tracking codes with ease.
Step 2. Configure the basic settings
First, set up views where you’ll access your data reports. When you add a property within an account, Google Analytics automatically creates an unfiltered view for all available data. To see specific data subsets, create additional views and set up filters.
Remember an important rule of filtering and creating views: once you’ve set a rule, the filtered data will be lost. That’s why it’s extremely important to have at least one view with unfiltered raw data.
Set up your first view
Go to Admin → View → View Settings:
- Specify the currency that you want to see in your reports. If you have transactions in more than one currency, Google Analytics will convert all transaction values to your view’s specified currency. You can find out more about currencies in Google Analytics Help.
- Turn on bot filtering so bot traffic doesn’t corrupt your reports.
- Turn on Site Search tracking if you want to see how visitors search your site. You can find more info about Site Search in Google Analytics Help.
Google recommends that you have at least one raw, unfiltered view in each property. This will allow you access to unmodified data should anything go wrong.
Create additional views
You can create up to 25 views in the free version of Google Analytics. We recommend that you start with creating three more reporting views in addition to your unfiltered master view:
- Working view — Unlike your master view, this view can be modified to filter out data you don’t want to see in your reports (e.g. traffic coming from your home or corporate intranet).
- UserID view — This view will only display data from users who have been authorized on your website. More about the UserID reporting view can be found in Google Analytics Help.
- Теst view — This view can be used to test any changes you want to implement before applying them in your working views. For example, you can use it to check test subdomains of your website.
To quickly set up any of the above, make a copy of your first view. To do this, go to Admin → View → View Settings and click the Copy view button. Give your new view a distinctive name and add filters. You can use filters to exclude internal traffic from your reports, report on activities in a specific directory, track each subdomain in a separate view, etc.
Let’s take a closer look at how you can filter out internal traffic to prevent hits from your company’s employees from affecting the data. In Admin → View, select the view you’re going to filter the data for. Then choose Filters in the menu and click +Add Filter.
Next, take the following steps:
- Enter a name for your filter, e.g. IP Filter.
- For filter type, select Predefined.
- Click Select filter type and select Exclude in the drop-down menu.
- Click Select source or destination and select traffic from IP addresses in the drop-down menu.
- Click Select expression and choose the most appropriate expression. For example, you can select that are equal to to exclude a single IP address, or you can select that begin with to exclude a subnet of IP addresses.
- Enter the IP address (or the regular expression for a range of addresses) that you want to exclude.
In Google Analytics, Goals help you measure completed activities that contribute to the success of your business, i.e. conversions. When a visitor to your website completes a goal, Google Analytics tracks it as a conversion. By defining, configuring, and applying goals, you can better understand what visitors do before they become customers. Moreover, you can see which sources, campaigns, ads, and keywords are best at driving conversions.
There are four different types of goals:
- Destination — A certain landing page view or screen view. For example, visiting your website’s Contacts page.
- Duration — A period of time, such as more than 15 minutes spent on a website’s support page.
- Pages/screens per session — The number of pages or screens loaded within a session. For example, at least three web pages visited during a user’s session on your website.
- Event — Any user interaction defined as an event. This could be playing a video, downloading something, clicking an ad, submitting a form, etc. See more in Google Analytics Help.
Let’s take a look at how you can set up a goal to see how many people click on the Sign Up button to sign up for a newsletter.
Go to Admin → View → Goals. Click +New Goal and select Custom, then set the goal type as Event.
In the Goal details, set the conditions under which a conversion will be counted. Keep in mind that to create an Event goal, you must have at least one Event already set up. You’ll need to fill in at least the first two conditions, Category and Action, to create the Event goal. Give your conditions distinctive names to describe what kind of goal you’re tracking. For example, you could name Subscription for the Category action and Click for the Action condition.
You can also add Label and Value conditions at your discretion. Labels can be used to provide additional information about the event, such as names of buttons, videos, and downloaded files.
Each goal can have its own monetary value. These values should be calculated individually. For example, say 20% of website visitors subscribe to your newsletter, which drives transactions. If the average transaction value is $1,000, you can assign a $200 (20%) value to the subscription goal. On the other hand, if only 1% of newsletter subscriptions lead to a transaction, you can give this goal a $20 value.
All done. You’ve set up a goal. Now you’ll need to add the event tracking code for the Sign Up button.
This is what the standard code for setting goals in Google Analytics looks like:
Since we’ve filled only two conditions in our example, the script may look as follows:
Where ga (’send’, ’event’, ...) is always the same, and eventCategory and eventAction are the names of our category and action, respectively.
