Let’s pretend your startup has a bottomless website budget. Let’s say you’ve got an interactive site template, rife with flashy animation and video components so captivating that your website isn’t just a website—it’s a full-fledged experience. There’s no way your target demographics aren’t blown away the second they land on your homepage, right?
Even if you’re garnering online leads and sales, there’s no way to tell how well your website is delivering the message to your market, unless you’ve got reliable analytics in place. And there’s no better place to start than Google Analytics, the essential platform for gauging performance metrics from the 30,000-foot view of your site to the most microscopic. Here’s how you tell where your site is performing well and where it needs some work. Harvesting this actionable data marks the difference between how many zeros end up in your bank account.
In Part I of our Google Tag Manager Series (http://tekmountain.com/google-tag-manager-your-startups-website-cant-live-without-it/), we showed you how to install GTM onto your website. For Part II, we’re going to help you install Google Analytics via GTM, then begin to delve into using Analytics in order to evaluate the effectiveness of your website.
First Things First—Don’t Double-Track
One of the most common mistakes someone makes when implementing Google Analytics through GTM is double-tracking. Typically, this happens because the person installing Analytics through GTM isn’t aware that the very same Analytics tracking code already exists in the website’s HTML. It’s a major problem, because now the tracking code is on your site twice, which means all of your metrics will be based off of double your actual traffic.
If you were already using Analytics before GTM, then, yes, the code already exists on your site. It’s really a matter of preference as to whether you erase the code in your HTML, then add Analytics via GTM. Analytics will work exactly the same, regardless of how it’s implemented (as long as it hasn’t been implemented twice). Some just prefer keeping all of their website tags in a single tag management system.
For the sake of this example, let’s assume that you’d like to erase the code in your HTML, then install Analytics through GTM. (If you’re installing Analytics for the first time, you can just skip this part). We’re also assuming that you’re using WordPress.
First, log in to your cPanel > File Manager > public folder in file directory > your website theme’s folder > header.php file. (More explicit instructions are located in the beginning of Part I in our GTM series).
Once you’re inside the header.php file, find your Analytics code located somewhere after the opening <head> tag and delete it. The tag will begin with “<!– Global site tag (gtag.js)” and end with “</script>”.
How To Install Analytics via GTM
Now it’s time to install your first website tag—and arguably the most important one. Log into your GTM account and, under the Workspace Tab, you’ll find a vertical menu where one of the options will be Tags. Click it.
Name your tag
In the interest of organization, you should make all of your tag names as straightforward and descriptive as possible.
Select your tag type
At the very top of the Choose tag type menu, you’ll find “Universal Analytics.”
Check Enable overriding settings in this tag
This will enable you to enter your UA Tracking ID (the ID for your Google Analytics account).
Retrieve your UA Tracking ID
You’ll have to log into your Analytics interface for this.
- Click your Settings gear icon at the bottom left-hand corner of the window.
- Go under the middle column, “Property”, click Tracking Info
- Now click Tracking Code
You’ll arrive at this window:
Enter your UA Tracking ID
Copy the UA Tracking ID from Step 4 then paste it into the Tracking ID field beneath “Enable overriding settings in this tag”
Now save your tag, then publish your changes. Voila! You’ve successfully installed Google Analytics onto your website.
Let’s Get Some Actionable Metrics Already
While we’ll soon be delivering an in-depth article on using Analytics and customizing it to your company’s unique needs, we’d like to at least give you a brief overview of the major metrics everyone cares about. Note that, regardless of where you’re at in the Analytics interface, you can set a custom date range for metrics on traffic in a given time frame. Also, you’ll notice that the navigation directions below pertain to the skinny vertical menu found in the Analytics interface.
30,000-Foot View of Website Traffic
Navigate to Audience > Overview
Here you’ll find all the major performance metrics across your website:
Users – Number of total unique people who visited your site.
New Users – Number of total unique people who visited your site for the very first time.
Sessions – Total number of visits to your site by all users
Numbers of Sessions per User – Average number of times a unique person visited your site.
Pageviews – Total number of pages visited by all users.
Pages/Session – Average number of pages visited by users in a single session.
Average Session Duration – Average amount of time users spent on your site per visit.
Bounce Rate – The percentage of sessions where a user visited only one page, then exited the website.
For most of the metrics listed above, you want each number to be as high as possible, while seeing an upward trend in them over an extended period of time. The only exception is Bounce Rate. While a general rule of thumb is to keep your Bounce Rate at 50% or lower, so many variables go into play as to what a healthy Bounce Rate is for your company’s website. We’ll include information on this in our Analytics deep-dive article.
A Closer Look at Traffic Behavior on Individual Pages
Navigate to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
The example above has been simplified to a five-page website (including the homepage URL). For starters, concern yourself most with the three metric columns boxed above: Pageviews, Average Time on Page, and Bounce Rate. Once again, the content and objective of each page will differ from business to business, but if the average amount of time spent on a particular page is very low and its bounce rate is very high, chances are that either the page lacks the content the user is looking for, or the wrong users are landing on your website.
Who’s Coming from Where?
Navigate to Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium
Above you’ll find a healthy list of the types of traffic sources that generate activity on your website. There are five general sources of traffic:
Direct – Users that directly enter your website URL into their web browser, or click a bookmark.
Organic – Users that arrived at your website link through a search results page (Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc)
Paid – Users that were directed to your website via paid ads (Google CPC, Facebook CPC, etc)
Referral – Users that were directed to your website via a separate website.
Social – Users that were directed to your website via a social media channel (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc)
Via this report, you’ll begin to see how website behavior differs between traffic sources, which will begin to help you optimize your web pages for both organic and paid campaigns in order to land more conversions, and, ultimately more business.
Data That Matters
At tekMountain, one of the nation’s emerging innovation and entrepreneurial centers, we help our clients build out data structures that consistently deliver actionable metrics for every aspect of their company—from daily operations to marketing to R&D. In the age of information overload, the most successful companies put strategies in place to parse the message from the noise. That’s why we routinely offer articles to help jumpstart your company’s analytics and conversion tracking.
Contact tekMountain today to learn more about the data structures your company needs to put in place.