This is the second post in my five-part series about utilizing, understanding and analyzing the basics of Google Analytics. If you missed the first post in this series, check out Google Analytics: The Basics.
Why is it important that a blogger understand Google Analytics? Well, it’s not important if you are blogging for your own personal enjoyment. Your family and friends will still follow you plus you may acquire unknown followers who are intrigued by your content, like your voice or just find your blog an interesting and enjoyable place to visit.
But if you have a blog that is your stand-alone business or attached to a business website, understanding what drives traffic to your site is the holy grail. Because without traffic, a blog and/or business doesn’t grow and succeed but withers on the proverbial vine that is the world wide web!
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. Well, guess what happened since I wrote that first post? Google has changed their navigation sidebar! “My Stuff” and “Standard Reports” are no longer headings with drop-down capability! Here’s a before and after picture of the sidebar:
We covered “My Stuff” (“Dashboard” and “Intelligence Reports”) in my first post: Google Analytics: The Basics. If you missed that post, take a moment and read it now; I’ll wait for you! The reports that formerly rolled-up under “Standard Reports” are still retrievable in Google Analytics.
As the sidebar photo above shows, these reports are:
Each of these separate areas is quite robust in their own standing, with multiple opportunities to “slice-and-dice” information in just about any configuration the blogger needs. When you click on each of these main headings on your sidebar navigation, additional drop-down menus appear, giving you choices on how to view this information. With the exception of “Conversions,” we will cover each of these reports in upcoming posts in this series.
The “Conversions” area is quite detailed and requires that you establish “goals” in order to utilize these reports. Briefly, goals are targeted objectives that you establish for your blog, such as “Subscribe to My Newsletter! Enter Your Email Address Here!”
By setting “goals” for targeted objectives, you can analyze the information gathered to determine your next course of action. If you are interested in using this feature, click on the “Learn More” hyperlink under the “Conversions – Goals – Overview” section.
Overview of Real-Time, Audience, Acquisition and Behavior
The Real-Time Report is so much fun to watch! In “real-time”, bloggers can see how many people have accessed their site and what they are viewing. At the time I took a picture of our Google Analytics Real-Time Report, we had 15 people visiting our site, most of them from FaveCrafts’ sister site, AllFreeCasseroleRecipes. And, as you can see from that report below, our visitors were viewing specific recipes.
Each of the menu tabs under Real-Time give you more detailed information: Overview, Locations, Traffic Sources, Content.
The Audience Overview Report gives the blogger oodles of information in one quick glance. It allows you to change the date to have this Overview show a report daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, annual – whatever date parameter the blogger needs.
How is changing this date useful? One example: if the blogger launches a sponsored post for a client, the blogger can analyze how much traffic the blog received on the date of launch or any date after.
At a glance, the report provides a graph of traffic over the specified time period, a pie chart to show the percentage of new versus returning visitors, plus specific numbers for the following:
- Unique Visitors
- Pages per Visit
- Average Visit Duration
- Bounce Rate
- % of New Visitors
Each of these will be discussed in more detail in the next post in this series, so stay tuned!
In addition, the Audience Report provides opportunities to view the following unique reports (these, too, will be discussed in more detail in the next part of the series):
- Visitors Flow
Within the Acquisition Report area are opportunities to fine-tune the information you are seeking. We will review most of these in the fourth post of this series.
The drop-down reports for this section are:
- All Traffic
- All Referrals
- Key Words
- Cost Analysis
- Search Engine Optimization
My favorite report under Audience is the “All Traffic” report because it allows me, at a quick glance, to analyze from where my traffic is coming.
In the photo above, I can see that while the majority of my traffic is coming from Pinterest, “Google Organic” is close behind. This means that visitors are landing on my site as a result of a “long-tail search.”
A long-tail search is what most people do now when they type something into the search bar of a search engine. For example, typing in “cake” will yield 152,000,000 results, while typing in “peach pineapple dump cake” produces 172,000 results. And, Toot Sweet 4 Two lands in the top six of that search! Interestingly, if you type in “peach pineapple dump cake recipe”, the results are 3,900,000. But, Toot Sweet 4 Two still lands in the top 6.
Having your Google Organic search engine results in the top level of your traffic reports is a “good thing” because that means you are using SEO (search engine optimization) correctly on your blog.
In the number 3 position on this report are the words “(direct) / (none)”. This means that visitors are typing in our URL (website address) directly! They are choosing to visit us directly!
The drop-down categories under the Behavior Report are equally robust. Again, we will cover more details about this report in a future post in this series.
In the meantime, Behavior reports include the following:
- Behavior Flow
- Site Content
- Site Speed
- In-Page Analytics
Here’s one of my favorite parts of the Behavior report (Site Content – All Pages):
Why is this one of my favorite views? Because it specifically tells me what people are reading when they land on our site. As you can see by my snippet of this report, nine out of the top 10 are recipes (I can’t explain why number 3 is blank! Sorry, but I’ve got much to learn about Google Analytics myself!).
Be sure to join us for the rest of the series, coming up in the weeks ahead…
- Google Analytics: Analyzing the Audience Report
- Google Analytics: Analyzing the Acquisition Report
- Google Analytics: Analyzing the Behavior Report
By: Carole, from Toot Sweet 4 Two