For Small Businesses: How to Set Up Google Analytics

How to Set Up Google Analytics

Picture this, you’re grabbing a glass of wine with your mentor or business coach to celebrate a new launch or campaign, and they ask you “where do you think those people found out about you?” and instead of “well I wrote a lot more blogs this month” or “I finally got on the Instagram Reels train” you say “My sales were pretty evenly distributed between SEO and social, but email marketing was the clear heavy-lifter contributing to over 40% of all sales”.

That may sound like a foreign language for you now, and that’s okay. That’s what you’re here for. The important thing to know is that Google Analytics will tell you the important information you need to get the most out of your marketing. It can tell you where your website traffic is coming from, which marketing channels (that you’re investing time and money into) are actually bringing in sales and revenue, which pages on your site are working for you, and which ones need some TLC, and so much more.

Table of Contents

  1. What is Google Analytics and why should you have it?
  2. How to (correctly) set up Google Analytics
  3. Essential setup complete! What now?
  4. Frequently asked questions about Google Analytics

What is Google Analytics and why should you have it?

Google Analytics is a free website analytics tool that can be used to learn more about who the visitors on a website are, how those visitors got to the site, and what they did when they were on the site.

Why small businesses should use Google Analytics

Setting up analytics should be one of the first things you do on your small business website. That means step 1: put the website live. Step 2: set up analytics.

Don’t put off setting it up until you think you need it because you can’t use the information until you have historical data to compare against. I recommend aiming for a year of data (or at least 100 days) before you make significant decisions based on it.

As a small business owner, you want to make sure that every dollar you invest in your business will grow your business and drive sales. The beauty of digital marketing is that you can measure the return on investment (ROI) of everything you do.

  • Are you working with a social media manager for $500-$900/month? Do you know how many of those people are coming to your website to join your mailing list and/or buy from you?
  • Are you spending hours every month creating content for your blog or YouTube (or paying someone to do it for you)? How many of those content pieces bring in more leads or drive sales?

I’m not a fan of investing my time and money into things that I ‘think‘ are working, or throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks.

With data, we can measure what’s working, what’s not, and use that information to make changes so you’re getting the most out of your marketing efforts.

More data = better decisions = better ROI on your marketing. And Google Analytics is a free, easy-to-set-up tool that you can use to get all the information you need.

How to (correctly) set up Google Analytics

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as downloading a plugin for your site and plugging in the tracking code. I wish it was!

That’s the most important part, but let’s make sure you don’t make these extremely common mistakes:

  • Include your own (or your team’s) data in your reports. If you visit your website every day (or multiple times a day) let’s set it to ignore you and focus on your customers!
  • Set up filters on all your data and then later notice that you made a mistake and now none of your data is usable. Let’s set up a backup view that has all the raw data so if you do make a mistake, you still have data to use.
  • Forget to connect Google Ads and/or Search Console so your data is incomplete. Let’s set those up from day 1 (even if you’re not using them yet) so you have it when you need it.

If you follow these X simple steps, you can confidently say that you have the important data you need to make decisions for your business.

Ally from Akari Digital Setting Up Analytics for a Clients Website

Looking at this guide and feeling overwhelmed? Worried you’re going to spend way too much of your valuable time stumbling through it? We can set this up for you (and even take it to the next level with some advanced features, custom tracking, and easy-to-use dashboards) so you can get back to doing the things you do best. Book a complimentary consultation today, and we’ll discuss the setup you need, and get that all done for you!

Want to dig into it yourself? Read on, and we’ll walk you through it, step by step.

Step 1: Set Up Your Google Analytics Account

Create a Google Analytics account

Go to the Google Analytics website and it’ll prompt you to log in with your Google Account. Use whichever Google account you want all your business assets to be connected with.

Once you’re logged in, click the big blue “Start Measuring” button to get started.

Create your account and property

Every Google Analytics account has three levels: Account, Property, View.

