Sunday, 27 April 2014

A Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics for Bloggers

There are so many aspects included in being a blogger, learning new skills is just one of them. So many bloggers become html wizards and social media geniuses in a very short amount of time, but you don't have to be a prodigy to get ahead, you just need to know how to use a few tools.

It's great to know your way around Google Analytics if you want to learn more about your audience and fully understand where they're coming from, what they like and who they are. If you're looking to blog professionally, it's vital that you understand your audience. Plus, it's lovely to know who is reading your blog, in what language and where in the World they are! Who knew a girl in Tuvalu is reading your post about your Primark haul? Analytics is the easy way to find out who she is.

I use Google Analytics all the time at work, it's SO interesting and you can find out so much! I'm in no way an expert but you don't need to be to make it worth putting a little time and effort into.

What is Google Analytics?


It's a tool that helps you track everything on your blog, including all the traffic, where people are visiting from, what language they're reading it, where they go next and so much more. It's great for understanding who your reader is as well as knowing your key statistics like traffic, page views etc.

You access it through a normal browser but there is an app available if you prefer.

How do I set up Google Analytics on my blog?


If you haven't already got a gmail account, start by setting one up, it should take about a minute! This guide is for a blogger account, but it's pretty much the same for other blogs.

Sign into your account and head to the Google Analytics site here, once you're there click on 'Sign Up'. This will take you to a page which will ask you what you want to track, select 'Website' and give it a name so you know what it's saved under, this will come in handy if you set more sites up in the future.

Add in your url at the next step as well as the other details requested, then click 'Get Tracking ID'. This will give you a unique number, copy this and sign into your blogger dashboard. Head to the 'Template' tab and click 'Edit'. Make sure you back up by downloading your template before making any changes, it's the sensible thing to do after all!

Scroll down to the end of your template code and paste in your Tracking ID just before the closing </body> tag. Save the template and you should be all done. Just refresh Google Analytics and it should say 'success' at the top of the page. You should start to see tracking results around 24 hours after you have successfully added the tracking.

Save the Date

It's super simple to select the date or dates that you'd like to look at, simply click on the date in the top right hand corner and it will show you the below. Simply highlight the dates you want or they have shortcuts in the 'Date Range' drop down menu including today, yesterday, last week and last month.

You can also compare a date range to a date range in the past to see the changes directly compared to each other, for example you, you can see how your twitter traffic has improved from one week to the next or you can see what has decreased so you know where to improve in the future.


A guide to the Google Analytics Dashboard

This is what the dashboard looks like when you log in, I've set up a new account so no data from my blog is included, a girl needs to have some secrets after all!

I've broken down each section so you should be able to utilise them all from the beginning, remember this is just a basic guide so I haven't gone into anything too fancy but drop me an email or a tweet if there's anything specific you need help on.

To begin, click on the 'Reporting' tab and it will take you to the page above. You can select what date you'd like to take a look at by clicking on the date at the top right, you can also compare a date to a previous date. You can select anything from one day to the entire time that you've had Analytics set up, as long as you have the tracking in place, you have access to everything!

Dashboards

This is where you can set up your own dashboards, they are a place where you can quickly see an overview of all of the information that is most important to you.

Click on '+New Dashboard' to create a new one, I'd recommend beginning with the starter dashboard as this automatically pulls in key information for you, like sessions (traffic), users, bounce rate and more. It's a great tool for seeing an instant overview with all of the key information in one place, perfect for getting a snapshot of a specific day, month or year.

Once you have got your head round the dashboard, and there's something specific you have in mind that you'd like to monitor on a regular basis, set up a 'Blank Canvas' and you can select what information you want to see. You can set up as many as you like!


Shortcuts 

This needs to be set up for it to work for you,  this is probably better for a little further down the line when you have got your head round Analytics. But this section is basically a place for you to create shortcuts to your most used reports, you can store all of your configurations and access them really quickly from the 'Home' tab.

Intelligence Events 

Again, this is probably for more advanced users, it's a place where you can set up and track 'events' for example if your traffic falls below a certain level or when you make a sale through Adwords. There are automatic events set up already but you can create your own easily.

