You have decided to set up Google Analytics for your website to improve your marketing strategy. Great news! It’s the ultimate free tool to collect and analyze data from your websites and applications. Google Analytics gives you access to essential insights on website traffic and user behavior.
Surprisingly, many websites still don’t use website analytics or get inaccurate data because it’s not set up correctly. We have created this step-by-step guide to explain all you need to know about Google Analytics and guide you through the installation process.
What’s new in the 2021 set up?
A few months ago, Google introduced a major update to the application: a new version called Google Analytics 4 (GA4). This new generation of data reporting comes with a refreshed interface and new ways of processing and displaying information.
Universal Analytics (UA), the classic version of Google Analytics, is still functional and valuable. To make full use of the platform, Google recommends using both UA and GA4 in parallel. The reason being that GA4 is still in its very early stages of development.
Eventually, the last update will replace the classic Universal Analytics, but for now, we will cover how to set up both GA4 and Universal Analytics.
Before you start
First, it’s essential to understand a few concepts about how Google Analytics is structured and how it collects data.
The Google Analytics account is the access point to find your reports. You can manage multiple websites under one single account.
A property is a data stream that pulls information from a website or application into Google Analytics. Each property is identified with a unique code called measurement ID (GA4) or tracking ID (UA). You must install this code on all your website’s pages to collect accurate data.
To install both GA4 and UA, we will first create distinct properties for each version. Then we will use Google Tag Manager to install the tracking codes to pull data from your website into Analytics. The steps are as follows:
- Create a Google Analytics account
- Create the properties for GA4 and UA
- Tag your website pages with Google Tag Manager
Let’s get started!
Set up Google Analytics 4 on a new website in 2021
1. Create a Google Analytics Account
First, you need to set up your personal account and get access to the Analytics platform. Head to analytics.google.com and click on “Start measuring”.
Set up your account following the instructions and hit “Next”.
The “Account Data Sharing Settings” section controls the amount of data you are willing to share with Google.
Set up Google Analytics properties
Step 1: Enter your property name and select your preferred reporting time zone and currency.
Step 2: Click “Show advanced options”. Here, we can create the two properties (for UA and GA4) at once.
Step 3: Hit the toggle on the right side to display more options. Insert your website URL and click “Next”.
Step 4: Finally, fill in your business information and hit “Create”.
You have just set up Google Analytics properties for your website!
3. Connect your website to Google Analytics
GA4 uses data streams to collect data from your website. According to Google, “a data stream is a flow of data from your website to Analytics. When you create a data stream, Analytics generates a snippet of code that you add to your site to collect that data.”
To create a data stream, click on “Web” on the loaded page.
Insert your website URL and stream name. Then hit “Create stream”.
Once you have set up your data stream, the following page will load. On the “Measurement ID” section, click on the icon next to the code starting with “G-XXXXXXXXXX” to copy the measurement ID in your clipboard.
We will use it in our next step.
4. Set up Google Analytics 4 tags with Google Tag Manager
Now that we have created our properties, it’s time to install the tracking code and link your website to Google Analytics.
The tracking ID is installed and managed with Google Tag Manager.
These tracking codes (or tags) are placed on each page of your website to collect user data and feed Google Analytics reports. Whilst there are other options to manage your tags, we highly recommend using Google Tag Manager. It makes tag management simple and reliable by allowing you to deploy all website tags in one place.
First, head to Google Tag Manager and set up an account with your company information. One account is used for a unique website. Select “Website” as a target platform and hit “Create”.
After accepting the terms and services, close the pop-up window that appears. In the workspace page, click “Add a new tag”.
Click the “Tag Configuration” section. A side window will open. Select the “Google Analytics: GA4 Configuration” option.
Paste the measurement ID you have previously copied in your clipboard in the dedicated box.
Click the “Triggering” section, and add an “All pages” trigger. Then hit “Save”.
Name this property “Google Analytics 4”.
Congratulations, you have just set up GA4 for your website!
Set up Universal Analytics
As per Google recommendation, you need to use both GA4 and UA to make the most of your website reports. We have installed the new version of Google Analytics (GA4) so far. Now, let’s head back to the Google Analytics website to set up Universal Analytics.
1. Locate your property for UA
Access your Google Analytics account, and open the admin page.
Under “Create Property”, click on the down arrow to show the two properties we have previously created.
Note: You can identify each type of property from their ID structure. Universal Analytics properties start with “UA-” while GA4 properties don’t have a prefix.
Select the Universal Analytics property. Under the “Property Settings” tab, locate the tracking ID and copy it to your clipboard.
2. Set up Universal Analytics tags with Google Tag Manager
Head back to Google Tag Manager and create a new tag.
Under “Tag Configuration”, select the tag type “Google Analytics: Universal Analytics”.
Tick the box “Enable overriding setting in this tag”, and paste the Universal Analytics ID in the dedicated box.
Add an “All page” trigger in the Triggering section, then hit “Save”.
On the Tag Manager workspace, hit “Submit” to make your installation live.
Both GA4 and Universal Analytics are now installed on your website.
Verify your set up
Check the set up with real-time reports
To check if your installation is working correctly, click on the “Real-time” report.
Then visit your website from an incognito window. If the report shows your activity, the installation was successful!
You need to verify the installation for the two properties. To switch to another property, click on your account name at the top left of the screen. Then click on the property name to open the related reports and repeat the previous step.
Check the set up with Google Tag Assistant
Google Tag Assistant is a free Chrome extension used for troubleshooting tags installation. Install the Tag Assistant extension to verify the Google Analytics tracking codes are installed and functioning.
And don’t forget to filter out internal traffic!
Draw relevant insights from website reports
Installing GA is the first step to your marketing analytics journey. Data analysis is essential to understanding users’ behaviors and making adjustments to your website to drive more conversions and revenue.At Mowgli, we firmly believe that data should drive decision-making. If you need help setting up a marketing strategy focused on your goals and customers, feel free to reach out!