  1. Account: Highest level. Each business should have one account.
  2. Property: Each website you have for the business, will have one UA property, and one GA4 property.
  3. View: Lowest level. Each property will have multiple views to look at different sets of data. We’ll set up the three foundational views for your site in this guide.
Create your account

Set an account name. For most businesses, this is your business name.

If you are a business that has multiple websites or smaller businesses under your umbrella, make one account named after this ‘umbrella business’ that will house all your sites as separate ‘properties’ (next step).

Create a UA property AND a GA4 property

In 2020, Google Analytics launched GA4 which is a new way of tracking. It has a lot of great features, but it’s not 100% free of glitches and is constantly being updated. Until it’s more stable, you want to have both versions set up.

This is really easy to do, just name your property (generally this is your website URL) and then click the “Show Advanced Options” button.

Then, fill in the website URL field, make sure that the “Create both a Google Analytics 4 and a Universal Analytics property” is checked, and click next.

And the last step, fill out the “More Info About Your Business” section and click “Create” this information isn’t as important, it’s just data for Google Analytics.

Wahoo! The first step is done and you’re now ready to connect your Google Analytics account to your website.

Step 2: Get Your Tracking Codes

In that first step, we set up both a Universal Analytics, and GA4 analytics properties, and we need tracking codes from both of them. First, open up a blank word doc or notes tab on your computer that you can paste those codes in for quick reference.

Get your GA4 Tracking Code

In your Google Analytics window, click the gear icon in the bottom left which will take you to your admin panel.

Make sure you’re in the GA4 property. Do this by clicking the drop-down under “Property” and selecting the one that does NOT have “UA” at the beginning.

Click “Setup Assistant” and then “Tag Installation”. Then click “Add Stream” and “Web”.

Enter your website URL and name your stream, then click “Create Stream”

Under “Tagging Instructions” expand the section for “Global site tag (gtag.js)” and copy the code it provides you by clicking the overlapping boxes in the right of the panel.

Great! Paste that code into your blank notes or word doc for quick reference later or leave this tab open so you can find it later.

Get your UA Tracking Code

Okay, now let’s grab your UA Tracking Code. Now navigate to your UA Property by clicking the “Property” drop-down from the Admin Panel.

In the property menu, click on “Tracking Info” to expand the sub-menu, and then click “Tracking Code”.

Now, there are two different things you may need here, depending on the CMS you use. For now, let’s copy both to your word doc or notes for reference.

The first thing you may need is the Tracking ID. The second is the global site tag. Copy & paste each of these to the document with your GA4 tracking code (or leave this tab open for reference later). Make sure you have all your codes clearly separated and that you know which one is which.

Step 3: Installing Google Analytics On Your Website

Now we have tracking codes, time to put them on our website so it can start collecting data. If you’re using a popular content management system (CMS), this is relatively straightforward. I’ve highlighted instructions for the most common platforms I see; WordPress, Squarespace, and Wix.

If you’re using a CMS that isn’t listed here, open a new tab and google “Install Google Analytics on X” and replace the “X” with whichever platform you’re using. Once you have it installed come back here and skip to Step 4: Essentials to set up in Google Analytics.

Jump To:

Installing Google Analytics for WordPress

You can do this manually in your theme editor, or by using a plugin. I’ll cover instructions for simple installation with a plugin here.

Download Your Plugin

Navigate to your Plugins page in the admin dashboard, and click “Add New”. There are lots of different plugins you can use to install Google Analytics, I always use the “Head, Footer and Post Injections” plugin on WordPress sites I work on. This plugin is frequently updated, has lots of active installations and strong reviews, and I’ve never had any issues with it.

Press “Install Now” and then once it’s installed, click “Activate”.

Paste Your Tracking Code Into The Plugin

Now, you should be able to find the plugin in your admin dashboard under “Settings”

For WordPress, paste both the GA4 tracking script and UA tracking script that you found in Step 2 in the “<Head> Page Section Injection” “On Every Page” box which should be in the top left.

