Google Analytics: as big as you want it to be

Most website owners agree that it’s useful to have some information about who’s visiting your site and what they’re doing while they’re there. Google Analytics is a well-known free solution that is easily incorporated within your site’s pages as we conclude the “Step 3: Finishing” phase of your site’s design and development.  Let’s talk about how to do that.

1. Set up a Google Analytics account.

  • If you already use any of Google’s products (Mail, Google+, etc.) you’ve got a head start. Just open your browser (Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Chrome, etc.) and log into Google Mail (or whatever Google product you use).  You’ll use the “Sign in” link at the top right of this page: analytics.google.com
  • If you don’t, you’ll use the “create an account” link at the top right of this page: analytics.google.com

Once you’re signed in, in future, you’ll use the “Access Google Analytics” button in the top right of the banner photo area on the main page at analytics.google.com.

2. Set up new Google Analytics “account” and “property”

Follow the prompts to set up a new account within Google Analytics. After that, you’ll add a “property” to your Google Analytics account. The “property” identifies a particular site. (It can be more complicated than that, but let’s not worry about that unless you have a complex web set-up.)

3. Finally: getting the tracking code

This is what you’ll give me. I’ll put it in the markup of your website and it’ll sit there and collect data for you.

To get this, be inside Google Analytics, and click the “Admin” link at the top of the page. you’ll see on the left your “Account” and then your “Property” — under the Property we’re working with:

  • Look for “tracking info” — click it.
  • It’ll disclose further links. Click on “Tracking Code.”
  • Carefully copy everything that you’ll see in a box on the right. It starts and ends with SCRIPT tags. Send that to me. I’ll install it for you.

At this point, you can do a lot (really diving into the deep end of the pool with Google Analytics) or you can do nothing — or anything in between. But the nice thing is, your statistics are being collected so that you’ll have that data if you want to use it later.