Our event tracking code will look as follows:
ga (’send’, ’event’, ’Subscription’, ’Click’)
The only thing left is to add this script to the code of your Sign Up button. See more about how to set up Goals in this help article.
Exclude referral traffic sources
If your website uses a third-party payment processing system, a user is directed away from your site each time they make a payment. When they return to your site, Google Analytics tracks those visits from third-party payment gateways as new sessions.
To make sure a user no longer initiates a new session every time they make a transaction, go to Admin → Property, select Tracking Info, and then select Referral Exclusion List. Click +Add Referral Exclusion and enter the domain you want to exclude.
Create custom dimensions and metrics
Every report in Google Analytics is built on dimensions and metrics.
- Dimensions are categories describing your data.
- Metrics are numbers used to measure the values of dimensions.
Dimension values are organized into rows, and metrics into columns. For example, Country is a dimension, and New Users is a metric showing the number of first-time visitors for each dimension value (United States, Germany, France, etc.).
Google Analytics provides a great number of predefined dimensions and metrics. Moreover, you can create your own custom dimensions and metrics if you want Google Analytics to collect and analyze data that isn’t automatically tracked.
Custom dimensions and metrics allow for deeper, more granular analysis of your customers, website content, and products. For example, you can segment website visitors and analyze their behavior independently. Such segmentation will help you make better decisions. You can find out which filters are most often used for a certain category of products and remove ineffective ones. You can also offer more relevant products immediately after a user looks at certain products using sorting and filters.
To create a dimension, go to Admin → Property → Custom Definitions → Custom Dimensions. Click +New Custom Dimension. Enter a name for your custom dimension and choose its scope. There are four scope levels you can choose from:
- Hit — A single user interaction (pageview or event): for example, a pageview for choosing the method of payment or delivery.
- Session — All hits within a single user session. Note that sessions expire (by default) after 30 minutes of inactivity, when a user leaves the site, and at midnight in the reporting time zone (read more about how sessions are defined here). The city where the session originated is an example of a session-level dimension.
- User — All sessions of a certain user. User-scope custom dimensions include gender, name, and user ID.
- Product — Data for your products, e.g. brand, size, and color. Custom product scope dimensions help you see what products your users are looking for by comparing how often they view product pages, add products to the shopping cart, and make purchases.
After you create a dimension, you’ll see a code snippet. You must modify it and add it to your website or app. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a developer, or check out Google Analytics Help for more information.
Custom metrics are configured similarly. You’ll also need to select:
- A formatting type: integer, currency, or time. Use currency to track costs and revenue. Time can be used to track session duration or time on a page.
- Minimum and maximum Values. By setting these, you can filter out accidental or fake orders.
We’ve finished with the basic settings. Now let’s take a look at more advanced settings.
Need help setting up and configuring Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is just the first step in your website analytics and has its own limitations. If you’re growing fast, the only way to avoid sampling totally is to use a paid web analytics system.
OWOX has deep expertise with Google products, adapting them for companies from different industries. If you want to delegate Google Analytics setup (especially at the Google Analytics 360 level), leave everything to OWOX BI professionals.
If you want to grab the possibilities of full-stack analytics at the Google Analytics level, here’s a list of the most tricky maneuvers you can use right now:
- How to add a Facebook page to Google Analytics
- 4 ways to import cost data into Google Analytics
- How to export raw data from Google Analytics
- How to marry your CRM with Google Analytics
But before you start reading, let’s finish this guide to make sure you’re ready for the next level of analytics!
Step 3. Ecommerce and enhanced ecommerce, grouping channels, and custom alerts
Set up ecommerce
Collect and analyze data on purchases, transactions, average order value, time to purchase, etc. using Ecommerce reports in Google Analytics.
To start using Ecommerce reports, go to Admin → View → Ecommerce Settings and enable the following options:
To see data about the shopping activities of your customers within the sales funnel (product page views, adding and/or removing products from shopping carts, transactions, etc.), enable Enhanced Ecommerce reporting.
Submit the settings. To start collecting ecommerce data and sending it to Google Analytics, you’ll need to add a tracking code to your website or app.
If you need a huge step forward, follow our advice on improving Enhanced Ecommerce with Google Tag Manager.
From now on, you can make data-driven decisions based on data about orders and shopping activities of your users. Just navigate to Conversions → Ecommerce reports in the navigation menu to see the information you need.