Both tracking codes will start with “<!– Global site tag (gtag.js) – Google Analytics –>” but will have slightly varied codes that follow. (Lost your tracking codes? Jump back to this step).

Again, paste both codes, one after the other, into this box. You can put a line-break between them, but you don’t have to. It should look something like the image below. Don’t forget to press “Save” when you’re done!

Success! Your website and Google Analytics are officially connected and talking to each other. The most important part is over, but now let’s check that it’s working, and set up some essential settings so that your data is accurate and usable. Skip to the next step.

Installing Google Analytics for Squarespace

Squarespace has a built-in integration for Google Analytics, but it doesn’t work for both GA4 and UA, so I recommend adding the code manually.

First, go into Squarespace Setting > Advanced > Code Injection > Header.

You can then paste both codes, one after the other, into this box. You can put a line-break between them, but you don’t have to. Don’t forget to press “Save Settings” when you’re done!

Success! Your website and Google Analytics are officially connected and talking to each other. The most important part is over, but now let’s check that it’s working, and set up some essential settings so that your data is accurate and usable. Skip to the next step.

Installing Google Analytics for Wix

Wix has an integration for Google Analytics, but it doesn’t work with GA4 right now, so we’re going to embed custom code manually.

Go to “Settings” in your site’s dashboard.

Click the “Custom Code” tab under “Advanced Settings.

Click the “Add Custom Code” button

You can then paste both codes, one after the other, into this box. You can put a line-break between them, but you don’t have to. Name them something like “Google Analytics UA + GA4” so you know exactly what the custom code is later, and make sure it’s loading on all pages in the header (as outlined in the screenshot below).

Don’t forget to press “Apply” when done!

Success! Your website and Google Analytics are officially connected and talking to each other. The most important part is over, but now let’s check that it’s working, and set up some essential settings so that your data is accurate and usable.

Step 4: Check to see if it’s working!

Hopefully, you’re not at the point that you want to smash your computer in half… but if you are— take a quick break, go for a stroll outside, or take some deep breaths to reset.

You’ve just crossed a major milestone for your business marketing, and it was something completely foreign to you. I try to make these walkthroughs as straightforward as possible, but this stuff isn’t easy and you are rocking it.

Now, let’s go double-check that everything is running smoothly.

In your Google Analytics, check both your UA and GA4 property to make sure that it can detect you visiting your website.

How to check if your GA4 property setup is working

In Google Analytics, navigate to your GA4 property.

Then click “Realtime” on the left-hand bar.

In another tab (or from your phone) go to your website. You may have to wait a few seconds and click around a bit, but you should see a session pop up! And it’ll show you on the map where the session is logging in from, which should match where you are in the world.

Not showing up? Sometimes traffic can take up to 24 hours to work, set a reminder to check things out tomorrow. If it’s still not there, you may have made an error when installing your code. Walkthrough those steps over again to see if your code is missing or incorrect. If you’re stumped feel free to reach out to me on Instagram or by email and I’ll see if I can help!

How to check if your UA property setup is working

Now let’s check your UA property. In Google Analytics, navigate to your UA property, and you’ll likely have one view in their called “All Website Data”.

Once you’re in there, click “Realtime” on the left-hand bar and then “Overview”.

In another tab (or from your phone) go to your website. You may have to wait a few seconds and click around a bit, but you should see a session pop up! And as you click around it should show you the page you’re on under “Top Active Pages” and the location on the map should match where you are in the world.

If this happens, GREAT!! this property is set up and tracking! Give yourself a pat on the back.

Not showing up? Sometimes traffic can take up to 24 hours to work, set a reminder to check things out tomorrow. If it’s still not there, you may have made an error when installing your code. Walkthrough those steps over again to see if your code is missing or incorrect. If you’re stumped feel free to reach out to me on Instagram or by email and I’ll see if I can help!

