From Zero to Hero! An Ultimate Guide to Setting Up Your Google Analytics Account

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Introduction

Websites come in many types, styles and budgets. Each website, be it a news site, an online store or a personal blog, has its own performance indicators. These may include the number of unique visitors, average order value, conversion rate etc. Web analytics systems are aimed to help track those indicators, analyze them and make decisions. In this article, we’ll take an indepth look on how to set up the most popular web analytics system: Google Analytics.

Before setting up a Google Analytics account, let’s first take a look at its structure.

An Account is your access point for Google Analytics, the top level of the hierarchy, used to organize everything you’re tracking. You can have multiple accounts (up to 100), eg. a personal account and a corporate account that your colleagues can have access to. An account can contain one or more properties.

A Property within an account is a website, a mobile app or an Internet-connected device (eg. a kiosk or a point-of-sale terminal). When a property is added, Google Analytics creates a UA tracking code that is required to collect data from that 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 only from a specific subdomain. A domain that is part of a higher-level domain. For example, mail.example.com is a subdomain of example.com, which is a subdomain of .com

The hierarchy of accounts, properties and views can be represented schematically as follows:

Now, let’s move on to setting up your Google Analytics account.

Step 1. Create an account

Go to Google Analytics. Create your Google account or sign in if you already have one. Click Sign up to create an account, then do the following:

  1. Choose what you’re going to track: a website or a mobile app.
  2. Give your account a distinctive name.
  3. Enter the Website Name for the website you want to track the data for.
  4. Enter the URL of your website.
  5. Select the Industry Category that best reflects your business.
  6. Select the Country and the Reporting Time Zone. Please be mindful that the time zone settings affect how the beginning and end of each day are calculated for the reports, regardless of where the traffic originates. Choose the time zone which is most relevant and convenient for you.

We recommend that you leave the Data Sharing Settings as is, meaning don’t uncheck any. This helps Google improve their services and ensures that technical support representatives can access your account should any technical problems arise.

Click the Get Tracking ID button and accept the Terms of Service agreement.

You will see a window with a Tracking ID for your property.

There are two ways you can get your data tracked by Google Analytics:

  1. Place the tracking code snippet on each web page you want to track, before the closing < / head> tag.
  2. Add the code using Google Tag Manager. This will make future enhancements and modifications much simpler and save you a whole lot of time. To learn more about how you can set up tracking using Google Tag Manager, read our Help Center article.

Step 2. Configure the basic settings

To get started with Google Analytics, you’ll need to perform some basic setting up. By the way, Google Analytics has a small graduation cap icon in the upper right corner of the screen. Click on the cap for educational materials and tips about working with the data.

View 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 the available data. To see specific data subsets, create additional views and set up filters.

1. Set up your first View

Go to Admin → View → View Settings.

  • Specify the currency that you want to see in your reports, the one in which transactions are made. If you have transactions in more than one currency, Google Analytics will convert them to your view’s specified currency type using the previous day’s exchange rate. More about currencies can be found in Google Analytics Help.
  • Turn on Bot Filtering so that bot traffic does not corrupt your reports.
  • Turn on Site Search Tracking if you want to see how visitors search your site. More info about Site Search can be found in Google Google Analytics Help.

Google recommends that you have at least one «raw», unfiltered view in each property. This will allow you to have access to unmodified data should anything go wrong.

2. Create additional Views

You can set 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 first view, this view can be modified to filter out data you don’t want to see in your reports (eg., traffic coming from your home or corporate intranet Internal private network )
  • UserID view: This view will only display data from users who have been authorized on your website. More about 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:

  1. Enter the name for your filter, eg. IP Filter.
  2. In Filter Type, select Predefined.
  3. Click Select filter type and select Exclude in the drop-down menu.
  4. Click Select source or destination and select traffic from the IP-addresses in the drop-down menu.
  5. 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.
  6. Enter the IP address, or the regular expression for a range of addresses that you want to exclude.

More info about filters can be found in Google Analytics Help.

3. Add Goals

In Google Analytics’ terms, Goals represent, and help you measure, completed activities that contribute to the success of your business — ie., 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 at your website do before they become customers. Moreover, you’ll be able to see which source, campaign, ad, and keyword perform best at driving conversions. Without this information, it’s almost impossible to measure the performance of online business and marketing campaigns.

There are 4 different types of goals:

  • Destination: A certain landing page view or screen view. For example, a visit to your website’s Contacts page.
  • Duration: A specific period of time. Such as, more than 15 minutes spent on a website’s support page.
  • Pages/Screens per session: A specific number of pages or screens loaded within a session. For example, at least 3 web pages visited during a user’s session on your website.
  • Event: Any user interaction that was defined as an event. This could be something like a video play, a download, an ad click or a form submission. 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, and set up goal type as an Event.

In the Goal details, set up the conditions under which a conversion will be counted. Please note that, to create an Event goal, you must have at least one Event set up already (see more in the Google Analytics Help). We’ll need to use the first two conditions, Category and Action. Give your conditions distinctive names to see what kind of goal you’re tracking. Take for example, you can call use «Subscription» for the Category, and «Click» for the Action conditions.

You can also add the Label and Value conditions at your discretion. Labels can be used to provide additional information about the event, such as names of the buttons, videos, or downloaded files.

Each goal can have its own monetary value. These values should be calculated individually. For example, 20% of website visitors subscribe to your newsletter that drives transactions. If an 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 leads 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 how the standard code for setting goals in GA looks like:
ga (’send’, ’event’, [eventCategory], [eventAction], [eventLabel], [eventValue], [fieldsObject]);

Since we’ve filled only two conditions in our example, the script may look as follows:
ga (’send’, ’event’, [eventCategory], [eventAction]), where

  • ga (’send’, ’event’, ...); is always the same, and
  • eventCategory and eventAction are the names of our Category and Action correspondingly.

