Your Google Analytics Account: How to Set Up and Get Analyzing


Google Analytics is an extremely useful reporting tool that shows you what visitors are doing on your website. Before you start analyzing user behavior, it’s important to make sure your Google Analytics account is set up properly. Otherwise, you might not be using GA to its full potential – #whalefail.
At Whole Whale, we take steps to make sure GA is optimized for the most accurate web tracking as possible for our clients. But like any endeavor, we run into hiccups every once in awhile – limited account access, delicate GA set ups from prior vendors, and more. Some things are more important for your Google Analytics account than others. Read more to find out what to prioritize.

Google Analytics To Do’s, Ranked

The following items are “critical to launch.” Do not move on without these essentials – your account isn’t ready to collect data. Next up are medium priority steps. If you haven’t completed the mediums, you may pass go, but get them up and running as soon as you’re able. Finally, lower priority items are the “nice to haves.” Once you’re done with the fundamental high and medium priorities, turn your attention there.

Google Analytics Account Setup: High Priority

Tracking code is on every page of the site

Universal Analytics is the version you need for accurate tracking. Here’s Google’s guide to installing Universal Analytics

Tracking code is up to date

Tracking will only work for pages where the code is added. Test tags with the Google Tag Assistant Chrome add on, which verifies installed tags on a page. 

Tracking code is in the correct location

To properly set up your Google Analytics account, the tracking code needs to be in the right place to capture all site interactions. Copy the entire Javascript code snippet from Google Analytics. Paste it into the HTML of your web pages, just before the closing </head> tag.

Advertising features are enabled

Advertising features show you non-standard reports like Google Display Network Impression Reporting. Here’s Google’s guide to enabling Advertising Features. 

Demographic tracking is enabled

Demographic tracking shows you age, gender, and interest categories for a more complete analysis of your site visitors. Here’s Google’s guide to enabling Demographic and Interests reports.

 Account has an unfiltered master view

An unfiltered view is a backup and shows you all the data in case of a problem with the main reporting view. 

Correct access levels provided

Permission levels give you control over who can access your data and who can edit reports. Give users ‘Edit’, ‘Collaborate’, or ‘Read & Analyze’ access at the Account, Property, or View level. 

Account has a reporting view

The reporting view is the main Google Analytics view used for analysis and has configurations like spam, bot, and internal IP filters. 

Reporting view filters known bot traffic

Google provides a default bot traffic filter to protect your data. Check the ‘Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders’ box in the View Settings for your reporting view. 

exclude bots filter
Reporting view filters internal IP addresses

Internal traffic can skew your data if you behave differently than external traffic on site. Here’s Google’s guide to excluding internal traffic

Reporting view has custom spam filters

Custom spam filters protect your data from ghost, referral, and language spam that’s not blocked by Google’s default spam filter. This Guide to Removing All Analytics Spam from Analytics Edge is one of them most conclusive we’ve found. 

Google Analytics Account Setup: Medium Priority

Google Search Console is linked to GA

Search Console reports on organic search keywords and shows you how your site is performing in Google Search. Here’s Whole Whale’s guide to configuring and using Google Search Console.  

Google Ads is linked to GA

Linking Google Ads to GA lets you analyze user behavior on your site after an ad click or impression. Google Ads linking can be found in the Admin section of your account. 

Annotations used for all major fluctuations

Annotations explain changes in traffic. Use them to remind yourself and others of site updates. 

Goals configured

Goals tells Google which actions on your site are most important. Goals are so essential, we created a guide to GA goals for nonprofits.

Page speed is within targeted range

Slow page speed can negatively effect user experience. Google PageSpeed Insights helps you diagnose problem pages and get recommendations for improving site speed.

In-site search is configured (if applicable)

In-site search tells you what people are looking for on your site and if they’re having trouble finding it. Configuring in-site search can be tricky, but this guide from Google will help.

Lower Priority Setup Tasks

Dashboards created

With a dashboard, you can add the widgets you want to get an overview of the reports and metrics you care about most. Get our Google Data Studio Dashboard template – for FREE – at Whole Whale University.

Dashboards scheduled for email delivery

Deliver dashboards via email so your team can see analytics data without having to actually log in to Google Analytics. Our guide to Google Analytics Dashboards has more info about configuring and delivering dashboards.

Event tracking configured

Events show us important site interactions that GA doesn’t track out of the box. Don’t know which events to track? We created a list of our top 8 events for nonprofits.

Google Tag Manager is installed

GTM simplifies the process of creating and tracking events in GA. Here’s a detailed explanation of what GTM is, why it’s important, and how you can get started.

What’s next?

Now that your Google Analytics account is is configured correctly, you’re ready to analyze your data and find meaningful insights. Use it to ask the question, ‘What do the data say?’ while building a data culture at your organization. Have questions about configuring your GA account? Send us a message or tweet us @WholeWhale.

Want to learn more? Join our Whole Whale University course, Google Analytics for Nonprofits. We’ve compiled years of knowledge and learning in the social impact sector to set you up for Analytics success.