Essentials to set up in Google Analytics

Can I just take a moment here to recognize how much of a powerhouse you are on working through all this on your own? Now, this is where most people stop, and it means they are collecting data, but it may be inaccurate or incomplete (and then not very helpful for your strategic decisions!)

So, let’s set up a few essential settings so that your data is more accurate, and usable! As of now, the GA4 property is changing constantly as Google Analytics works out bugs and improves the platform. So we’ll focus on your UA property.

We’re going to set up these five essentials:

Create a Master Views

In your UA property, click the “Create View” button.

Call your view “Master View” and update the country & timezone to your location.

That all there? Great! One step closer!

Now, to make things easy for yourself later, let’s set your default view to the “Master View” (why we do this will come in the next step).

Under your Property options, click “Property Settings” and then under “Default View” select “Master View”

Make sure to scroll to the bottom and click the blue “Save” button.

Filter your traffic out of your Master View

When you look at your analytics, you want to see the traffic from your customers and potential customers. Not from you and your team. It can really throw off your data, if you don’t filter out your own traffic (and your team’s traffic, if applicable). So that’s why we made that extra view.

  • Your “All Website Data” view will have no filters. Zero. This way if you (or someone else in your account) makes any errors or mistakes you have a backup. Never make any changes to this view.
  • Your “Master View” will filter out your traffic and your team’s traffic. You will use this view for your reporting to see how your customers and potential customers are visiting your website.

To filter out traffic, we use your IP address. To get your IP address, google “What is my IP address”.

Google will give you a series of numbers with punctuation that would look like: 

  • 255.255.255.0 (which mean’s you have IPv4); or 
  • 2001:0db8:85a3:0000:0000:8a2e:0370:7334 (which means you have IPv6)

Keep that window open, or paste your IP address somewhere for quick reference.

Navigate to your Master View, and click “Filters”. Then “Add Filter”.

If you have an IPv4 you want to “exclude traffic from the IP addresses THAT ARE EQUAL TO”. Then paste your IP address. Make sure there are no spaces before or after the numbers in the field. It should look something like this.

If you have an IPv6 you want to “exclude traffic from the IP addresses that BEGIN WITH”. Then paste the first 4 bunches of numbers (bunches are separated by colons) of your IP address. Make sure there are no spaces before or after the numbers in the field. It should look something like this.

Again, for clarity. For IPv6 you do NOT paste the entire string of your IP address. You just paste the first 4 ‘bunches’ of numbers like shown in the screenshot above.

That done? Excellent!

Filter out bot traffic

Now, usually Google Analytics does this for you automatically, but sometimes it glitches, so let’s double check it’s there.

On each of your views (both your Master and All Website Traffic views), go to your “View Settings” and make sure that “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders”.

If you make any changes, make sure to scroll to the bottom and press “Save”.

Enable demographics reporting

Google Analytics can tell us information about our website visitors like their age, other types of sites they’re interested in, etc. This information should be taken with a grain of salt, but can be helpful to have and it only takes a few clicks to turn it on.

Navigate to Audience > Demographics > Overview

You’ll likely get a message like the one below. Click the blue “enable” button.

That’s it! It’ll take at least 24 hours to collect the data, but you can move on to the last (!) essential setting.

Connect Google Analytics to Google Search Console

If you have it already set up, you may know that Google Search Console is another free tool that measures how your website is performing in Google search results. It’ll tell you what keywords you’re ranking for, which keywords are bringing people to your site, and it’ll also let you know if there are any critical site errors that are impacting your website performance.

Don’t have it set up? Put that on your list to do next (it’s much quicker and easier than Google Analytics is, I promise) and you can use our guide to walk you through setting up Search Console.

When it’s set up, you can pull some of the critical data into Google Analytics!

You’ll need to go back into your Admin dashboard, and find “Property Settings”. Then, scroll down in the window to find the “Adjust Search Console” button.

Next, click “Add”

It will open up search console in a new tab with a list of your UA properties. If you have access to multiple Google Analytics properties, they’ll all show up here. Find the property name that you are working in, and click on the radio button. Then click “Associate”.

Once you’ve done that, you can close search console, and go back to your Google Analytics tab. If it didn’t automatically refresh, refresh the page and the Search Console settings should now show that it’s connected.

And that’s it! You have the five essential settings set up so your data is complete, and accurate.

Advanced Analytics Settings

I won’t take you through each item here because they require a bit more expertise in Google Analytics or a tool like Google Tag Manager, but some additional things you may want to consider:

  • Are you running Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn ads? You want to make sure that you can separate the traffic that you’re paying for, versus the traffic that your regular social media content is bringing in so you can calculate a Return on Ad Spend (ROAS). To do this, you need to use campaign tagging. To get you started, this is a very comprehensive article from Annielytics.
  • Are you running Google Ads? Unless if you are working with a specialist who advises you otherwise for your specific situation, I recommend always turning on autotagging so you can see which keywords, ads, etc converted best in Google Analytics. To do this, here’s the Google Ads help article.
  • Do you send email newsletters or have automated email sequences? By default, your traffic from email is not tracked in Google Analytics, but many email marketing software programs make this simple for you. You can google “Google Analytics tracking X” and replace X with the email software you use. Here are some quick links to platforms my clients use often: Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and Active Campaign.
  • Do you have a booking platform, course, or membership area that you send people to from your website (Kajabi, Thinkific, JaneApp, ClickFunnels, and Acuity are ones I see frequently)? It can be helpful to see how traffic flows from your website to these platforms and whether they buy or not! For this, you’ll need cross-domain tracking which you’ll probably want help from an expert to set up.
  • And last, but certainly not least, do you want to track conversions, sales, or leads on your website? Yes? You need to set up goals. Depending on your CMS, and your website this looks a little bit different for everyone so it’s recommended to reach out to an analytics specialist for specific advice for you. When this is set up, you can measure an exact conversion rate of your site or landing page, track ROAS or ROI on your marketing spend, see which blog posts your readers are downloading your lead magnets on, and much more!

If any of this is something that you want support setting up, we can help! We can make sure your Google Analytics, Tag Manager, Search Console, Ad Platforms, and more are set up correctly, are connected together, and you’ll even get some custom dashboards that make it easy to see exactly how your marketing is performing at a glance. Book a complimentary consultation and we’ll walk you through how it works!

Essential setup complete! What now?

Now we sit back, relax, and wait for the data to roll in 🥂.

But you’re probably wondering “okay, well when I do have data to look at, what exactly am I supposed to do with it?” We’ve got you. Bookmark our How to Use Google Analytics for Small Businesses post and set a reminder for yourself in a month or two.

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Frequently asked questions about Google Analytics

Do you need an expert to set up Google Analytics for your business?

For basic set up, not always! If you have a relatively simple website, you use a standard CMS, you are tech savvy, and you only have simple conversions to set up— you can probably set things up on your own. If you want to set up some more complex goals, you send traffic to a third-party platform for bookings or payments, or if you want to track product sales on your site, you will likely need help from an expert.

I open up the platform and I’m so overwhelmed, how do I know what to look for?

It can definitely be overwhelming if you’re not familiar with the program. We have a post that walks you through the 4 key reports to check and what to look for, but you could also talk to an analytics expert to set up some custom dashboards or to help you navigate! FYI we offer services like that customized for small businesses! Let’s chat about your needs and how we can help.

How much does Google Analytics cost?

Google Analytics itself is free! You can pay to have an expert set it up for you, or to monitor it for you, but the platform itself is free.

How often should you check your Google Analytics?

Ideally, you check it monthly and track your key metrics over time so you know what’s improving, what’s not, and you can make data-informed decisions for your business. If you’re not measuring your marketing, you can’t improve it. If monthly isn’t realistic for you, set aside time quarterly to dig into it.

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