Today’s post is a bare bones Google Analytics tutorial. I admit, I took the little certificate course in Google analytics, and saved my certificate but I did not understand most of what I learned. That would be because Google creates this stuff for businesses of all sizes and techy knowledge, of which I am limited.
However, even I can find some of the more useful information that is helpful to a small website. It is not that Google made this challenging, it is more about the sheer volume of data that can be found and how to sort through it to find what you need, so that you can adjust your posts and advertising to suit your unique visitors. You are welcome!
Like most people new to marketing online, you were likely told to set up Google Search Console, which used to be called Google Webmaster Tools or GWT for short. This is good! Once you start linking your Google products together you will get more interesting data for your website.
It is a good idea to set up a Gmail account for your website, if you have not done so already. You can link all of your Google products together and get a massive amount of information, especially if you set up Google AdWords as well.
SET UP GOOGLE ANALYTICS (GA) ON YOUR SITE
If you have already set up GA for your website, you can skip down past this section.
For the rest of you, I am only doing a brief overview of set up, because there are a kajillion websites that will tell you how to set it up for your situation, but very few that will tell you how to use it in any meaningful way. At least for us beginners.
Note: This setup is for WordPress websites. I use the All-In-One SEO plugin for WordPress.
Head over to Google Analytics by typing ANALYTICS into a Google search bar, and then click the big green button that says SIGN UP FOR FREE. Google changed this in July when they merged Analytics into a suite of products that you can also use. Sign up here.
2. Fill in your info. If you have a Gmail account then use it to sign in. Otherwise, create one; it is a good idea to have a website specific email address with Google because they will send you updates on your account. After you have filled in that page, click the GET TRACKING ID button.
Yes, you must agree to the terms to move on. You may have to drag the small window up to see the bottom so that you can accept the agreement.
3. Next you will receive your unique tracking code, which you can add to your websites SEO settings. I use AIO SEO on WordPress, so my instructions reflect that. Just scroll down to Google Settings. YMMV depending on which SEO product you use.
You can use the code that GA provides to edit your theme. Or you can use an analytics plugin to add the code to. Just follow the instructions for set up and then paste your code into the plugin. Some plugins for analytics let you see the data from within WordPress, which is a nice feature.
4. It can take a few hours for Google Analytics to start giving you information, and if your blog is new and you have no traffic, it will not be able to give you anything useful yet, but you can still tweak it so that when data does come it, you can use it!
One thing that you should do while you are waiting for some data from GA is to exclude yourself from your tracking data.
Click Home then from the sidebar on the left scroll down to the gear icon, which is equivalent to “Admin”.
In the far right column (which may be called Master View, which is your first or main account), go down the list to FILTERS and click on it. Click the red box labelled +ADD FILTER.
Label this filter EXCLUDE INTERNAL TRAFFIC or EXCLUDE IP ADDRESS. Choose filter type Predefined. Then below that choose exclude, then in the next box choose from the drop down menu “traffic from ip addresses” and in the next box choose “that are equal to” from that list of choices.
And then you need to add your ip address to the IP address box. In Windows pc, you can type cmd into the computer search bar (i.e Cortana) and then type ipconfig into the cmd box. You want the IPv6 address. Or you can use an online app. Just type “find my ip” into a search bar and choose one. Put the info into the box and click save and exit out of there. Ta da!
ANALYZE SOME DATA
Ok, now that you are all set up I can tell you that there are only three areas that will be important to you going forward, and they are AUDIENCE, ACQUISITION, and BEHAVIOUR. This is where the really good intel is, such as who is visiting (audience), how they got there (acquisition), and what they were doing that led them to your website (behaviour).
I will caution you about something, and that is to not fiddle around with things too much until you understand what it is for, or read up on how to use them. You can create dashboards with the information that you want in them, but watch out for setting goals and moving things around or deleting things.
Goals use whatever information you set up going forward. If you set goals without certain bits of information, it will not be included until you add it, and then you can only monitor it going forward. So you will want to know what you need to track before you set it up. And this information will come to you as your site gains traffic. Your site will likely change over time, as you see who visits and why, and it will be easier to decide which metrics are important as your traffic increases. You’ve been warned!