You can set these up to be emailed every time an event takes place or just check in regularly, you can also set these up on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.


Real-time 

This is one of my favourite sections,  it shows you exactly who is on your blog at that moment in time, where they have come from and which keywords they used to find you. Clever hey?

You can break it down too so if you're interested in where your readers are in the world, opt for Loctions. If you want to know where they've come from on the internet, go for Traffic Sources. It's fun to watch!


Audience 

The Audience section is one of the most interesting, it can teach you more about your readers, who they are and what they do. So you can start tailoring content to them which will help you to build your following and traffic by appealing directly to your target audience.

There are plenty of different things you can filter by from what language your readers are viewing your blog in to what device they are using to read it. It's so interesting to see how many people from all over the World view your blog!

I would stick to 'Summary' to start with as this will give you a nice overview. You can also make custom 'segments' if you want to track a particular section, for example people in Germany speaking Chinese. Or something less niche.


Acquisition 

Another interesting section (they're all interesting!) as this shows you exactly where people are coming from and what site has referred them. If you have a sudden spike in traffic, this is the place you need to come to find out where it's from!

You can split down by referral, traffic, keywords, social and more. You can find out how long they were on your site, whether they have visited your site before and traffic, meaning you can tell what the best traffic sources are for you. Twitter might be great for traffic but readers don't stick around whereas readers from Bloglovin stay on your site for longer, it will help you to tailor content and know where to share for the best results.

For beginners, the top four segments will be the only ones you'll need, they cover the basics and key data. But once you're comfortable with those, there's so much more to explore!



Behavior 

As much as it pains me to spell it like that, I'm keeping everything factually correct, sigh.

This section shows you how your readers navigate around your site, for beginners, stick to the 'Site Content' section to start with. This area will show you your most popular pages, what pages your readers first see when they visit your site and where they go to afterwards.

It's great for learning more about the habits of your readers and how you can optimise this, for example, if you find a lot of people are exiting on certain pages, make sure you have 'open in a new tab/window' set up on those links, then they will still have your site open. Simple.


Conversions 

This is a particularly relevant section for bloggers, this is more for online retailers as this is where sales are tracked.

What is Universal Analytics?


If you are already using Google Analytics, it's worth upgrading to Universal Analytics, it's the new version and is pretty much the same but with even more tools, better data and


There is so much more to learn about Google Analytics, but I wanted to keep it for beginner's at this stage, this is more of an introduction to Google Analytics if you've never used it before.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll reply or drop me a tweet or email, I'm always happy to help!

Is there anything else that you'd be interested in seeing a guide post? Just let me know and I'll see what I can do! I've been blogging for so long and work in e-commerce so I should be able to cover quite a wide range of subjects, so just ask if there's anything you'd like to see.
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7 comments

  1. I actually find the dashboard really confusing you know, and word (doh!), so I've never quite got my head around it. Will take some of this on board though.

    Buckets & Spades

    ReplyDelete
  2. Such a interesting post!
    clarabellerose.blogspot.com
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  3. I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Check it out here:

    http://coconutcrush01.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/guess-who-just-got-their-first.html

    ReplyDelete
  4. This was really cool to read - although it may all seem interesting with figures popping out from everywhere, I didn't really understand what they meant! Though, this did make me understand more and I know I'll keep referring back to this article as I will forget! haha! Thank you and I'd love to read more about Google Analytics in future posts!
    xoxo,

    BerryBloomXO.blogspot.co.uk 

    ReplyDelete
  5. I used to love Google Analytics, but I have been having so many problems after the universal analytics were introduced. I can't find the upgrade button even though it keeps saying I should update it's so annoying, so I have now kind of giving up on Google Analytics :(
    Tanja Mortensen

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post!! Google Analytics are pretty helpful but I always find myself really confused and frustrated. :S

    I actually found this really great website that has all fashion blog´s influence rank where we can track our metrics.
    They have graphics with everything from followers per social network to our Top Posts.
    It´s pretty cool!

    I found your profile there =) http://www.leguidenoir.com/clare . I actually love your Top Posts!!!
    Hope you find it usefull!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Such a useful post - just signed up to Google Anlalytics!

    http://laurataylorfashion.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete

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