New Google Analytics accounts – some setup tips

Yesterday I discussed the need to own your own Google Analytics account – a surprising number of companies do not. This might have inspired one or two of you to “start again”, so here’s a look at best practices when doing so. I hope it’ll be useful to anyone setting up Google Analytics on a new site too, perhaps even outside of business.

I would normally create a new Google Account for any new Google Analytics installation. An exception might be if it was an additional website at your company, in which case you might just set up a new “Property” in your existing Google Analytics account.

create-google-account

Google Accounts don’t really lend themselves to being in the name of companies (they ask for forename, surname and even date of birth), but you can make something up (above). Just ensure there’s a very good record somewhere of the details you’ve used. Once you’ve set up Google Analytics with the new Google Account, I recommend that you add one or more individuals who have their own Google Account (such as yourself) as users.

Now go to Google Analytics and “create an account” – there’s a big button. Sign in as your new Google Account; setup itself is then fairly self-explanatory. You’ll be given some code which you’ll have to add to every page on your website; this shouldn’t take a moment if you have a template or content management system. Traditionally Google has failed to tell you where it should go, but in the help it says “Paste it immediately before the closing head tag.”

That’s it – visitor data will now be recorded. However, I do strongly recommend that you set up some additional “views” of the data from the outset. “Views” are subsets of the data, but if you change them, they’re not retrospective, so it’s useful to get them right from the start. The default single view you get is “All web site data”. The first thing I’d do is to rename this to refer to the name of the site, in case you put other “properties” under the same account. Also, we’re going to add filters to this everyday view, so let’s rename it to “01 BlueWidgetCo Main”.

Now add two more new views. One will be for messing around with, so let’s call it “02 BlueWidgetCo Test”. The final one will never be touched, so let’s call it “03 BlueWidgetCo Raw”.

With the first view, add some everyday data filters (remember, the third view will continue recording without these, should you ever need that). One filter you might want to add is to ignore visits from your own company IP address. Another is to ignore spambots. There’s plenty of information online about how to set up these filters, or if you’re a client, just ask us to do it all for you. Under “view settings”, make sure you tick “Exclude traffic from known bots and spiders”. Also look at setting up site search recording (if you have such a feature on your site) and forcing all source, medium, campaign and referral data to lower case. Again, information on these is widely available if you’re not sure about them.

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