Group your channels
Google Analytics allows you to see your data organized by the default channel grouping, which is provided for a number of the most common sources of traffic:
- Paid search
- Organic search
- Social networks
You can change the way data is displayed in your reports by grouping traffic sources at your discretion.
For example, if your advertising campaigns are divided by region or category, you can set up a custom channel grouping to aggregate data and compare the performance of campaigns by region or category.
To set up a custom channel grouping, go to Admin → View → Channel Settings and click Channel Grouping. To save time, click Actions, copy the Default Channel Grouping, and define rules for your new channels.
Set up custom alerts
Alerts in Google Analytics keep you informed about deviations in user behavior and website performance indicators. For example, you can set up an alert if the daily bounce rate exceeds 20% so you can fix the problem in a timely manner.
To do this, go to Admin → View (select the View) → Custom Alerts → +New Alert and set up an alert.
From now on, you’ll be notified by email if the bounce rate is greater than 20%.
Step 4. Preparing for full-stack web analytics: linking external data sources
Linking Google Analytics and AdWords accounts
If you have an account in Google AdWords, you can link it with your Google Analytics account. This will allow you to:
- See what share of traffic and sales were acquired through AdWords.
- Get more conversions at a lower cost. By importing Google Analytics goals and transactions to Google AdWords, you’ll be able to optimize your bids using the conversion optimizer feature.
- Find out what users do after they click on your ads and land on your website’s pages. By measuring marketing performance indicators such as bounce rate, pages per session, and session duration, you’ll be able to see the performance of your campaigns in Google Analytics reports and make better decisions about allocating your budget and the contents of your ads. For example, by measuring the click-through rate (CTR) and bounce rate for an ad group, you’ll be able to understand what your users expect to see and why they navigate away.
- Improve conversion rates by retargeting ads at the right audiences while considering who your users are and what they’re looking for. Create remarketing segments in Google Analytics and target them to AdWords audiences. Read AdWords Help for more information.
To link accounts, go to Admin → Property → AdWords Linking. Select the account you want to link and click Continue. Turn on linking for each view in which you want to see data from Google AdWords. Don’t forget to save the changes.
Google Analytics automatically enables auto-tagging for your AdWords campaigns. (Read how to set up UTM tagging for ad campaigns.) Now you can monitor the performance of your companions and see the ROI of AdWords campaigns in Google Analytics reports. Just go to Acquisition → AdWords to see the reports.
Import advertising costs
If you use Bing Ads, Facebook, or other paid marketing services to promote your business, we recommend that you import cost data from these services into Google Analytics.
This will allow you to monitor performance data across all marketing services in Google Analytics as well as analyze advertising costs, revenue, and ROI for your campaigns as a whole and for individual campaigns, ads, and keywords.
To import cost data, go to Admin → Property → Data Import, create a new data set, and select Cost Data.
Specify the name of the data set and the view where you want to see the data.
Then specify dimensions and metrics you want to upload. In our example, we want to know the advertising source/medium and the customer acquisition cost. It’s better to choose Summation in Import Behavior; otherwise, the data will be overwritten.
Now that you’ve determined the cost data schema, you should import the data to Google Analytics. You can do it manually by uploading data as CSV files (see more in this help article). This isn’t the best way to work with data, however, as it might be time-consuming and error-prone.
And as you may have guessed, we have a better option for you. You can save time and avoid painful mistakes by using OWOX BI Pipeline to upload data automatically. There are many advantages of automated data collection:
- With OWOX BI, you don’t need to search for connectors or clean and process data. You’ll get ready-made data sets in a structure that’s clear and easy to work with.
- Get all the data you need for marketing analysis. OWOX BI combines information from Google Analytics, advertising services, and CRM systems. We’ll even customize your integrations if necessary.
- You have full control over all data stored in your Google BigQuery project and Google Analytics. Half an hour after creating streams, your data will begin to be collected in BigQuery.
It makes a difference! To see for yourself, just start our free trial.
Now you can bring together data from multiple advertising services. As a result, you’ll be able to get a complete view of your customers’ behavior. This will help you make better marketing and business decisions.
We hope we’ve given you an understanding of the bright future of analytics where data from all sources — advertising services, CRMs, and online and offline events — work together to help your business grow.
Let us know in the comments below what steps in setting up Google Analytics are most troublesome for you and why.
Let us know in the comments below what steps in setting up Google Analytics are most troublesome for you and why.