Welcome to the third post in my 5-part series about utilizing, understanding and analyzing the basics of Google Analytics.
If you missed the first two post in this series, you can catch up now :
When we (meaning myself and my niece and blogging partner, Tiffany) started blogging in the summer of 2012, we knew nothing. All we knew is that blogs were fascinating and wonderful places to visit and we wanted to be a part of that “tribe.” It wasn’t until three months later that we learned we should install Google Analytics on our site in order to track visits to our site. One you install Google Analytics on your site and understandthe basic information, the reports and metrics offered will help a growing blog morph into a business.
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 two parts of this series and this post focuses on the Audience report.
When you click on each section of the main navigational reports, a drop-down window opens cascading down the page listing multiple reports that are available to study. The Audience report does the same and provides the following options to explore:
- Visitors Flow
In addition, seven of those nine drop-downs listed above provide even more drop-downs to explore! With so much information available at your fingertips, obviously it is not possible to cover all of these unique areas in this post without this post becoming a 10,000 word term paper! So, this post focuses on the Audience Overview report. But, I encourage you to click on the drop-downs in your sidebar navigational and familiarize yourself with the others.
The Audience Overview report gives the blogger a snapshot of activity on their site. By changing the date (located in the upper right area of this and all reports) to daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, annual (whatever date parameter the blogger needs), the line graph, pie chart and numbers will change. The above photo shows one month.
At a glance, the report provides several types of metrics to use in analyzing your data:
(1) A line graph of traffic over the specified time period
(2) A pie chart to show the percentage of new versus returning visitors
(3) Specific numbers for the following:
- Visits – total number of visits to your site
- Unique Visitors – total number of unique visitors to your site
- Pageviews – total number of pages viewed on your site
- Pages per Visit – average number of pages viewed per visit
- Average Visit Duration – average visit length of all visitors
- Bounce Rate – percent of single-page visits
- % of New Visitors – percent of total visitors who visited your site for the first time
As you will note in the line graph, our traffic spiked to an all-time high on February 24th. What drove 1,026 visitors to our site that day? Of course, I wanted to find out! So, after further analyzing the data available on Google Analytics, I determined that the majority of the traffic arrived on our site because of our Peach Pineapple Dump Cake recipe.
But, why Peach Pineapple Dump Cake, I wanted to know? It’s one of our older recipes from our early days of blogging and the photo was taken with an iPhone! After some further research, I learned that AllFreeCasseroleRecipes, a sister company of FaveCrafts and Creative Income Blog, put a link to our recipe in their newsletter! Imagine that; a newsletter helped drive significant traffic to our site in one day!
As you will note from the pie chart, new visitors far outweigh returning visitors to our site. This is not unusual. At a blogging conference I attended, one of the speakers told the audience that your visitors will “turn over” every three months. That’s one of the reasons why as a blogger, you should provide new content to your site on a consistent basis.
Also, notice that the “Average Visit Duration” to our site was a whopping 46 seconds! In our early days, it was not unusual for visitors to stay 5 to 10 minutes! Now they stay under one minute. Why? Because in our early days of blogging, our blog was read by friends and family who loved us! So, they had a vested interest in staying on our blog for awhile to see what we’d been creating. They still visit us, they still love us, but our traffic has grown so much in the last 6 months that now new visitors outweigh returning visitors.
While the 46 second “Average Visit Duration” isn’t stellar, I’m not too worried about it. I’m not worried because I know that in our “toot sweet” lives, visitors to web sites want to find the information they need and then move on. So, our visitors found the Peach Pineapple Dump Cake recipe they wanted, saved it or printed it and moved on. In our on-line blogging business, this is a truism: you have 10 seconds to make an impression. Note, too, that our “Bounce Rate” is high, which tracks with the “Average Visit Duration” and the truism I just shared!
Plus, you can change the metrics from the drop-downs available under “Overview” to further analyze data. As I’ve said before, Google Analytics provides every which way imaginable to slice-and-dice your data!
In addition, the Audience report provides opportunities to view the following unique reports and metrics:
- Demographics – who is visiting your site defined by age and gender
- Interests – what they are visiting defined as traffic by affinity and other categories
- Geo – where they are visiting from including country, territory and language spoken
- Behavior – are they new versus returning? How many times do they visit? How many days go by before they return? How much time do they spend on your site? These and more questions are answered by the Behavior report within the Audience report.
- Technology – what browser are they using? This information could be a critical component in a site design/redesign. What service providers do they use to access your site?
- Mobile – this tells you what type mobile device, brand, service provider and more. More and more visitors are accessing web sites through a mobile device or tablet. Understanding how your site looks when opened from a mobile device is key.
- Custom – visitor activity reports that are custom designed by you for your blog/web site. These require that you understand code because they require that you insert tracking code to enable them. If you don’t know coding, you will need to hire professional help to use these reports.
- Visitors Flow – per Google, this report “is a graphical representation of the paths visitors took through your site, from the source, through the various pages, and where along their paths they exited your site.” It is a fascinating chart to review, but complicated to follow.
I love looking at this report:
This is a map of the world showing from where your visitors are coming. You can find this map under to Geo down-drop under the Audience report. Use your mouse to hover over the map and it will tell you the specific country/territory and the number of visitors. All areas in blue represent visitors to your site!
Stay tuned for the rest of the series…
- Google Analytics: Analyzing the Acquisition Report
- Google Analytics: Analyzing the Behavior Report
By: Carole, from Toot Sweet 4 Two