We’ve already explained why you can’t jam all your websites into one Google Analytics account, and gone through making an email just to hold Google and other website data. Then my father passed away at the same time as things really took off here at SWS, which has been tumultuous. I’m still trying to keep up his legacy of helping people find careers, in my own way, through Coworking Niagara, Software Niagara, and the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce.
I’ve finally found a moment to sit down and post though, so with no further ado, we finally get to the Google Analytics part of this series about Google Analytics (which I’m going to call GA from now on).
Analytics Account Creation
I’m going to assume you aren’t still logged in to the website data holding Gmail account we made seven months ago, so let’s get back in there. Head over to the GA home page http://www.google.com/analytics/ and click on “Create an account” at the upper right . You’ll likely be asked for your password again. Then a pointless screen that tells you it’s really easy to use GA. Come to think of it it’s not just pointless, it’s dishonest. Then comes a new and more daunting screen that asks if you are setting up a website or app, we are doing a website.
The next selection is whether to use Universal or Classic Analytics. One day, we’ll likely be using Universal Analytics, but the only thing beta products should ever be used for in a professional setting is testing, so we are going to choose Classic. The bottom sections are more involved:
Website Name is just something that you’ll recognize the website by. I’m setting up GA for a tourism site called Destination Niagara Falls, and I know my client is considering doing the site in different languages, so I’m going to go with Destination NF English today.
The dropbox allows a choice of secure or non-secure domain. Obviously, choose whatever is appropriate for the website you are tracking. Note that you don’t have to include the www: Type your domain name in the way it usually appears, or the way you want it to appear. If your business cards, store signs, and newspaper ads all have a www, then so should your url, and vice versa. If you haven’t yet decided, non-www urls are generally preferred from a branding and design viewpoint.
Industry Category and Reporting Time Zone are pretty self-explanatory. It’s worth pointing out that getting your Industry Category right is more important to Google’s data-gathering, and improving GA, than it has to do with your data-gathering and improving your website.
Setting Up Your Account
As with the Website Name, the Account Name is just what you call something around the office, so to speak. It’s the next level up from a website property, meaning you can have several websites in one account. You should only ever do this if they are part of the same business though, like in our case, versions in other languages. If you own several websites or businesses that aren’t part of one business entity, they go in separate analytics accounts.
If you are a web firm, DEFINITELY give every client their own account, at the very least. Less than that and if ever a client wants admin access to their account, you are completely and utterly screwed. You either have to tell them you can’t, or give them access to every web profile in the account. Pick your poison.
Ideally, you are giving every business, even if owned by the same client, its own account: what if a client wants to sell a business one day? So I’m calling the account Destination NF, and it will hold the website with the name Destination NF English, and other language versions as time goes on.
It’s Good to Share
The Data Sharing Settings are similar to the Industry Category section from above, in that they are more for Google’s research than yours. Still, if you are using the tool, you may as well help them make it better, especially given that there aren’t any documented instances of misuse (to my knowledge, if you know of any please leave a comment).
Brian Clifton, in the 3rd Edition of his excellent Advanced Web Metrics with Google Analytics, makes the interesting point that if you are a large monopoly or don’t have much competition, even if your data is annonymized, people looking at aggregate reports could make inferences about your business if it plays a big enough role in the industry. But hey if you are a large monopolist you probably aren’t in the habit of sharing anyway.
Terms of Service and Privacy
- Don’t use GA to try and track or figure out personal information like names, emails, or street addresses.
Note that I’m not a lawyer and the above doesn’t represent a considered legal opinion for your situation. When your lawyer gives you the ok, click I Accept.
The Google Analytics Tracking Code (GATC)
The next screen will be in your new account, congratulations! I’ll do a post at some point about the on/off switch options you see above the code for multiple Domain/Subdomain tracking, and might even get into the other two at one point, but those all complicate things. For now this account has just one property.
Before the account can gather data, you have to add the GATC to your website, specifically every page of it. Don’t worry as most content management systems make this very easy to do, and I’ll give examples of doing it in some popular CMSs in a future post. There are a few things we should do before we even leave Analytics though, and we’ll cover those in the next post.