As a website owner, the final component you should have in place before your WordPress site goes live is Google Analytics. It couldn’t be easier to install, the benefits are too plentiful to ignore, and best of all — it’s free!
In this post, I will go over why Google Analytics is essential for a website, whether built on WordPress or otherwise, and I’ll provide a complete overview of how to install it. Ready? Let’s get started.
Why You Need Google Analytics for WordPress
Google Analytics is a free website traffic monitoring tool built by Google that you can use to learn all sorts of information about how many people are visiting your site, where they’re coming from, and how they’re engaging with your site’s content.
It’s mandatory that every one of our clients has Google Analytics installed on their website because it’s impossible to track the performance of an SEO campaign without it. That being said, it’s not just for SEO professionals and marketing companies to make use of. If you’re a small business owner running and monitoring your own site, it’s especially valuable for you to have access to the information tracked by Google Analytics.
Having a website without Google Analytics is like having a brick-and-mortar location without knowing how many customers are walking through the door, what they’re interested in, and whether or not they ultimately end up converting or making a purchase.
Google Analytics can provide a wealth of data on how well your site is performing, including:
- Visitors and Page Views: Track how many unique visitors are landing on your site, and how many total pages they’re viewing.
- Referral Sources: Learn how visitors ended up landing on your site. Did they find it through organic search? Social media? A mention on another website? Did they type in the URL directly? There’s no guessing involved with Google Analytics installed.
- Top Pages: Find out which specific pages on your site are being viewed the most.
- Real-Time Data: If you want the most current information possible, Google Analytics is capable of providing real-time data. See how many visitors are on your site right this second and which pages they’re viewing.
- Audience Segments: Google automatically groups visitors into default audience segments. Some of the segments include: new visitors, returning visitors, mobile visitors, desktop visitors, and visitors by country, to name a few.
The real tangible benefit of having all this information is that you know how well your website is performing, how many people are reading your content, and if the work you’re putting into your website is paying off. In addition, the data in Google Analytics can help you make more educated, data-driven decisions about your website content.
You may find certain pages or blog posts are bringing in more traffic than you thought, which can give you ideas on what similar types of content to create next. On the other hand, you may have thought your audience was strongly interested in certain topics covered on your site, but the numbers show otherwise. With that information, you can steer away from writing about those topics in the future.
Now that you’re sold on the benefits, I’ll go over step-by-step instructions on how to install Google Analytics for WordPress.
Installing Google Analytics for WordPress
Here is the beginner’s guide to installing Google Analytics for WordPress. There’s little technical expertise required for you to follow these instructions. If you’re capable of managing your own WordPress site, I’m confident you can handle this!
Step 1: Sign Up
If you don’t already have a Google Analytics Account, you will have to sign up for one here. Signing up is easy, you can just use an existing Google account. After signing up with your preferred Google account, you’ll be brought to a page where it asks if you want to track a website or a mobile app. Select “Website”. The following screen is where you will input your website’s information.
Step 2: Get Your Tracking Code
After inputting your information at the end of step one, there will be an option to “Get Tracking ID”. Click on that, agree to the terms of service, and now you’ll have your very own Google Analytics tracking code. Keep a record of this code somewhere it can be easily accessed because you’re going to need it throughout the rest of the setup process.
Step 3: Install Your Tracking Code
In order to record information in your newly created Google Analytics account, that code you just generated will need to be installed on every page. Yes, every page, but it’s not as tedious as it sounds. In fact, there are a couple of options available to assist you with the process.
- Beginner Method: If you’re not too comfortable with manipulating code on a WordPress site, we recommend installing a plugin, such as the popular Monster Insights plugin. Within the settings of this plugin, you can input your tracking code and it will automatically be added to all current and future pages.
- Intermediate Method: If you feel fairly confident with being able to manipulate code, then you can skip using a plugin and install the tracking code directly into the site. Just copy and paste your tracking code into your theme’s header.php file. Make sure it comes right before the closing </head> tag. That’s it, now it’s everywhere.
- Advanced Method: Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager is a free tool that can be used to deploy not only your Google Analytics tracking script, but all of your other website tracking scripts as well (Facebook, LinkedIn, HubSpot, etc.) It’s not for the technically faint of heart, though – so only dig into this option if you’re very comfortable with code and not-so-user-friendly interfaces.
After the tracking code is installed, give it a few weeks to a month to collect some statistically significant data. Google Analytics is not capable of recording historical data, so it will only record from the date the code was installed on your site.
Wrapping it Up
Google Analytics for WordPress is absolutely essential, and as you can see, installing it is so easy it’ll make you wonder why it has taken you so long to do it. In weeks to months from now you’ll have a plethora of information to help guide your online marketing strategy. If you have questions or need further assistance, check out our Google Analytics services page.