Google Analytics – Background & Installation

Posted on August 31st, by Jay Murphy in Analytics, Digital Marketing. No Comments


Over the following weeks we’ll be posting introductory information on Google Analytics.  These articles will help to lead into an upcoming Boston PHP Meetup scheduled for 15 Dec 2010.  In this article we’ll briefly discuss analytics in general and then show how to install the basic Google Analytics tracking code on your website.

This material will be presented on a weekly basis – so please comment and ask questions along the way and I will answer them as they come in.  As you follow along, install the tracking code on your website or your business website.  In addition to useful information about your site visitors, you will have a site for hands on tests and metrics to review as you read analytics blog articles in the upcoming weeks.

Analytics Background

Website analytics are a critical component of a successful website – with analytics you can answer critical questions about:

  • Why people are coming to your site?
  • What visitors  find useful at your site?
  • Why people are buying on your site (if it is an eCommerce site)?  Or why people are not buying?
  • How people are finding out about your site?

As well as a large amount of useful information for understanding your visitors and improving your website.

There are a large number of analytics tools on the market, some of the most popular include:

  • Webtrends
  • Omniture
  • Google Analytics

For a quick estimate of market share take a look at the stats at BuiltWith analytics page.  As of 31 Aug 2010, Google Analytics (classic and asynchronous) had 65.06% of the market.  (These stats probably undercount analytics tools that use server side measurement, like log file analysis, one such tool is WebTrends.  )

Analytics began in the early days of the web with page view counters – don’t you miss those – and tracking hits.  Since then analytics has become increasingly sophisticated with the ability to track new versus returning visitors, browsers, geographic location, navigation paths, keywords, referral sources…

To find out more about analytics follow these links:

Occam’s Razor – by Avinash Kaushik – A great blog on all analytics topics – from HiPPOs to taking one for the team all about how to understand your metrics and improve your website.  Educational and entertaining.

The Web Analytics Association – A source of analytics information and networking.

Wikipedia Web Analytics entry – Good starting point with links to other articles.

Adding Google Analytics to your Website

So now that we have some analytics background, let’s add Google Analytics to our website.  The first step is to go to the Google Analytics website and sign up for an account, if you have a Google Account use that to sign up for Google Analytics.  If you do not have a Google account – sign up for that first and then sign up with these steps:

Google Analytics Sign-Up

(click for a full size image)

First enter in your website information, timezone is important for the correct time of day metrics:

Google Analytics - Website Form

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Next add in your name:

Google Analytics - Name Form

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Accept the user agreement and then your tracking code will be displayed:

Google Analytics - Tracking Code

(click for a full size image)

Your tracking code is now displayed on this page.  There are also some additional selections for more complicated website situations – for now select ‘single-domain’.  Next select and copy the JavaScript tracking code on this page and paste immediately before the closing head tag, </head>, on every page of your website (in most cases you only have to do this once in a header file or the template/theme of your CMS).  If you do not have access to your website pages ask your website administrator to do this for you.

Now you have Google Analytics tracking on your website.  Wait a day and check back – you will start seeing data in your reports.  Our next post will begin to explaining what you will see on these reports and how to use this information to improve your website.

Again please feel free to leave comments and follow-up questions.

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