No matter what kind of content you’re creating, it pays to listen to your audience. Knowing their tastes and behaviors can help you make the necessary adjustments to retain old visitors and attract new ones. However, one of the most helpful sources of this data is also one that is unlikely to show up in your comments sections — how users are interacting with your site.
Fortunately, adding Google Analytics to your WordPress website offers a solution. This free tool lets you easily and accurately collect data on your site’s traffic and other metrics. Armed with this in-depth understanding of your users, you can make more informed choices to maximize your impact and cultivate a loyal fan base.
In this tutorial, I’ll provide an overview of what Google Analytics is and how you can use it to your advantage. After that, I’ll take you step-by-step through how to seamlessly integrate this solution into your WordPress site. Let’s get started!
What Google Analytics Is
If you’ve spent any time on the internet, it’s a safe bet that you’re familiar with Google. Although it’s mainly recognized for its hugely popular search engine, this industry giant also offers a wide variety of other internet-based services.
Google Analytics is one tool that happens to be particularly useful for WordPress users.
This platform not only monitors your site’s traffic across all of its pages but also generates detailed user reports about a wide variety of metrics. It can collect information such as:
- The most common visitor languages and geographic locations
- Each page’s bounce rate
- What web browser is most popular among users
- What pages visitors view most often and for how long
Simply put, Google Analytics collects just about all the information you need to create an accurate picture of how users are interacting with your site.
This data is then neatly presented to you in the form of customizable charts and graphs. Given the wealth of accessible knowledge that Google Analytics offers, it’s not surprising that it’s the most frequently used traffic measuring service on the web.
The Benefits of Using Google Analytics
You can’t fix a problem that you don’t know is there, and you can’t improve if you don’t know what’s already working. Google Analytics provides guidance in both of these areas, by offering accurate data that reflects your site’s successes and failures.
For example, let’s consider your website’s posting times. While it’s true that there’s no universal perfect time to post new content, statistics on your specific site and audience might reflect a more predictable pattern. If your site’s user interaction indicates that most visitors are coming late at night, a schedule shakeup catering to night owls might boost views.
Of course, this tool can do more than just find trouble spots. Google Analytics can also help you maximize traffic on already successful pages. For example, if the statistics show that users are spending more time on your listicles than your photo galleries, it may be worth prioritizing the former type of content if you want to generate more traffic.
In a nutshell, you can think of Google Analytics as an easy way to assess your efforts. Constant monitoring means you’ll get real-time results that you can compare to previous statistics, enabling you to track your successes and plan your next steps. Even better, you can access all of these resources for free.
Unless you’re running a large enterprise that has tons of data to work with, Google Analytics is available at no cost. All you have to invest for the benefits described above is a little bit of time and effort. That makes this a low-risk, high-reward way to take your site’s traffic to the next level.
How to Add Google Analytics to Your WordPress Site (In 4 Steps)
Best of all, it only takes four simple steps to start collecting lots of useful data about your website. Let’s walk through the process of connecting Google Analytics to your WordPress site, one step at a time.
Step 1: Sign up for Google Analytics
The first thing you’ll want to do is create a free Google account if you don’t have one already. Your analytics will be linked to this account, so you might want to consider making a separate one specifically for your website.
Once that’s taken care of, go to the Google Analytics home page and click on Set up for free.
This will take you to the account setup page, where you can fill out the relevant fields with your site’s basic information. You’ll then have the option to change the default data sharing settings. Google labels all of these as “recommended” — and I tend to agree.
However, if you want to turn any of them off, make sure to read the included fine print to understand how the decision might impact your usage of Google Analytics.
Next up, it’s time to name your property. Since one account can have multiple properties, it’s wise to name it something that clearly reflects the website you want to analyze. This is especially important if there’s a possibility that you’ll want to monitor more properties in the future.
After that, you can adjust the time zone and currency to match your site’s location.
Then, select the Create a universal property option, enter your website’s URL when prompted, and choose Create a Universal Analytics property only before moving on.
