I’ve waxed poetic about Google Analytics before, about how to install it and what you should be tracking every month for your blog. But you need to do more than track and observe.
You need to ACT on that info and use it to guide your blogging strategy for the month ahead. 🦄
Aww yiss. Google Analytics isn’t only for tracking how many people come to your site and that’s it. There is a lot of powerful info in there that you can use to grow your blog faster!
In this post, I’m going to break down 7 ways to grow your blog using a plain ol’ free Google Analytics account!
First up, when you log in to Analytics, you see what I like to call your SUBS. It’s actually USBS when read left to right but I think SUBS sounds better. It stands for your Sessions, Users, Bounce Rate and Session Duration.
Those are the 4 key things you should be looking at every time you log in, FO REAL. In a general sense, they tell if you if you’re trending upward or downward. I like to set my view at the previous 30 days to get a good overall picture.
In this screenshot, you can see my traffic went downhill this month, compared to last (by 15.7%). I know that’s because I hardly spent any time writing new posts or promoting existing ones, whoops.
Beyond that, I review the following things at the end of every month as part of my monthly business review (that also includes things like tax payments and profit/loss statements – oh yay).
Reviewing these 7 things influences the actions I’ll take for the upcoming month to grow my blog. Sometimes it might be posting more on social media, or other times it’s about seeing who’s linking to me and striking up a conversation.
Here’s what to look for, boo.
1. User Location
Under the Audience -> Geo -> Location area, you can find out the geographical breakdown of everyone who has visited your site. Again, I like to set this to the past 30 days.
There’s a list underneath of how many people came from which countries. This is helpful to know if you’re targeting certain areas or if you plan on running ads.
If you run a local business, meaning one that you help customers face-to-face in your city, this is really important. I mean, it’s not very helpful if you want to attract people in Vancouver, Canada but 98% of your traffic is coming from Vancouver, Washington, right?
Knowing where your audience lives can influence the keywords you’re using on your site and even your ad strategy.
Even if you’re an online business that can serve anyone anywhere in the world, you still want to know where your top countries are. Maybe you target French-speaking clients. Then, you’d want to make sure French-speaking people are coming to your site (there’s a separate Language tab for this, too).
Running a Google AdWords or Facebook campaign can be a lot more cost-effective when you can target the locations your ideal audience is in. Analytics tells you that with no guesswork involved. Easy, right?
2. Traffic Channels
This one is SO important, yo.
Find it under Acquisition -> All Traffic -> Channels and know this like the back of your hand! At a glance, it tells you how much of your traffic comes from social media, organic search traffic, paid traffic (if you run ads), referrals (i.e. other websites) and direct traffic (i.e. people typing in your URL in their browser, or coming from a bookmark).
Direct traffic is a little vague. It can include traffic coming from emails if they’re untagged and based on certain email providers. Based on my Analytics, I’m pretty sure if you use ConvertKit like I do, then your email traffic is being listed as Direct.
Anyway, this report gives you an easy-to-understand glimpse into where your users are coming from. If you notice one area is lower than average, like social media, it could indicate you need to post more often!
This month, my organic search traffic percentage is down (ironically, since I just launched Blog SEO Bootcamp!). I know it’s because I hardly blogged this month, or updated copy on my site. Eek! I’m back in the saddle for December. 😉
3. Referral Sources
In the same section as Traffic Sources is your Referrals report. This lists out all the other websites where people clicked on a link and came over to yours.
This is really powerful for forging new blogging friendships and expanding your network! The report lists all the social networks people visited from, too, but you can also find other sites linking over to you.
If you see one you don’t know, check them out. Send a message to say thanks for linking over to me and who knows, maybe you can team up to grow each other’s sites with things like a joint webinar, sale or just supporting each other on social.
4. Organic Keywords
Ooh, my fave! Under Acquisition -> Campaigns -> Organic Keywords is a treasure trove of powerful info.
These are real, legit keywords people typed into Google to find you. And then, they clicked on a result and came to your site. Awesome, right?
Getting more organic search traffic should be the goal of every blogger! It’s free, convenient, brings thousands of users directly to your doorstep… uh, HELLO.
And, shameless plug, if you wanna learn how to optimize your blog for SEO and ramp up that organic traffic, check out my new course, Blog SEO Bootcamp. 💁🏼 woot.
But really, looking at what real people are searching and finding you for is worth its weight in gold. Some of the keywords are totally random and not me, like “Michelle Martin calligraphy” above. That must be my artsy twin.
But, ones like “blog business plan” and “blog income report” are totally what I want to be found for! If I didn’t already have posts using those keywords, I’d write down those keywords and plan to write some in the next few months.
Focus on what people are searching for and ye shall be rewarded with organic search traffic. ☀️
5. Top Content
Another way to check what’s popular with your audience is to look at your top content for the month. Head over to Behaviour -> Site Content -> All Pages for a breakdown on your most-visited content, from highest to lowest.
For me, my 10 Things Your Small Business Website Needs post is always a top one! It was one of my first to go relatively viral on Pinterest and it brings in consistent traffic every month, even though it’s over a year old now.
This report gives an indication of what your readers want the most. Do you love writing about email marketing, but no one is reading those posts? Hate to break it to ya, but give it up and go with what people want to see from you. You’ll be a lot more successful.
For your top 5-10 posts each month, go into them and read them over. Scan for typos or awkward phrasing and clean it up. Add in new keywords, links to newer related posts, or even update the information in the post if it’s outdated.
This monthly maintenance can seem time-consuming, but remember, this is your TOP content! This is like the first impression of you on the internet, and what people are reading the most. Take some time to ensure every one of your top posts is optimized for SEO, affiliate income or monetization (if appropriate), links over to some of your newer posts, and is 100% your best work.
These posts are your best shot of going super-viral and bringing in traffic for years to come. Capitalize on that!
6. Conversion Overview
If you haven’t set up conversion goals for Analytics yet, you can skip these last two.
If you have, check out the Conversions -> Goals -> Overview page. It gives you a nice and tidy overview of how each of your goals did over the past month, and the top pages people completed those goals on.
I track a few things, like email signups split up by area of my site, session duration, and the number of pages people look at during a session.
It’s a short and sweet, but a necessary place to check out your progress at a high level each month.
7. Reverse Goal Paths
Again, if you don’t have Goals set up, skip this one. But if you do, check out the Conversions -> Goals -> Reverse Goal Path report.
It shows you the pages people were on BEFORE they completed one of your goals and what they did afterwards. Awesome info to have!
You can identify some patterns like what posts are driving the majority of your conversions, and what people do after: do they just leave, or do they go on to read more content?
This is really powerful if you’re trying to build a sales funnel for a program or product.
I hope you learned something new about Google Analytics today, and how to use it to drive your blog strategy each month!
Got any other questions about Analytics you’re dying to know? Drop them in the comments and I’ll do a post on ’em soon. 🤓
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