Google Analytics (GA) is one of the most useful and popular digital analytics tools you can implement on your website. GA allows you to see high-level insights as well as drill down deep into details of things like website traffic, audience types, bounce rate, content shares, and more. You can also set goals for your website and schedule regular reports to be emailed directly to you in order to help make sure you stay on track. Best of all, it’s free!
If you’ve been working your way through our Ultimate SEO Checklist , you’ve probably noticed that setting up your Google Analytics account is one of the first steps to optimizing your website for search engines and human users. But once you’ve gone through the setup, you’re probably wondering what you should do next to get the most out of this useful tool. This checklist covers some of the most important technical items to set up, reporting resources to use, and optimization tips so you can start using Google Analytics like a pro — and start seeing positive improvements to your online presence.
Use the latest GA tracking code on all pages of your website. Find the code by going to Property > Tracking Info > Tracking Code.
Make sure the code is not linked twice on any page.
Make sure the code is not used on any other website/URL.
Link related accounts.
Link by going to Google Search Console Acquisition > Search Console > Queries > follow instructions to “set up Search Console Data Sharing.”
Link Google Adwords (if using it) by going to Acquisition > Google Ads > Campaigns > follow instructions to “link your Google Ads & Analytics accounts."
Link other paid sources if using them.
Make sure the
tag is included and correctly configured if you are using Google Optimize.
Google Tag Manager
Eliminate internal traffic and exclude internal IP. This ensures that your GA numbers only reflect guest visitors and not people from within your company. If you do not do this, your traffic numbers will skew high, giving you inaccurate results.
Settings > Admin > Filters > Add Filter > Create New Filter > give the filter a name such as “[company name] IP" and fill out the rest of the required fields.
Ensure that 404 errors are being tracked. This allows you to catch any 404 errors and correct them so that users are landing on the correct pages.
Behavior > Site Content > All Pages > Add Page Title as a secondary dimension.
Advanced next to the search field. Choose the rule Page Title contains “Page not found” or whatever language you use in your 404s.
Ensure your default URL is set correctly. This will ensure Google can understand the sources of your traffic correctly, reducing attribution errors.
Admin > Property Settings > enter your URL.
It is important to add your site URL
exactly as it appears when you open your website in a browser window — including whether it is on a secured site address ("https://") or a non-secure site address ("http://").
Only add a prefix
("www.") or suffix (".com") if it appears in the address bar when you are on your website.
Final URL gut-check: to make sure your default URL in Google Analytics is set properly, open your website in a new window or tab, double-click the address bar, and match the URL exactly in GA.
Enable demographics & interest reports. There are many different report types to choose from in GA, but these two reports are widely used and will provide useful information to most users.
Admin > Property Settings > scroll down and set the "Demographics" and "Interest Reports" to ON position.
Enable other reports. Identify which reports are most valuable to your business. Set up basic reports to monitor things like:
Traffic Source: To see where your traffic is coming from
Landing Page report: A list of all pages that visitors viewed first during their session on your site
Goals report (more on goals below): Visualize how your site is meeting its conversion goals
Location report: See the geographical distribution of your audience
Site Search Terms report: See the terms users are searching for
Enable Ecommerce: This is the only way to pull transaction data directly from FareHarbor for online bookings!
Admin > Ecommerce Settings > Toggle "Enable Ecommerce" to the ON position.
Set up goals and goal values. Goals help measure the metrics of your site and help you determine how to increase conversions. You can use goals for things like:
Specific page views, especially if you have landing pages for
Time on site goals
Event goals (e.g. social media buttons)
Lightframe behavior goals (e.g. completed bookings).
Conversions > Goals > Goal URLs > Add + Goal > follow setup instructions for each goal.
Goal Tracking: Set up tracking for other events like form submissions, video plays, downloads, and more.
Pro tip: Assign a monetary value to each goal to help you track success.
Optimization and Analysis
Reports: Check your reports on a regular basis and annotate them directly within GA to make note of important changes or information for yourself or other users logging into your GA account.
Conversions: Examine your top conversion paths to see what’s working and what isn’t.
Traffic Trends: Compare historical traffic trends including year over year, season over season, month over month, etc. You can even set a custom time frame to view results from a specific period of time.
Start making the most of your website and shape the success strategy of your business by using these steps and tips to track traffic and reach your goals! For a more in-depth breakdown of other ways to use Google Analytics, check out this guide on using Google Analytics to maximize data opportunity.