I created a bunch of goals long ago and I am stuck with them until they expire. It is annoying. I did this when I took that Google Analytics video course that Google offers you to show you how to use Analytics, but since it is general information it is not always practical education. If you do not have much traffic, it can be a challenge to figure out how to set up goals, so I was creating all sorts of goals while trying to figure out what they do so that I can explain it to others. Big mistake!
Anyway, I suggest that you just poke around a bit to see what analytics can do, and then later when you have more traffic, fix things up to see what analytics can DO FOR YOU. Hovering over section titles will bring up small bars with more information, but try not to get too overwhelmed. There is a LOT of information!
Important jargon to know:
Session Duration: How long they stayed on your website
Bounce Rate: From Google:”The percentage of single-page sessions in which there was no interaction with the page. A bounced session has a duration of 0 seconds”. In other words, if they landed on your site and left immediately.
Audience > Overview: This is information about who is visiting your blog on a daily basis, where they come from, what language they speak, what they are viewing your website on (pc, tablet, or mobile).
If you want to see where your visitors are from, that information will be in Audience > GEO.
Which device your visitors use is in Audience > Mobile. This is quite useful because if you have a lot of readers who view from mobile phones, you want to make sure that your website is optimized for mobile. You should do this anyway, since the number of mobile users is expected to increase for…ever.
Do not be discouraged by the information that you see in these reports. As your audience grows, your stats will look better. And some people come to your site thinking it is about ABC and find that it is about XYZ. If your website is brand new, give it 6 months to a year to see that the numbers are not really as scary as they seem.
This is where you will see how people got to your website (yay!)
Have a look at Acquisition > Overview to see some fun facts. Feel free to drill down into some of the metrics. Watch for high bounce rate in some areas, which may require you to do some tweaking, but don’t fiddle around with your site if it is new. Just wait a bit.
Various metrics in the pie chart are:
Direct = Visitors came from either a link or by directly searching for the name of your website.
Organic = Visitors searched for something and ended up at your site.
Social = Visitors came via your social media post links
Referral = Visitors came from being referred from another site, such as if you were guest posting on someone else’s website.
Acquisition > Social > Overview shows you which social media platform is sending visitors to your website. This only applies if you have set up your social platforms and are actively promoting your latest posts (which I highly recommend that you do!!!). This metric can show you what you need to work on, as far as social media goes, to attract more visitors to your website.
If, for example, you have a lot of followers on Twitter, but you are getting very little traffic from Twitter to your website, you may need to adjust what you are doing to get your followers more engaged in your content.
Behaviour > Overview is some good stuff! This information tells you what your visitors are interested in, which has also brought them to your website.
If you scroll down a bit, you will see a list of your posts in descending order of visitors to that post. The top post shows a “ / ”, which signifies your homepage or blog roll. This is helpful information, because it shows you why people come to your site. You may want to create more posts of this type to increase traffic.
Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages will help you to see this data in more detail, and you can see how long a visitor spent on each of the top ten pages for your website. You can adjust how many pages you see, but the default is ten.
This shows some quality data on visitor engagement. You can export this information monthly and keep it for later reference.
Another good one is Behaviour > Site content > Exit Pages, which will show you what page your visitors were on when they left your site. If it is the same page as the one they were previously engage with, that is good. If you consistently find your visitors are all leaving from the same page, you may want to understand why. Were they offended? Is the page un-viewable for some reason?
Ok, that is it for today. I wanted to get this post out so that I can concentrate on doing a post on creating goals with GA. You want to set some goals when you have created a landing page with a freebie or perhaps set up an email campaign, and you want to check the data from that. Or if you have a product to sell, and you want analytic data for that.
If you do not have much traffic, you may want to wait on goals for a bit because it can be a bit disheartening to check in and see no action. Also, you can only have so many goals and then you have to repurpose one of the goal slots, so think carefully on how you want to manage your data.
Idk…I had fun writing this today…GA makes me crazy, but I am addicted to looking at the data lol. You can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave comments in the box below. Happy blogging!!
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