This post by Benjamin Hoffman is the first of a multipart series on Google Analytics (GA) for real estate professionals that will help you harness the full power of GA and give you insights into what is driving the majority of traffic to your website. In this article you will learn how to set up, install and configure your GA account properly so that we can be sure the data you receive is accurate. In the posts that follow, we will dive into the fun by looking at how to interpret your GA traffic.
You cannot monetize what you cannot track. The best way to succeed on the Web is understanding what is working and what is not. You can then double down on what works and fix what does not.
Along those lines, if you want to increase the number of leads your website generates then you should begin to study your website analytics — who is visiting your website, where are they coming from, and what do they do once they arrive.
This is why it’s more important than ever to track your website traffic with tools like Google Analytics. With GA, you will have access to hundreds of data points that will help you allocate your marketing budget to the channels that convert the best for you.
Financial pie chart image via Shutterstock.
Why use Google Analytics?
According to GA’s official website, you want to track your website traffic because, “Whether you want to boost sales, find more visitors or improve your mobile app, Google Analytics has the answers and insights you need to improve your business.”
In a nutshell, GA provides insights into extremely powerful data, especially if you want to start generating leads from your website. Without knowing the source of the lead or what path the visitor took while on your website, you will have a hard time increasing the leads flowing to your site. Wouldn’t you love to know all that hard work of posting on Facebook every day is finally paying off?
Google Analytics is free to install and use!
Do you want to know the single best reason to install Google Analytics today? Because it’s FREE! Yes, that’s right, Google provides this software for free to all users. By providing GA free to the public, Google empowers website owners to help them improve their sites, thereby allowing Google to deliver better search results.
How to check whether you already have Google Analytics installed
The first thing you want to do is check to make sure you don’t already have GA installed on your website. If you do, that’s great news! GA is unable to collect historical data unless the code is already installed on your website, so for those of you with the code already installed, you likely have months of data built up!
I’ve made this short video for Inman readers on how to find the GA code on your website. In a nutshell, you will want to check your source code for the GA code snippet.
What do you do if you find that your website already has Google Analytics? Simply email the person or company who built your website and ask them politely if they could provide you administrative access to your GA account. The reason you want admin-level access is because we will be improving your GA account, and this can be done only with admin access.
For those who do not have GA installed or would like to start fresh, I’ve written the next section for you.
How to install Google Analytics
The first thing you will want to do is visit the Google Analytics home page and click create an account in the upper right-hand corner. I recommend you use your Gmail account if you already have one, as it integrates nicely with many of Google’s products. The sign-up process is relatively easy but feel free to ask me any questions in the comments if you get stuck.
Once you get through the account creation steps, you will land on GA’s setup page. Click the sign-up button on the right side and let’s get started.
The next screen will provide you the choice of whether you want to track your website or mobile app. Make sure to leave this section alone, as GA has already chosen website settings for you.
The next screen is your first look into GA’s settings. Use my example below to help guide you through the process.
Account Name: Here is where you will put your account name. You can name it whatever you want. I usually suggest simply writing your website name (with or without .com). It’s completely up to you and there is no wrong answer.
Website Name: This is similar to Account Name but on a more granular level. The Account Name and Website Name have a parent/child relationship; whereas you have only one Account Name, you will likely have many Website Names. But for basic setups, I usually give them the same name. For more advanced clients, I assign a more granular Website Name to help differentiate between websites. For example, if you have more than one website, you will have one Account Name and two different Website Names.
Website URL: This is where you will type in your website name. Be very careful here — make sure to put the exact URL. This means if you use www in your domain, you must include that (Yes, there is a difference between websites with the www and without it). The best way to get this section correct is by simply navigating to your website, copying the URL, then simply pasting it into this box. Then delete the http:// part. If your website uses a secure connection (https), make sure to change that option to include the extra security.
Industry Category: I assume most of us put Real Estate. But if you see something more applicable, feel free to change it.
Reporting Time Zone: Usually GA will detect your time zone. If it’s wrong, change it. Otherwise, your data will be reported in the wrong time zone and throw off our analysis.
Now click Get Tracking ID at the bottom of the page. You are one step closer.
The next screen will show you your tracking ID. For first-time users, Google provides additional documentation on what GA will help you do. If you are interested, I encourage you to read this extra info. When you are done, scroll down the page and find your GA code.
This code needs to be pasted onto every page of your website. This might intimidate a lot of readers, but let’s take this one step at a time: