Before you start measuring the success of your website, it’s vital to make sure your Google Analytics account is set up and configured correctly. By taking a few small actions, you will ensure your website data is accurate, and accessible to the right people.

Whether you've just created a new Google Analytics account or you're managing a pre-existing one, our easy-to-follow guide will show you exactly how to get your account into tip-top condition. You should be able to set all of this up within an hour so don't be put off by the number of steps.

1. Set up user permissions

2. Connect Google Analytics and Google Search Console

3. Set up onsite search

4. Use annotations

5. Opt in to benchmarking

6. Turn on your demographic reports

7. Switch on bot filtering on every view

8. Sync your Google Analytics account with your Adwords account

9. Filter out internal traffic from your main view

10. Create three standard views

1. Set up user permissions

Google Analytics enables you to create user accounts with different user permissions. It is important to control user permissions because some staff members will only need to read the data, while others will need to manage what data is collected, alter how it is collected and manage user access.

This also helps to avoid multiple people changing the settings in Google Analytics, which could have detrimental effects on your reporting. It is best only to give full-edit access to users who understand the implications of configuration changes.

To assign permissions

You can assign user permissions at the account, property, and view levels.

  1. Click Admin.
  2. Click User Management in the ACCOUNT, PROPERTY, or VIEW column.

Four permissions are available that you can apply singly or in combination:

  1. Manage Users
    – Can manage account users (add/delete users, assign permissions). Does not include Edit or Collaborate.
  2. Edit 
    – Can perform administrative and report-related functions (e.g., add/edit/delete accounts, properties, views, filters, goals, etc., but not manage users), and see report data. 
    – Edit permission is required at the account level to create filters.
    – Edit permission is required at the view level to apply filters.
    – Includes Collaborate.
  3. Collaborate 
    – Can create personal assets, and share them.
    – Can collaborate on shared assets, for example, edit a dashboard or annotation. Includes Read & Analyze.
  4. Read & Analyze 
    – Can see report and configuration data; can manipulate data within reports (e.g., filter a table, add a secondary dimension, create a segment); can create personal assets, and share them, and see shared assets. 
    – Cannot collaborate on shared assets.

2. Connect Google Analytics and Google Search Console

Google Analytics and Google Search Console might seem like they offer the same information, but there are some key differences between the two products.

Google Analytics is more about who is visiting your site: how many visitors you're getting, how they're getting to your site, how much time they're spending on your site, and where your visitors are coming from. Google Search Console, in contrast, is geared more toward internal information: who is linking to you, if there is malware or other problems on your site, and which keyword queries your site is appearing for in search results.

To get the most out of the information provided by Search Console and Analytics, you can link accounts for each together. Having these two tools linked will integrate the data from both sources to provide you with additional reports that you will only be able to access once they're connected.

Configuring Search Console data in Analytics

In order to use the Search Console reports, you need to enable Search Console data sharing in your property settings. You must have administrator permissions on both the Google Analytics and Search Console accounts that are to be linked.

  1. Sign in to your Analytics account.
  2. Click Admin, and navigate to the property in which you want to enable Search Console data sharing.
  3. In the PROPERTY column, click Property Settings.
  4. Scroll down to Search Console Settings. You should see the URL of your website, which confirms that the website is verified in Search Console and that you have permission to make changes. If you do not see the URL, you need to add your site to Search Console.
  5. Under Search Console, select the reporting view(s) in which you want to see Search Console data.
  6. Click Save.

3. Set up onsite search

Google Analytics and Google Search Console might seem like they offer the same information, but there are some key differences between the two products.

Google Analytics is more about who is visiting your site: how many visitors you're getting, how they're getting to your site, how much time they're spending on your site, and where your visitors are coming from. Google Search Console, in contrast, is geared more toward internal information: who is linking to you, if there is malware or other problems on your site, and which keyword queries your site is appearing for in search results.

To get the most out of the information provided by Search Console and Analytics, you can link accounts for each together. Having these two tools linked will integrate the data from both sources to provide you with additional reports that you will only be able to access once they're connected.

4. Use annotations 

There is a spike in your data, a sharp increase, a drop, flat-line, etc, and you have no idea why. Wouldn’t it be nice to have an clear explanation or clue as to why any of this happened?

Annotations offer a simple way to track notes in the Google Analytics reporting interface by date, so you can mark important events that may have had an impact on your data. It can help you explain reasons for jumps in the data to your entire team (if shared with everyone) that otherwise may be unclear.

Creating Annotations

  1. Go to any report and click the down arrow on the tab at the bottom.
  2. Click “Create New Annotation”.
  3. Enter the date of the event and a small note about what happened.
  4. Choose if you’d like the note to be private or public.

Tips for using annotations:

  • Be explicit.
  • Think about who else might be reading it in future.
  • Make a note of online and offline campaigns/ events.
  • Record any updates or issues that may affect your traffic
  • Record any external events that may affect your traffic.

