How to use Google Analytics for beginner bloggers
There’s soooo many things to remember when blogging as a beginner. It can get super confusing, right!? And then on top of that all, you’re expected to know your stats.
There are a few things you can see right there on your dashboard in WordPress, especially if you use Jetpack. But in order to get to the real peanut butter and jam, you’ll have to dive yourself directly into Google Analytics and have a wee russell around in there.
But fear not! It’s not as scary as it sounds to either set up or to use Google Analytics.
In fact, the set up is painless and simple and the intuitive dashboard and features makes finding the stats you need really, really easy.
This post outlines some of the basics of Google Analytics, Google Analytics 101 if you like, and hopefully will help you start tracking some of your most important blog stats.
Knowing your stats is a sure fire way to help you succeed on your blogging journey.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics (GA) is a free tool for websites/blogs that allows you to track and analyse your sites performance with reference to traffic. GA provides crucial data on the users who hit your site, where they are from and what they do while they are there.
It’s a great way to find out how many users you have. What strategies are working for you in terms of building your traffic funnel, and your audience’s behavior while on your site.
You get to see a plethora of invaluable information which can play a massive part in creating a successful blog strategy.
After all, it’s the eyes on our content that matters right! So, it’s super important that you know who these people are and how they stumbled across your content.
Why do I need Google Analytics on my blog?
So, you want to be driving traffic to your blog in order to get plenty of eyes on your content.
But, you want to make sure that traffic is the right traffic for your niche of product. Or you run the risk of driving a whole bunch of traffic for no purpose.
Driving traffic is only part of the equation. Once we get the audience on site we want to make sure they convert in some way. So, we need to make sure we are enticing the absolute perfect client or customer to our website in the first place, so they have a higher chance of converting for us.
Conversion might mean a few different things to different people. For instance, you might have a craft blog and your aim is to swell your crafts… so , while it’s great to have other crafters come to your blog, it’s even better if they are shoppers!
Google Analytics shows you who is visiting, where they came from and what they did on site. It allows you to track all the most important data points on your audience.
How do I set up Google Analytics for my WordPress blog?
- Head on over to https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/ and either Sign in to Analytics or Start for free.
- Set up your blog as a property. Click Admin > Create Property
- Select Web
- Enter the name and URl of the new property
- Select category and time zone
- Click Create
- Set up a Property View
- Head to Admin> Create View
- Select Website or Mobile App
- Enter Name and Reporting Time Zone
- Click Create View
- Add tracking code to your WordPress blog using a plugin like MonsterInsight to get GA up and running on your blog
What can I track on Google analytics?
- Audience – who your readers are and where they come from
- Acquisition – How your readers found your blog or website
- Behaviour – what your readers did once they hit your site
You can track so much goodness here! And garner a whole heap of info on who is visiting your blog.
On your main dashboard on GA head over to the right hand side. If you click Audience you’ll get a dropdown where you’ll be able to click through to many different reports.
You can drill down into any of these tabs.
One of the most useful here is obviously Overview.
Here on the top right you’ll be able to select a date range (and even compare this to a different period).
And, you’ll get an overview of your blog or website including how many users you’ve had in that period, how many sessions, page views and your bounce rate.
Another handy drill down is the New vs Returning tab.
Audience> Behavior> New vs Returning
There you will be able to see how many of your visitors are new users vs how many are returning. This is great info to know for your marketing efforts.
For instance if you click Geo, you can then drill down into location>
Then click into each Country> Region
And then City>
From a marketing point of view this is the tab that I pay most attention to.
Your acquisition tab allows you to see how your audience found you or where they have clicked through from.
Here, again you’ll see an overview tab… and in there you’ll see a channel breakdown.
Channels are just the sources from where your traffic has come.
Types of Acquisition channels:
- Organic search
Your All Traffic tab will be able to show you a more drilled down breakdown of exactly where your traffic has come from by clicking through to the Source/Medium tab
Here you’ll see sources like Instagram, Pinterest and other channels where your traffic has originated from.
Behaviour is where you can find out what your visitors did while on your site. What pages they visited, how much time they spent on each page, your site speed and your blogs bounce rate.
You can see here what pages and posts are your most popular and if you get super clever and confident you can then add a secondary dimension onto any of these queries and get exceptionally detailed data on your traffic.
What blogging goals can I track using Google Analytics?
I tend to focus on a handful of big goals and a few smaller ones that are specific to my niche.
I run a series of spreadsheets month on month that track my business metrics like DA (domain authority), social engagement, subscribers and a few other things… but most importantly traffic!
From a GA point of view I track the following stats month on month (MoM).
10 Stats for bloggers to track in Google Analytics
- New vs returning visitors
- Time on page
- Top 5 countries and regions
- Channels (organic, social, referral, direct)
- Specific source/medium metrics like Pinterest for example
- Top blog posts per month
- Top landing pages (freebies, downloads etc)
- Site speed
MonsterInsights on WordPress.org
Now, if you’ve installed the plugin to connect your blog to Google Analytics… there’s even more good news! You can see your stats right in your wordpress dashboard! What?? Really? YES! … You don’t even neeeeeed to go to the Analytics page… if you really can’t face it!
Go into your Settings on MonsterInsights… Click View Reports … This will bring you to a new dashboard and will give you a simple layout of the top metrics for your site from GA. So easy!
On the Pro plan you can do even more and even connect Google Search Console so you can track your keywords.
Google Analytics Insights
One of THE MOST exciting things about GA is that you needn’t be a super techie rockstar in order to use it!
It’s super intuitive and simple to use and the Insights function is absolute gold and one of Google Analytics most useful features for new bloggers in my opinion.
From your home dashboard if you click top right – Insights, you’ll get a list called Analytics Intelligence… where you’ll find interesting tidbits of info on your blog…
Scroll down and you’ll see Insights on Demand… a whollle heap of queries that are super valuable for any blogger. IKR! have I just BLOWN YOUR MIND???
There’s so many amazing queries here for you to explore… and often they will present this information as graphs or tables as well.
For instance this graph on top device category by user. My users are clearly using mobiles far more than desktops to read my content! handy to know when structuring a post, layout, using white space etc…
If you click Go To Report– it’ll then take you to a full page of detailed data.
Suppppper handy! And oh so easy to use.
The Insights function is by far one of the best features on GA, making it easy for anyone to gain meaningful intell on their blog stats.
So, don’t be scared of Google Analytics! It is so easy to implement and use.
There’s many, many ways you can find great info on your blog in GA, and you certainly do not have to be an expert! GA makes it super easy for you to query so many different metrics that you’ll find useful to grow your blog.