You just added the Google Analytics tracking code to your website. It appears to be collecting data… or so you think. Now what?

Before diving into all this beautiful data you are collecting, there are some useful settings you need to configure and features you should be aware of. But first, let’s make sure the tracking code you installed is even working in the first place.

How to check if Google Analytics is working

If it has been a few days since you installed it, you can just check to see if any data shows in the default report (Audience – Overview).

Google Analytics working

Check if Google Analytics is working

If you just installed the code, you’ll have to do something else since it takes at least 24 hours to show in your reports. The easy way is to go to your website in another tab or browser and check the real time stats in Google Analytics. First go to the Reporting tab on the left side panel, you should see a section called Real Time with a clock icon. Click on it and go to Overview.

Check Real Time

How to check real time stats

For a more technical way to verify the tracking code, try Google Tag Assistant.

If for some reason it is not working, double check to see if the tracking code is placed right before the closing </head> tag. Also, make sure the tracking code is on all of your web pages and not just on the home page. If you’re using a content management system (CMS) like WordPress, you can easily install it with a plugin. Don’t forget to add the code to all of your web pages!

Once it is confirmed that the code is in fact working properly, here’s the list of things you should do to get the most out of Google Analytics for your small business. I included screenshots to help guide you each item.

1) Enable Demographics and Interests Reports

By default, this feature is not turned on so you will need to do it manually. Don’t worry, it’s really simple.

How to enable demo interests reports

How to turn on demographics report

  1. Click on Reporting tab on the top
  2. Click on Audience tab on the left column.
  3. Click on Demographics sub item – Overview
  4. Click Enable button

By turning this feature on, you’ll be able to collect data like age groups, gender and interests of the people visiting your website. This information can useful for understanding your target market or which type of person is more likely to take the actions you want on your website.

2) Creating Views

Google offers a variety of ways for you to organize and display your web traffic data. One of them is through views. Think of a view as a way of filtering your data based on certain criteria that you choose.

Let’s say you have a business with two physical locations, one in California and one in Nevada, but your single website serves both places. You can create a view that filters data so that it only shows data from visitors in California only and another view for only visitors in Nevada. You can do the exact same thing another way, called segmenting, but I wanted to use this example to explain a view.

When you first log into Google Analytics, you have to select a view before you can look into your data and reports. The default view is called “All Web Site Data.” As a small business, you’ll generally want to have at least 2 different views. You should have one view that is completely untouched by any settings or filters as a back up. The reason why is because any data that is filtered in a view will no longer be accessed. Going back to the previous example, if you filter data to collect web traffic from California users only, you will not see web traffic from Nevada users in that view. As a best practice, you want to keep one back up view like “All Web Site Data” and create new separate views to filter to your needs.

To create a new view, click on the Admin tab on the top. From here, click on the view drop down menu.

Create New View

How to create a new view

On the next screen, just leave it on “Website” and input a name for the view. For my main view I use for the accounts I manage, I just label them “main” or “master.”

3) Check Bot Filtering

This is a quick one. In order to have the most accurate data to analyze, it’s best to filter out data that come from bots and spiders that visit your web site. Bots and spiders are just automated software applications that can visit your site to perform a specific action. An example of a bot could one that tests to see how fast your website loads.

Bot Filtering in Google Analytics

How to check bot filtering

4) Apply Filters

Going along with the same idea in the previous point, you want to take the necessary steps to make sure the data you collect is the most accurate and relevant to your business. To do this, you can apply filters to include or exclude certain data based on rules you set. Essential what helps to differentiate your views are the use of filters.

Google Analytics Filters

How to access filters

Be careful about filtering data this way as you will not be able to access it once you filter it out of your view. This is why it is important to have one untouched view as a backup. Here are two filters you will most likely use for your account:

How to filter out your IP address

The first filter you want to apply will ignore your visits to your website that come from your home internet network. Obviously, you don’t want your visits to be tracked on your own website. What you can do is filter any traffic that comes from your own IP address.

If you don’t know your IP address, just type “what is my ip” in Google Search and it will show you a set of 4 numbers like this “”. Have it ready and follow the steps below:

Filter out your IP address

How to filter your IP address

  1. Click on the Admin tab on the top
  2. Click on Filters in the far right column then + Add Filter button
  3. You should now see a screen similar to the image above. Type a name for the filter.
  4. Filter type is predefined
  5. Select “Exclude
  6. Select “that are equal to
  7. Copy and paste your IP address here
  8. Click the “Save” button

Make sure it is set to exclude and not include or you will only gather data coming from your home for that view. You’ll want to make sure to go through this process for each location you have internet access to on a regular basis, which will most likely be your home network and the one at your business.

How to filter out international traffic

Many small businesses are operate and serve a limited geographical area. This means that any traffic outside the United States, let alone in other states, is irrelevant to the business. If international web traffic serves no purpose for your business, you will want to create a filter that includes traffic only coming from United States. This is also good to help prevent spam web traffic that often comes from overseas from tainting your data.

