If you’re anything like me, you’re probably obsessed with stats. Whether you’re new to blogging or you’ve been doing it ages, do you constantly check your site stats?
I launched this blog at 7 pm on a Thursday evening and I must have checked how many page views I’d got 100 times before I went to bed. I literally could not stop checking – refreshing my browsers, checking the WordPress App on my phone, making sure the two matched up!
Stats and analytics are at the heart of any well-functioning blog. They help you understand and accelerate traffic growth and conversion rates. They also help you understand your audience and what your readers want.
As I said, I used the stats available on WordPress and through the Jetpack Plugin. But they’re not the best. The best way to track your stats is through Google Analytics. Here’s the basics you need to know about getting set up and what figures you’ll be able to see once you’re up and running:
Whilst the stats on your WP account are accurate, they’re fairly limited in the range of information available to you. You will have access to “Views”, “Visitors”, “Likes”, “Comments” and few other things but nowhere near the level of detail you can access on GA.
The stats from WP and Jetpack are less actionable and also less well respected than those pulled from GA (see below). So I would thoroughly recommend ignoring them and going with GA as your main analytics tool.
Why Google Analytics?
There are lots of analytics tools out there, but GA is considered the “industry standard” when it comes to bloggers. If you’re thinking of working with brands and PR Agencies, they’ll want to see your key stats and, more often than not, they will expect these stats to have been pulled from GA.
Even if you don’t intend to work with brands, or even make money off your blog, GA will let you do a whole range of things that you can’t with WP and Jetpack (I’m going to do another post on making the most of GA soon so keep your eyes peeled for that!) that will help you develop and improve your site.
How to Set Up Google Analytics
I’ve put together a step-by-step guide for setting up GA to help you get started.
- Go to https://analytics.google.com and sign up. It’s fairly straightforward and you will be prompted for the information needed. The “Account” is the name of your blog (or biz) and “Property” is the name of the site you want to track.
- Once you’ve completed this initial step, you’ll be taken to a screen with your tracking code on. Ignore this for a minute and go to step 3.
- Click on the “Admin” tab, then “Property Settings” and scroll down to “Advertising Features” (don’t worry you can come back to your code at any time, it’s not going anywhere). I would recommend turning on the tabs underneath this heading as it will allow you to gather more information from each of your visitors.
- Now you’re ready to get your tracking code. Click on the “Admin” tab, then “User Management” and select “Tracking Code”.
- In another tab, open your blog and login to your dashboard. Under “Plugins” you’ll find a whole range of Plugins that can help implement GA into your blog. Have a look around and choose the one that works best for you. Any information you need to set up the Plugins is available on the “Tracking Code” page you still have open in GA.
- You’re all set up and ready to go now. GA can take a little while to sync up with your blog so your stats won’t be visible immediately.
Key Stats You’ll See on Google Analytics
Once you’re up and running on GA, select the “Reporting” tab at the top of your homepage to see your stats. There are several options in the left-hand sidebar and the selected stats show up in the main panel.
GA talks about “Users”, “Sessions”, “Pageviews”, here’s what they all mean:
A user is a unique person. When you see these figures on your stats page, you are seeing how many people have been on your blog within the time frame you have chosen.
A session is what the users do when they are on your site. A session will stay open as long as the user is active within a 30 minute time period. For example, if your user gets up and makes a cup of tea but returns to your page and continues interacting within 30 minutes, that will be the same session. A session covers a user’s visit to your site regardless of how many pages they view.
A pageview is any full page that a user opens on your site. The stats that you see here will show the number of times a page on your site has been viewed within the time frame you have chosen.
These figures show an average of how many pages users look at during one session.
This one is self-explanatory. It’s an average of how long users stay on your page.
Your bounce rate is based on how many users read more than one page but I’ll talk about this a little more below.
My Favourite Google Analytics Tools & Features
One of my favourite functions on GA is the real-time stats so you can see how many people are on your site right now!
My other favourite function on GA is the annotations function. Annotations can help you note why there might have been a sudden spike or drop in your stats. For example, you might update your site appearance which drives a lot of traffic to your site on launch day.
To make an annotation go to “Audience” and “Overview” where you will see your traffic chart with some key numbers underneath. Underneath the chart, you will see a small grey drop-down icon which you can click on to add your notes! Cool huh?!
And finally, “Bounce Rate”. I really like this function as it lets me see if my back links are working! The bounce rate is calculated on how many users view one page and then leave without visiting other parts of your site. Ideally, you want this percentage to be low. You want users to come to your site, read and then carry on looking around your blog.
So there you have a quick introduction to GA. In my next post I’ll be explaining how to use these stats to help you and to grow your blog.
Do you already use GA? What’s your favourite part? Is there anything else you’d like me to cover in another post about GA? Let me know in the comments below.
Subscribe to get our latest updates and exclusive access to the FF Resource Library
Wait, before you go...
...grab yourself a copy of the Ultimate Blogger Resource List (and boost your blog today!)