Google Analytics Basic Setup

Google Analytics, or any web analytics tool, is an essential part of your SEO toolkit. You can measure the cause and effect of your SEO efforts, see your organic traffic increase over time, and identify issues. Right out of the box, Google Analytics will track visitors to your website, but it comes with the ability to fine tune the information for even more data goodness using filters.

Backup View

GA comes with a default View and tools for further data configuration. But the first thing you should do is copy the default View as a backup. There are no Undo or Restore capabilities in Google Analytics, so this backup can be a lifesaver if, for example, a filter that you apply doesn’t work as planned. Fortunately, making a backup is easily done.

It’s a best practice to create a backup View right away. Each View tracks data only from the moment of creation no matter how long you’ve had your Google Analytics account. The sooner you create a backup View, the more complete it will be.

To create a backup View:

  1. In your Google Analytics account, go into Admin mode by clicking the gear on the bottom left-hand side of the screen. You will see your Account, Property, and, finally, your View.
  1. Under View, click the drop-down arrow and click Create New View. Each property is limited to 25 views, so you can go wild.
  2. The New Reporting View dialog opens to guide you through the setup.
    1. Select Website or Mobile app, depending on what you are tracking.
    2. Give your backup copy a descriptive name such as “Backup – No Filters” so that the purpose is clear to all your Google Analytics account users. I’ve also seen names like “RAW Data” or “Unfiltered View – Do Not Delete.”
    3. Set your Time Zone.
    4. Click Create View.

While you are in the mood, go through the same steps to create a Test View. Use this view to test out new filters before adding them to your default view.

Basic Filters

These are tried and true filters that you can apply directly to your default View without testing. Bear in mind that you need to have Edit permission level access to add filters. If you don’t, ask the account owner to create these filters.

Convert URLs to All Lower Case

If a user visits your site by typing your domain or page using internal capitalization or some sort of mix of capital and lower case letters, Google will count that as a different URL than if the same name were in all lower case. So, it’s a good idea to just convert them all to lower case from the start so they are all consolidated. This filter will do just that.

  1. In the drop-down menu, select your default View. Then select Filters. Click Add Filter.
  2. In the Add Filter to View menu, click Create New Filter.
  3. Give the filter a name like “Lowercase Request URI.”
  4. Under Filter Type, select Custom.
  5. Click Lowercase, and below it under Filter Field, select Request URI.
  6. Click Save.
  7. In Assign Filter Order, move this filter toward the top so it is one of your first filters.

Exclude Internal Traffic

This is more important for small or medium websites than for enterprise websites since internal traffic might be the bulk of your visitors. You can do that by excluding them by IP address. This is a little tricky because you not only need to exclude company employees at work, but to be thorough, also at home and at their favorite coffee shop. You also should exclude vendors such as SEOs, advertising agencies, your developers, and anyone else who might be supporting the success of your website. Ask each person that you want to exclude to send you their IP addresses. To easily identify an IP address, search Google for “my IP address” and Google will display it for easy copying.

  1. In the drop-down menu, select your default View. Then select Filters. Click Add Filter.
  2. In the Add Filter to View menu, click Create New Filter.
  3. Give the filter a name like “Exclude SEO.”
  4. Under Filter Type, select Predefined.
  5. For Select Filter Type, select Exclude.
  6. For Select Source or Destination, select Traffic from the IP Addresses.
  7. For Select Expression, select that are equal to.
  8. In the IP address box, enter the single IP address you want to exclude.
  9. Click Save.
  10. Repeat the process for each person you want to exclude.

For more Filters to apply, see Google Analytics Help. Need a hand? Contact Search Engine Catalyst for help.