Why use Google Analytics?
Imagine this: a potential patient walks in and says a friend referred her to your practice. Do you just hand over some forms to fill out? Of course not. You ask who that friend was, so you can learn the source of this referral.
That’s what Google Analytics does with your website visitors. This free technology makes it easy to track where your website visitors come from, such as a Google search. And that helps you measure the success of your marketing efforts so you can invest your time and marketing budget on what’s working best.
Getting started with Google Analytics
If you’re the do-it-yourself type and have access to the management area of your website: begin with Step 1.
If you have a 3rd party vendor that will set up Google Analytics: Skip to Tips for working with website consultants.
Step 1: Get a Google Account
Go to google.com/accounts and choose “Create an account” at the bottom of the page. Agree to the Terms of Service, click “Next step,” and then continue until you reach the dashboard of your new Google account.
Pro tip: Instead of using your personal Google Account, create a new account for your practice. This account should be one you’re comfortable sharing with others if needed, separate from your own Gmail account and any personal matters.
Step 2: Sign up for Google Analytics
Go to google.com/analytics and click “Sign in.” Choose Google Analytics from the drop down menu and click “Sign up.”
- Under What would you like to track? Choose Website.
- For Account Name and Website Name, enter the name of your business or practice.
- For Website URL, enter your URL (copy and paste to prevent typos).
- For Category, choose Healthcare.
- Choose your time zone.
- Leave all of the boxes checked under Data Sharing Settings.
- Click “Get Tracking ID” and accept the Terms of Service.
Step 3: Install the tracking code or ID
Once you’ve created your account, you’ll be directed to the main Analytics administration dashboard. Your tracking code will appear in the center of the page under “Website Tracking.”
This tracking code must be added to every page of your website. The exact installation steps depend on how you access the administrative functions of your site.
For most websites, you’ll log into the administrative area of your website, and then:
Check the Admin or Analytics section for a place to add a “Google Analytics tracking ID.” If there is, copy and paste your tracking ID into that field.
If there isn’t a “Google Analytics tracking ID” field, you’ll have to add the tracking code snippet manually to each page of your website.
- Start by going into the HTML code for your homepage.
- Press the CTRL and F keys at the same time (or Command and F if you’re using a Mac), and then search for the text: </head>.
- Paste in the full tracking code snippet from Google before that </head> text.
- Then hit save and repeat for the rest of the pages on your site.
Pro tip: Take care to paste only one copy of the tracking code on each page; duplication of this code will result in reporting errors.
Step 4: Test & verify the tracking is working
When installed correctly, you’ll be able to see selected data in your Google Analytics account immediately. Go to the left-side menu and under Reports choose “Real-Time,” and “Content.” If you’re not seeing any active users on the site, open your website in another window and click around until you see the number change in your Analytics report.
Most Google Analytics reports are updated every 24-48 hours. Allow several days after installing Google Analytics code on your site before expecting most reports to feature any data.
Tips for working with web consultants
If you’d rather have your website company set up Google Analytics, keep these 3 things in mind:
- Insist that you are the owner of the primary Google user account attached to your website’s Google Analytics profile. This ensures that you retain ownership of, and access to, your website performance data. Google allows you to share access to the Google Analytics profile with your web consultant without giving them your username and password.
- Once Google Analytics is installed on your site, avoid changing Tracking IDs when you change staff or agencies. This will introduce a discontinuity in your data that will complicate long-range data analysis.
- Ask your web consultant whether advanced Google Analytics configurations, such as goal tracking, event tracking, spam filters, custom error responses, or linking to Google Search Console, will benefit your marketing efforts.