This Google Analytics tutorial was created for beginners. I will help you get set up and find the important metrics for your blog or website so that you can start gathering crucial data.
Knowing who visits, where they came from, and what they looked at on your site is important information. Use this info to re-create or duplicate successful posts.
This post was originally published January 31st, 2018 and has been updated to be current with new information. This post may contain affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure is here.
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My name is Irma and I help new bloggers to learn the ropes. There is a lot to take in that first year of blogging, from choosing a niche to changing your mindset from worker bee mentality to that of successful entrepreneur.
I like to focus on practical information and positive thinking, so if that sounds good to you please sign up for my weekly newsletter of tips and free stuff for bloggers. Be sure to grab my Copywriting Checklist to see how copywriting works with analytics.
Why You Want Google Analytics For Your online Business
I made the rookie mistake of thinking that setting up Search Console meant that I had everything I needed. Wrong! By the time I realized my mistake, I had lost out on months of data.
Please click Google Analytics Cheat Sheet to get your copy. It is a Google Drive download so if you have Gmail set up on your pc it will download immediately.
You only collect data from the day you set it up and moving forward. Installing Google Analytics will help you start understanding what your audience wants from you, so the sooner, the better.
Knowing which blog posts bring traffic to your website means that you can create more similar content.
This is Blogging 101. When you find something that works, replicate it.
You won’t waste time creating content that no one wants to read. You can figure out which products to promote effectively when you know what your audience needs.
Like most people new to marketing online, you have probably been told to set up Google Search Console, which used to be called Google Webmaster Tools or GWT for short. You want both of these tools, for different reasons.
Google Search Console Benefits:
- When you publish a post, go to Search Console to have it crawled by Googles bots.
- You set up your sitemap from Search Console as well.
- Google will send error reports, security issues, and verify site maintenance adjustments.
Google Analytics Benefits:
- Demographics – which countries do your visitors come from, how they got to your site, and what they did when they arrived.
- Identify top performing content
- Analyze Social Media analytics to determine cost-effectiveness (such as paid ads with Facebook).
- Save time by only working on income generating tasks, instead of guessing.
You should set up Google Search Console, and any other Google Marketing tools that you might need, like AdWords (Google paid ads), AdSense (for blog income), AdWords Keyword Tool, and Google calendar.
This allows you to gather data from a variety of sources, because these tools work together.
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.
Note: This setup is for WordPress websites
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 unique situation.
It is a good idea to set up a Gmail account for your website, if you have not done so already.
It makes signing up for the tools easier, and you get updates or information sent to one place.
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.
1. Sign up here.
Googles analytical tools are completely free.
2. Fill in your info.
If you have your Gmail account, use it to sign in.
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
Add this code to your websites SEO settings.
I use Yoast SEO, so look in your SEO plugins setting for something like ‘Webmaster Tools’ and add your code to the appropriate box.
Note that other search engines have similar options. You may want to repeat these steps with them.
Just scroll down to Google Settings. YMMV depending on which SEO product you use.
Install your code
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.
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.
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.
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 data is, such as:
- Who is visiting (audience)
- How they got there (acquisition)
- What they were doing that led them to your website (behaviour).
I will caution you 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.
About Goal Setting with Google Analytics
You will want to set goals later on for tracking how many visitors clicked on things like opt-in forms or links from Facebook ads. 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 that information going forward.
So you will want to know what you need to track before you set it up.
Beware of setting up goals on a new site with little content and minimal traffic. It just sets you up to be confused by the data.
You are going to get a lot of helpful from the day you set up Analytics, which will help you going forward.
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 can get free Dashboards that track specific data.
But until you know what is important for your website to track, they won’t be much help. And they may track data that is useless to you.
If you do not have much traffic, it can be a challenge to figure out how to set up goals. 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! That was an exercise in futility.
Anyway, I suggest that you just poke around a bit to see what analytics can do.
Later, when you have more traffic, you can look for Dashboards that track what you want to know.
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!
Google Analytics is created for businesses of all sizes, so there are a lot of variables.
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.
An average Bounce Rate for most bloggers is in the 80% range.
If your Bounce Rate is low – like 30% – then you likely have Google Analytics set up twice on your website.
Use the free plugin GA Google Analytics to ensure that your sitemap and analytics are set up right.
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. quickly overtaking PC and Tablets
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.
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.
Related Post: Start Pinning with Pinterest
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 like your popular ones 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?
Related Post: How To Start A Blog and Make Money Online
Ok, that is it for today. Idk…I had fun writing this today…GA makes me crazy, but I am addicted to looking at the data lol. I still have a lot to learn and as I learn about it I will share with you.
If you enjoyed this Google Analytics tutorial, please share it by pinning the pin or on social media . Sharing is caring! And be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter and grab my Cheatsheet that goes with this post.
