Google Analytics is the free, easy to use, indispensable tool used by almost all successful online marketers. Unfortunately, when I talk to lawyers about their website’s data, many of them are unsure if they even have Google Analytics installed, let alone how to access or interpret the information. Usually the answer is “I think we do . . . Mary must have set it up a while ago.” In many cases, “Mary” is an old vendor, front desk person or the college daughter of a former paralegal – and exceptionally hard to track down.
Let’s solve the first problem – determining if you have Google Analytics installed. Google Analytics works by adding a simple piece of code to every page on your website. Each Google Analytics account has a unique identifier in the following format: UA-######-#, which is contained in that code. (Sidenote: “UA-“ comes from Urchin Analytics – a paid for analytics tool that Google purchased back in 2005 and transformed into a free product.) Looking through your code and searching for the phrase “UA-“ will tell you if you have Google Analytics installed and is a fairly simple process.
“UA-” Lookup Example
There are different ways to easily access the code depending on which browser you use. In Google Chrome and Firefox – simply right click on the page and “view source”.
Safari is a little trickier – you need to go to Preferences > Advanced and check the box for “Show Develop menu in menu bar” is clicked – you can then access the source code through that menu in the browser.
To quickly wade through the resulting unintelligible HTML source code, simply do a search on the page (command-F on Macs and control-F on PCs) and look for “ua-“.
Your browser will then show you the UA number sequence that is unique to your website. Note in the case of this site – “ua-“ shows up 3 times on the same page. In this incidence the proceeding numbers are all the same – indicating nothing more than sloppy coding on the site. If you find your pages have multiple ua- numbers, this means multiple accounts have access to your site’s performance data – I’d strongly recommend ensuring you (and you alone) control all of those log-ins. If you don’t, have the erroneous UA- code removed from the code entirely. (Keep your data secure – we have seen incidences of prior SEO agencies keeping tabs on their former clients through multiple Google Analytics accounts.) Note that if your search for a “ua-“ comes up empty, this means you do NOT have Google Analytics installed.
Avoid the lazy man’s solution to simply create a new Google Analytics account and add it to your site. By doing so you will not have access to all of the historical data from the existing account. This historical data is the key information needed to assess the effectiveness of your past marketing campaigns and prioritize the implementation of new tactics.