Posted on: 19 May 2020

Tracking your website performance with web analytics

If your business has a website, you can monitor many aspects of how your site performs using web analytics tools. There are many tools available, however, by far the most popular web analytics tool is Google Analytics. W3Techs reports that Google Analytics is used by 53.5% of all websites, that is a web analytics tool market share of 84.1%.

It’s a powerful, but a complex tool that you can use to track visitors, visit times, popular pages and products as well as how much your customers spend on different items if you sell products or services online. The basic version of Google Analytics is free to use and for most SME’s it will have more than enough features.

One of the benefits of using Google Analytics is that it has many features that will work with Google’s other business tools such as Google Ads, Google Search Console and Google My Business. Once you have set up Google Analytics, make sure you take a look at our guide on using Google My Business.

In this quick start guide we’ll show you how to set up Google Analytics so that you can track how your website is performing.

Why use Google Analytics?

Measure the visitor’s use of your website

The most simple reason that you will want to use Google Analytics is to see how many users you have on your website. You can view users on your site in real-time as well as view historical reports.

Whilst Google Analytics is capable of doing much more, such as viewing the source of website traffic and visitor behaviour, seeing how many website visitors you have is one of the key metrics that you should measure. 

E-commerce sales data

Using Google Analytics to measure e-commerce sales allows you to see what kind of products your customers are looking for when they come to your website and how many convert into a purchase.

You can also use data to find out about your customer’s interests, popular products, which products convert to a sale and you could even use the data to find out where the customer that buys your product has come from. For example, if you used social media to advertise you could use Google Analytics data to understand if you are getting a return on your investment.

Stand out from competitors

One of the many features of Google Analytics is that it allows you to benchmark your business against a particular industry, allowing you to see how your website metrics compares to other businesses in your sector with a similar-sized site.

This will inform you on potential areas of improvement and help your website to perform better than industry competitors.

Whilst this data will never be 100% accurate because not all of your competitors will be sharing their Google Analytics data in return for benchmark reporting, it can give you a good idea on where to start when thinking about site improvements.

Improve the customer journey

By seeing who visits your website, when they visit, the pages that they look at and how long they spend on those pages will allow you to see the journey a customer takes to get to the point you want them to reach. You can even define goal funnels if you know a user must complete certain steps you consider to be valuable on your site. For example, you could set up a goal funnel to track a new user sign up process, newsletter subscriptions, a contact form or a checkout process.

This will allow you to see the steps that could be hindering users, and you could use this information to inform enhancements to make your customer journey easier.

Set up Google Analytics for your website

1. Create or sign in to your Google Analytics account

The first thing that you will need to do is set up an account for Google Analytics. If you already have a Google account for other business services, you could use the same details to make the setup process quicker and also keep the same username and password.

2. Create a property

This is where you will let Google Analytics know which website that it needs to track.

Click on Admin and you should be able to find the Account column. From there, click +Create Property where you will be able to add your web address.

Select Web and enter a name for the property. This should just be something simple such as the name of your business.

You will then need to input the URL of the domain that you want to track, without any extra characters; for example, www.example.co.uk. 

Google will then give you the option to select the industry that you work in. If you operate in a niche industry, select the industry that is closest to yours. Inputting your industry will allow you to compare others in your field.

You will also need to add in the time zone that you operate in so that Google knows which day boundary and date format to use. This is especially important for time and date based reporting.

Finally, you need to press Create and agree to the terms of service for Analytics and the Data Processing Amendment and click Finish.

3. Set up a reporting view

You will also need to ensure that you have the edit permission to add a view to your profile.

Once you have signed into Google Analytics, click on Admin, and find the property that you have set up that you want to create a view for. In the View column, click on Menu and then +Create View.

You will then need to choose between Website or Mobile App. In this article, we are talking about websites, so make sure that you have pressed Website.

You will then need to name your view, which should give you an indication of what data you will be looking at if you click into this view.

You will also need to set the correct time zone, unless you have your account linked to Google Ads.

4. Tracking codes

To find out how your visitors use your website, you will need to set up tracking codes.

It is important that this code is placed on your site correctly and it is on every single page of your website to ensure Google Analytics reports visitor data accurately. As setting up a tracking code can be different for every user, take a look at this video from Google on how to set this up correctly.

5. Update your website Privacy Policy

You must write/update a website's privacy policy when you implement Google Analytics. There are a couple of reasons for this.

Firstly, Google specifies this requirement in its Terms of Service. Secondly, Privacy Policies are generally a legal requirement when a company stores, transfers, or otherwise handles someone's personal information.

You should seek guidance when writing a privacy policy to ensure you comply with local laws such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is applicable in Europe.

What to do next

We hope that this has given you a good indication on how to get started with your Google Analytics and the benefits of this tool. To make the most of Google Analytics, take some of these steps to configure more settings, allowing you to make the most of Google Analytics data.

  • Change your permissions so that you can make configuration changes on your account and interact with data.
  • Link your Google Ads and Google Analytics accounts so that you can share the data between them to understand how paid ads drive customers to your website.
  • Experiment with different reporting views so that you can quickly access the data that you need.
  • Set up goals to monitor how your website is helping you to reach your business targets.
  • Download the Google Analytics app from the Apple App Store or Google Play Store so that you can access your Google Analytics account on the go.

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The information and tools contained in this guide are of a general informational nature and should not be relied upon as being suitable for any specific set of circumstances. We have used reasonable endeavours to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the contents but the information and tools do not constitute professional advice and must not be relied upon as such. To the extent permitted by law, we do not accept responsibility for any loss which may arise from reliance on the information or tools in our Insight Hub.