Analytics. The very word might be enough to scare you away. But Google Analytics makes it easy for you to monitor your site. And it really isn’t that difficult to set up.
Why You Should Be Using Google Analytics
Google Support makes a good case for why you need to be using Analytics, and for that matter, the Google Search Console. While these two tools perform slightly different functions, both are useful in helping you monitor and maintain your site.
Google analytics gives you a clear understanding of who is using your site and their behavior on it. You can see what pages are most popular and which have the highest bounce rate. You can see where your users hail from and what devices they’re using.
Google Search Console on the other hand, gives more information on how Google is indexing your site. Here you can see who is linking to your site, possible crawl errors and the searches that result in your site being found. You can also submit a Sitemap (to help Google understand your content) and keep your site clean from spam or malware.
Both Google Analytics and Google Search Console are useful when it comes to understanding how your site is performing, and in optimizing it. But first you need to know how to access these tools.
Linking your site to Google
The first step in accessing these tools is having a Google account. This is simple – sign up for a Gmail account. You can create an account for your personal email, and then add your website address under this. If you’re a larger company though, or you have an administrator to keep track of things, then you may prefer to create a dedicated Gmail account for your company or site.
Next you will need to link your site to your Google account. Here you’ll be adding and verifying your site, to show Google that you are the owner or an authorized user of that site.
To add your site:
1. Access your Google account
2. You’ll see a red button on the page saying ‘ADD A PROPERTY’. Click on this. A pop up window will appear where you can add your site address and choose what type of property it is.
To verify ownership:
Once you’ve added your site, you’ll need to verify that you have authority to access the information provided by Google. There are several options available to you here, so choose the option easiest for you.
One method is to load an HTML file or verification code to your DNS, through your CPanel. How you do this will depend largely on your host company. Siteground, for example, requires you to add the HTML in your CPanel, by opening up your File Manager and selecting Domain. Check you host’s documentation on how to add HTML. Once it is done, you can then verify ownership on the Google Webmaster page.
Using plugins for tracking
You may have decided to use plugins like Yoast SEO, Google Analytics Dashboard for WP or MonsterInsights to monitor your site. These plugins don’t always provide as much detail as Google Analytics or Google Search Console. But as you can access the reports from your dashboard, it’s often easier and quicker to use these.
For these plugins, you will need a Google Authorisation Code. This code identifies your site, allowing the plugins to pull in details from Google. You’ll be able to see the Authorization code on your Analytics dashboard if you click on your site name in the top left hand corner. This opens a new box and the code appears under your site’s name.
However, once you install and activate a plugin like Yoast, it will ask you to get the authorization code. If you click on this option, you’ll be able to select your Google account and the relevant site (if you have more than one). It will then fill in the code automatically.
And that’s it, you’re done. You can now generate reports or access your Google account to get detailed analyses of your site, how it’s working and potential problems.