Filter international traffic

How to filter international traffic

  1. Click on the Admin tab on the top
  2. Click on Filters in the far right column then + Add Filter button
  3. You should now see a screen similar to the image above. Type a name for the filter.
  4. Select Custom
  5. Select Include
  6. In the drop down menu, select Country
  7. In filter pattern, type “United States
  8. Click the “Save” button

I’ve made the mistake of accidentally filtering out all United States traffic before because I forgot to set it to you include, not exclude. Since this is an impactful filter, make sure you are applying this to your master view.

5) Turn On Site Search

If you have a search function on your website, you can have Google Analytics record the different search terms your users are typing. I imagine that most small businesses won’t have a large enough website that need or have a search function. However if you do, this is a great tool that can provide some useful insights for improving your business.

To enable this feature, click on Admin tab on the top. On the far right column, click on “View Settings.” Towards the bottom, you should see a section titled “Site Search Settings.”

Site Search in Google Analytics

How to turn on site search feature

How to Set Up Site Search:

6) Save Shortcuts

Shortcuts allow you to essentially bookmark a specific report so you can easily access it in one convenient area. There’s a tab on the left side labeled shortcuts that will drop down a list of the ones you saved. Not only does it bookmark the report, but shortcuts will also save the segments applied and time periods as well.

List of Google Analytic Shortcuts

Where to find list of shortcuts

To save a shortcut to a report, click on the shortcut button while viewing a report. Not all reports can have a shortcut but it will let you know.

Shortcut button

How to find shortcut button

7) Create Dashboard

A dashboard allows you to organize specific numbers, tables and graphics from Google Analytics all in one convenient page. This is great if you want to create a report with all the important information you care about. It can even be exported as a PDF and automated to send through email every week or month. Each dashboard has a limit of 12 widgets or sections.

You can find the dashboard area in the top left column in the reporting tab. Just click “+ New Dashboard” to start a new one. To add a specific report to your dashboard, there’s a button labeled “Add to Dashboard” towards the top.


How to access dashboards

Here are some free custom dashboards that you can download and use for your business. I set these up for what I use for my clients. In another blog, I will go through what every things means and why it is important for your business.

8) Set Goals

In order to get the most out of your Google Analytics, you must track some sort of goal or conversion on your website. For example, the goal I set up for one of my clients was the number of free estimate forms completed on their website. Another goal I set up for them was how many people called their business directly from a phone number link.

There should always be some kind of action you want your visitors to take on your website that you can track. This is arguably the most important feature you need for you Google Analytics. I put it last just because it can be the more challenging features out of this list to complete. Also, not all sites are going to be on same platform or have the same conversions to track so it’s more difficult to walk you through it without knowing about your website and business.

For my example, I will show you how to set up goal tracking that uses a thank you page. A thank you page is simply the web page that a visitor is redirected to right after an online order has been placed or a web form has been filled out. By implementing goals, you’ll be able to learn things like how many people completed a goal from Yelp versus Facebook.

Set up goals

Where to set up goals

To set up a goal:

  1. Click on Reporting tab on the top
  2. Click on Conversions tab on the left column.
  3. Click on Goals sub item – Overview
  4. Click Set up goals button
  5. On the next screen, click on + New Goal button

You can also access goals by clicking on the Admin tab on the top. You’ll see Goals with a flag on the far right column.

Next, you will be presented with another options of things you can track. To track goals with a thank you page, click on the custom radio button.


Give the goal a name and select “Destination” for Type.

Goal description

Lastly, input your destination which is your thank you page. If your thank you page URL is, you will input “/thank-you/“. If it is, you will put “/thank-you.html“. Leave it on “Equals to” and click Save.

Goal details

You have the option to assign a dollar value to each goal completion or conversion. It is not necessary but it does help in providing more insight on the impact the website has on your business. Just click the tab to turn it on and input a dollar amount.

Remember that anytime someone visits your thank you page, it will trigger in Google Analytics as a goal conversion. Make sure that the only way someone can land on that thank you page is right after competing a conversion like placing an order or filling out a form. Also, make sure your tracking code is on thank you page or the goal tracking will not work.

Bonus: Segmenting

Segmenting is another feature that can be set up. Segmenting allows you to view a subset of your data to help with analyzing and comparing data. Google Analytics has many pre-set segments for you to use and isolate your data for comparison. You also have the option of defining your own segments. Going along with previous example mentioned in views, you can create a segment for California web traffic and one for Nevada web traffic. By doing it this way, you can compare and contrast both states side by side for any of the reports.

If you want to apply, remove, create or edit segments, just click on the “+” in the top area of a report. You can also click on the “^” on the individual segment to make edits as well.

Segments example

How to add, remove and edit segments

Remember when you add filters to a view as described above, you are actually preventing it from saving to your reports. Segmenting can achieve a similar effect by isolating specific data in a non permanent way.