Oh, WordPress. The most popular website creation & management platform for self-hosted websites around the world. Blogs, forums, fresh news sources and ecommerce stores – all of these are favouring WordPress over every other website setup platform. Today WordPress accounts for more than 30% of all websites.
And since adding an analytics layer to assessing your users’ behaviour is crucial to the success of any business, today we’ll review steps on how to add Google Analytics to WordPress website.
Let’s get started.
Why add Google Analytics to WordPress
Google Analytics is essential for any website, no matter the platform or hosting circumstances. Yet it’s even more important when it comes to WordPress websites, whose analytics function is absent from the default features.
Adding Google Analytics to WordPress will allow you to place all of your data in one place, receive valuable insights on user behaviour, deeply analyze different user segments and – most importantly – adjusting your online business development strategy based on these findings.
Introduction to Google Analytics settings for WordPress
Each website is unique, and so are the settings required for its installation. Depending on your website type, two Google Analytics set up options are possible:
– Set up Google Analytics for a website without Ecommerce, which works for businesses offering certain informational or educational content, news, blogs, etc. For example, for electronic trading companies will get analysis of the funnel for different user segments, while blogs will get deep insights into who their readers are, where they come from, how do they behave on certain web pages etc.
– Setting Google Analytics for a website with Ecommerce, which works for online stores or websites offering online services, and requires using a Woocommerce plugin. In this case, installing Google Analytics provides you with valuable data on your user behaviour, their actions, preferences, purchases and everything that involves them buying your product.
How to set up Google Analytics for WordPress
Since setting up Google Analytics for WordPress is a frequent business, marketers, developers and frequent WordPress users came up with 3 different ways of doing it. In this section, we will review each and every one in particular, and provide you with some benefits and downsides of each method.
Method 1: Setup via Plugin
WordPress is one of the most popular platforms on the market due to its price affordability and ease of use. All you have to do is pick a website theme that speaks to you the most, and once you fill the empty pre-made design slots with content, choose plugins that you’d like to see on your newly-setup website.
For those who’d like a little reminder, plugins, or plug-ins, are software elements, each containing a specific feature or set of features that expand the WordPress default theme functionality. Some of them are free, some are paid, most WordPress plugins contain both – the free, and a more enhanced Premium option.
To install a WordPress plugin, including the one responsible for Google Analytics and WordPress integration, all you have to do is go to WordPress.org > Plugins > type “Google Analytics”.
Or if you’re already logged into your WordPress websites, all you have to do to activate a Google Analytics plugin is to go to Dashboard > Plugins > Add new > type “Google Analytics”.
Now all that is left to do is to choose among the top Google Analytics WordPress plugins, which include:
The most popular plugin for the job with more than 2 million (!) active installs! Created by the founders of OptinMonster, the leading Conversion Optimization Platform on the market, MonsterInsights plugin provides you with all the data you need with the minimum amount of effort involved. The basic plan is free, while the Plus plan is only $99/ a year!
- Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics (formerly GADWP)
This long and complex-named plugin will help you get data on user essions, bounce rates, page views, organic searches, and events like outbound and affiliate links, Downloads, fragment identifiers, and even “custom event categories, actions and labels using annotated HTML elements”. Although you won’t get fast customer support available in other plugins, this plugin by ExactMetrics will provide you with extensive data and is absolutely free.
- GA for Google Analytics
This GA plugin with more than 300,000 active installations is created by one of the WordPress users, named Jeff Starr, and is made completely free for his love of the WordPress community. Also, the only plugin to have all five stars for rating! According to the author himself, GA for Google Analytics is a “lightweight plugin that inserts the required GA tracking code. To view your site statistics, visit your Google Analytics account.” Works for those who don’t require extra-expansive analytics reports and are not willing to invest lots of money in them.
- WooCommerce Google Analytics Integration
Okay, and the last plugin on the list. This one allows for integration with your WordPress website, Google Analytics and a WooCommerce plugin. You can be sure that the data flow is going to be smooth, as this plugin is developed by the WooCommerce itself. You can choose a free plan, or go for a Pro Version with single website analytics costing $79/a year. If you want to have both, WooCommerce and Google Analytics on your WordPress website, there is no better way to go.
