If you're a blogger, you should understand what Google Analytics is, what the terminiology is, and how the data can help improve your blog.
When you hear the words “Google Analytics,” does your heart race and do your palms get sweaty? That happens to many bloggers because they are so overwhelmed with all the numbers they see in there.
Yes, Analytics has way more information than most bloggers need, and yes, it can be confusing. But it doesn't have to be this way! In this article, I'll explain what Google Analytics is and give you some definitions of terms you'll see when you log into your Analytics.
What is Google?
I remember when we first starting using the word “google” to mean “search for” or “look up.” I used to say “I'm going to look up the capital of Idaho on the web,” then it became “I'm going to ‘google' the capital of Idaho.” That was many years ago, and Google has become even more ubiquitous since then.
What is Google Analytics?
The simple answer is that Analytics gives you data about your readers and how they interact with your blog.
Analytics is not just for bloggers–it's for any type of website or app including e-commerce sites. That's why you'll see so much data that most bloggers don't need.
Why Do I Need Google Analytics?
There are other options for getting data about your website, but Google Analytics is the most accepted standard. If you are applying for an influencer campaign, pitching a brand, or applying for an ad network, they'll want to see Analytics data, not data that comes from other sources.
You can use your blog's data to help make decisions about what you can do to improve your blog.
How Do I Put Google Analytics on My Site?
I know, I know. Hearing “add code to your site” probably causes worse heart palpitations than “Google Analytics” does. That's why it's a good thing that you have some options here.
I won't go into detail about these, but I've linked to some other sources that can help you.
1. Install with a plugin – There are several good plugins that will install Analytics on your site.
If you search for “best Google Analytics plugin for WordPress,” you'll find lots of posts with opinions about this. Personally, I like Google Analytics Dashboard for WP by ExactMetrics.
2. Install using your theme – Some themes like Genesis have a specific place for you to install the code.
3. Install directly into your header.php file – Only use this method if you're using a child theme and you're familiar with making code changes.
There are pros and cons to each method, and you'll need to decide which you think is best for you.
One note: If you don't use a plugin and you change your theme, you'll most likely need to reinstall Analytics. Otherwise, you'll see this and think the world came to an end! 🙂
Yes, I changed themes and forgot to install Analytics on the new one, I still had visitors, but Google wasn't tracking them.
After Google Analytics is installed, don't jump in the next day to start analyzing your blog. That's because you'll only have one day's worth of data.
If you're a new blogger, you may have only had 5 or 10 visitors yesterday which really doesn't tell you much. Wait until you have at least a month's worth of information.
That doesn't mean that you can't look at the data–just don't make decisions. In fact, it can be kind of fun to see things like where your visitors live. The first time you see that you had a visitor from another country is pretty cool.
What Kinds of Information Can I Get from Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is all about what is happening on YOUR site. Here are some of the cool things you can find out on Google Analytics. These are the things that I think are important for bloggers, but it's not an exhaustive list.
The audience overview screen is the one that I use to see how much traffic I'm getting. You can see how many
Audience demographics will tell us the ages and gender of your readers. You can find out what other interests your readers have, and you can even find out where they live.
Knowing your audience demographics can help you with your monetization efforts. Sometimes brands will want to work with bloggers who have a specific audience.
For example, they may want to promote a product aimed at young women, so if you can tell them that 45% of your readers are women between the ages of 25 and 34, you're more likely to be considered for the campaign.
Your audience's interests will tell you what other topics they're interested in. Use these to give you ideas for content to write or products you want to create or promote.
Acquisition tells us where our traffic is coming from. At a high level, Google puts our traffic sources into channels. For most bloggers, our traffic will come from one of these channels:
- Organic Search
You can drill down into most of these to find out more details. For example, looking at the Social channel will tell us if our traffic is coming from Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, or other social media platform.
Drilling down into the referral channel will show you who is linking to you. This could be Pinterest, another blogger, or some other site.
Note: Sometimes, you'll get referrals from weird sites such as advertising-seo.com. Don't spend any time on these. These are usually bots that are trying to get you to click over so they can sell you something.
You can also find out exactly which Pinterest pins are sending you traffic by looking at the Pinterest referral channel. One thing to note here is that many people click over to your site from their Pinterest feed, so it will show as a click from Pinterest.com rather than an individual pin.
The behavior section is where we'll look to find out what pages or posts that people are visiting most. You can see the pages that your readers visit first and the last page they visit before they leave your site.
Take a look at those pages that folks visit last. Is there something about that page that makes folks want to leave? Could you add some links to related content that your readers might be interested in?
Review your most popular posts. What about those posts make people visit them? Are there related topics that you could blog about?
While there is lots of other information in Google Analytics, those are the metrics that I think are important for bloggers to review.
What metrics do you look at? Leave a comment and let me know!
P.S. Sign up below to get all the latest Google Analytics information.