Where to Put Google Analytics Tracking Code

Table of contents for where to put Google Analytics tracking code

  1. Google Analytics tracking code importance
  2. Where to put Google Analytics tracking code
  3. Why Google Analytics tracking code is placement important
  4. FAQ

In this article I am going to talk about where to put Google Analytics tracking code. We will also see why the code’s placement is important for more accurate tracking.

Google Analytics tracking code importance

Have you ever wondered whether a specific metric or dimension in Google Analytics reporting is incorrect? For example, the bounce rate falling to 10%. Note that having such a reduced bounce rate indicates that the Google Analytics code is not working correctly.

Another example could be missing page views or incorrect pageviews in a funnel. This may also happen if the tracking code is not placed properly on the website. 

If there are any issues with the Google Analytics tracking code, like code placement or modification to default code, you will see some of the red flags in metrics and dimensions being reported. 

I have listed down a few of the common mistakes that may lead to Google Analytics not working and you can find them here: Google Analytics not working? Here are 21 ways to fix it

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Where to put Google Analytics tracking code

As per Google Analytics’ instructions, your tracking code should always be placed just after the opening of the  <head> tag of the website.

Tracking code placement

The code placement will differ from website to website. This is because the method of data collections in Google Analytics depends upon the website type. 

Here are a few examples below.

Static website

If you have a static website which does not generate the HTML using a programming language, you need to put the analytics tracking code before the closing of </head> tag.

Tracking code placement static website

Dynamic website 

Dynamic websites can generate HTML using a programming language or interface like Python or PHP. Dynamic websites rely on both client-side and server-side scripting languages such as JavaScript, PHP, or ASP.  

If you have a dynamic website then paste your analytics tracking code into its own include file. Now link the the include file in such a way that the tracking code appears before the closing of </head> tag. 

Tracking code placement dynamic website 1

PHP website

If you are using a PHP website, then you may not have an option to add the Google Analytics tracking code directly to the website. It is best recommended to use a single include line using a PHP implementation method instead of inserting the complete script.  

The process involve following steps: 

  1. Create a PHP file
  2. Upload the PHP file to your server
  3. Add the PHP tag in template pages

Follow the below steps to learn more about where to put Google Analytics tracking code on a PHP website:

Step-1: Navigate to your Google Analytics account and click on ‘Admin’.

Admin 1

Step-2: Click on ‘Tracking Info’ and then on ‘Tracking code’.

tracking info

Step-3: Now copy the ‘Global Site Tag’ script, then open Notepad on your PC and paste the code in the text file.

creating php file

Step-4: Now save the file with the name ‘analyticstracking.php’.

Note: Make sure to save the file with the .php extension.

creating php file 1

Step-5: Now log in to your server and upload the ‘analyticstracking.php’ file into the root directory of your site.

upload

Step-6: For each template page, immediately after the opening <body> tag, add the following code:

<?php include_once(“analyticstracking.php”) ?>

After the placing the code, it will look like below:

php code

And that’s it, you’re done. You have successfully added Google Analytics tracking code with correct placement on the website.

If you are using Google Tag Manager for your analytics implementation, then you can find the detailed instruction here: How to Install Google Tag Manager on your website.

Why Google Analytics tracking code placement is important

The placement of code is very important to track all the user hits and send them to Google Analytics. 

Here i have listed down a few things which happen if the code placement is not done according to the instructions provided by Google Analytics:

Incorrect tracking

The wrong placement of Google Analytics tracking code may lead to incorrect tracking of users and page views. 

Standard Google Analytics code should always be placed in the <head> tag of the page. Let’s suppose you placed your analytics code at the bottom of the page, this may lead to incorrect or half tracking. 

If users land on the page and, before loading the Google Analytics script, the user clicks on any of the links he will be redirected to the new page. Since your analytics script was placed at the bottom it did not load and did not send a page view for the landing page.

Wrong data

If we are talking about wrong data, this is because, even if you have the right Google Analytics code, its placement is not correct. You could have missed conversion or transactions because the code did not fire while the transaction was happening on the website. 

Imagine a scenario where your CRM data has reported 100+ transactions but your Google Analytics report says you just have 50 transactions. This is only because the Google Analytics tracking code was not placed properly.

Attribution errors

Attribution modelling is the process of understanding and assigning credit to marketing channels that eventually lead to conversions. 

Now let’s take the same example. Suppose you put your Google Analytics tracking code at the bottom of the page, a user lands on your website from the paid campaign and, before the analytics script is fired, he clicks on another link. The user is then redirected to a new page and, after browsing a few pages, performs the transaction. 

Now, if you see the whole journey, the transaction should be credited to the paid channel which brought the user on the website. However, on the landing page, before the analytics script even fired, the user navigated to another page. Hence he will be considered a direct user and the transaction credit will be given to the direct channel.

Frequently asked questions about where to put Google Analytics tracking code

Where do I put the Google Analytics code?

As per Google Analytics’ instructions, your tracking code should always be placed just after the opening of the  <head> tag of the website. The implementation of analytics tracking code also depends on what type of website you have and accordingly the code placement is recommended.

Can I put Google Analytics code in the footer?

No,The placement of code is very important to track all the user hits and send them to Google Analytics. If you add the analytics code to the footer of the website you may face issues like incomplete tracking, incorrect data, attribution errors and many inflated or deflated metrics.

How can I verify my Google Analytics tracking code is working correctly?

An important step in Google Analytics implementation is debugging. To know more about debugging and validating you can visit the Google Analytics Debugger, GTM Debugger Tutorial where I provided a step by step guide for verifying Google Analytics implementation. 

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