You just finished your website. You share it on every social media avenue like Facebook and Instagram. You may get some visitors. All seems ok. Success!
But wait… after a few weeks or months you realize you are not getting noticed on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) from Google or Bing. You don’t know where your visitors are coming from, do people click on my instagram stories? Facebook? clicking an Ad? Wait? How many conversions I got this month from that Google Ad I setup last week? The answer to these and many more questions rely on data. Data about traffic to your website. Data that can be obtained for free. Yes. FREE! Well, you do need to setup a few accounts but it is all free and provided by Google. If you want to understand the traffic that goes through your website and be able to make decisions with solid information rather than gut feeling, setup these tools for Free. This guide will explain how to do it.
Here is a list of the services I install on all websites we build. They are categorized by “Using Ads” or “Not using Ads”. The reason is that if you don’t run Ads, you do not need to setup those tools until you run your ads.
Free Google Services for websites
Not using Ads
- Google Analytics
- Google Search Console
- Google Tag Manager
Google Analytics provides traffic information around your website. It provides a full picture of your website’s traffic from Clicks, impressions and Bounce rate to geographic, devices (Desktop, Mobile or tablet) and browser used to visit your website. You can compare data from month to month, get reports, create dashboards, etc. I will not dive into the details on how to use it, you will learn how to install it so you start gathering data today!
How to set up Google Analytics on my website
In summary, you need to create an account, get the “Analytics Tag” code and copy/paste the “Analytics Tag” code into your website <head> element on every page you want to track analytics from. For WordPress it is very straightforward and there are multiple plugins and snippets to achieve this.
- Create a Google Analytics account by going to http://www.google.com/analytics/
- Create an account if this is your first time using Google Analytics. Or, sign in to your account if you already have a Google Analytics account. Note: You can manage multiple google analytics accounts from a single gmail account.
- Set up a Property as “Website”.
- Set up a Reporting View in your property. Call it “All Traffic”
- Add the tracking code to the website. Depending on the platform used to build the website, you must follow specific instructions so I will not dive into details for that. Full Google instructions are here: Set up Google Analytics Tag to your website
- Done. I suggest you test that the code is working by opening Google Analytics on a Browser Tab, go to “Real Time” and then on another tab visit your website and go back to the Google Analytics and you should be able to see traffic on the “Real time” report from your geographic area, which is yourself.
Find detailed instructions at the Google Analytics Get started page
Google Search Console
A free dashboard for webmasters that provides multiple data point and statistics from Google Search with regards to your website. You can learn which keywords were used to find a specific page and how many impression, clicks and average position does the page has on the SERP. Very useful to measure progress on SEO campaigns and improve content based on discovered keywords as well.
How to set up Google Search Console on my website
In summary, you need to sign up for Search Console and verify the ownership of the site which can be done in a variety of ways.
- Sign up for Search Console / https://search.google.com/search-console
- Add and verify your ownership of your site. I highly suggest you do a “Domain property” verification. This will need a DNS record verification so you will need to have access to your hosting DNS and add a TEXT record with the information provided in the Google Search Console wizard you will see when clicking the “Domain property verification” box.
Full instructions can be found on Google Getting Started guide for Search Console
Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager is a tool that helps manage website tags without editing code. A Tag is a piece of data that provides information about actions done on a webpage. For example, someone clicking on a specific button, filling out a form or visiting a specific page. Then that information can be shared with Google Ads to measure conversions for example which is the main use case for this tool.
How to setup Google Tag Manager
The process is very similar to Google Analytics, in fact, if you have Google Analytics you will have to replace the Google Analytics Tag code with this one and then set up Google Tag Manager to pass events to Google Analytics. So let’s start with the set up.
- Create a Google Tag Manager account. Go to https://tagmanager.google.com/
- Create a Container. A container is a place where all your tags will be. You will need one per website.
- Install the container in the website.
Installing the container requires you to do the following:
- In the Tag Manager Dashboard, click “Workspace”
- Near the top of the window, find your container ID. The format is like this: “GTM-XXXXXX”
- Click the ID and a window will pop up that contains the Code Snippet. Copy that to your website <head> tag.
At this point you will replace the code from Analytics Tag with this one if you installed Google Analytics previously. You will still need to setup Google Tag Manager to fire up Google Analytics Events so you keep capturing Google Analytics information. Follow the official google documentation to achieve that.