Honestly, Google Analytics is one of the most under-utilize tools in the blogging world. Everyone and their mother has it installed but they really don’t know how to use it. All those stats and numbers and no way to decipher what it all means. So today we’ll be doing Google Analytics Basics – a quick rundown of the main data you should be looking at when checking your Google Analytics.
NOTE: You’ll see me refer to pages a lot on this post. For purposes of analytics, a blog post = a page.
Audience Report – Overview
By default when you first log into Google Analytics, this is the first report you’ll see. It’s the most basics of all of the reports but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t include some important data if you’re trying to grow your blog.
By default Google Analytics shows you the last month of statistics, however you can change the date range. Simply click on the down-arrow by the date and select the date range you’ll like to see.
Sessions tells you many times someone has been on your site. Every time someone lands on your site, that’s counted as a session – whether they viewed one page or multiple pages, this is still counted as one session.
Example: Suzy first found your blog on Pinterest and looked at all your wreath tutorials. She then came back a couple days later to re-read one of your posts because she really liked that Christmas wreath project. Suzy has had two sessions on your site.
This is the actually number of people that read your blog in a period of time (by default the last 30 days – but remember you can change the date range!). Whether they’re new users or repeat users. So even though Suzy has been on your blog twice and accounted for multiple pageviews, she’s just the one user.
The bane of bloggers’ existance. As the name suggest this tells you how many times your site (posts + pages) has been viewed. Not to be confused with how many people have looked at your site – pageviews is literally how many times any of the pages have been viewed.
Example: Suzy finds your post with a Halloween wreath on Pinterest and after she reads that one post, she reads five other craft posts on wreaths (you really like wreaths) and your about page. Suzy just gave you seven page views in one session.
Pages / Session
The average number of pages viewed by users during a session – so, do users read one post and leave or do they click around, and if so how much clicking around do they do?
Avg. Session Duration
The average measure of how long readers stay on your blog – the higher, the better because that means they’re really engaging your content, reading the whole post, etc.
Closely related to Pages / Session, the Bounce Rate tells the percentage of visitors only view one page on your blog.
% of New Sessions
The percentage of people that are visiting your blog for the first time.
As the name suggest this tells how you acquired users – or how users found your site. Did they find you by searching? Maybe social media? Or did another site linked to your site leading them here? Under acquisitions you’ll see different tabs and each tab is stocked full of information (go to Overview or All Traffic) –
Ever wonder which social media brings you the most traffic? Ding, ding, ding! Here’s where you’ll find that answer. For me it’s Pinterest making up a whooping 55.5% of my total traffic last month + 74% of my traffic from social media (which really scared me but that’s a post for another day).
The number of people that landed on your site directly – no searching, no social media, no links found somewhere else. Sort of. I find this to be the most useless of all data because you literally have no way of knowing how exactly people got to your site. It could’ve been that they typed your URL on their browser, they have your site bookmarked, clicked a link on an email or got here via Instagram (which doesn’t register as a social referrer).
The traffic that was referred to you by another site. So, if another blogger did a round-up post of Best Smore’s Recipes and they link to your smore’s recipe, all people that click through to your site, will show up on here. Additionally, traffic from newsletters, Bloglovin and Feedly will show up here.
Search Overview + Organic Search
This tells you how many sessions originated from people searching. Aka, people searched for something or other and your site showed up on their search results and they clicked over your to site. You can find out what pages they visited from searches and what it was that they typed in their searches (that is, what keywords they used) that lead them to your site. For more detailed information on search engine traffic check out the tab “Search Engine Optimization”.
So if we keep up with the example, in her first visit to your blog, Suzy’s session would show as a Pinterest acquisition. However, on her second time on your blog, she pulled your post from her history – that’s a direct referral.
Another good tab to check under Acquisition is “Campaigns” traffic from services like Buffer + CoSchedule, as long as the links contain the corresponding campaign tag, will show up here.
Keeping Track Of Your Analytics
So there you have it friends, the basic Google Analytics data you should be looking at, at least once a month. Why? So you can know if your promotion efforts are working – and if they aren’t so you can re-think those efforts and put time into something that actually works for you and your site.
Photo – Minimography