Things every blogger needs to know about Google Analytics

Google Analytics was always the bane of my existence. In reality, it still probably is one of my least favourite things in life (not dramatic at all there, Steph), but, with all that being said it's something that us internet people have to use sometimes. Annoyingly enough though, it's not exactly the easiest thing to use, so, in classic Tip Tuesday form I've decided to try (emphasis on the word try) and make a little beginners guide on how to get sh*t done on the old GA. But first, let's go through a few of the basics.

What is Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a free service run by (you guessed it) Google that allows you to track the amount of people that click onto your blog or website. It tells you pretty much anything including what they like, where they're from, and how long they stay on your site. The only thing it doesn't tell you is who their favourite character on Game of Thrones is. But hey, give it time.

Why should you use it?

GA sounds so damn boring. You know it, I know it, we all know it, but you should probably be using it either way. Why? Because, even if you're not interested in all of this, Google Analytics allows you to see what gets more traffic and maybe what doesn't do so well. If you're looking to grow your following in any shape or form, or even just keep your readers coming to your site then it's good to check out every once in a while. That way you don't have to go and spend time posting things that your readers may not enjoy! That being said, do not get too sucked into the drug that is GA. Sometimes posts just go viral, sometimes posts suck. The main thing is that you enjoy what it is you're doing, regardless of the numbers!

Which days are most popular on your blog?

Knowing which days are the most popular can be useful for so many reasons, but mostly because it can help you figure out which day you should post on to reap the full benefits. You can look at this manually by selecting the a start date and an end date, or you can just be completely lazy and click this link to find out when your most popular day to blog is. Just make sure you're signed in with Google Analytics before hand! It doesn't show you the actual days instantly, but in short, 0 = Sunday, 1 = Monday, and so on. Try posting on different days to help figure out which is your most popular - you might be surprised!

What is the most popular time to blog?

Not only is it good to know the best day to post, but it's also good to know the best time. Generally speaking, everyone seems to say the best times to post are early in the morning (just before people are heading off to work or school) or late afternoon (when everyone is finishing work or school). I'm a bit of a weird one, and my most popular time to post is at around 1pm for some unknown reason. I found this out by doing the exact same thing as above, only with time instead of days. Again, you can just click this link to find out your most popular time to post on your blog. Thank me later.

Where do your audience go?

Hey you! Yeah, you! I know where you're going after you read this. And by that, I mean I know where you're going to end up on my site (or if you leave it). I won't actually know if you instantly click onto some porn site or something straight after. Although I'm not sure why you'd get that urge after reading this post...anyway!

If I see people landing on my homepage and leaving almost instantly I'm going to know something isn't quite right. Maybe my homepage doesn't entice people enough to click on anything? Who knows. If I see people going from my homepage to this blog post, then onto my post about need-to-know blogging terminology, then onto another tip tuesdays post then I'll know I'm doing something right, because it means someone is staying on my site and exploring because they're finding it interesting in some shape or form. If you want to increase the amount of time people stay on your site, be sure to include internal links on your blog (basically links that link to other posts you've written) or widgets that will direct readers to some of your newer or more popular posts.

(Go to: Behavior > Behavior Flow)

Where do your readers even come from?

I think one of the main things I get excited about with GA is finding out where everyone comes from, and how they actually come across my blog at all. Now, we live in a world that's now pretty much built on social media, so it's no surprise to anyone that that's how a lot of people will find your site. But the best thing about Google Analytics is that it tells you exactly which social account sends traffic your way. Almost half of my traffic comes from social media, most of which is from Facebook, so this shows me that Facebook sharing is definitely something I need to keep doing to help grow my readership. Despite having a similar following on Twitter, the number of people I get coming from there are nothing in comparison. So this gives me two options. I can either try to focus more on Twitter to build my influence on there, or I can put less emphasis on it and focus on other social channels. I've found the best way to grow your audience is to simply focus on the most popular social accounts. They're doing well for a reason!

(Go to: Acquisition > Overview)

How much time do they spend on your site?

Yup, if Google Analytics can track where you go, you can bet it'll tell me how long you've been on my blog too! This is good for showing you which readers get bored and perhaps why. I mean, you're not gonna read this blog post in ten seconds, so if I see you clicking on here and clicking off in an instant, I'll know you maybe got bored or just weren't interested. Generally speaking around thirty seconds tells you that you're maybe boring your readers a bit (sorry!) and around the four or five minute mark is when you'll know you're doing something right. Sure, five minutes sounds like nothing, but bare in mind just how short your own attention span is. Five minutes is a lifetime in GA terms.

(Go to: Behavior > Overview > Avg. Time on Page)

Who even are your readers?

Sure, you might think your UK beauty blog has a predominantly British female readership, but please, check out your GA demographics, because it can actually be kind of funny. I recently found out that I have a nice handful of guys (not literally, might I add) that come to my blog on the regular, which I never expected what so ever. It's things like that that help you re-evaluate your blog's content and angle, and can even help you decide whether or not you want to implement some form of language translator on your site. If you want to get more of a certain 'type' of reader, be sure to cater for their needs (which you can find out on GA too!).

(Go to Audience > Demographics > Overview)

Wait, what even is 'bounce rate'?

Your bounce rate is basically the percentage of people who only view one page of your blog. For years I had a bounce rate of about 70%, which isn't great, but after creating my own site and adding a bunch of interesting content for you guys to click on, my bounce rate has made it's way down to about 6%, which means that around 94% of you will look at at least two pages of my blog. This is usually a good thing, but it can also mean that your blog might be difficult to navigate. Have your readers share their thoughts on your blog if you're confused about the two!

(Go to: Audience > Overview > Bounce Rate)

And hey..about those trackbacks..?

Trackbacks are simple. They pop up when someone else has mentioned you on their website, or when you've written a guest post on someone else's site that links back to your own. Being able to see trackbacks are useful because it shows you just how much traffic you received from that website. If you want to get even more traffic, look back in your lil trackback list and perhaps consider writing for some of those sites again, or at least say thank you to the people that mentioned you! You never know, they might do it again.

(Go to: Acquisition > Social > Trackbacks)

So there we have it, another blog post that's going to take you about 400 years to read. Hope it helped some of you!