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.

More information about goals in Google Analytics can be found in Google Analytics Help.
See more about how to set up Goals in this help article.

Property settings

1. Exclude referral traffic sources

If your website utilizes a third-party payment processing system, a user is directed away from your website each time they make a payment. When they come back to your website, Google Analytics tracks 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 Referral Exclusion List. Click +Add Referral Exclusion and enter the domain you want to exclude.

2. Create custom dimensions and metrics

Every report in Google Analytics is built on dimensions and metrics. Dimensions are data categories indicating, or describing your data. Metrics are numbers used to measure dimension values. 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 some specific data that isn’t automatically tracked. This may be product category, brand name, user ID, landing page type (dimensions) or product price, product cost, number of purchases, profit margin (metrics).

Custom dimensions and metrics allow for deeper, more granular analysis of your customers, website content, or products. For example, you can segment website visitors and analyse their behavior independently. Such segmentation will help you make better decisions. For example, you can find out which filters are more often used for a certain category of products, and remove ineffective ones. You can also immediately offer more relevant products, using default sorting or filters.

To create a dimension, go to Admin → Property → Custom Definitions → Custom Dimensions. Click +New Custom Dimension. Enter the Name and choose the Scope for your new dimension. There are 4 levels of scope you can choose from:

  • Hit — a single user interaction (pageview or event). For example, a pageview, choosing the method of payment or delivery.
  • Session — all hits within a single user session. Note that sessions expire if 30 minutes (by default) pass without any interactions, when a user leaves the site, at midnight (read more in Google Analytics Help). A 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, or user ID.
  • Product — the data for your products, eg. brand, size, or color. Product-scope custom 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, or make purchases.

After you create a dimension, you’ll see a code snippet. You must modify this snippet, and add it to your website or app. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from a fellow developer, or check Google Analytics Help for more information.

Custom metrics are configured in a similar way. Also, you’ll need to select:

  1. One of the formatting types: Integer, Currency, or Time. Use Currency to track costs and revenue. Time can be used to track session duration or time on page.
  2. Minimum and Maximum Values. By setting these you can filter out random or fake orders.

We’ve finished with the basic settings. Now, let’s take a look at more advanced settings.

Step 3. Get more out of Google Analytics

View settings

1. 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: A customer’s journey from the first touchpoint to a purchase 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 send it to Google Analytics, you’ll need to add tracking code to your website or app. See Google Analytics Help for more information, or contact a fellow developer.

From now on, you can make data-driven decisions based on the data about orders and shopping activities of your users. Navigate to Conversions→Ecommerce reports in the navigation menu to see the information you need.

2. Group your channels

Google Analytics allows you to see your data organized according to the Default Channel Grouping, provided for a number of the most common sources of traffic: Paid Search, Organic Search, Email, Social Network, Direct, etc. You can change the way data is displayed in your reports, by grouping sources of traffic 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 these 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.

3. Set up custom alerts

Alerts in Google Analytics keep you informed about deviations in indicators for user behavior or website performance. For example, you can set up an alert for the event that a daily bounce rate exceeds 20%, and fix the problem in a timely manner.

Go to Admin → View (select the View) → Custom Alerts → +New Alert and set up the alert.

From now on, you’ll be notified by email if the bounce rate gets greater than 20%.

Property settings

1. Linking Google Analytics and AdWords accounts

f you have an account in Google AdWords, you can link it with your Google Analytics account. This will allow you to:

  1. See what share of traffic and sales were acquired through AdWords.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 budget reallocation and ad content. For example, by measuring click-through rate (CTR) and bounce rate for an ad group, you will be able to understand what your users expect to see, and why they navigate away. Read more in the AdWord Help.
  4. Improve conversion rates by retargeting ads at the right audiences, while considering who your users are, and what they are looking for. Create remarketing segments in Google Analytics and target them to AdWords audiences. Read AdWord Help for more information.

To link the accounts, go to Admin → Property →AdWords Linking. Select the account you want to link and click Continue. Turn linking ON for each view in which you want to see the data from Google AdWords. Don’t forget to save the changes.

Google Analytics automatically enables auto-tagging for your AdWords campaigns. Read our article, to learn how to set up UTM-tagging for ad campaigns in other paid marketing services.

Now you can monitor the performance and see the ROI Return on investment of AdWords campaigns in Google Analytics reports. Go to Acquisition → AdWords to see the reports.

2. Import advertising costs

If you use Bing Ads, Facebook, or other paid marketing services to promote your business, we recommend that you import the cost data from these services into Google Analytics.

This will allow you to monitor the performance data across all marketing services in Google Analytics, analyze advertising costs, revenue and ROI for your campaigns as a whole, as well as for individually taken campaigns, ads, or keywords.

To import the 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.

Specify dimensions and metrics you want to upload. We need to know the advertising source/medium and the customer acquisition cost. It’s better to choose Summation in the Import Behavior, otherwise the data will be overwritten.

Now that you have 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 the Help article). Just keep in mind that this task can be quite time-consuming and error-prone.

You can save time and avoid painful mistakes by using OWOX BI Pipeline to upload the data automatically. See the Help Center to learn more.

Now you can bring together the 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.

Naturally, it’s impossible to cover all Google Analytics features in one article. However, with the settings we’ve described, you’ll be able to find your way around Google Analytics easily and trouble-free.

Now, here’s a bonus for the most patient and curious. :) We’ve prepared a guide on setting up Funnel Visualizations that will help you discover bottlenecks on your website. Enter your email address, and the guide will be delivered straight to your inbox.