As a beginner, you may still have no idea about what Google Analytics is, but you must have been told the importance of knowing how your audience interacts with your website. Google Analytics is such a useful tool developed to help you identify your audience by giving you comprehensive traffic stats. In this post, we are going to look at Google Analytics from the very beginner’s point of view, including definition of Google Analytics, the importance of Google Analytics, how Google Analytics works, and the way of installing Google Analytics in WordPress.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is one of the most widely-used web analytics services on the internet, helping track and report website traffic, user behavior, conversions and so on, totally for free.
Google Analytics is of importance in not just helping analyzing visitor traffic, but also painting a complete picture of who your audience is and what their needs are.
The platform connects to every page on your website. You’ll have the opportunity to unlock tremendous data via various dashboards and reports. Google can provide you the routes people take to reach your site, the content they viewed, and even the devices they use to get there.
Why Google Analytics is Important?
Ensuring your business has a presence on the web has been a “nice to have” to a necessity no matter you’re working at a large brand or just running a little gift shop in town. You might be selling products online, running a blog, or just using your site to provide information about your services. But no matter what’s the purpose of your website, you will want to fully understand the customer journey as they interact with your content.
Google Analytics makes it possible for you to know when your audience is visiting, where they come from, and what kind of content they enjoy the most. All these information offers you a way to make clear whether your new idea is moving you closer to achieving your goals.
The best part of Google Analytics and also what sets itself apart from any other traffic tracking tools is, it is totally a free service. In addition, the implementation of the web analytics service is very easy and you can get it started gathering data quietly in the background.
It is possible that you might come up with new content or copy on your website when you look through your analytics data and suddenly find a part of your site is being visited frequently but which you didn’t expect them to.
In a word, knowing how to make use of Google Analytics properly is helpful for measuring your site traffics, ad revenue, SEO, engagement, and even activity on social media.
How Does Google Analytics Work?
When your web page is visited by a visitor, the tracking code is executed by his browser. The code can help collect screen resolution, operating system, and other information about the visitor’s browser and computer settings. Then, the basic visit information will be grouped into different cookies, which partly determine whether the visitor is new or not.
Next, all the information, in order to be processed, will be sent to Google Analytics servers via requesting a file named __utm.gif. And all the cookie data and information will be appended to the query string for __utm.gif so that Google’s servers can record the time a file was requested and all of the visitor information about that pageview.
The last step is processing all of the __utm.gif requests, applying filters and config settings, and making the data available to your content.
Now, let’s get started with adding Google Analytics to your WordPress site.
How to Add Google Analytics to WordPress?
As mentioned, Google Analytics provides you with definitive data on what your visitors are as well as what they demand for, therefore taking the guesswork out of running your website.
It’s is really surprising, isn’t it? But that is far from everything. You will get to know more about Google Analytics after finishing the installation of the service on your WordPress site, seriously.
Adding Google Analytics Manually
There are different ways to have Google Analytics installed on your WordPress site. We would like to guide you through the manual way in the first part.
Step 1: You need a Google Analytics account
Before getting into the installation part, you should ensure to have a Google Analytics account already.
To do so, visit the Google Analytics page and hit Create Account at the top. Click on Create Account button again in the next screen, and you will see the following page:
When inputting your email address, you will be taken to this page:
Fill the information on the page. After that, you will be asked to click on the verification link in the email Google sent you.
Finish? Now visit the home page of Google Analytics and click Sign in and add your WordPress website.
Step 2: Add your WordPress site
Now, it’s time to input your site information so that Google Analytics can track it as you want it to.
In this page, you are required to enter your Account Name, Website Name, Website URL, as well as Industry Category. When you are done with the above configurations, you can click on the Get Tracking ID button. See the terms and service of Google Analytics? Click on I Agree button.
Step 3: Add the tracking ID to your WordPress site
When you are presented with the tracking code, you need to put it into the head section of the pages of your WordPress site that you want Google Analytics to track. To do so, there are two choices available.
The first choice is opening your header.php file using any text editor as you like, and then paste the tracking code right after the <body> tag.
Alternatively, adding the tracking code to your WordPress site via function.php can bring with the same objective.
Now, Google Analytics should start tracking your audience the moment you adding the tracking the code to your WordPress site. Usually, it will take 24 hours alike before you are offered the first data report in the dashboard by Google Analytics.
