Google provides a suite of tools for schools and even better, they’re free for non-profit organizations. It’s possible you already use Google Analytics to evaluate your website traffic. Other tools that are commonly used are the Google Custom Search Engine... to power your website’s search function. All of these services are optional, but we definitely recommend you use Analytics to watch your website traffic, and the CSE (custom search engine) to make content easy to find on your website.
To use these services, you must have a Google account. Even if your organization is not on Google Apps, you can still set up these services under an individual Gmail account. Ideally, however, your Google services should all be configured under the same account owned by your organization. This way, if you were to leave your organization, you do not have their analytics and other services configured under your personal account.
If your school or district does not have a google account, you can go to www.google.com/enterprise/apps/education to sign up for a free one.
Right now, if your organization is already using Google Analytics, it’s quite possible it’s set up under another account. This is OK, but again, having all your services configured under a common account is a better idea. Campus Suite simply needs your individual GA Snippet to implement on your website for proper tracking.
To find the tracking ID for your Google Analytics account follow the steps listed below.
- Sign in to your Analytics account.
- Click Admin.
- Select an account from the menu in the Account column.
- Select Property Settings from the menu in the Propertycolumn and verify the following information has been entered;
- Property Name
- Default URL
- Reporting Time Zone - Verify that the time zone that is chosen is the correct one for your school/district.
- Under Property, click Tracking Info and then Tracking Code. Your tracking ID is displayed at the top of the page.
- Copy and paste Tracking Code into a document or email, and send it to your Project Manager. They will ensure it is installed on your website prior to deployment.
- Welcome to Google Analytics for Beginners - an introduction video on Google Analytics
- Google Analytics Academy - a site that houses lessons and additional information that will help you learn about Google Analytics
Custom Search Engine
The Google custom search engine is a very powerful tool that allows you to separate out the pages of your website that are already indexed in Google, and list only your results, within your website when someone searches your site. Google sends out a web bot that spiders your site pages, that is, it crawls every link, finding every page listed publicly on your site. No one has control over when the Google bot comes and crawls your site, but it does quite frequently, and so when you add new pages or content, it eventually ends up indexed in Google, and therefore, also in your website search results.
To create a new search engine, you need to choose what content you want to include in the results and give the search engine a name.
- On the Google Custom Search home page, click New search engine.
- In the Sites to search box, type the sites you want to include. You can include any sites you want, not just sites you own. You can include site URLs or page URLs, and you can also get fancy and use URL patterns.
- Select the Language which will determine the page layout and localization of the CSE, not the contents of the results. Please remember to verify that the language that is chosen is the one read for where you are located.
- Type a name for your search engine. This is for your own use only; users won't be able to see it.
- Click Create.
- Now click on Edit Search Engine followed by Setup. There select the Ads tab to see what you will need to do to eliminate ads from appearing in the search results of your site.
- While editing the search engine click on Look and Feel. Choose Full Width under the Layout tab so that the results of the search will be displayed on the page and not in an overlay.
Additionally, if you would like the thumbnail images that are usually shown next to the search results, to be hidden, click on Thumbnails, which can be found to the right of Layout and switch Thumbnails in search results to OFF.
- Click Save & Get Code.
- Copy the code that appears on the next page, paste it into a document or email and share it with your Project Manager. They will ensure this snippet of code is incorporated into your new website prior to launch.
How long should I wait until I active Google search on our site after it goes live?
We recommend waiting several weeks after your site is launched to make Google Search available to visitors to your site, this is to let Google spider your new site. During this time you should be testing the search results by going to the page titled Search Results in your root directory or by going to your homepage and entering /search-results at the end of the URL. There you can test various search results with terms that you or others know is located on your site, clicking on the results to see if they are valid links or 404 errors, which means that the link is broken. Continue to test until the search results give you what you find is an acceptable amount of or no 404 errors for any results.
In the end, you will find Google does a great job of dropping your old pages that no longer exist, and adding your new pages. Your site search function (and your results in the Google index at large) become more accurate. It's true there are usually some stubborn links to pages that do not drop out. No one knows why, but it happens. When these pages are identified, we first look to the Redirect Manager... we can redirect these pages in most cases. For those absolutely stubborn pages, our support team can help you get set up in Google Webmaster tools to allow you to see your website as the Google bot does. These tools can be used to tell Google to purge those stubborn results... among other functions.
Please keep in mind that Google is always updating and changing their services and how they work. Since they are mostly free, you must use the tools in alignment with their terms and conditions. In regards to the methods we show on how to retrieve your code snippets, Google can change this at any time. In this event, Google provides full documentation on how to set up and retrieve your code snippets for the services you choose to use and the steps are very minimum.
Campus Suite will need the snippets to complete the setup of your selected services on your website. If you have any questions, contact us via the support panel located on the lower right-hand side of your main dashboard.