When I worked for a big local restaurant a few years ago, we did weekly meetings where we would talk about “the numbers.”
We discussed F&B sales, labor costs, cost of goods, rental fees, employee turnover, and more.
But one number we never dove into was our web traffic. This was entirely due to the ignorance of the executive team, including myself. At the time, I didn’t even know how to monitor web traffic, let alone what to do with the information if I had it. To put it simply, I didn’t know what I didn’t know.
Since then, I’ve learned a lot about online marketing, and I’ve gotten better acquainted with Google Analytics. It’s a valuable tool that’s surprisingly easy to set up. Here’s a quick tutorial, so you can start tracking your restaurant or event venue’s website data.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free tool that provides data about how people interact with your restaurant or event venue website.
It shows you stats like
- How many people come to your website
- How many of those people are new vs. returning visitors
- How they find your website
- What device they’re using to browse your site
- Audience demographics
- And a ton more.
You can also set up and track conversions — how many visitors take specific actions. If you offer online ordering, you can see how many website visitors place an online order. And you can then work on tweaks to improve that number.
Google Analytics offers so much data that it can be overwhelming. So we’re going to just start with the basics — how to set it up, and a few numbers to watch.
How to set up Google Analytics
Once you have your hospitality website set up, you can start with Google Analytics in just a few minutes.
To start, visit the Google Analytics homepage. You’ll either sign in to your Google account, or set up a new account if you don’t have one. Click Sign Up, and fill out the online registration. Accept the Terms and Conditions.
Google will provide a tracking code that you have to add to your website. This is how the program knows which site to track. Your web designer can add the code for you, or you can easily add it yourself.
- In the Home Menu, click Settings.
- Click Advanced.
- Click External API Keys.
- Add the tracking ID to Google Analytics
- Account Number field.
- Click Save.
There are several ways to do this, but the easiest way is to use the free MonsterInsights plugin. Instead of uploading your tracking code, the plugin will integrate directly with your Google Analytics account.
- Log into your WordPress site.
- Go to Plugins and search for MonsterInsights.
- Install and activate it.
- Click Launch the Wizard.
- Select Business Website.
- Click Save and Continue.
- Click Connect MonsterInsights.
- You’ll get a Google login popup, so select/sign in to the Google account associated with the Google Analytics account that you just created.
- Click Allow.
- Select your website and click Complete Connection.
- Stick with the default settings for now. Click Save and Continue.
- You’ll get the option to add some addons or install WPForms. You can either accept or skip this step.
That’s it! By using this plugin, you’ll be able to view your analytics right within your WordPress dashboard, instead of navigating to Google Analytics. So it adds a little more convenience to your system.
If you use a different web builder, simply search for “add Google Analytics tracking code to [website builder]” to find a tutorial.
Exclude your IP address
There’s one more important step. You’ll want to exclude a few people from your analytics. This should include yourself, your web designer, and anyone else on your team who regularly visits your site to make edits.
If you don’t exclude these people, you’ll be counting your own visits in your metrics. And since most independent small businesses aren’t getting millions of monthly visitors, those internal site visits can really skew your data.
To do, you’ll need your IP address. You can find it by searching for “What is my IP address” in Google.
- Log into Google Analytics.
- Select Admin in the left-hand menu.
- Select All Filters.
- Click Add Filter.
- Name the filter (I name mine “My IP + date”)
- Filter type: Predefined.
- Select the following: “Exclude” “Traffic from the IP addresses” “that are equal to”
- Enter your IP address from your Google Search. Click Save.
If you have a dynamic IP address, it will change periodically. Set a reminder to check it once a quarter to keep it updated. To figure out if you have a static vs. dynamic IP address, follow the steps listed here. It will only take a minute.
This is why I name my filter “My IP + [date],” so I can keep track of the last time I checked my dynamic IP address.
Some top metrics to track
After you’ve got your account set up, Google Analytics will start to track website traffic and stats. It will probably take a day or two for the data to appear in your dashboard. And once it does, you can easily get overwhelmed.
So let’s just look at a few metrics to start.
Visitor traffic by location
As an independent brick and mortar business, your focus is probably on the people in your immediate area, and possibly tourists. Does your web traffic match that focus?
To find out:
- Click Audience in the Reports menu on the left.
- Click Geo.
- Click Location.
- Scroll beneath the map and select City.
If you’re not getting enough local website visitors, you’ll need to work on your local SEO.
What search terms (aka keywords) are people typing into Google when they end up on your website?
To find out:
- Click Acquisition in the Reports menu.
- Click Search Console.
- Click Queries.
Your restaurant or venue name will probably be top of the list, but you want more general searches here as well. For example, my client Alamo Springs Café gets good site traffic from the search “best burgers in Fredericksburg tx”.
A visitor to the area may be desperate for a burger. So what are they going to search for? The best burger nearby. I want my client’s website to be high on the list of results for that search.
To see which pages on your website are getting the most visits:
- Click Behavior in the Reports menu
- Click Site Content
- Click All Pages
Your most visited pages will probably be your homepage and menu. But if you have an outlier, like a press page, you can try to increase conversions by adding a button linking to an online ordering page or another money making page.
These are just a few of the metrics you can follow on Google Analytics to help you track your website’s performance. As you get more comfortable with the platform, you can follow more reports.
Limitations of Google Analytics
Google Analytics is great for learning about who is visiting your website, and how they got there. But what it doesn’t tell you is why they got there.
For example, if you got a boost in social traffic, Google Analytics won’t tell you if that traffic was from a particularly delicious-looking Instagram post on your own feed, or an influencer’s post from the same day.
But as part of your overall marketing strategy, it’s a great tool.
Once you know how people are interacting with your website, you’ll be able to gauge how edits, like new photography or updated copy, improve your site statistics.
Plus, it’s just fun to watch those views rack up. 🙂