5. Opt in to benchmarking 

The benchmarking reports allow you to compare your organisation's performance across a number of metrics to that of your peers.

Enable Benchmarking

To see Benchmarking data, you must share your data “anonymously with Google and others”. Once you do this, your data is included in benchmarks. The data you share (including information about the account from which it is shared) is anonymous.

  1. Sign in to your Analytics account.
  2. Click Admin.
  3. Under ACCOUNT, click Account Settings.
  4. Select the Benchmarking checkbox.
  5. Click Save.

6. Turn on your demographic reports

This feature consists of a series of reports where we can see behaviour information relating to visitor age, gender and interests.

Later on, you might want to create segments using this information so you can see how different visitors are engaging with and completing particular actions on the site such as making a donation or buying an event ticket.

Enable Demographics and Interests reports

  1. Sign in to your Analytics account.
  2. Click Admin.
  3. Navigate to the account and property where you want to use Demographic and Interests data.
  4. In the PROPERTY column, click Property Settings.
  5. Under Advertising Features, set Enable Demographics and Interests Reports to ON.
  6. Click Save.

Note: You can also enable the Demographics and Interests reports from the Reporting tab.

7. Switch on bot filtering

By setting a checkbox, Google Analytics will filter out all the traffic from known bots. This ensures that the traffic recorded in Google Analytics refers to actual human visitors.

Switch on Bot Filtering

  1. Go to your Admin settings.
  2. Under the View panel, you’ll find View Settings.
  3. Towards the bottom of the options, just before Site Search Settings, you’ll find a small heading for Bot Filtering with a checkbox that reads: Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders.
  4. Check the box

8. Sync your Google Analytics account with your Adwords account


Linking your Google AdWords account to your Google Analytics account will provide you with a greater range of visitor data, allowing you to analyse the activity on your site once a visitor has landed on your website via an AdWords click.

By linking AdWords to Analytics you will be able to able to see how many people have visited your site from your adverts, which pages they visited, the amount of time they spent on your website, and where they exited your website. This will paint a better picture of how AdWords is working in relation to your website.

Link AdWords and Analytics

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
    Note: You can also open Analytics from within your AdWords account. Click the Tools tab, select Analytics, and then follow the rest of these instructions.
  2. Click Admin and navigate to the property you want to link
  3. In the PROPERTY column, click AdWords Linking.
  4. Click + NEW LINK GROUP
  5. Select the AdWords accounts you want to link, then click Continue.
  6. Turn linking ON for each view in the property in which you want AdWords data.
  7. Optionally, select Enable Google Display Network Impression Reporting to also include that data in each view.
  8. If you've already enabled auto-tagging in your AdWords accounts, or if you want to let the linking process automatically enable auto-tagging in your AdWords accounts, skip to the step 10.
  9. However, if you want to manually tag your AdWords links, click Advanced settings > Leave my auto-tagging settings as they are.
  10. Click Link accounts.

9. Filter out internal traffic from your main view

Depending on the size of your organisation, internal traffic can cause very serious issues in your Google Analytics.

Employees don’t act like typical web users and will alter the metrics that are most reported – such as users, sessions, and page views. It's best to exclude them from your main view so as not to distort your data.

Create an IP address filter

You can find the public IP address you are currently using by searching "what is my ip address" on google.com (opens in new window). You can find out what IP addresses and subnets your company uses by asking your network administrator.

  1. Follow the instructions to create a new filter for your view.
  2. Leave the Filter Type as Predefined.
  3. Click the Select filter type drop-down menu and select Exclude.
  4. Click the Select source or destination drop-down menu and select traffic from the IP addresses.
  5. Click the Select expression drop-down menu and select the appropriate expression.
  6. Enter the IP address or a regular expression.

If you have multiple IP addresses to exclude, you can make more than one filter.

10. Create three standard views

Every property (e.g. website) needs a minimum of three views.

The Main View is where you do almost all of your analysis and reporting. It is the “go-to” view. Best-practice filters are also applied to this view.

Raw Data View has no configuration such as filters and goals. This acts as a back-up. 

The Test View should be the same as the Main View, except this is where you do your testing for changes that you want to implement in the Main View but that would permanently affect the data. Test those changes in the Test View and then when you’re sure you have implemented them correctly, recreate them in the Main View.

Note: views do not contain historical data older than the date on which they are created.

To set up a view:

  1. Sign in to Google Analytics.
  2. Click Admin, and navigate to the account and property to which you want to add the view.
  3. In the VIEW column, click the menu, then click Create new view.
  4. Select either Web Site or App.
  5. Enter a Name.
  6. Use a specific and descriptive name, so you can easily tell what data is in this view when you see the name in a list.
  7. Select the Reporting Time Zone. If your Analytics account is linked to a Google AdWords account, the time zone is automatically set to your AdWords preference, and you won’t see this option.
  8. Click Create View.
  9. After you create a view, you can come back to the Admin page and edit the view settings.