Google Analytics is a vital tool that every blogger should be using. And I highly recommend setting it up as a new blogger.
Google Analytics intimidates some bloggers. They think it is too complicated to set up and use.
However, it is a one-time process that isn't very difficult if you follow the steps below. It is something you should do as soon as you start a blog. And it provides valuable data for as long as you have your website.
Why Should Bloggers Use Google Analytics?
As a blogger, it is essential to know about your audience.
You want to know:
- Where are they from?
- When do they visit?
- Are they new or returning visitors?
- What do they use to look at your site?
- Device type
- Operating system
- Screen resolution
- What language do they use?
- How did they get to your site?
- Organic search
- What pages do they visit?
- How long do they stay on your site?
- What pages do they leave your site from?
All of these questions provide valuable insight into what your customers like and don't like, how they use your site, and how you can improve their experience.
Additionally, you see what brings visitors to your site and what drives it away.
Google analytics provides bloggers with data to answer these questions and more. It can also tell you if you have bad traffic coming to your site.
So, now that you know why you need to use Google Analytics, let's see how to use it.
Setting Up Google Analytics for Your Blog
How to Setup Google Analytics for Your Blog
Sign in to Google Analytics
Go to Google Analytics and sign in to your Google Account. If you don't have an account, create a new one (it's free!).
Enter the Google Analytics platform
Click the “Set up for free” box on the Welcome to Google Analytics screen.
Create a Google Analytics Account
Enter an Account Name. The name can be whatever you want (your name, your website name, etc.).
Leave the Data Sharing Settings selected.
Select what you are measuring
You should select “Web” if you are a blogger with a website.
Setup your Property
Enter your Website Name and URL.
Select your Industry Category and Time Zone.
Click Create and Accept the Terms of Service Agreement.
Install Global Site Tag on your website
The tracking code needs to be the first item in the <HEAD> of every webpage you want to track.
If you are using WordPress, you can use a plugin to insert the code on every page.
Alternatively, you can use Google Tag Manager along with the Google Site plugin to use the tracking code.
Some WordPress plugins will link your site to Google Analytics by just entering the Tracking ID. However, be careful that your ID is not applied multiple times to each page.
Multiple Tracking IDs can cause errors in your analytics data.
Configuring Your Analytics Account
After you have Google Analytics set up to track the activity on your blog, there are several settings you'll want to configure. These settings will give you more accurate analytics.
Create Separate Views
In Google Analytics, there are Accounts, Properties, and Views.
Accounts are self-explanatory and are what you created above. You also created a Property. Properties are different websites, and each would have a separate tracking code.
So if you only have one site, you'll have one Account and one Property.
You can create views to filter out different types of traffic for each Property. You can have up to 25 different views per Property.
When you create your analytics account, the initial view “All Web Site Data” includes all traffic to the pages where the code is applied.
I recommend you keep this view.
However, you'll want to create a view that excludes traffic from you as well as from bots and spiders.
You want those bots on your website to index your pages, but you don't want to see that when analyzing your traffic.
Keep the view without any filters so you can always go back to it if there are any issues with the modified views or if you are interested in seeing the unfiltered data.
To create a new view, click on Admin next to the gear in the lower left of the Analytics dashboard. Then click on Create View.
Enter a name for your new View under Reporting View Name (I called my new view Main View), select the Time Zone, and click Create View.
Now just be sure to be aware of which View you are using when you look at data and when you make any changes to a View.
Exclude Bot and Spider Traffic
After creating your new View, click on View Settings in the View menu. Ensure the “Exclude all hits from known bots and spiders” box is checked. It should be checked by default.
This selection will ensure that when Google and other search engines crawl your site, those visits won't be counted.
You can create a view to include that traffic as well if you are interested. Just uncheck that box in the View Settings.
Below the Bot Filtering, there is an option for tracking users' search queries on your site. I don't currently use that option, but be aware it is there if you are interested.
Exclude Your IP Address
While it is nice to see the additional traffic, your 100 clicks on your site shouldn't appear in your analytics. This traffic will skew your data.
Additionally, if you have a team of people that work on your site, you'll want to exclude their activity as well.
In the View menu, select Filters. And then click on the red ADD FILTER button.
- Enter a Filter Name (i.e., Exclude My IP)
- Select the following:
- “Exclude” under “Select filter type”
- “traffic from the IP addresses” under “Select source or destination
- “that are equal to” under “Select expression”
- Enter your IP address
- Click Save
If you don't know your IP address, either search for IP address in a Google search, and it will give you your IP address.
Now your activity will be excluded from your Google Analytics data.
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is another webmaster tool available from Google.
If you have Google Search Console setup for your site (which you should), you can connect it to your Google Analytics account.
Google Search Console, by itself, provides valuable insights into the search queries related to content on your site.
In Google Search Console, you can:
- The performance of your site on Google search
- Number of clicks
- Total Impressions
- Average CTR – percent of impressions resulting in clicks
- Average position
- Breakdown by queries (keyword), pages, countries, devices, search appearance, and dates
- Monitor how Google sees your site
- How many pages are indexed
- Pages with errors
- Enhancements detected on your website and any errors
- Mobile Usability
- Sitelinks searchbox
- Monitor the external and internal linking that Google sees
As a blogger, this information, especially regarding the keywords your site is ranking for, is extremely useful in understanding what is driving organic traffic to your website and where you can make improvements.
Additionally, Google Search Console lets you submit sitemaps. Sitemaps help Google understand your site structure and helps it crawl your site.
Furthermore, you can inspect any URL from your site and submit it for indexing. I recommend you do this after publishing new posts.
I submit my new posts for indexing on Google as well as Bing (which has its own webmaster tools) right after publishing them.
Finally, if there are any Security Issues or Manual Actions from Google, they will appear in the Search Console.
Connecting Google Search Console to Google Analytics
Connecting Search Console to your Analytics account allows you to see some of your Search Console data without leaving Google Analytics, including:
- Landing Pages
To connect Search Console to Google Analytics:
- Click on Property Settings in the Property menu on the Admin screen
- Scroll down on the page and click the “Adjust Search Console” button under Search Console
- Click on Add on the next screen, and it will open a page titled “Enable Search Console data in Google Analytics”
- Click on the “Add a site to Search Console” button and then click on Ok
- You'll proceed to Google Search Console to finish linking your site
If you don't have Google Search Console setup, you'll have to verify your domain.
Ensure you use the same Google account for both Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Once this is complete, you'll be able to see the Search Console data discussed above in your Analytics account.
Additionally, in the Property menu in Google Analytics, you have the option to link your Analytics account to other Google products like Google Ads and Adsense.
Linking these allows you to see data from those platforms in your Analytics account.
Other Google Analytics Configurations
There are several more advanced options you can configure in Google Analytics to provide further insights, including:
- Measure conversions like eCommerce transactions or lead generation
- Content Grouping
- Create groupings of content on your site
- Apply modified tracking codes to pages with the specific content group(s)
- Allows you to analyze pages belonging to a content group in aggregate and make comparisons between content groups
- Create segments of your audience by:
- Date of First Session
- Traffic Sources
- Create alerts to be notified and emailed if a condition meets a certain threshold
- For example, you can create a traffic alert if the number of sessions drops below a specific amount, exceeds a certain number, or changes by a fixed number or percentage
Using Google Analytics as a Blogger
As a blogger, Google Analytics provides essential information about your site.
We'll cover the main reports and how to find critical data about your site.
However, other than creating and modifying custom reports, alerts, or dashboards, it is a read-only system outside of the Admin panel.
I recommend you spend some time clicking around the reports and exploring all of the options to learn how to use your Analytics account to optimize your blog.
The main reports are:
- Conversions – Requires goals and/or eCommerce tracking to be enabled
The Home dashboard includes a snapshot of the primary data from the underlying reports.
Each of the main reports has an Overview report and then separate reports to view data in the specified area in more detail.
Additionally, you can create personalized dashboards, custom reports, saved reports, and custom alerts.
If you want to go even further, you can use Google Data Studio to create detailed dashboards and reports using both your Google Analytics and Search Console data.
Selecting Report Date Ranges and Granularity of Charts
At the top right of the reports, other than Realtime, you can change the time range the report covers.
Also, you can click the box next to Compare to so you can see how the performance compares to another period.
Further, most charts allow you to view the data by varying time granularity (Hourly, Day, Week, or Month).
You can also add a metric for comparison to most charts, as well as adding segments if you have them defined.
If you want to see what is happening on your site right now, you can watch the Realtime Report.
It provides data on:
- Social Traffic
- Active Pages
The realtime report is useful for seeing what content your visitors are interested in right now. It is also helpful to know the impact of a social media post.
If you publish something on social media, you can monitor the Realtime report and watch it drive visitors to your site as it happens.
The Audience report provides critical information about your visitors, including:
- New users
- Sessions per user
- Pages per session
- Average session duration
- Bounce rate
- System information
- Operating System
- Service Provider
- Operating System
- Service Provider
- Screen Resolution
Most of these categories have individual sub-reports to look at and drill into the data in greater detail.
You can use this data to:
- Identify how users like your site based on if they return, bounce rate, and how many pages they visit
- Determine if your website performs better or worse on a particular platform (i.e., you have a decent bounce rate on desktop, but it is near 100% for mobile meaning you need to work on the appearance and functionality of your site on mobile)
- Tailor your content based on users demographics
The Acquisition report provides details about how your visitors end up on your website. It includes data on:
- Organic traffic
- Paid traffic
- Referral traffic
- Social traffic
Additionally, the Google Search Console data discussed earlier is found here.
The Google Analytics Acquisition report is useful to bloggers for understanding which sources provide your traffic so you can adjust your focus as necessary.
For example, if you use Pinterest, the Acquisition report is a powerful tool. You can see how individual pins drive traffic to specific blog posts.
To evaluate your pin performance:
- Click on Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals in the menu bar
- Click on Pinterest in the table that appears
- This will drill into the table, showing all blog posts where pins drive traffic for the specified time range.
- Click on a post
- All pins that drive traffic to the blog post during the selected time appear in the table.
You can monitor other social media posts in a similar way.
This data allows you to observe how the social media post is driving traffic to your site over time.
It may indicate you need to create a new Pinterest pin for a blog post, or it may show you which types of pins drive traffic to your site better than others.
The Behavior report is essential for understanding how users interact with your site. It includes:
- Pageview statistics for site pages
- Behavior flow
- See how visitors move through your site
- Site speed data
- Site search data if configured
- Events by visitors
- User interactions
- Link clicks
- Form submissions
- User interactions
Being able to see how your customers interact with your website is crucial to finding issues with your site.
This data can help you improve your internal linking structure, as well as identifying poorly performing pages.
In addition to the reports, you can ask questions about your data using the search bar at the top of the page.
You will receive an answer you the sidebar on the right as well as an option to see the related report and additional follow-up questions.
You can also click on the Insights button, and you'll see some Insights identified by Google Analytics, as well as several recommended insight questions lower down in the sidebar.
As you can see, using Google Analytics as a blogger provides several valuable insights.
And you won't find another free tool that will provide as much information about your site as Google Analytics will.
Whether you want to know where your visitors are coming from, what they are doing on your site, or where they typically exit from, you'll find something in Google Analytics to help improve your website.
Are you a blogger who uses Google Analytics? What metrics do you focus on to evaluate the performance of your blog? What other tools do you use to monitor your blog's performance? Please share in the comments below.