If you have a blog or a website, one of the most important things you can do is track your visitors. One of the easiest ways to track visitors is with a tool called Google Analytics. The best part about it is Google Analytics is a free tool. You can use it quite passionately in terms of tracking blogs statistics, on checking out which posts get the most viewing, how well social media marketing is working and so much more. For beginners, it’s much more difficult to traverse the program, especially when you have no idea where to start. Learn how with this beginner’s guide to google analytics for bloggers.
Google Analytics, in the beginning, is scary. So many options, so much information – what is a bounce rate?! It’s all a little overwhelming, and if you don’t know where to start, you can either end up with a program installed on your blog that you don’t really know how to use, or really be missing out on some sweet information on your blog. To make things a little bit easier for Google analytic beginners, I’ve put together this super simple beginner guide to google analytics for bloggers.
Beginners Guide To Google Analytics For Bloggers
To start, you’ll need a Google account. If you already have one, you’ll just need to go to analytics.google.com and create a login for this particular tool. Now, you’ll have to set up your website with Google Analytics, which requires a little bit of advanced technical skill, but we’ll do a segment on that, as well, to help you along.
When looking at your homepage in Google Analytics, there are a number of different areas Google Analytics uses. Here’s the rundown and what they mean:
Total number of Sessions within the date range. A session is the period time a user is actively engaged with your website, app, etc. All usage data (Screen Views, Events, Ecommerce, etc.) is associated with a session.
The total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
Users that have had at least one session within the selected date range. Includes both new and returning users.
The percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).
Average Session Duration
The average length of time that a visitor stays on your website.
The average number of pages viewed during a session. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
% New Sessions
An estimate of the percentage of first time visits.
Here, in the audience overview of Google Analytics, we’ll go over some of the common segments in the data reporting that you’ll want to utilize once you’re in there.
New vs Returning
This is a great place to understand how people who have been to your site before behave differently to those who are new to your website. This feature is located under the Behavior tab. You’ll see they have the metrics broken out here in sessions, percentage of new sessions, new users, and then a variety of these other metrics.
Another very important data set is the usage from devices. Typically, you’ll only need to look in the overview here. As we know, a lot of people are using mobile more than desktop and tablet these days because obviously, it’s convenient and we always have our cell phones on us. If you take a look here, this is just going to show you the three primary devices where people are visiting the site from; mobile, desktop, and tablet. Here again, we’ve got sessions, new users, and then a variety of these other metrics.
(Photo below of New vs. Returning Section)
This is going to show you a lot of data in terms of where your visitors came from. The overview in Acquisition is simply that, it’s just a very high level overview. I don’t use or look at this very much. You’ll find more information is going to be in channels. Channels break things out in a very broad level between social, direct, organic search, referrals, and then email.
Social – Obviously, social is going to be social properties, people visiting your website from Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, et cetera. Pretty self-explanatory.
Direct – This number refers to the number of people who simply type your URL into their browser and visit your site directly.
Organic Search – These are searches done in a search engine. Your website can rank for certain keywords or phrases. If a visitor comes to your website from one of these keywords, phrases or photos in a search, that is categorized under Organic Search.
Referrals – Any other website on the internet that links to your website and a visitor was able to find your website through that link.
For example, if I had a link on my website to your blog or your website, and a visitor from mine clicked the link and landed on your website, in your analytics, Google would show a referral from my website in this source.
Under site content, we’re going to want to look primarily at all pages and landing pages. What this is going to tell us mostly is where people are arriving at on our website and which pages are visited the most.
All Pages – Your most popular page views. If a user was to come in on your website or your blog for a post, let’s say about the Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Starting a Blog, and then that user clicked to another post to read about the DIY Nurse’s Survival Kit, that is going to be recorded as a page view because the user has viewed the page in some fashion. Even though they didn’t land on that page, they viewed the page.
Landing Pages – This shows you which pages are greeting your website visitors. These landing pages are oftentimes the first experience a visitor has with your website.
Between the 2 metrics, you can determine a couple things. What pages are most popular on your site (once they are on there) and what pages are most popular when entering from the outside for the first time.
The next thing I want to show you is this section called dashboards. Dashboards are a little bit more advanced, but once you get the hang of using Google Analytics, it’s super convenient to have dashboards set up where you can keep data tables and different charts, and graphs of data that you want to look at on a regular basis. It’ll save it in these dashboards and you can access it any time just to see a quick overview of different metrics.
I’ll show you an example that we have set up here. This dashboard features some generic widgets with a variety of different user metrics. It’ll always keep your metrics in this nice, clean, easy view. You’ll be able to change or modify those whenever you want to.
You can always change your date range for the data set that you want to look at. You’ll be able to go as far back as whenever you initiate your Google Analytics account and started tracking data. We can go all the way back to the beginning of the year here up until yesterday. You’ll see the metrics change and the graphs, and charts change.
When you change the date, that date will continue to follow through any of the data sets that you look at down here again. If we were to go to channel metrics, the date ranges stayed the same, but the metrics and our charts have adjusted.
Track & Analyze Your Blog’s Stats The Smart Way!
- Overall Site Sessions
- Top Referral Sources
- Top Pageviews & Average Time on Page
- Traffic From Social Networks
- Traffic Via Device
Are you already using Google Analytics with your blog? What are some of your favorite features?