“When performance is measured, performance improves. When performance is measured and reported back, the rate of improvement accelerates.” Unknown
Smart business owners know their numbers. Thankfully, Google provides you with a way to know your numbers. It’s a powerful tool and every blogger should be using Google Analytics.
In this guide to Google Analytics for beginners, I’m going to show you how to set Google Analytics up, teach you the terms you should be familiar with, and go through all of the reports that you should look at on a regular basis.
Setting Your Account Up
To get a Google Analytics account, you’ll need two things – a Google email address (Gmail) and Monster Insight’s free Google Analytics WordPress plugin. Once you’ve got both of these things and you’re signed into your Google account, go to the Google Analytics homepage here.
Google will then give you an analytics tracking code. Thankfully, Monster’s Insights makes it so you don’t have to mess around with your site’s code. Next, follow this tutorial to get your account all set up.
Terms to become familiar with
Now that your account is all set up, it’s time to make sense of everything in front of you. There are a few terms that you’ll want to become familiar with.
A session, as defined by Google, is “a group of user interactions with your website that take place within a given time frame.”
A user is an individual that visits your website. There are also New Users and Returning Users. Users is also referred to as visitors.
When a user visits one page on your site and then leaves without visiting another page, Google considers this a bounce. Your site’s bounce rate is expressed as a percentage.
If a report you’re looking at says that you had 1,000 sessions and your bounce rate is 89%, then you know that 89% of those sessions resulted in a visitor not visiting another page after viewing the one that they landed on.
Click Through Rate (CTR)
This is a percentage that’s calculated by taking your Clicks divided by Impressions and then times 100. Your goal should be to get your CTR as high as possible. A low CTR is a sign that you’ve got work to do.
While this isn’t a term, it is something to pay attention to. In the upper right hand corner, you’ll see some dates. You can use this to see data in whatever report you’re using for the time frame of your choice.
I use this a lot to see how I’m doing in a particular month, how I did last month, how I’m doing this year, and etc. You can even compare months, days, weeks, and years as well.
This is my favorite Google Analytics report. It allows you to see which pages people are currently on, the location of your visitors, the traffic source that brought them to your site, and what keywords they used to find your site in the search results.
This report will sometimes not show you a visitor’s location and the keywords they used. When Google doesn’t tell you what keyword they used to find your site, it will be listed as (not provided).
This simply means that your visitor is signed into Gmail. Google Analytics will still record that this visitor came to your site from Google search and will list it as Google / Organic in another report that I’ll talk more about below. Google does this to protect the privacy of its users.
You can learn a lot about your audience from this tab. Here are some of the things you can learn:
- Demographics – How old age are your visitors? What gender are they?
- Geo – Where are your visitors located? What language do they speak?
- Behavior – What percentage of your traffic is new visitors vs returning visitors?
- Technology – What browser and operating system are they using?
- Mobile – See what percentage of people are using mobile, desktop, or tablet.
- Users flow – See what pages people go after they visit a page. Spend some time looking through these reports and see if any of the data can help you blog a little bit better.
This is the section that I spend the most time in. In this section you’ll learn about where your visitors come from and how they found you.
The Source is where your visitor was before they saw your content. A Source example is Google. The Medium is how your visitors found your content. A Medium example is organic. It would be displayed as Google / Organic.
This means that someone was on Google and they were looking through the organic (non-ad) results that Google returned to them. If someone clicked on an organic result, then Google Analytics displays this visitor as Google / Organic.
Google Search Console, formerly known as Google Webmasters Tools, is another excellent and free source of information about your visitors. I highly suggest you getting an account. Once you have one, connect it to Google Analytics using this tutorial. From this report, you can see what pages people are landing on from Google and what keywords they used to find those pages.
If you’re doing social media, you’ll love this report. It will show you which social media sites are sending you visitors and what pages they’re landing on.
There is a wealth of information in the Behavior tab. I believe the three most important reports are site content, site speed, and site search.
Does your site have a search bar? If you’re on WordPress and you have a search bar, I highly recommend that you link the search bar to Google Analytics. It’s super easy to do, just follow this tutorial.
Once that’s done, you’ll be able to start seeing what people search on your site. This really helps you see how people interact with your site and give you future content ideas.
Related Content: How To Come Up With Blog Post Ideas
I use this report a lot to see information about specific posts and how they’re performing over time. I’m looking to see if the amount of unique pageviews are increasing. If they’re not, then it usually tells me to work on improving the page and promote it more on social media.
In case you haven’t noticed, bloggers are obsessed with site speed. It’s always been important, but it became super important once Google announced in July of 2018 that it would be a ranking factor.
This report allows you to see what your average page load time, average redirection time, domain lookup time, server connection time, average page download time, and server response time is.
Take a look at what pages have the highest average page load time and start working to improve those pages for your users.
You can do a lot with Google Analytics. Spend some time familiarizing yourself with all of the information in this post. By mastering these reports, you’ll be well on your way to understanding your visitors and be empowered to serve them in the best way possible.
If you want to learn even more, consider the free course offered at Google Analytics Academy, which you can find here. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions!