Before we dive into Google Analytics you will need to be on a self-hosted website. This means if you are using WordPress for your blog, you will need to be using WordPress.ORG rather than WordPress.COM.
For more details on how to set up a self-hosted blog click here. I have created a step by step guide for you.
If you are running an online business you are most likely aware of search engine optimization (SEO). If you are unaware of SEO, it is the process of receiving organic traffic to your website from search results. This is everything for people running businesses online because you want your business to be found! Without traffic, your business will not be successful.
*Related: What is SEO and why is it so important?
So we spend all of this time and money investing in services to help boost our SEO but how do we really know if it is working?
That is where Google Analytics comes in the picture. In my opinion, it is the best analytic tool on the market to give you an in-depth look at how your website is performing.
What is Google Analytics?
It is a free service offered by Google. It allows business owners to track how users/viewers interact on their websites. You can learn how people use your site, what they do on it, and how they were referred. See what social media platforms are resulting in the most traffic to your site. Track the amount of time that people are spending on your site and what pages are getting the most attention. View your bounce rate.
The analytics dig into a deeper depth allowing you to see the type of devices people are using and where they are from when they are browsing your site. This gives you an idea of whether users/ visitors are viewing your website more on a phone, desktop, or tablet. Also, getting to know what countries you reach is awesome!
If you sell products or use advertisements, you can link those services to Google Analytics. This allows you to track how those methods of marketing are doing. View your sales, time of day, numbers, users, etc.
All of these tools are important in maintaining a good marketing strategy. Have more control over analyzing all of the hard work that you put into your business. Analytics puts your hard work into perspective and gives you a visual of the payoff or room for improvement.
How do I get Google Analytics?
You can set up your analytics account here. The link will take you to this screen. Once you are here, you are going to click the green sign up free button in the top right corner.
Next, log into your Gmail account that you use for your blog. If you do not already have one specifically for your blog I would advise you to make one. It will make life easier keeping your blog business separate from everything else. You can create a Gmail account here.
When you have your Gmail account ready, sign in. Once again, make sure that you sign in with the account that you want to track your website analytics on. But if you wish to change accounts later, you can.
After you have signed in to your Gmail account, you can sign up for Google Analytics. Click the gray icon that says sign up.
You will be directed to the setup screen that looks like the one pictured below. Follow the steps by filling in the particular information for your website.
Keep all of the recommended data share settings checked. Scroll to the bottom and click the blue button that says get tracking ID.
This tracking ID is important because it is how Google keeps track of the activity on your website. With your tracking ID you will also be assigned a code to place on your website. Copy and paste the code into the header of each page on your website that you want to be tracked. The code should be placed before the </head> tag.
Most likely your blog will be built on WordPress. Therefore, adding the code to your site is made a little easier for you. Download the plugin Insert Headers and Footers. When it is finished downloading activate it and navigate to the plugin. It can be found on the dashboard of your site > left-hand panel > hover over settings > then find and click Insert Headers and Footers. Paste the code into the top box that says the code will be placed before the </head> tag. Then save your changes.
Now, Google will begin monitoring the traffic on your site. You can view your analytic details from your Google Analytic account or by using the Google Analytics by Monster Insights WordPress plugin. You can read more about the plugin and how to download it here.
I personally utilize the plugin and my analytics account. I like looking at my analytics account because it gives me more in-depth information and I have more control. Both are great and truly beneficial to your blog.
Link your analytics account to Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free tool that you can utilize to customize how your website appears in Google search results.
When you link your accounts together you have the ability to track how your website is doing in organic searches. You can set up your Google Search Console account by visiting this link www.google.com/webmasters/.
You will have to log in to your Gmail account that you used for your Google Analytics. When you login in you are going to see a screen with different options to verify your website. Follow the steps that work best for you to claim ownership of your site.
After you verify ownership of your blog it is a good idea to add an XML sitemap so Google will find your blog faster. But if you are using Yoast SEO plugin, it may conflict. So keep that in mind.
Be sure that you link your Google Analytics account to your search console. You can do so by logging into your analytics account and click on admin. Find property settings and click it. Then, you will see search console. Click it. Once you complete the steps to link your accounts together, you will gain access to even more details in your analytics dashboard.
Linking more accounts
If you have other accounts such as an e-commerce, you can link it to your Google Analytics account as well. There are lots of options to link with analytics to get access to detailed reports regarding how all of your marketing techniques are performing. But I am not going to go into depth of the individual accounts in this article.
Understanding Google Analytics
When you first install Google Analytics onto your website you will not be able to view data right away. The only thing you will be able to view is real-time visitors. The charts renew after midnight each day and will give you the entire previous day stats.
Below is a break down of each tab in the left panel.
This tab does exactly what it says. It displays real-time stats such as the visitors that are on your site at any given moment. It will tell you how many users are on your site at that point in time and it will tell you where they originated from. Referral examples are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, organic search results, etc. It will also tell you exactly what page they are on.
I use this feature after I share a new blog post to get an idea of real-time users who visit due to my post. I like to see what marketing methods are drawing in the most users.
The audience tab displays detailed information about your visitors such as gender and the country they are visiting from. As you can see in the left panel once you click on the audience tab a bunch of options is displayed to get in-depth details.
I utilize the overview tab most often because it gives me a summary of everything I need to know about my visitors in one tab. You can change the time frame in the upper right corner to an hourly, day, week, and month break down.
- Sessions: The number of visits to your website. If someone visits now and then revisits 10 minutes later that would be considered 2 sessions.
- Users: The number of individuals that visit your website.
- Page-Views: The total number of page views on your site. If someone views 5 different articles on your website that would be considered 5 page views.
- Average Session Duration: This is the overall average time that individuals are spending on your site during each session. The average is accumulated by all users.
- Bounce Rate: This is the percentage of users that are only visiting one page of your site and then leaving. The key is having a bounce rate under 40%. You want users spending time on your website.
- Demographics: This displays details of the country, language, and the city that your users are visiting from. You can click the demographics tab in the left panel to learn more about your users such as the percentage of males or females that are visiting your page. You can view the age group that you are attracting the most along with what your readers find interesting.
This tab gives you details of the various methods that are bringing traffic to your website. This is beneficial to check to get an idea of what marketing techniques and promotional methods are working to catch people’s attention.
- Direct: This is the percentage of users that visit your site by directly typing your domain name into the search bar.
- Social: The percentage of users that visit your website from social media such as a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram post.
- Referral: The percentage of users that were referred by other websites such as a fellow blogger.
- Organic Search: The percentage of users that discover your website/blog through keyword searches in major search engines such as Google.
You can also view details of more methods that bring users to your website through the different acquisition tabs.
This gives you more information about how the content on your website that is drawing in the most viewers. You can monitor the performance of your website such as site speed. You can view how long your website takes to load and get tips on ways to make it load faster.
This is a useful tab for people who are selling products on their website using e-commerce. You can set goals and track your sales. If you use e-commerce you will need to manually link accounts with Google Analytics to get tracking details.
Now, you’re ready to take control of your analytics!