Advantages of Plugin Method:
– Ease of implementation – just insert the Google Analytics ID and move on
– No code needed – plugins provide a simplified version of implementing advanced Google Analytics settings, which helps implement settings on the website without using code or any background programming knowledge.
Disadvantages of Plugin Method:
– The analytics data you get from the free plugins is not always advanced.
– Most often than not, quality plugins are paid
– If advanced settings for your WordPress website are required, you’ll have to add and adjust the plugin yourself (or hire a developer).
Using the plugin is convenient. Really. All you have to do is choose the one you like and press Download. But you have to remember that the data you’ll receive will vastly differ from the plugin you have chosen, so make sure you take your time studying which one fits your analytics goals and needs best.
Method 2: Setup via Google Tag Manager
Meet Google Analytics integration method number 2 – using Google Tag Manager. Google Tag Manager can also be added to the website either through two options – a plugin or directly added to the WordPress website code.
To go the easy road of installing Google Analytics in WordPress, all you have to do is go to WordPress.org > Plugins > type “Google Tag Manager”. Now what you see is a number of free plugins that allow you to connect your WordPress data to your Google Analytics dashboard. Choose one, download, and allow the rest of the work to be done for you.
Advantages of GTM Method:
– You do not need access to the website code or to the admin panel
– It does not require programming knowledge if you don’t need any extra settings
Disadvantages of GTM Method:
– It’s not always possible to implement complex settings using GTM (Advanced E-commerce is one of them)
– If there are a lot of tags in GTM, you need to think about Naming Conventions and the necessary documentation for change management in advance.
Choosing to set up your Google Analytics on WordPress using Google Tag Manager is not the easiest of 3, yet not the hardest of all options. Choosing to use GTM is a good idea for implementing simple settings that are not tied to playing around with the backend of the website.
Method 3: Setup via Hardcoding
So now that we reviewed two easier methods of adding Google Analytics to WordPress website, let’s review the hardest one – coding. The hardcoding method means you or the developer you’ll hire will have to add custom codes directly to the website code.
This option is great for businesses that are serious about their analytics, and are not afraid to invest their time, money and effort to make sure they see the most accurate data on their dashboards. Hardcoding will require expenses for the developer’s time and the time of the analytics specialist who will oversee and quality assure the performed implementation.
And although the hardcoding method requires seemingly a little extra hustle, in the end you get the most accurate data and are not dependant on the 3rd party connectors and not binded by any recurring monthly payments.
Advantages of Hardcoding Method:
– Ability to implement any codes, any extra functions or features at any website setting stages
– Highly accurate data
– Full control over the connection implementation
Disadvantages of Hardcoding Method:
– Requires programming knowledge or a programmist
– Tricky in change management, meaning you’ll need to clearly determine required settings and create the necessary documentation up front, so that there is no chaos in the future. For example, when you need to fix something in your analytics in the future.
Overall, the hard coding option is a good fit if you are a company with a love for analytics and an on-site developer. Hardcoding is also a good option for those companies whose settings cannot be configured in other ways.
Now that you closely reviewed all three options, we’ll reveal which WordPress Google Analytics method we recommend – a combined version. A combined version means using both – a plugin and a Google Tag Manager. Plugins are the best when it comes to data connections, as they usually have predefined settings that do not require immersion in the website code.
And additional settings, like clicks on buttons, filling out forms, etc should be done using GTM, because it doesn’t require access to the website or admin panel and therefore speeds up the implementation process.
And if by any chance the first two methods are impossible to execute in your case – go with hardcoding and directly inject Google Analytics into the website code.
But the most important thing to keep in mind is annotations. Document all the actions performed and the way settings are made, because otherwise you will get confused and it’ll take your future specialists a long time to adjust anything, while wasting valuable company time and resources. And if you are ready to delegate this task now – please feel free to contact our agency immediately.