Welcome to the fourth post in my 5-part series about utilizing, understanding and analyzing the basics of Google Analytics.
If you missed the first three posts in this series, you can catch up now:
- Google Analytics: The Basics
- Google Analytics: Understanding Standard Reports
- Google Analytics: Analyzing the Audience Report
Google Analytics is a robust data mining service provided by Google for free. For bloggers whose intent is that their blog provide a source of revenue, it is an important tool to install on your blog. The information provided by Google Analytics various reports is so diverse, but some of the tools they provide do require coding. So, if you are not familiar with HTML (and I’m not!), and you want to use those specific reports, you will need to hire someone who is!
But, the beauty of Google Analytics reports is that you don’t need everything they offer in order to analyze data and determine what’s working on your blog. With the basic overviews and metrics Google Analytics provides at your fingertips, bloggers can better understand:
- What drives traffic to your site
- How traffic arrives on your site
- What changes to make to your blog to increase traffic to your site
This post makes the following assumptions about you, the reader:
- The reader has a blog
- The reader’s blog is a business
- The reader has installed Google Analytics
- The reader has limited experience in using Google Analytics
When you first log on to Google Analytics, the left side of your screen is a navigation sidebar with drop-down menus. We have covered several of those navigation aides in the first three parts of this series and this post focuses on the Acquisition report.
Once you click on the Acquisition Report, it drops down and provides many reports about “acquisition” or how visitors arrive on your site. The choices are:
- All Traffic
- All Referrals
- Key Words
- Cost Analysis
- Search Engine Optimization
In addition, four of the choices above (Key Words, AdWords, Social and Search Engine Optimization) have their own additional drop-downs with even more ways to view and analyze data. And, many of these choices involve either enabling Webmaster Tools or setting up other parameters involving coding. But, there is a wealth of information available to analyze without taking these additional steps. In this post, we will focus on those.
The Acquisition Overview (and Channels) is a quick look at where all traffic is coming from when landing on your site. The Channels report includes a line graph and a little more detail, such new versus returning visitors, bounce rate, etc.
As you can see in the photo above, the majority of our traffic comes from social network sites. However, referral traffic is not far behind and organic search is right up there, too. What does all of this mean?
- Social – these are sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Instagram, StumbleUpon, Tumblr, Reddit, Digg, etc.
- Referral – these are sites that have links back to your site such as Creative Income Blog, FaveCrafts, AllFreeCasseroleRecipes, other blogs (could include linky parties, blog hops, guest posting), etc.
- Organic Search – visitors land on your site based on the words they type in a search engine, for example: Peach Pineapple Dump Cake. That is a very specific key word search and there is a good chance that visitors will have a choice to click through to our site if they use that combination of words in their key word search.
- Direct – this means that visitors are actually typing in the specific URL to land on a site; in this case, this means that visitors typed Toot Sweet 4 Two’s URL to land on our site.
- Other – in our case, the “other” is RSS. That means that 432 visits to our site in the month of February came through RSS, a feed reader in which the visitor has subscribed.
The top three (social, referral, organic search) are very important to me because they indicate to me that we are doing a good job of “spreading the wealth”. It is important for blogs not to rely heavily on one area to drive traffic. For example, what would happen if the majority of our social traffic arrived on our site from Facebook and they changed their algorithms? In a flash, that traffic could dry up.
So, by having your traffic arrive via referral and organic search, too, it creates a “safety net” of sorts so that when and if those types of events happen (and they will), you won’t be starting from square one!
Having visitors arrive via Direct and Other (RSS, in our case) is exciting to me because that means those visitors have made a conscious decision to visit us PLUS they are the ones that will stay more than 10 seconds and explore our blog, read our current and old posts and increase the amount of overall time spent on our blog! We love our readers!
All Traffic and All Referrals
The All Traffic Report and the All Referrals Report are similar in structure in that they both include a line graph and then more specific information. Since we’ve pretty much discussed the All Traffic Report in the Acquisition Overview above, we will focus on All Referrals.
The majority of the traffic referred to our site comes from Pinterest, followed by AllFreeCasseroleRecipes and My Honeys Place. What does this mean to us? This tells us that Pinterest is a key player in our traffic from both a referral and social network perspective. They are unique in that way.
So what does my report tell you? It tells you that I’m active on Pinterest, that I’ve developed a good relationship with AllFreeCasseroleRecipes by continuing to develop new recipes that fit their demographic and readership. It also tells you that I have a similarly successful partnership with My Honeys Place.
As respects Four Seasons Recipes and Pro Food Pix, they are recipe content aggregators. They allow you, the blogger, to add a photo and minimal information to their site with a link back to your site (like Pinterest, in a way). As an experiment, I added one of our recipes in each site. I wanted to “test the waters” and see what would happen. Now I know that both are worthy of spending time with by adding our recipes because both will generate traffic to our site.
Developing a “keyword” strategy is a component of building your blog. However, it has become more difficult because Google has changed the way they display the keyword report because of privacy issue.
What you can tell is that Google is:
- Not providing me with information on 2,567 key word searches
- That 12 people searched for the key words “toot sweet 4 two”
- And the rest are all recipe searches based on specific words.
This report, while still available, is of limited use. However, learning good search engine optimization (SEO) techniques is still a worthy investment of your time as a blogger.
If social networking is a part of your blog growth strategy, then the Social report offers tremendous value and multiple opportunities for analyzing data. By clicking on “Social”, it drops-down to include the following:
- Network Referrals
- Data Hub Activity
- Landing Pages
- Visitors Flow
Each of these areas is worthy of exploration. But, to limit the length and scope of this article (because all of these are very broad topics), let’s review Visitors Flow.
In the photo above, you can see where traffic is coming from and where they are going once they arrive. Are they leaving? Yes, a great deal are. But, others stay and look at other posts. This “flow” can help bloggers understand what content is generating interest and what content makes them stay. And, as bloggers, we all want them to stay, don’t we?
Stay tuned for the last part of the series…
- Google Analytics: Analyzing the Behavior Report
By: Carole, from Toot Sweet 4 Two