Google analytics can definitely be one of the more mysterious parts of blogging.
How do you install it? How do you make sure it’s working correctly? How do you know what all that stuff means? While it’s daunting and easy to say, “oh, I’ll figure out that whole Google Analytics thing NEXT week,”, the truth is, Google Analytics can be one of the most powerful tools you’ll use for blogging! (So don’t wait!!)
Google analytics can tell you a lot about your audience, how to optimize a ton of things about your site, like your content, traffic driving strategies, and your site functionality in general!
So today, we’re covering the basics of how to get up and running on the platform–let’s dive into Google Analytics 101!
How to install?
There are a couple ways to install google analytics, which you can see here. However, our preferred method is with the Google Analytics plugin.
To do this, you’ll first want to set up your Google Analytics account. (Note: You must have a gmail to do so, so if you haven’t set up a gmail yet, do that first!)
Then, head to analytics.google.com and click “sign up.” Follow the prompts and enter your information including your site name, URL, industry category and time zone. (Make sure your time zone is correct!) then finish by clicking “Get Tracking ID.”
Now, there are a couple ways to install Google Analytics on your site–you can install the Google Analytics plugin OR install a snippet of code into the header of your site. (We prefer the first method, as it’s the most foolproof!) However, make sure not to do both, or your analytics will be WAY off!
We walk through the steps above, as well as both ways to install Google Analytics as one of our video lessons in our new course, Hobby to Hustle! You can click below to watch the full tutorial!
Once you set up Google Analytics, it will take a day or so for your data to begin populating. Note, that Analytics does not display any data prior to installation. (So you won’t see it pull data, say, for last month if you just installed it today, for example.)
Whenever you log into GA, you’ll see the above dashboard.
Let’s touch on the most important elements you’ll want to note here, as these are important to track growth, and also good numbers to include in your media kit:
- Monthly Graph: The line graph you see at the top automatically shows your daily “sessions” data for the past month. If you’d like to switch the dates displayed, simply click the date range in the top right-hand corner. This is helpful, for example, if a brand is asking you for analytics during a certain time period. (Maybe how many total hits a certain sponsored blog post received to date, for example.)
- Sessions, users, and pageviews: Speaking of “sessions,” GA uses some different lingo than you’re probably used to. “Sessions” in this instance is simply another name for “visits.” This refers to the number of times someone made a visit to your site in the given timeframe.You’ll also see “users” which sounds similar, but refers to the number of individuals (aka unique visitors) who visited your site in the timeframe. Lastly, “pageviews” which is the total amount of hits or views your site got in the same timeframe.For example, if I visit your website 3 times and read 3 blog posts each time, I would be 1 unique visitor (or “user”) who will have made 3 visits (aka sessions) and 9 pageviews total (3 visits x 3 pages each visit =9)
- Pages/Session: This number simply means on average, how many pages a reader goes through during each visit they make to your site. A “good” number here will definitely vary by industry, but a good number to aim for here is more than 1, which means that your readers are engaged! A low number here could be due to the fact that you have a lot of ads or affiliate links that your readers are clicking on (which is probably a good thing too, since that means you’re making $$!) There are a lot of ways to optimize this number, such as installing different widgets, including a “read more” button for posts on your homepage, and linking to other similar posts in each of your blog posts. (We go over a number of these as part of our “Double Your Blog Traffic” email challenge, which you can join here!)
- Average session duration: This refers to how long the average reader spends on your site. If your site is more tutorial-based and has a lot of written information to digest, this number will likely be higher, vs if your blog is more image-based, or sends people away from your site to purchase, etc.
- Bounce rate: This number refers to the percentage of people that land on one page of your site and then leave without clicking around to any other page. In our instance, we have a bounce rate of 63%, because our posts are heavily tutorial-based and take more time to read than the average post. This means that 63% of people who land on our site leave without clicking to any other page.Bounce rate always comes as a shock to people, because it always seems very high! However, keep in mind that many people find your site through Pinterest, search engines, etc, and once they’ve found what they’re looking for, they’ll leave (if you don’t entice them with something else!)What’s a good bounce rate? According to industry expert, ChloeDigital, for lifestyle blogs, it’s typically anywhere between 70%-90%. If you have a high bounce rate, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong. It can be that a lot of your readers visit often, so they only read your new post and then bounce off, or that you’re doing a great job monetizing your site, and your readers are clicking onto a sponsor or affiliate’s site to buy a product.
- % New Sessions: This is the ratio that measures new visitors to returning visitors. Ideally, you’ll want a mix of both.Something to keep in mind: if you find your site is growing very quickly, you’ll likely have a much higher amount of new visitors vs. returning. On the flip side, if you have a very high number of new visitors vs returning visitors and your site growth is stagnant, this could be a sign that you’re attracting the wrong people to your site, or that you need to focus on bettering your content–as too many people are leaving and never coming back!
Is your brain spinning yet? If it is, that’s okay–take a break! But if you want to dive deeper, we’d recommend starting with the following:
If you click the “Acquisition” tab on your toolbar on the left-hand side, you’ll see it expand. Click “Referrals.” You will then be able to see your top referring sites–this is especially helpful to see what external sources are sending the most traffic your way! Both social referring sites as well as other websites will be featured here as well.
Navigate to the “behavior” tab and expand “site content” and then click “all pages.” This will generate a report that pulls up your highest performing pages according to the date range you’ve selected at the top.
If you’ve joined our “Double Your Traffic” email challenge, you’ll also know there are some really cool shortcuts you can use to generate analysis reports (this is one of our favorites!)
Okay, now your brain is DEFINITELY spinning, but that wasn’t as confusing as you thought–right?
Pour yourself a glass of vino, girl. You just learned a LOT about your readers in a very short amount of time!