Knowing your audience’s traffic patterns to and on your blog is crucial for its success. To understand how your readers interact with your content you need access to your traffic stats. According to a survey from a web technology company W3Techs, the best web analytics tool that can provide you with this data is Google Analytics (more precisely, it owns a traffic analysis tool market share of 80%). And it’s all FREE! Plus the program integrates with other Google products like Webmaster Tools, AdWords, or AdSense, helping you get to know your audience even better.
I will be writing about installing and using the program on your blog, but here we’ll only focus on why Google Analytics is important for you as a blogger, what data can you track and how you can use it to make your blog better. Here are four reasons why your blog needs it:
You’ll find out who visits your blog
Why is this important? Say one of your 2014 New Year resolutions is to redesign your blog; – you can use this data to custom-make a site that respects and is compatible with your readers’ needs to improve their experience. If, for example, most of them don’t have Flash support, then you probably shouldn’t use it on your blog. If large part of your users is mobile, you should definitely consider a responsive theme that fits all screen sizes.
And where these visitors come from
Google Analytics will also show you where your readers were before they came on your blog. The sources are grouped by categories – search engines, direct links or referrals from other sites, – but you can open them to see, for example, what traffic you got from Google, Yahoo, or Bing, separately. For each source there’s also information on the percentage of visitors. This is all very valuable data if used wisely.
By locating your top referrals, you can modify your strategies to better address the potentials of those sources. If most of your traffic is coming from Twitter, invest some time into making your content there exclusive to show respect to your following, make them feel special, and reach out further. If you notice another blog among your highest referral sources, you may want to consider offering a guest post, or in other way try to establish a partnership and reach out to that fellow blogger.
You’ll be able to understand what they do while on your blog
The analytics tool also allows you to track your readers – what pages they visit, how long do they stay there – from the moment they first land on your blog. You can calculate your bounce rate as a percentage of visitors who bounced off your blog without clicking any other page.
For most bloggers this is a very important metric and it gives you information on the actions you need to take to decrease the rate and increase the depth of page views. Last week I wrote a whole article with tips on how to keep visitors browsing and engaging deeper with your content, and not bouncing off. Maybe you should read it…
How they interact with your content
You get access to information about the ways your blog readers interact with your content, like how many of them click which links on your pages. Knowing this you can A/B split test your content and monitor how results change when you replace the subscribe button, or the link to your most recent ebook, to see what works best and helps meet your goals.
And you’ll know when they visit your blog
Check out the “hottest” hours in the day when most users read your blog content and then publish your posts to maximize their reach. If there’s a difference in your and the time zone of your audience, schedule the posts to meet their hours. Click the link to see when and how to share your blog posts on social media.
By monitoring the behavior of your blog visitors before and when arriving on your site you can work your content around them, and focus on strategies that work for you, eliminating those that don’t.
What do you think? Do you need Google Analytics on your blog? Or do you use it already? Share your tips in the comments if you like …