Google Analytics Account Setup
Websites have pervaded our culture in the past 10 years. It’s difficult to avoid using them. In the US, businesses rely on websites to generate leads and sales to keep their margins in the black. For retail, in particular, customer trends are tracked to determine the best ways to identify, target and reach different demographics. Google Analytics (GA) is an online tool designed for just that purpose. When Google Analytics first launched in 2005, data was collected and reported on a per website basis. As digital marketing evolved and web users increased exponentially, Google Analytics’ functions expanded as well. Two notable changes included improved organization and analyzation opportunities.
The biggest update changed the way that website metrics are accessed and stored. Originally a website’s stats were available as “example.com stats”, but after GA’s upgrade in 2014 to universal analytics it was changed so that each website became a property, had a label (accounts), and separated levels to analyze data (views). Compare it to switching from taking notes in a marble notebook, then moving on to a looseleaf binder with dividers to keep multiple aspects of one subject in one easy to reference location.
This structure change enabled website owners to share their data with service providers and team members more easily and securely since users could be locked down to just one view, and GA administrators could limit or edit permissions as needed. Views could be created for specific teams so that they had their own area to track and test items for individual campaigns (a bonus for data geeks like me). The recommended setup is to have at least three views to preserve data integrity: Master, Test, & Unfiltered (or Raw Data).
One drawback is that while Google made the new view recommendations, these were not retroactive to existing accounts. Three years later when you’re setting up a new account, it’s still not automatically implemented by Google. Sure, analytics walks you through naming the website’s account and property, but then it essentially leaves you on your own to figure out how to manipulate and manage the views. To get the most out of your analytics tracking, these three views and appropriate filters should be implemented before you begin to track metrics.
Below we will detail the best way to get your business’ Google Analytics account tracking properly, whether you’ve been tracking traffic for years or are setting up your first account.
How to set up a new Google Analytics Account
1. Log into http://analytics.google.com/analytics/web
2. Click on Admin
3. Under the account dropdown, choose “Create New Account” at the bottom of the list. ***Note*** Each Google account has a limit to the number of accounts it can have access to. The most common limits are 50 or 100 and vary depending on the age of the account.
4. Enter required information as prompted.
Go ahead and implement the tracking code on the site via your preferred method (manual code drop or Google Tag Manager). Once you’ve done that, navigate back to the previous Analytics screen.
Next we’re going to create two new views so that we have a total of 3. The views allow us to filter data while maintaining its integrity.
5. Back out of the Property ID area and click into the View drop down. Click “Create new view” and name one of the views 1 Master. At this point you’ll need to update the default time zone to your actual time zone, if you haven’t already. Click Create View.
6. Repeat, but this time name the view 2 Test.
7. Rename the original view to 3 Unfiltered
Each view allows us to gauge something different:
- The master view will be the view we look at whenever we do our analysis. It will contain all applicable filters that we wish to track.
- The test view is used to experiment with implementation and execution. This is handy while figuring out if coding strings catch the way we had originally intended, without corrupting the data in the master view. Create new goals, filters, and attribution models with confidence, knowing that errors can be made and fixed without impacting anything else. Once the new items prove to work they will be applied to the master and unfiltered views.
- The unfiltered view will serve as a backup for all of the data collected to aid in any future recovery attempts. It’s especially useful if you realize that you inadvertently filtered out a source of traffic or need to evaluate spam traffic hits and trends.
Can you add more views?
Sure! Just remember there’s a limit of 25 views per property, so choose how restricted you’d like to make each view wisely. New views may be set up to display specific information sets to relevant teams. For example, you may create a view just for tracking PPC campaigns, and another just for the IT team.
How do I break out an existing property?
If you already have analytics running and haven’t worked with views before, then you are likely working with one view. What we need to do is create two new views and rename the original. The question is which of the three views will the original view become? It depends on whether there are any filters applied to it.
If there are no filters, rename the original view as the Unfiltered view. This way you will be able to maintain the longest possible history of pure data.
If filters are already applied, rename the original view as the Test view to maintain sample data for testing.
Speaking of filters, which ones should I be applying?
The main filter you should be applying is an IP block for your company or team’s access to the website. This is important because it filters out unneeded visits that may falsely inflate stats. When we get down to it, does it really doesn’t matter how many times Ken from Tech had to reload the About Us page while he was uploading the new copy? Not really. If we keep those reloads in with the pertinent data it would cause the Time on Site and the Sessions metrics to skyrocket, and analysts may read it as the page being more interesting to users than it actually is.
Are there any other benefits to this set up?
Yep! User rights can be defined per level, which means that you can define where users have access to. For example, now you can give Ken access to view the data for your client facing website and not for the company’s intranet that is on another property. You could even limit Ken’s access to just a specific view. For example, if Ken is part of the Web Dev team, he could only see a view set up for IT to diagnose errors without having to use advanced filters to sift through marketing campaign implementations.
As you can see, setting up Google Analytics properly from the start will make accessing your site’s data easier to find and understand for everyone involved in working on it. The best part is that once it’s set up there’s no need to drastically change the settings. Happy analyzing!
Have questions on how your analytics account is set up or want a pro to look at it for you? Call Active Web Group today and let our team of experts set you up for success.