Over 29 million websites use Google Analytics to track website performance and measure conversions, according to Marketing Land. The platform is an essential tool for digital marketers and business owners alike and is packed with tools and features to take advantage of in the new year. Here are the top five steps to start preparing for 2021 in Google Analytics. 

Clean Up Your User Access

How often do you check the number of users that have access to your Google Analytics account? You might find old users who you no longer want to grant permissions or need to grant access to new team members. You can add or modify users as long as you have admin access with permissions to manage users at the account, property, or view level. For users you want to upgrade account access, you can adjust permissions to read and analyze (lowest level), collaborate, edit, or manage users (highest level). 

To add new users, log in to Google Analytics, click Admin, navigate to the account, preference, or view, click User Management, select Add Users, enter the user’s email address, click Notify New Users by Email, and choose which permissions you want the user to receive. Within a few minutes, the new user will receive a link to login to the Google Analytics account, property, or view. 

If you’d like to delete a user from your Google Analytics account, head back to Admin settings, click on the account you want to remove the user from, select User Management, use the search box at the top of the page to find the email of the user, click the user name and add/remove permissions, and click Save.

If you need to grant team access to your Google Analytics account, follow this guide to create and edit user groups. 

Double-Check the Global Site Tag

If your Google Analytics data hasn’t been updating or looks a little wonky, you’ll want to double-check the global site tag on your website to ensure it’s set up correctly. Back-end website changes happen from time to time, and it’s not uncommon for this snippet of code to accidentally be removed or changed. Here’s how to check on your Google Analytics global site tag if you’re using Chrome. 

Once you’re on the homepage of your website, right-click the page and click Inspect. On the right-hand side of your browser, a lot of code should populate. Manually search for the gtag.js or analytics.js. Once you find the snippet of code, compare it to the global site tag on your Google Analytics account. If everything looks correct, you’re all set. If the code is different, you’re going to want to adjust the global site tag on your website’s backend. To re-add the global site tag, follow this guide to get your data populating again. 

Set Up the New Google Analytics 4

In case you haven’t heard, Google Analytics recently came out with the newest version of the platform, called Google Analytics 4, in anticipation of our cookieless future. Here’s a brief walkthrough with Krista Seiden, Analytics Consultant:

Don’t worry if you haven’t upgraded your Google Analytics account just yet, but if you have, you can skip this step and work on creating goals for the new year. For those ready to upgrade, this walkthrough will be the easiest way to get your brand-new Google Analytics 4 set up.

Once you’re logged into Google Analytics, click on Admin and select the account you want to upgrade in the Account column. Next, click the Universal Analytics property you want to upgrade and click Upgrade to GA4 (this is the first option you’ll see in the Property column above Property Settings.) You’ll then want to select Get Started under I need to create a new Google Analytics 4 property. Finally, click Create Property, and you’ll be upgraded to the new Google Analytics.

Before you wrap up, make sure you go through the Google Analytics 4 setup assistant, which will help you configure settings and check out new features. To learn more about this process, follow this guide

It’s important to remember that setting up this Google Analytics property will give you new data, so it’s completely normal if everything is reset (everything’s at 0). Don’t worry; you can always check out your pre-existing data in your older Google Analytics properties.

Create & Share Goals with Your Team

Creating Google Analytics goals are a great way to set new milestones for your website, whether it’s reaching a certain number of user conversions or hitting new highs for pages per session. To create a new goal in your Google Analytics account, click Admin, and choose the desired view you want to create the goal in. Once you’re in the View column, click on Goals, click + New Goal, or import a goal from the Gallery. The gallery offers templated goals in revenue, acquisition, inquiry, and engagement, making it really easy for beginner Google Analytics users to create new goals. Now, all there’s left to do is verify the goal, which can be done by clicking Verify This Goal

Once your new goal is set up in your account, it’s time to share it with your team! This is as easy as sharing any other Google Analytics data, which means all the information remains private, and you control what’s shared (you can turn it on and off at any time). For more information on creating and sharing goals, such as setting up smart goals, follow this guide

Connect Google Analytics with Google Ads

Great news; if you’ve been using Google Ads but haven’t had time to analyze the data you’ve been collecting, Google makes it easy to review your consumer trends on a campaign level. You can do this by connecting your Google Analytics account to Google Ads, which I recommend as one of the first steps of launching your first Google Ads campaigns. Here’s how to link the two accounts.

First, sign in to Google Analytics, click on Admin, and choose the property you want to link. Once you’re in the Google Analytics Property, click on Google Ads Linking and select + New link Group. You can then select which Google Ads accounts you want to link, enter a link group title, and turn on the linking data. Finally, click Link Accounts, and your data will be synced in Google Analytics. 

In case you want to unlink your data or unlink the Google Ads account, follow this guide.

2020 has been an intense year, and it’s not too late to start gearing up your digital marketing efforts for 2021. Google Analytics is an excellent platform for sharing powerful analytical insights and reviewing owned and paid media performance. With the help of this guide, you can start getting your marketing team prepared for the year ahead.