Process for installing Google Analytics & Google Tag Manager:
Google Analytics is arguably one of the most powerful free tools available on the internet. Originally providing businesses a view into how users were viewing content, it has grown into a full suite of tools that provide insights into how people interact with your website. With the addition of Google Tag Manager, you can now easily track how people interact with your site (more than just on a page view level) by seeing what people are doing on your site. Some examples are: Watching a video, clicking off to social media, submitting forms/clicking buttons, facilitating AB testing and much more.
In this post, we get into the details of the steps involved to get you up and running with google analytics. The process to get a basic installation is as follows:
Create Google Analytics and Tag Manager
Install on your website
Use the data
Create Google Analytics and Tag Manager:
In order to create a Google Analytics & Tag Manager account, you will need a Google Account. Once you have one, you can create your accounts at the following URLs:
Google Analytics: https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/
Google Tag Manager: https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/tag-manager/
Google analytics tracks what people are viewing (pageviews), it logs every page a user sees. Google Tag Manager (in addition to the capabilities of managing all sorts of marketing tags), also provides you the ability to track what people do on your website. This is the core difference between the 2 tools and why you need them both.
Once your account is set up, you will have 2 tracking codes. You will take the google analytics code and install it inside of your Tag Manager account. Tag manager will be installed on your website.
Add an owner
If you are an agency, or you are a business owner hiring a 3rd party to help configure Google Analytics for you, you should make sure that you are added as an administrative owner on the account. This will ensure that the business has full control over their destiny, good business practice for everyone, all around. Over the years, I have seen too many situations where businesses did not have access to their own data. This has caused a large loss of potential learnings that could be gained from that data.
You can see you are an owner of data by going into the settings area of each of the 2 links above and confirming your user account has full admin access which includes the following permissions: Edit, Collaborate, Read & Analyze, Manage users.
Install on your website
Depending on how your website was built, you may have the ability to add the tracking code yourself. If you are unsure, the appropriate person to contact would be the person who is in charge of building/updating your website. They should be able to install the code with relative ease. Some content platforms such as WordPress have the ability to install plugins that allow you to easily place the code on your site. Remember, you only need to install Google Tag Manager on your website as Google analytics will be configured inside of tag manager, if you put both sets of code on your site, your data analytics will be wrong!
To confirm your Google Analytics account is configured and Tag Manager is deployed properly, you can use a tool called Observe Point (it’s a plugin that works with Google Chrome’s developer toolbar). It tells you all the marketing codes that are being run on your website. In addition, you can also check within google analytics, there is a section for real-time analytics, and you can see live activity on the website there (even if it’s just you)!
Google Analytics – In the world of google analytics, you have your general account settings, but you also have goals, filters, views and so on… For a basic installation, you will likely not need the majority of these. I would recommend looking at your general account settings, reviewing each one and determining if you need to make any changes. One item that needs to be configured is your site search. If you have a site search on your website (or any type of search feature), you will want to put the URL variable in the settings area that denotes search. Example: https://www.yoursite.com/search/?q=Products. In this example the user would have typed “Products” and the variable “q” is the search query variable, this is what gets logged in the google analytics settings area “q”.
You can certainly run with a base installation of google analytics, but there are a host of filters that I like to install in Google Analytics. One of my favorites (and more advanced) is the content intent filter. What this does is it rewrites the “(not provided)” key terms that people type into google to find your business and replaces it with “np – Request URI” – This will now log the page that Google ranked in the search engines instead of "not provided". It's not the keyword itself (we can’t get that anymore) but it certainly provides you what I call “Keyword Intent”. We know the intent of the user since they came from google and came to a specific page on the website.
Google Tag manager – When it comes to configuring Google Tag manager, at this point you should have already installed Google Analytics as a tag and created a trigger for it to load on every page. Now, you can start tracking what people do on your website. A good filter that I put on all sites is an external link logger, you log every click as an “event” that is to a website other than your own. That way you know how people are exiting your website. Nearly every website has links to other websites, even if it's your own social media accounts. It is important to know how your users are interacting with your brand across the entire internet, this will give you some insights into that. Another good “event” to track would be to track all non-HTML links on your site… examples would be PDF or PPT. For more information about the nuts and bolts of event tracking, check out Google’s support page: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1136960?hl=en
Data confirmation, at this point, everything is installed and configured, when you were deploying event tracking, ideally you were using Observe point (or a similar tool) to confirm things were installed properly. Now its time to confirm everything is being logged properly. To do this, login to google analytics and confirm that data is being logged. You will also what to check out the goals (if you configured any) and events areas of Analytics to ensure those are being collected as well. To test, It is low tech, see link, click link, check to see if data is there. An experienced analyst may be able to tell if something is off with the data (example too low a bounce rate, too many pages per session) each of these points to a configuration error, but that is a blog post for another day. You should check the next day, make any changes required and then test again the following day. Keep that process up until everything is confirmed.
Now the hard part… You wait. You cannot make good decisions off 1 or 2 days of data. So you have to let Google collect data (ideally for 2 weeks) before you can start to see enough traffic and patterns to start using the data. If you are trying to track trends, you will want to track Month over Month to start, then quarter over quarter and then finally, year over year once you have data. There are benefits to all 3 styles, but my long-term goal is generally setting companies up for year over year analysis.
Use the Data
Depending on the size and nature of your business you will want to review analytics as frequently as you need to in order to measure the success of your sales and marketing initiatives. You can automate some reports (especially quick numbers that you need to see on a weekly basis), and other times, you need to perform some in-depth analysis, this is generally conducted monthly or quarterly. Always know your overarching goals, break those goals down and make sure you are tracking them on the website. It's easy for someone to say “I want more sales” but what does it take to attain those sales? Generally, a lot of trial and error on many platforms and ad variations. You test those results here.