Essential Google Analytics Settings for Small Businesses
Setting up analytics should be one of the first things you do on your small business website. Don’t set it up when you think you want to use the information, set it up from day 1.
Why should you set it up now even if you’re not using it? Most businesses have some level of seasonality, meaning that their sales will vary month-to-month, and so in order to accurately compare data, we need to collect an entire year’s worth of information for the most reliable forecasting.
It really limits the impact of a marketing strategy when we have absolutely no data to work from. So if you have a website, here are the basic first couple of steps you want to set up that someone who is relatively tech-savvy should be able to do all on their own.
Would you like assistance setting this up? We’re here to help! We have packages dedicated to setting you up to track your most important metrics. Get in touch and we’ll do it for you or walk you through it.
Step 1: Connect Google Analytics to Your Site
The first thing you need to do is connect Google Analytics to your website. This involves creating a free Google Analytics Account, and taking the tracking code and pasting it into the header of your website. If your site is on WordPress you can use a plugin to do this, I recommend the Headers, Footers, and Post Injections plugin.
Google Analytics offers directions throughout the setup process, but if you’re having trouble they also have a very comprehensive support forum.
Note: You can check if your Google Analytics is working properly by using the chrome extension Google Tag Assistant and it will show you an error if it’s not set up properly.
Step 2: Set Up 3 Views to Segment Your Data
You will want to separate your own and your staff’s visits to your website from your customers so you can make strategic decisions based on accurate data. The following steps talk you through how to separate out the traffic, but the first thing you’ll want to do is create two additional views to supplement the default view already created.
The Three Google Analytics Views Every Site Should Have:
- All Website Data – You will never modify the settings on this view. This is your fail-safe in case you make a mistake in your Master view.
- Master – This will be the view you use to gather information about your audience
- Test – This will be where you (or your marketing team) tests new filters, goals, or other settings prior to adding them to your Master view.
Step 3: Filter Out Your Traffic From Your Master View
In your Master view, you only want to look at traffic from your audience. To do this, you will create a filter that excludes your IP address. Your IP address is associated with your internet, so if you are visiting your site from your office and your home, you’ll need to set up two separate filters.
Simply Google “What is my IP Address” when you are at home or at the office to get it’s respective IP address. Then add an exclude filter for traffic from that IP address.
Note: if your IP address is just a set of numbers (ex. 192.168.0.1) then you have an IPv4 which is relatively simple and straightforward. If your IP address also includes letters (ex. 2620:0:10e2:2:c4bc:9fd2:974f:cf19) that means you have an IPv6. If you have an IPv6 you will only include the first 4 batches of digits (ex. 2620:0:10e2:2) in your filter and use the expression “that begin with” instead of “that are equal to” in your exclude filter.
Step 4: Filter out External Traffic From Your Test View
Now that you have excluded your own traffic from your master view, you want a filter with just your traffic so you can test any changes before pushing them live. It’s important to note that once you put a filter in place, you cannot recover that excluded data (which is why you have an All Website Data view for back-up). But we still want to test every single thing.
But when we’re testing we don’t want any human error, and confusion between actions that you are taking, versus your audience so we want the test view to be only your traffic. A great analogy I heard from a colleague was to imagine that you’re hosting a big dinner for a bunch of family & friends. People have started arriving, and you’re trying to get things dished out and ready, and people are in the kitchen with you. They might be trying to help, or chatting and you just want everyone OUT of the kitchen so you can get it done. That’s your test view. You want everyone else out, so you can focus on what you are doing.
They’re set up really similarly to your exclude IP address filters. The difference is that instead of exclude, you’ll use “include only” as your filter type.
Note: You can only use one “Include Only” filter per view. So if you want to test things from your office, and from your home, you’ll need an additional view. One test view for the office, and one for the home.
Step 5: Test to Make Sure Your Filters Are Working
Repeat after me – test everything twice. If there’s a mistake, it could could be catastrophic for your data. You want to be 200% sure it’s correct. Use Real Time reports to check it out! Real Time reports monitor the activity that is currently on your site. It’ll show you each new activity seconds after it occurs.
Open your website in another window or refresh the page to make sure it will log a fresh session. Toggle between your three views and assuming you are in your home or your office, you should see sessions for yourself on the Test and All Website Data views, and not on the Master view.
Then to test your master view, turn your phone off wifi (so it’s not associated with your IP address) and visit your website. That should trigger sessions on your All Website Data and Master views, but not on your Test view.
If all that comes back correct – you’re good to go! If not, go back and double check your filters.
Next Steps: Goals, Reports, and Dashboards
Congrats! You just set up the basic Google Analytics settings so you can start using data to inform your website and marketing decisions.
To take things to the next level you’ll could set up Goals so you can track what on your website or marketing strategy is driving sales or lead generation. Additionally, you can set up custom reports and dashboards to pull all your key metrics in one place so you can keep tabs on what is working or not working for your business. You can even set up an automation so it emails your report to you each month.
Now that you’ve conquered your analytics, what other parts of your site might need a little more love? Download our web essentials checklist to see how your site ranks on our 10 must-haves for every website.
Looking to take your data to the next level?
Would you like some assistance setting up your analytics or taking these next steps? We can help with that – just get in touch! Our custom analytics packages will take care of the setup, and you can simply watch the data start rolling in!
Looking for more content to help you set up your marketing systems and strategy? Subscribe to our email list where we share marketing and analytics tips straight to your inbox.