Hello buddies! Today I’m starting a new series on how to use Google Analytics for your blog. I work as a site merchandiser, and a huge part of my job involves looking at web metrics and trying to make sense of all the data. I’ve learned a lot at work that I have carried over to my blog, so I wanted to share that with all of you! I originally was going to make this all one post, but there is so much to learn and I don’t want to overwhelm you. Today we’ll start with the basics on traffic and audience. Look for more posts in the coming weeks!
Let’s start off with a few vocab words:
Users: This is easy. This is a person who visits your blog, whether they’re new to your blog or they’ve been there before. Users are also called visitors.
Sessions: This is the amount of separate times someone went to your blog. If they went to your blog one day and then came back the next, that would count as two sessions. If they go to your blog and click around to six different posts, that would only be one session. Sessions are also called visits.
Pageviews: The amount of pages a user views during a session. If in one session a user looks at six of your blog posts, that would count as six page views.
Bounce Rate: When a user comes to your blog and immediately leaves, this is called a “bounce.” This happens for a multitude of reasons: they came too your blog by mistake, they don’t like what they see, your blog takes too long to load, or it’s a spambot. The bounce rate is a ratio of bounces to sessions.
The goal is to attract more users who generate many pageviews during their sessions, which will keep your bounce rate low. This means that the traffic to your site is engaged and digging your vibe!
Before we begin, you’ll want to sign up for Google Analytics! For directions, you can view Google’s guide here. Sign into Google Analytics. On the home dashboard, click “All Web Site Data.”
The first page you’ll see is the Audience Overview. This is a great summary of your blog traffic. This page includes users, sessions, page views, and bounce rate for a given time. There is a line chart that tells you how these metrics may have changed in a given time. This is especially fun because it’s great to watch your traffic grow!
In the top right hand corner, you’ll see a date range. You can adjust this to see how much traffic you’ve received in the past week, the past month, etc. Below this you’ll see buttons that say “hourly”, “day”, “week”, etc. These indicate the segments of time the line graph displays. The smaller the segment, the more data points on the graph. You always want to choose a segment smaller than the timeframe you’re examining. For example, I chose to look at traffic for the past month, segmented by day. Hourly is just a bunch of zig zags (since my traffic varies so much from hour to hour), and monthly is just a straight line!
To the left underneath the tab that says “overview”, you’ll see a drop down with choices like “% new sessions”, “avg. session duration”, etc. This is how you choose the type of data displayed on the graph. You can also add additional data to do a little comparison. For example, if you wanted to see how many new sessions you’ve had compared to total sessions, you could plot both on the graph. This would be a great metric to look at if, for instance, you bought adspace on another blog and you wanted to see if it’s bringing in new visitors.
At the bottom of the page, you’ll see a little info about the type of visitors your blog receives. This includes what language they speak, where they live, whether they are on desktop or mobile, and what kind of browser they are using. I don’t find this information particularly useful, but it is kind of fun to see that I have so many readers in the UK!
Definitely sign up for Google Analytics and play around with this feature a little bit! It’s a great way to dip your toe into the ocean of analytics available to you as a blogger. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to ask me through Twitter! Next time we will look at where all your visitors are coming from!