If you’re new to living online (welcome to digital life, y’all), Google Analytics might be a bit overwhelming at first.
I promise it’s actually really easy! Once you get the hang of how to find reports for your blog traffic, and how to interpret what they mean, you’ll be golden.
Google Analytics can tell you a LOT about your blog and the audience reading your blog. It’s a super useful tool! I’m a big data nerd, but only when that data can actually make a difference and accomplish something, and that’s exactly what Google Analytics does.
Today I’m gonna walk you through EVERYTHING you need to know about how to use Google Analytics!
Let’s get started.
Step 1: How to Set Up Google Analytics
OK, this is the first step. If you have already enabled Google Analytics on your blog, skip ahead to Step 2.
Do you have a Google Analytics account yet? If not, all you need is a Google account (so a @gmail.com address). If you don’t already have this, click here to setup one now (it’s free of course!).
If you’re on WordPress, here’s how to set up Google Analytics easily on your blog. I’m sure it’s easy for other platforms too, but WordPress is what I know so I’ve included instructions for that below. Please note these instructions are for self-hosted WordPress blogs (wordpress.org!).
Login to WordPress! Then on the left side navigation, go to Plugins –> Add New.
In the “Search plugins…” box on the top right, type in “google analytics” and hit enter. You’ll see a bunch of results like this:
This is an easy way to install Google Analytics – using a plugin. There is a manual way you can go in and add the code too, but I like using a plugin because most of them also show you your stats right in your WordPress Dashboard (so, visible right when you login). It’s super convenient to have all your “blog stuff” in one place, right?
Anyway, obviously there’s quite a few to pick from. The one I personally use is Google Analytics by MonsterInsights.
Click on Install Now for that plugin (my button says Active because I already have it!). Once it’s done installing, that button will change to “Activate” so make sure to press that too, until it says Active, like my screen above.
You’ll then see a new item on your left side menu called Insights. Hover over it and click Settings.
On the Settings page, you’ll see a blue button: Authenticate With Your Google Account – so press it!
The plugin will guide you through the next few steps to authenticate it with your Google Analytics account. Once that’s done, you’ll see your profile ID number, aka Google Analytics account, in this space.
Next, click on Tracking at the top. There’s a bunch of options you can explore here. If you don’t want to go any further though, you don’t need to. Just doing the steps above installed Google Analytics = yay!
By default, it does not include admins (that’s you) or editors (other people you may have made accounts for on your blog) in your tracking reports. I would suggest leaving this option turned on. You don’t want to artificially inflate your stats with your own visits to your site to test things, see things etc right?
Another item to check out is the File Downloads tab on the left. This will track when people download items from your site. By default, it shows options like .doc, .pdf etc which is most likely the only formats you need. However, if you have any other file types that you offer as downloads on your site, you’ll want to add them here.
Just separate them by commas to add them to the list and hit Save Changes.
To see your analytics right in WordPress, you can click on Insights -> Dashboard.
You’ll some very basic information about how many pageviews you had (visits to your site), and the top pages people visited, and where they came from (traffic sources).
But, we’re gonna dive deeper into Google Analytics below and find out all the cool stuff you can do!
Let’s move on…
Step 2: Google Analytics Report Basics
I’m trying something new here! Instead of writing out all this stuff about Google Analytics, I decided to record this video that covers all the basics you need to know, and what to monitor when analyzing the growth of your blog.
Just a disclaimer… I filmed this video on a whim. A TOTAL whim. I filmed it in like 30 minutes, cut out some (not all) of my “ummms” in iMovie and posted it. Be gentle on my video skillz, yo!
I also noticed afterwards that you can hear my dog chewing a bone and whining in the background. And, at one point, my cat climbed on my lap (not shown). LOL. What I’m trying to say is forgive the production quality and just listen to the info, I promise the info is good! HA.
Here’s the vid!
But then I started putting it together and was like, “Ya know, it would just be way easier to talk about it!”
So here it is. Thank you, Kristen, for pushing me into a new space with video! ???????? Check out Kirsten’s blog for the best recommendations for cruelty-free makeup and beauty products. I love how she compares cruelty-free products like LUSH with your #basic drugstore brands. Spoiler alert, the cruelty-free products always work better anyway, and they don’t harm our planet and the creatures that live on it. #WIN
Step 3: What Does It All Mean?
You may have guessed this already, but the numbers going up is a good thing. Duh. ????
I recommend going into your reports at least monthly to track your progress. Not every stat matters, but here’s what I track each month to judge how my blog is growing.
- Time on Site
- Pages Per Visit
- Bounce Rate
- Top Referrer
- 2nd Referrer
- 3rd Referrer
- Top Page (under Content section)
- 2nd Highest Visited Page
- 3rd Highest Visited Page
If you’re new to Google Analytics, I’d recommend just starting to track those and see how you do! You can always look into more stats when you want to. I keep my stats in a Google Sheet so I can access it anywhere and keep it updated easily.
Got any questions about Google Analytics? Let me know in the comments! ????
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