I’m Sarah, digital marketing manager for a travel education company by day, blogger at Back Home Blue by night. Until recently, I worked on the agency side of marketing and through my 3 years in agency life, became a bit of a Google Analytics whiz. I’m even Google Analytics certified! So, when The Blogger Collective asked me to share some of my GA knowledge, I was more than happy to oblige. Read on to learn a few tips and tricks for getting started with Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a (free!) powerful tool for bloggers. It tracks stats, such as:
- How many people are visiting your blog
- How long they stick around
- How they found your blog in the first place
It holds a copious amount of information, but trying to sort it all out+ figure out what those metrics mean– and where to find them– can be overwhelming. If you are new to Google Analytics or need a refresher course in the tool, here are a few tips.
Make sure you install the tracking code properly.
A tracking code is generated when setting up Google Analytics. That code should then be placed immediately before the closing </head> tag on each and every page of your blog to ensure proper tracking. If you use WordPress, there are plugins that make installation super easy. I recommend Google Analytics by Yoast.
Want to check to see if your code is installed correctly? Download the Google Tag Assistant toolbar plugin for Chrome. Once installed, it will tell you if your code is installed correctly. If it’s not, it will tell you how to fix it.
Audience overview is your friend.
Google Analytic’s default page is the audience overview. It’s a quick overall glance at stats like sessions, page views, time spent on site, pages per session, and bounce rate. “Sessions” is Google speak for “visitors.” Traffic is displayed via graph in this view as well. This is a great place if you want a quick peek or simple overview at how your site is performing.
Play with the dates.
In the upper right corner, you can change your date range to anything your heart desires. As long as you have Google Analytics code on your site, you will have data recorded to look back on. You can also compare date ranges. I like to do year-over-year comparisons from time to time, just to see how much my blog really has grown over the year.
Segments can tell you a lot.
Google Analytics makes it super easy to dissect your data. You can play with segments– essentially filters– at the top of any page within the platform. For instance, if you want to see what part of your overall traffic (the “All Sessions” segment) comes from natural search (typing in a word in Google and finding your site in the search results), choose the “organic” segment. This is useful information to let you know the strengths and weaknesses of your blog. If your organic traffic is low, you should probably consider what you’re doing to improve your SEO, for instance.
Find out what posts are most popular.
Ever wonder if that post you did six months ago on your favorite beauty products is still getting attention? There is an easy way to find out. In Google Analytics, click “Behavior” which will expand several more options. From there, choose “Site Content” and “All Pages.” You will then your most viewed posts from the time frame you have set. By default, Google sorts them by page views, but you can click the columns to sort them by other metrics if you so choose.
Keywords are no more– sort of.
We have all seen those fun posts by bloggers that show off what phrases people typed in to find their site. For instance, the phrases “Pure Barre before and after,” “Pure Barre results,” and “Stitch Fix Reviews” were among my Top 10 most popular posts. Google recently took away the ability to view those keywords– they were encrypting most keyword searches anyway (privacy stuff, long story)– and have now removed it from Google Analytics entirely.
However, you CAN still see search queries, if you link your Google Analytics account with Google Webmaster Tools. It’s a fairly straightforward process, if you follow the instructions presented by Google. Google Webmaster Tools is another one of my favorite tools for blogging, but that is a post for another day.
This is barely the tip of the iceberg as to what you can do with Google Analytics, but these few tips are a great place to start! If you have Google Analytics questions, feel free to reach out to me!
Sarah blogs at Back Home Blue and is an ambassador for The Blogger Collective.