It can be a daunting task to set up or troubleshoot your website’s tracking, especially when you have several conversion points, challenging-to-reach URLs, and multiple traffic sources to consider.
It’s important you know what you want to track, and why, to put the right tracking in place. Your chosen tool should give you a clear, accurate picture of the most useful data, without having to spend hours trying to piece together different parts of the jigsaw.
So, where do you start? While there are paid software solutions available, the most used tools for tracking and reporting on website engagement are within Google’s free-to-use marketing suite. Here’s our guide to the three most useful tracking tools from Google.
Google Analytics has one primary function: to track visits to your website and collate the data for you to view historically. Setting it up is relatively easy. Simply create an account at: analytics.google.com, copy and paste your Analytics code onto every page of your website (usually done through templates in your CMS or via Google Tag Manager).
Google Analytics can seem complicated but using their filtering system allows you to break down data into more relevant segments. Filters are ideal if you are interested in specific data, such as age demographics, how long the users spend on your website or which device is best for engagement.
Setting up custom dashboards at the outset will enable you to bring the most relevant data into one place, remove the need to repetitively add the same filters whilst saving you time searching the platform to find what you’re looking for.
For those who are time poor or less confident in the customisation side of things, you can find a range of pre-made, user-friendly dashboards online:
These can be imported into your account and used immediately.
Google Analytics has also recently launched its new Analytics 4 platform, which leans more on AI learning than the previous version, although both versions are still currently available. One of the benefits of the updated platform is its functionality to alert you to trends. This invaluable feature can be key in drilling down on a particular page, purchase funnel or audience that shows promise (or concern), allowing you to make informed changes to your marketing strategy.
Google Tag Manager
If you are looking for advanced tracking, for example; monitoring e-commerce sales or video plays, you will need to send additional information into Google Analytics. Google Tag Manager’s user-friendly interface will enable you to add code to your website without the skills of a developer.
Once the base-level code for Tag Manager is on every page of the website, additional code is then added as “tags” which will fire data depending on the “trigger” you select, and send data back into Google Analytics. For example, if you have a sign-up button on your website and want to know when people click on it, you can add a tag to that button. You will then need to define the actions which trigger the tag to register, such as a unique ‘click id’ or ‘click class’.
Be clear and concise with your tag naming at the outset, to avoid confusion later, and choose Google Analytics as the tag type so that you can pass the data through here for analysis alongside the existing native website stats.
Tag Manager requires a bit of time invested to learn how it works, but you can find lots of good tutorials on YouTube, and once you have your first tag set up, you’ll never look back.
Google Data Studio
If you’re looking for a cleaner, more visually pleasing way to view data – without getting lost in the multiple subsections of Google Analytics – then Google Data Studio is perfect.
One of the benefits of Data Studio is its ability to incorporate multiple data sources into a single dashboard using a drag and drop system for easy customisation. Your report can provide a range of data from Analytics, Google Ads and Facebook Ads.
Data Studio is also useful for tracking multiple businesses in one place – ideal if you own more than one website and want to compare the performance of each website side-by-side – rather than switching views.
It can take longer to set up a functional dashboard in Data Studio, but the pay-off is a visually appealing dashboard you can easily share with team members.