Google Analytics Basics:

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Google Analytics

Basics:

Step 1 - Setting up

Your Account &

Installing the Tracking

Code on Your Blog

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Why Google Analytics?

If you focus on the “why Google” part, the answer is pretty simple: Google’s analytics is free, remarkably powerful, and – most important – accepted by nearly everyone as the default way of comparing apples-to-apples when it comes to web traffic.

If you’re asking why you should be looking at your blog’s analytics in the first place, the answer is more nuanced, but the equally important core concept: analytics provide one way to help you understand your audience. Those numbers and other data can give you valuable insights into things like:

 who is visiting your blog

 where they came from

 how long they stay

 what pages they click to

 what they might have been looking at when they leave.

Those things can help you improve your blog’s design, navigation, calls to action, and even the topics you write about and the way you write. They can tell you where to focus your efforts to grow your traffic. And if you’re planning to monetize, growing your traffic is one piece of your business plan that the folks with the advertising and sponsorship money care about.

The numbers and data are not all you should be learning about your audience, of course. Getting to know their names, their pets’ names, the things they care about will help you more, in the long run. Developing real relationships with your readers makes you influential in ways that sheer numbers do not reflect.

But even the brands that understand the importance of authentic voices, quality content creation skills, and deeply engaged readers, will still want to know your numbers. And reporting Google Analytics stats is one more way to build their trust in you as a

professional blogger.

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Sign in or create an account

If you use any Google services beyond search (Gmail, YouTube, Google Docs, etc.), you just need to sign in to Google Analytics with the same username/password.

Or, if you’ve never registered with Google for anything else (seriously? how do you participate in our G+ Hangouts?) … but, no worries, now’s your chance!

Just click on the “create and account” link and

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Grab your GA code

In your GA account, click on the Admin tab, then, in the Property (middle) column, click on the Tracking Info link:

This will open a sub-menu, where you’ll click on

Tracking Code, to open a page section showing

your “UA” tracking ID and the tracking code you’ll need to install on your blog:

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Install the tracking code on your blog

Now, the GA tracking code page says you need to “Copy and paste it into the code of

every page you want to track.” Fortunately, it’s not that hard in most blogging platforms.

WordPress.org (free software, self-hosted)

WordPress is by far the most popular blogging software platform, at least in part because of the thousands of free or paid themes and plugins available to customize your blogsite’s appearance and functionality. One source, aptly named “There is a theme for that” tallied up more than 10,000 WP themes as of January 2013

(http://thereisathemeforthat.com/how-many-wordpress-themes-are-there/) and Wikipedia reports there are over 30,000 WP plugins

(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WordPress)!

As a consequence of this rich variety, however, methods for installing GA code on WP blogs also abound. We’ll cover two of them here.

Method # 1: The easiest and best method: use the Yoast plugin for Google Analytics.

https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/google-analytics/

As shown in this Yoast tutorial, by following the steps to install and activate the plugin, you should have GA up and running on your blog. http://kb.yoast.com/article/118-installation-guide-for-google-analytics-for-wordpress

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As the screenshot of step 6 in tutorial above shows, the Yoast plugin enables you to (by default) install the GA code where it belongs, in the <head> section of your blog’s source code. That’s where Google recommends and it’s one easy way to solve the “paste the code into every page” problem, because the <head> section automatically loads with every page in your blog.

If you don’t know what stuff like <head> and source code mean, hey, that’s what makes the plugin so helpful!

The screenshot also shows a checkbox for “Manually enter your UA code,” which lets you paste in the Tracking ID from your GA account (see Grab your GA code above). Note also that there other analytics plugins and even some themes that enable you to paste in your Tracking ID into a dialog box, rather than messing with your blog’s files.

Method # 2: But on the chance that you’re happier doing it yourself – and as a fail-safe,

if nothing else wants to work – here’s the completely manual way to install your GA code in a WordPress site.

It’s not that hard, though it does require you to edit your site’s code files, so we’ll show it step-by-step, with screenshots.

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First, in your WP dashboard, go to: Appearance > Editor

Second, on the far right side of the Editor page, select the Header file (header.php):

Third, in the header.php file, find the “close head” tag that looks like this: </head>

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Finally, go back to your GA account and copy the GA code (see Grab your GA code above) and paste it into the space you just created in your header.php file:

Save/update the file and you should be all set.

You can test that the tracking is working by navigating around your blog to a few different posts and pages. Then check the Reporting > Real Time analytics page in your GA account: </script> <script> (function(i,s,o,g,r,a,m){i['GoogleAnalyticsObject']=r;i[r]=i[r]||function(){ (i[r].q=i[r].q||[]).push(arguments)},i[r].l=1*new Date();a=s.createElement(o), m=s.getElementsByTagName(o)[0];a.async=1;a.src=g;m.parentNode.insertBefore( a,m) })(window,document,'script','//www.google-analytics.com/analytics.js','ga'); ga('create', 'UA-12036309-1', 'auto');

ga('send', 'pageview'); </script> </head> </script> </head> <body> <div id="main_container"> <div id="header"> </script> </head> <body> <div id="main_container"> <div id="header">

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WordPress.com (free, web-hosted)

According to the WordPress.com support site:

“No, Google Analytics cannot be used on WordPress.com blogs at this time.”

http:/ /en.support.wordpress.com/stats/

Just one of the reasons I don’t recommend putting your blog on WordPress.com.

Blogger.com

Like WordPress, Blogger.com offers a variety of themes, which Blogger calls templates. But unlike WordPress, Blogger (or blogspot) is owned by Google. So if you’re using one of Blogger’s templates, installing Google Analytics is this simple:

In your Blogger Dashboard, go to

Settings > Other.

At the bottom of that page, you’ll find the Google Analytics setting and a single box where you’ll paste in your Analytics site property ID – that’s the one that the GA site calls your

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If you’re using a third-party template, you’ll need to go another step, similar to editing the header.php file described above for WordPress.

Here’s a tutorial that covers the process in Blogger:

http://www.blogsbyheather.com/2012/04/how-to-install-google-analytics-on-blog.html

Other blogging and publishing platforms

Liz Lockard has created a guide to installing GA “on any and every website” that covers most web publishing platforms you might be using and, heck, why reinvent that wheel?

http://www.lizlockard.com/installing-google-analytics-on-any-website/

More resources and troubleshooting your GA installation

Check/verify you installation: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1008083

Troubleshooting common issues: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1009683 Google Analytics Academy: https://analyticsacademy.withgoogle.com/explorer

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