Tracking your Site and Tracking your Traffic

There is a difference between how Google sees your site and what happens once viewers reach your site. That is why Google provides you two tools: Google Analytics and Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools.) Generally, I find that people are more familiar with Google Analytics and don’t realize that Google Search Console even exists. Both are helpful tools to know what changes are needed to your website.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a tool that tracks what viewers do on your website. You add a piece of code to each of the pages on your site. Then every time someone goes to a page, the browser sends information to Google. Google’s software takes all that information and gives it back to you in charts and tables that are very helpful for making web development decisions.

The example on the right shows the first set of stats that you see about your site when you go to the Google Analytics Audience Overview. I set the view to show a full month in comparison with last month. Most of the stats are down, as often happens with a site that needs more regular updates.

We can use this set of stats and many others in the system to make strategies to bring more traffic to the site.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a tool that shows you some of the things that Google tracks and knows about your website. It can be quite strange to find out that Google knows things about your website that you don’t.

For example, how many times did your site appear in the search results? What about each individual page? This is very helpful information because it shows you how well your page matches what people are searching and whether Google thinks each page is significant to that topic.

Google Search Console also tells you which of your web pages work well in a mobile device.

This is different from telling you about viewers.

How do I know whether my site has Google Analytics?

For Google Analytics to pick up, each of your webpages must have a piece of code that sends a message to Google Analytics. You get this code from Google, so first you must have a Google account. You can tell whether your site has that code by going to the home page in your browser, right clicking and choosing View Page Source from the Menu. Different browsers may have it listed a little differently. The screenshot here is for Firefox.

That will take you to a page of code. Don’t worry about the code, you are just looking for the word Google. If you do a Find (Ctrl + F in Windows) for the word “Google” you can see whether it’s in the code or not. Because there are several Google services that could be used on your site, we need to make sure you can tell the difference.

Google Fonts: Many sites use Google Fonts. The code might look like this: //fonts.googleapis.com/ This is not Google Analytics.

Google Analytics Code (GTag): this code is somewhere near the top of the page

Google Analytics Code (Tag Manager): or this code may be somewhere near the top of the page.

Old Urchin Google Analytics: If your site is really old, the Google Analytics code may be at the bottom of the code. It would have the word “urchin” in it.

There are several more versions of the Google Analytics code, but you can see that they all have the word Google in them, which helps you find out whether your site has the code or not. You may notice that the first screenshot of code has UA-123967654-1. That is your Google Analytics account number. It’s what sends the information into your account, and not into someone else’s.It is also what allows automated systems, such as WordPress plugins to create the Google Analytics code for you, instead of you having  to go into your Google Analytics account to get it.

WIX: AN EXCEPTION

Wix sites are different from the examples above. Wix sites do not include the full Google Analytics code. When I first found that a Wix site did not have the full Google Analytics code, I thought it was an error. But, then I looked at the code for other Wix sites and found the same pattern.

It took a bit of hunting to find the reason for Wix having a different Google Analytics setup. The closest thing I could find to an answer is this, “We host all of your Wix sites on our servers. The advantages of using Wix as your host includes improvements to your site’s loading time, search engine optimization, using Google Analytics and more.” Wix seems to have found a different method to notify Google Analytics when someone goes to the site.

How do I know whether my site has Google Search Console?

The Google Search Console tool doesn’t need a code for every time a page loads because it’s not taking in new information about each visitor that comes along. Instead it shows in formation about how Google interacts with your website. But Google Search Console does need to know whether your Google account is authorized to receive that information. Your competitors do not have rights to that data.

When you add a “property” into your Google Search Console account (in your Google account), you have to prove that you have access to the internal workings of the site. There are a couple of ways that you can do that. 1) You can add code to the home page, 2) You can add a file into the file structure.

Method 1: Add Verification Code to your Home Page

If your site has code like this, you have Google Search Console. This means that the code in your Google Search Console matches the code on your site, and you have access to the data.

Method 2: Add a File to your Site

If your site files have a file with a name that looks like this, that means that the Google Search Console tool will make the data available on your site. Because of Method 2, you can’t always tell whether you have Google Analytics on your site in the browser.

What’s Next?

What’s next is finding out whether the code you found is tied to an account you have access to! It is very common in my work for me to find out that there is code for both Google Analytics and Google Search Console, but the code comes from the account of a previous developer or employee.

 

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