If you are going to apply to any sponsored blogging opportunities, you need to know some details on your blog statistics, and the go-to method of recording blog traffic is through Google Analytics. I’ve been blogging for a long time, and I’ve been using Analytics for a while, but I recognize that not everyone has that blogging background. So in this post, I’m going to talk about what Google Analytics is exactly, and why it’s so important, as well as how to use it. Then I’m going to talk about how to track blog traffic in Google Analytics through some different views that you could use, as well as my preferred ones.
So if you’re new to blogging or you’re super familiar with it, I’m sure you’ll find this post helpful. All that said, let’s get into the statistics of blogging!
Before we get into the data and the information, let’s answer the key question: What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free web analyzer tool made through, you guessed it, Google. It doesn’t just track info from Google; it also tracks views and users who have found my blog through Yahoo and Bing! Not to mention social media networks, websites that mention it, and basically everywhere online.
As of 2019, Analytics is the most-widely used web analytics service online (x). It’s not a service; it’s the service. And it’s definitely not blog-specific. Tiny blog, gigantic website, and everything in between use Analytics.
Why Do We Use Google Analytics for Blogging?
To me, there’s a sort of chicken-versus-egg situation with Google Analytics: which came first, everyone using Google Analytics so companies requiring its info or companies requiring its info so Analytics becomes the go-to?
By this I mean that everyone who has ever wanted to work with me – either individual companies that have reached out to me directly or sites that serve as middlemen to connect bloggers with companies – have required Google Analytics. So do they require it because it is the standard, across-the-board traffic measurement tool, or is it the standard, across-the-board traffic measurement tool because everyone requires it?
I do know a couple of things for certain, though: it is the standard for blog analytics and it is absolutely free. So if you want to make money from your blog and therefore prove your statistics? You need to be all set up with Google Analytics. It’s not a question but a fact.
And, as Moz says, “Do you have a blog? Do you have a static website? If the answer is yes, whether they are for personal or business use, then you need Google Analytics” (x). Moz points out that Google Analytics will help you figure out how many people use your website, where in the world they are, where your traffic is coming from, the most popular pages on your site, and more.
How To Use Google Analytics
First things first, if you are brand brand new to Google Analytics, I would suggest doing a guided tour or course. There is so much to learn; I mean, I’ve been using it for at least 6 years and I’m still learning new things to it.
Google has their own Google Analytics for Beginners course, and they say, “Google Analytics for Beginners shows new users how to create an account, implement tracking code, and set up data filters. You’ll learn how to navigate the Google Analytics interface and reports, and set up dashboards and shortcuts. The course will also demonstrate how to analyze basic Audience, Acquisition, and Behavior reports, and set up goals and campaign tracking” (x).
The company Moz has a great, step-by-step guide to setting up your Google Analytics account, and it includes images of the screens you’ll see. (If Moz sounds familiar, you might know it as the company that provides your domain authority.) So if you wound find that helpful to view that before you’re in the (very overwhelming) Google Analytics site itself, definitely check it out.How to use Google Analytics to understand your blog traffic Click To Tweet
If you’re using self-hosted WordPress, you can also easily link your site with a plugin. I personally use Monster Insights, which connects with Google Analytics and allows me to not worry about if I’ve placed the tracking code somewhere where it shouldn’t be. I imagine if you use Squarespace or Wix they also have a similar plugin, but as I don’t use those, I’m not 100% positive.
That being said, there are a lot of pages and reports in Google Analytics that provide a variety of specific reports. In the next section, I’m going to share my preferred ways to track blog traffic in Google Analytics, but before we get into that, let’s look at the home page in Analytics.
This page gives a nice preview of your site at a glance. When I took this screenshot, I had 2 current people on my blog. It shows a little bit about them, but it’s mostly about my sites stats at a glance: where I’m getting users, where in the world my users are, when in the day my users are visiting, pages that have a decreased bounce rate (this is a good thing!), and more. So if I was trying to figure out where I should be focusing on getting users or what time of the day I should be posting, this page would help me a lot.
How To Track Blog Traffic in Google Analytics: My Preferred Ways
I use Google Analytics for not only my blog traffic reports, but also to see: where I get most of my blog traffic, so I can focus there or on other areas that I want to bring more traffic; the most popular posts, so I can write more posts in those topics; and where most of my readers are coming from, both the countries but also the states and cities.
And that’s just how I use them! Most of the blog sponsorship sites want to connect to my Google Analytics so they can see what my traffic is like and what my most popular posts are for those that want to partner with me. And I use Analytics for my media kit, which I send to those who reach out to me directly for partnership to prove a) what I’m saying about my traffic but also b) why I charge what I do.
So let’s talk about how to track blog traffic in Google Analytics.
When you get beyond the home page that I showed above, you need to specify the time period you’re looking at. As you can see, the automatic way time frame when you open Analytics is 1 week. Most of the time, I want to look at a month’s worth of info, so I change the time frame.
Once I adjust the time period, I like to look at the Audience Overview tab first. This way, I can look at page views, which is currently selected, but you can also adjust that to look at things like users or sessions. If you’re in the Audience Overview tab, you can scroll down to see an at-a-glance view of bounce rate, average session duration, the number of sessions, number of users, etc.
Now let’s talk about my preferred ways to track my blog traffic with Google Analytics.
First and foremost, I like seeing where I’m getting my blog traffic.
This is the screen I use for seeing where my traffic is coming from. Pinterest has brought me most of my blog traffic for years, really since I started treating Pinterest like the search engine it is.
In that view, you can see on the left that I liked “Acquisition,” then “All Traffic,” and then “Source/Medium.” This view shows all sorts of different Pinterest versions as different sources. Specifically, you can see by country, so .co.uk or .de, as they’re all listed as separate websites. Similarly, you can see the different forms of Facebook that direct content to your page. With Facebook, this view shows desktop versus mobile (with has an “m” before Facebook in that list). The “l” before Instagram is for referrals from Instagram. You get the idea.
What’s helpful about this list is that it not only shows what sites are sending you traffic, but also the type of traffic. It’s kind of hard to see in that screenshot, but that list has “/ referral” and “/ social” aftering listing the website. That describes the type of traffic. Don’t ask me why pinterest.com is a referral and straight pinterest is a social – I don’t know the answer. But Analytics tries to give you an at-a-glance view of what is bringing you traffic.Different ways to use Google Analytics to understand your blog traffic Click To Tweet
When using Google Analytics, I also want to know what pages are getting the most attention, which is where the Behavior tab comes into play.
I primarily use this tab to look at the most popular posts. This is helpful for a couple of reasons.
1) I like seeing what types of posts you guys like to read. This helps me know what types of posts to write more of and, by looking at what isn’t in the top ten or twenty results, what to write less of.
2) This helps me know what past posts to promote on days when I don’t have new blog posts. As I’ve mentioned in past posts, on days when I don’t have new blog posts, I promote older ones. If one post in particular is really popular, I’m going to keep promoting it!
3) You can also use the Behavior section to see at what page are people leaving your site. When you’re in the Site Content tab, check out “Exit Pages”. From here you can learn if there are any trends and maybe add other internal links, aka links to other posts or pages on your blog. I talk more about that in this post, 8 Ways To Lower Your Bounce Rate 😉.
In closing …
This post could go on and on and on because there is so much to learn from Google Analytics. (For example, the Real Time tab shows you who is on your blog in real time and what they’re looking at.) It’s definitely overwhelming when you’re starting to use Google Analytics for the first time! But it is such a helpful tool to understand your blog traffic and your readers. I hope that this post has helped you understand this tool better!
What is your preferred way to use Google Analytics?
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