I’ve been doing a lot of blogging lately about the ins and outs of Google Analytics. Specifically, why it’s important, how it works, how to create a measurement plan and then how to measure conversions. But I realized I hadn’t even covered the most important part – how to create a Google Analytics account. So, let’s circle back around to the beginning and go over, step-by-step, how to create a Google Analytics account, and then once that’s done, how to understand your account structure.
Setting Up Your Google Analytics Account
In order to create a Google Analytics account, the first thing you’ll need to do is go to google.com/analytics. If you’re in the right place, it should look something like this:
Once you’re on the right page, go ahead and select “Create an Account” in the top right. For this part you’ll need a Gmail/Google account, so if you don’t already have one, you’ll be prompted to create one. If you do have a Gmail/Google account, go ahead and sign in. On the next screen you’ll need to select “Sign Up.”
When you first create a Google Analytics account, Google will ask you whether you want to track a website or a mobile application. For a majority of those first creating a Google Analytics account, the most common choice is going to be to track a website, so we’ll use that for our example.
Your next choice is to choose between the “Classic” version of Google Analytics or the “Universal” version of Google Analytics. Universal Analytics is the new operating standard for Google Analytics, and soon all accounts will be required to use Universal Analytics. However, the setup is generally the same.
Once you’ve’ve chosen between Classic or Universal, you’ll need to input your website name, URL, industry, time zone and data sharing settings.
Once you’ve completed this, click “Get Tracking ID.”
You will be given a tracking ID along with a piece of java script that must be inserted on to every page of your site and will look something like this:
var _gaq = _gaq || ;
ga.src = (‘https:’ == document.location.protocol ? ‘https://ssl’ : ‘http://www’) + ‘.google-analytics.com/ga.js’;
var s = document.getElementsByTagName(‘script’); s.parentNode.insertBefore(ga, s);
There are multiple ways to insert this code on your site. For newer, smaller sites and users who aren’t very comfortable working in code, the easiest way is to insert the code in between the <head></head> tags on every page of your site. If you have a much larger site, the better way to do it is to insert that code into your header file that is already included on each page. That way, you only have to insert the code once, and it is automatically added to each page on your site.
There are some platforms, WordPress for instance, that make plugins for easy Google Analytics implementation. All you need is your Tracking ID. The tracking ID will start with UA followed by 9 digits:
Checking Google Analytics Implementation
If you’ve correctly inserted the piece of java script on to your site, or entered your Tracking ID into your CMS plugin, you should start to see data immediately in real-time reports.
Understanding Your Google Analytics Account Structure
The most logical way for a business to structure their Google Analytics account is to group all their digital assets together. For instance, ASPE, Inc. is a family of six different training companies, and therefore, six different websites. Each of our sites are different “properties” inside one main ASPE Google Analytics account. Each property has its own tracking ID which allows each property to collect data independently.
You cannot, however, view all your data from all the different properties in aggregate. If you want to view more than one property together, you need to use the same tracking ID across all those assets. But remember, once you’you’ve done that, you can’t view the data from the assets individually.
So, now you should be fully prepared to create your own Google Analytics account and start tracking data from your users. If you hit a snag or have questions, leave us a note in the comments below. If you’re ready for the next phase, stay tuned to learn how to set up different views and filters.