Google Analytics (GA) is a free service from Google that allows for everything from a quick overview to an in-depth analysis of your site’s visitor data. Basic BU analytics tracking codes are included on all WordPress-based sites on the subdomains www.bu.edu, bumc.bu.edu, sites.bu.edu, and blogs.bu.edu. You can use GA to gain insight into how visitors are using your website in order to improve the user experience.
For more advanced needs, sites on www.bu.edu, bumc.bu.edu, and sites.bu.edu may need/prefer to use a department-specific tracking code in addition to the BU codes.
There are two ways to use Google Analytics at Boston University.
Depending upon your needs, you may use Basic BU analytics, department-specific analytics, or BOTH methods.
1. Basic BU analytics
- GA data from December 2005 to present. (Some sites from 2005-2009; all WP-based sites from 2009 to present)
- Does not include administrative-level access to the BU GA account, and therefore cannot be used for setting up campaigns nor for using other advanced GA features.
- Read/analyze access is available to bu.edu website admins and approved consultants.
- This tracking code is included on all WP-based sites on bu.edu, even if you are using a department-specific tracking code.
- Pre-defined site-specific views in GA are limited in number by Google and are therefore available only to the main websites for schools and colleges, and a select few other major academic and business units.
- Most BU websites (i.e. those without a pre-defined site-specific view) will need to use Custom Segments (see Custom Segments in the links below) to filter your site's traffic from the overall BU traffic.
2. Department-specific tracking code
- Create your own departmental account in GA, get your own GA tracking code, and add it to your site (see Sending Data to a Separate Analytics Account in the links below).
- IS&T does not manage this account -- you maintain it within your department.
- The main BU tracking code remains, and both the BU account and your department-specific account get the same GA data.
- You have full admin-level access to your own GA account. Use this option if you need campaigns and other advanced GA features.
- You do not get the historical data with your own tracking code -- you start collecting data only at the time you add your own code.
- Using your own code eliminates the need to create Custom Segments to filter your traffic from the overall BU traffic.
Additional Support Topics:
Getting Started with Basic BU analytics
To view BU’s data in Google Analytics, you’ll need to be granted access to the account.
Here are the things you'll need to use this service:
Once access is granted, your view will include data from all of BU’s web properties. This can be an overwhelming set of data.
Here are a few quick steps to get started:
- Create a Custom Segment to filter out your data from the entirety of bu.edu.
- Apply the Custom Segment to your view.
- (Optionally) Remove the "All Sessions" segment
- Explore Custom Reports, if you find yourself regularly looking up the same metrics (e.g. “How many people visited from our newsletter this month?”)
Navigating to the BU Google Analytics account
When you log into Google Analytics with your BU login, you will be directed to the Google Analytics home page. If you have access to multiple BU accounts and/or have access to non-BU accounts in Google Analytics, you may need to navigate to the BU account. Click the arrowhead to the section immediately to the right of the Google Analytics logo. This will open the accounts browser.
Within a Google Analytics account, there are properties. Within properties, there are views. BU website admins need to ensure they are looking at the correct account, the correct property, and the correct view. For Basic BU Analytics, this means the Boston University account, the www.bu.edu property, and the Boston University view.
Main school and college websites plus some major departments have their own dedicated "views" but these are limited in number and not available for all sites. If you do not have a specific view in GA, you need to access the general Boston University view, and then create a custom segment.
Once a segment is created, both standard and custom reports can be run against the data. Multiple segments can be enabled simultaneously, allowing you to easily compare report metrics. For more information, please visit Google’s documentation for Custom Segments.
Let’s run through an example by creating a custom segment for Techweb. We’ll be filtering out traffic that isn’t from the site:
Short on time? Load this Custom Segment (pre-made): http://goo.gl/6spVBB
Caution: Be sure to triple-check Custom Segment criteria for new segments! A criteria set may have unintentional consequences, including leading to a significant amount of data missing from the report.
Let’s walk through the process with our example question, starting with a Standard Report:
Short on time? A starter report is available at http://goo.gl/5i5cEx
|1. Under “Reporting”, expand “Acquisition” > “Keywords”, and click “Organic”.Note: Be sure that “http://www.bu.edu - Boston University” is the profile selected in the top-right corner|
|2. Now, on the “Organic Search Traffic” page, click “Customize”|
|3. On the “Create Custom Report” page, you should start by eliminating any unneeded Metric Groups. “Goal Set 1”, “Goal Set 2”, and “Ecommerce” are likely not applicable, unless you’ve set up specific metrics for those.|
|4. This step is important! Here we’re separating your site’s data from all of the data at BU. Under “Filters”:
|5. In the next dropdown on the line, select “Regex” (instead of “Exact”). In the text field, type: ^/yoursiteReplace ‘yoursite’ with the first part of your site’s address, after ‘www.bu.edu’.Example: For TechWeb (http://www.bu.edu/tech), we’d type ^/tech in the box.|
|6. Click “Save” & you’re done! Your report will be saved permanently under the “Customization” tab.|
Sending Data to a Separate Analytics Account
- First, you’ll need to create a (free) Google Analytics account for the site.
- Once the account has been set up, grab the “Tracking ID” (http://note.io/1prHOgm) and head to WordPress.
- In your admin panel, go to Settings > Google Analytics.
- Click “Add new account…” and enter the Tracking ID from Google Analytics. Click ‘OK’.
- All set! Verify that data is being received in Analytics by following these instructions.
Enable Tracking for Downloads and External Links
You site can let Google Analytics know when visitors download a file or follow external links. With these settings enabled, you can use the existing tools in Google Analytics to track this information.
A user on your site with the Site Admin role can enable these from the WP Dashboard > Settings > Google Analytics.
To track external links, simply turn on the checkbox.
To track file downloads, turn on the checkbox and specify which types of files you need to track. The settings panel has built-in options to select PDFs or MS Office documents. There is also a field to specify additional file types. Follow the on-screen instructions carefully. Only track file types that you need -- every additional file type adds overhead and make may page loads slower.
For More Help with Google Analytics
Google's Analytics Help Center gives a good overview of the product and some step-by-step procedures to setup some basic reporting.
For more in-depth study Google offers Analytics Academy — a lineup of free online courses aimed mainly at teaching how to use the product's reporting features to make decisions about your site.
Google's support for Google Analytics is excellent and extensive. IS&T supports the BU-specific aspects of Google Analytics (embedding tracking codes, account management, access to stats), but IS&T does not offer general training for using Google Analytics.