Google Analytics & Google Search Console
First and foremost, to know how your website is performing you have to gather data about how people are using your site, how they got to your site and what pages are they browsing.
Google Analytics is a free tool from Google that lets you analyze how people are using your website and setting Google Analytics up is pretty straightforward.
To register for Google Analytics go to the Google Marketing Platform and use the “Start for free” button.
You will be asked for some basic information about the website:
- Account Name – you can write your website name here
- Website Name – also type your website name
- Website URL – provide the address of your website, if your address if prefixed with “www.” type that as well, if not just provide the domain name. Be sure to choose the correct protocol from the dropdown. Your website can use http:// or https:// – if you’re not sure which one to choose open your website in the browser and check the address bar what precedes your address.
- note that your website should be working with https – you can read more on that later in the article
- Choose your website Industry Category
- Choose your Time Zone
After filling out the form click “Get Tracking ID” and accept the Google Analytics Terms of Service Agreement.
Now that you registered your account you have to install Google Analytics on your website. There are several ways to install Google Analytics, but since the majority of websites are using WordPress I’m going to show you how to easily connect Google Analytics with WordPress using a very popular plugin.
Login to WordPress and go to “Plugins” and “Add New”, in the search box type MonsterInsights which is the name of the company behind this plugin and install “Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights”.
After activating the plugin you will be prompted with an easy set-up process – you don’t have to buy the PRO license or install any other plugins here. Just follow the 6 step process and Google Analytics will be set up!
Google Search Console
Search Console lets you see your website from Google’s perspective, the search console will show you possible issues with your website like:
- broken links
- broken pages
- styling issues like links that are too small or links that are too close together that could pose a problem on mobile devices
- pages with mobile issues
- old plugins or WordPress versions that could pose a risk
- security breaches
- and plenty others
Other important information that you can see in the Google Console that will really help your analysis is that Google Console lets you see what people are typing in Google to find your website, how often do users click on your link and on what position in the search results your website is usually in for the particular search phrase.
To register go to the Google Search Console website and click “Start now”
After providing your website address you will have to verify your ownership which we will do using the previously installed Google Analytics code. In the Verify ownership window pick Google Analytics as your verification method and click “Verify”.
If everything goes as planned you’ll see a confirmation message
and from now on Google will gather and share data about your website with you.
A good practice is to add your website in every possible variation to GSC, with ‘www’ and without it, and with ‘https’ and without it.
For my example.com website I would add:
Adding a sitemap to Google Search Console
Although Google can and will regularly crawl your website in search for updates and new pages, a good practice is to have compiled a list of all of your pages already prepared.
The most popular way to do this is with a very powerful SEO plugin called Yoast SEO. As previously described, you can install the Yoast SEO tool using the WordPress panel.
And after activation go to the SEO General panel and to the Features tab
Make sure the “XML sitemaps” option is turned on, next click the question mark and the “See the XML sitemap” link, you should see something like what you see below:
Now go to your Google Search Console main account and in the “Sitemaps” panel add your sitemap address, the default is that the address will be “sitemap_index.xml”.
Google will regularly scan this index for information about updates on your website so your updates may be visible in Google search as soon as possible.
Putting it all together
Now that we have Google Analytics and Google Search Console successfully installed we can integrate them together so they will share user data with each other.
In order to tie them together, go back to Google Analytics, go to Settings and in the Property Settings click “Adjust Search Console”.
A window with GSC (Google Search Console) will pop up where you can choose which account to share.
Pick the main address, save the settings and that’s it!
I won’t go into detail about how to use GA or GSC because there is already plenty of material online about using GA and GSC already. The most important thing is that GA and GSC should be installed as soon as possible because they start to gather data from the moment you install them and the data is crucial for your internet marketing.