Adding Google Analytics With a Plugin
However, if you are not that confident about the manual method and worrying about breaking your WordPress site, taking advantage of a plugin seems more advisable. The route is much easier and involves only a few steps. There are tons of plugins available to help complete the whole installation process, here we recommend Google Analytics by Yoast (also called Google Analytics by MonsterInsights), as a result of its simple light-weight feature.
The same as adding Google Analytics manually, you should make sure to have set up an account with Google before using a plugin to have Google Analytics installed in WordPress.
Step 1: Install the Plugin
The most convenient way of installing Google Analytics by Yoast is logging in your WordPress site and then navigating to Plugins > Add New. You can easily find the plugin via typing the name in the search section as the following picture shows:
Next up, click on the button of Install Now.
After that, activate the plugin on your WordPress site admin screens.
Step 2: Connect to Google Analytics
When the plugin is activated, you will find a new icon in your WordPress main menu, called Insights. Now, click right on settings.
If you see the Authenticate with your Google account option, keep clicking it so that the plugin can connect with Google for getting the necessary tracking code.
If you are not already logged in, you need to input your credentials and enable the plugin to access your analytics data.
After that, you will be given a line of code, which should be copied and pasted into the highlighted filed as you can see in the following picture.
Then click on the button of Save authentication code.
Now all you need to do is picking the right website you want to track from the drop-down list and saving changes.
Quite easy, isn’t it?
Some other Google Analytics plugins to consider
Besides the Google Analytics by Yoast plugin, there are many other options can help bring the power of Google Analytics to your WordPress site.
Google Analytics Dashboard for WP
This plugin allows you to track your WordPress site in the help of Google Analytics. There is always the latest tracking code available and you can also be possible to look at some key stats that Google Analytics offers just in your WordPress install.
Apart from the general Google Analytics reports, you can receive the in-depth Page reports as well as the in-depth Post reports which enable for further segmenting your analytics data for the purpose of getting more detailed data for the performance of your website pages.
Thanks for the fully customizable Google Analytics tracking code via hooks and options, collecting advanced data by taking advantage of custom dimensions and events is never a thing.
With Google Analyticator, you can easily view Google Analytics data within your WordPress dashboard whenever you need, eliminating the process of editing your template code to begin logging. There are also several widgets included in Google Analyticator to allow for displaying all data on your blog and in the admin.
Google Analytics WD
As one of the most functional WordPress analytics plugins, Google Analytics WD is officially certified by Google Analytics Technology Partners Program. It is easy to understand the reason why some rarely advanced tracking, data filtering and reporting functionalities are available with the plugin. In addition to data reports for your WordPress site audience, you are enabled to receive custom reports through customizing metric and dimension.
No matter you want to track data for post authors, logged in users, post types or categories, the plugin can help you achieve that, due to the goal management functionality it is designed with.
Also worth mentioning is the user-friendliness and management-friendliness Google Analytics provides. Other more, the setup and configuration of the plugin is very easy to handle, without saying the colorful pie charts for reports.
Insert Headers and Footers
This is a simple yet powerful plugin, which lets you add Google Analytics and other scripts to your WordPress site with ease and with no need to deal with any code stuff. Furthermore, you never have to manage dozens of plugins with Insert Headers and Footers, because there is a simple interface where you can add all of the scripts to one place.
The importance of web analytics tools is very obvious and cannot be ignored by anyone who takes his/her online presence seriously. With this service, you are able to know who are visiting your WordPress site, where they coming from, and what they are up to, giving you the best way to understand your visitors as well as their behavior. Among them, Google Analytics is the most popular solution that features with many astonishing capabilities while charging for free. No matter you are an experienced website owner or just starting your online business, Google Analytics could be greatly helpful.
Above, you might have a clear concept of Google Analytics, including the reason why it is important to your website running and how to have it installed in WordPress. With the collected data that Google Analytics offers to you, you can easily and quickly figure out the way to make your WordPress more attractive, functional, plus valuable.
Now, feel free to make full use the awesome powers of Google Analytics!
PS. If you’re not satisfied with your website traffic that Google Analytics has reported to you, consider improving your website content and benefiting from some SEO techniques. Here are plenty of tutorials and tips for your reference.