Until next post, follow me on Pinterest!
19 thoughts on “Google Analytics Tutorial”
Hi, Thanks for the info…Google Analytics can be frustrating and confusing at times. I had to revisit a few times to figure out how it would work for me. Thanks for helping to clear the fog.
Hello Beverley and thank you for visiting us today,
Glad to be of help!
Thank you for your great post!
Although I have my Google Analytics set up, there are still many things to be done and learned. One of the things was – Excluding myself from my tracking data. Thank to your blog and easy-to-follow explanation, I’ve finished this task in no-time. The only sentence that was a bit confusing to me was: “ 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…” I did a simple Google search using: “what is my ip address” – and got the number! Then I entered this number, checked how it works & it worked fine.
Regarding goals that you mentioned – I have created two goals: minimum number of pages per session and minimum visit duration. What is your opinion about these goals? By the way, I don’t have a lot of traffic.
Thank you in advance.
Hello Vesna and thank you for visiting us today,
The part about cmd is just bringing up the command prompt box and asking it to tell you what your ip address is. It is always accurate, guaranteed. You can find your ip quickly online (as you did), so it is just an alternate way of doing it.
Setting goals gives you the option to learn about why visitors come to your site. If you set up an A/B test of landing pages, then you can set a goal to tell you which part of the test, either A or B, brought more visitors. Now is a great time to think about how you want to promote your site into the future.
Your goals are fine and give you an opportunity to try out the features in GA. As your traffic increases you will probably want to monitor different activities and change your goals to reflect that.
This is a really great, informative post. I love the tip about excluding yourself from the analytics count. I didn’t know how to do that – never even really thought about it before, but this helped a lot. My bounce rate is really, really high (like, 94%). Do you have any idea what might be causing that – and what I could do (if anything) to fix it?
Hello Mishael and thank you for visiting us today,
There are lots of reasons for high bounce rate and most are easily fixed. Now that you can read the Analytics data, you will be able to look at your stats and find or rule out some of the culprits. Also, get a friend to look at your site with their devices and see if you can sleuth it out.
Is your website optimized for tablets and mobile? If people cannot read your content, they will bounce.
Have you checked your site for errors? Use a another device to check.
Do you have a lot of ads that are slowing down your loading time?
Are your images too large? Is there too many on the page distracting from the content?
Content is different than what the visitor was expecting?
Best of luck!
I have been thinking about signing up for Google Analytics but simply could not make heads or tails of it in any usable manner. As a beginner, I really appreciate the way you have laid it out and made it understandable. With the knowledge from your website, I think I will give it a try. Thanks so much!
Hello Lillian and thank you for visiting us today,
Yes, it is a lot to look at on the page…very busy. I was happy to figure out which stuff to ditch to at least get started with it because the information it can provide is quite valuable, especially in the early stages of a website.
Best of luck!
Thank you so much for such an informative and detailed review on Google Analytics tutorial. I was looking for information how to set up GA for my new site, I’m glad I have come across your post. i have bookmarked it and will have to read it many times.
Thanks for sharing.
Hi, I truly do appreciate you informing me on such valuable information. I tried gaining knowledge on Google Analytics and I could not quite understand it and became very frustrated. Your article has made things more clear to me.
Awesome and thank you for visiting us today Jamillah,
You are welcome,
Great info! Laid out well and I enjoyed the images you picked. I might be referring to this post again down the road. I have analytics set up with my one site by am still trying to build up the traffic. This showed me a few ways to ‘tweak’ what I’ve already done and how to prepare for the future (goal setting). Nice job! Thanx for your research.
Hello Jace and thank you for visiting us today,
And thank you for the kind words! I am glad that I can help.
Thank you for doing this. It will help me a lot. Great post. I don’t really have anything bad to say.
Can you do one on AdSense and why we need it?
Hello Curtis and thank you for visiting us today,
I will ad AdSense to my to-do list!
Hello, and thanks for sharing, tons of good information that is well detailed and will be of good help to those who needs this kind of training and insight.
I signed up for Google Analytics a while ago, but don’t really understand how to use it. Thank you so much for sharing this tutorial. One problem I am having is Google has been asking me to verify my site, which has already been verified. Do you know how I need to handle this? I tried putting the code in my theme header, but the code shows up on the top of my blog roll/home page. I also have the code in my Google Analytics ID spot in WP. Thanks again!
Hello Steve and thanks for visiting us today,
I did a quick search and lots of options came up for why your site is not verifying. I did mine quite some time ago, and cannot remember if that happened to me or not, but I do remember it taking a long time. Did you verify a www and non-www version of your site? That was one answer that I read.
I found Google Analytics to be intimidating, however if you stick to the basics you will be fine.
Hi, Maybe you have pasted your ID code above the word , it must be beneath. Anyway, if the ID appears on the website, I had this before and my site support could fix it for me.