You can finish this step by indicating your site’s industry, size, and intended use of Google Analytics.
Once you click on Create, your account registration with Google Analytics will be complete, and you can move on to the next step.
Step 2: Select a Google Analytics Plugin
You can use Google Analytics by simply signing into the platform, connecting your site manually, and using its provided dashboard. However, it’s a good idea to connect the service directly to your WordPress website. This makes it much easier to view your metrics and is simple to accomplish using a plugin.
When it comes to finding the right Google Analytics plugin, there are numerous quality options at your disposal. Before making a decision, you’ll want to consider what benefits you’re hoping to gain from your analytics platform, and select a plugin with features that will serve that purpose.
For example, some solutions, such as 10WebAnalytics, excel at presenting additional custom statistics, which can be useful if you’re looking to focus on a specific aspect of your site’s traffic. Others, such as Analytify, are more geared towards the quick and easy assessment of data right from your dashboard, which may be a good choice if you prefer a broader approach.
The main thing to avoid during this step is choosing a poorly-optimized plugin. Since clunky scripts and conflicting plugins can slow down your web pages, you’ll probably want to avoid them at all costs. Fortunately, you don’t need to learn code to sidestep this problem. You can rely on user reviews and ratings to assess popular options and check their update histories to make sure the developers are still active.
For the purpose of this walkthrough, I’ve chosen Google’s own plugin, Site Kit.
As the official WordPress plugin for Google Analytics, Site Kit offers a seamless way to monitor your website’s performance. It also includes practical features, such as PageSpeed Insights that compare each page’s statistics to other sites, and offers guidance to help you boost your numbers.
As a bonus, there’s no cost associated with this plugin. It enables you to easily access Google Analytics from your WordPress dashboard for free.
Step 3: Integrate Google Analytics with Your Website
To get started with the Site Kit plugin, install and activate it on your WordPress website. Once it’s activated, you’ll see a prompt to begin setting up the plugin.
Click on Start Setup, then select Sign in with Google and follow the instructions on screen.
Once you’ve given the requested permissions, you’ll see a success screen. Click on Go to my Dashboard to return to your WordPress dashboard.
You’ll see a new, temporary section at the top of the page, which will contain an Analytics square. Click on the Connect Service link beneath it, which will take you to the Google Analytics setup screen.
You’ll have to sign in to your Google account once more, and allow Site Kit to access your data. Select the corresponding analytics information from the drop-down options, making sure to double-check your selections if you’re using Google Analytics on more than one site.
Then click on Configure Analytics to complete the process and link your accounts.
Step 4: Start Analyzing Your Website’s Data
After you complete the previous three steps, Google Analytics will start to record the data for your WordPress site.
If your overview report is totally empty, as in the screenshot above, don’t panic! There won’t be any data for the plugin to display just yet, so you’ll have to allow up to 24 hours for it to start collecting information.
Once the results start rolling in, you’ll have access to the information necessary to improve your site’s traffic in numerous ways.
If you’re at a loss for where to start, check out where most of your visitors in the world are coming from, and consider how you can optimize more of your content for those markets. You could also see how many of your users are visiting from mobile sites as opposed to desktop versions, and use that information to decide on a theme that will optimize your site for the most visitors.
There are a lot of metrics available, so there’s bound to be some trial and error as you learn how to best use all your new knowledge. So don’t be afraid to get creative with your problem solving.
Just make sure to keep tracking your results as your content develops to see how your changes pay off, and you’ll be well on your way to making informed decisions to maximize your site’s traffic.
Understanding your audience’s behavior can be critical to your website’s success. Fortunately, you can rely on Google Analytics to provide a wealth of actionable data about who is visiting your site, how long they’re sticking around, and much more.
In this tutorial, we covered four easy steps to get Google Analytics up and running on your WordPress site:
- Sign up for Google Analytics.
- Select a Google Analytics plugin, such as Site Kit.
- Integrate Google Analytics with your website.
- Start analyzing your website’s data.
What analytics have you found most useful for boosting your site’s traffic? Let us know in the comments section below!