Analytics Demystified - Part 1: What is Google Analytics?

Tuesday, May 20, 2008 | 10:54 AM


After our recent post covering ways that some of our Grants recipients are using analytics, we'd like to walk through the basics of Google Analytics: how to implement it and how to make the most of it as a non-profit, so that you can take advantage of the program and make sure your campaigns are as effective as possible.

This post is the first in a multi-part series that explains how to install Google Analytics and run meaningful reports as a non-profit. We have also created a Google Analytics Guide specifically for Google Grants recipients which can be downloaded for future reference.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free hosted web-analytics service that enables website owners to better understand and respond to visitor behavior while generating a higher ROI on marketing and advertising initiatives. ROI can measure many things, including donations, volunteer recruitment, newsletter downloads, website traffic, and so on.

It works by using a first-party cookie and a snippet of JavaScript code to collect information about your website traffic and track your advertising campaign data.

Anyone can sign up for a free Google Analytics account by visiting the analytics homepage or Google's Webmaster Central page. As a Google Grant recipient, it's even easier to access via your Google Grants AdWords account, as an "Analytics" tab automatically appears in your AdWords interface to get you started.

How do I install Google Analytics with my Google Grants account?

1. Login to your AdWords account and select the "Analytics" tab. You'll be asked to fill out basic information and agree to the Terms of Service.

2. Insert the Google Analytics tracking-code snippet into your website code -- the most important step. Every Analytics user is given a unique piece of JavaScript to insert in all of their website's pages immediately before the tag. The snippet looks like this:


Your "UA-#######-#" number will be unique to you. It's important to insert the code on all of your site's pages, or Analytics won't work properly.

You don't have to insert it immediately, though; you can continue through the signup process until you get to the administrative page. The administrative page automatically detects whether you've installed the code, and if you haven't yet, it'll let you know by showing you the message below when you visit the Analytics tab in your AdWords account.

You can retrieve your code snippet at any time; we'll explain how next. (Detailed instructions for this step can be found in the Google Grants Analytics Guide on page 14.)

3. The most important part of the administrative page is the "Website Profiles" box.

If you've signed up for the first time, you probably only have one website profile. The components of the profile are the 'Name', which is whatever you named it during sign up, and 'Reports', which you can view by following the 'View Reports' link.

You can also edit your settings and check the status of your tracking code. The 'Check Status' link is where you can get your code snippet again if you haven't finished installing it. Your administrative page will tell you when installation is complete.

It's important to note, however, that it takes anywhere from a few hours to a full day after you install your code for your reports to start showing information.

You'll now start receiving reports in your account with a wealth of valuable information about your website.

If you'd like to have a step-by-step guide on hand for the process, feel free to download a copy of our Google Grants Analytics Guide for reference. You can also skip ahead by visiting the Analytics Help Center for information about the tool and its capabilities.

Next time we'll review setting up goals for your account. Goals are different for non-profits than for traditional businesses, so we'll share some metrics to represent success in this industry and how to set up corresponding goals.