We covered the reasons why you need Google Analytics on your blog – to, basically, improve based on this measurable data. It’s true that some of the most important things can’t be measured (like for example, how your readers feel after reading your post, is there a smile on their faces), but the numbers behind the behavior of your visitor when landing on your blog can give you valuable insights and help you manage better.
Now we can look at some of the basic information Google Analytics provides for you. By combining this data you are getting deeper understanding of your audience wants and needs, and what you can do to serve them better. Check Google’s Get started with Analytics to set up your account.
This is probably the one metric you are constantly checking – how many people are visiting your blog. It helps you see if your traffic is increasing over time, is there (hopefully) a repeating growth every week. You want to build a loyal following, but you also want to grow and expand your presence, and this means bringing new people to your blog too. To attract more first-time visitors and get the most exposure you should focus on your target keywords, improve your SEO, get active on social media, produce quality and promote your content.
Your traffic sources tell you where your readers come from. Knowing this helps you select the best platforms to reach out to your audience. Here’s what the terms mean:
Organic Search includes people who landed on your blog by clicking a link in search results after they’ve looked up certain keywords. You can modify your blog’s keyword strategy and SEO based on these numbers. Sadly, in September last year Google started redirecting all traffic to encrypted (protected) searches using https which meant no more organic keyword data in Google Analytics for bloggers and website owners. For more details and better understanding of the background read this SearchEngineWatch post.
Direct is the traffic from the people who directly typed your URL in the browser.
Referral traffic comes from searchers who clicked links to your blog on other blogs and websites.
Social traffic includes the visitors who came to your blog through social media.
Landing is the page your readers first visited. Look at your top landing pages and see if you can optimize them to include calls-to-action and encourage visitors to interact further with your blog. Also you can build your content around these interests of your visitors.
Another important metric here is the Bounce Rate that shows the percentage of your blog visitors who viewed just one of your pages (the landing page), and left afterwards. Read the tips how to keep readers on your site and reduce the bounce rate.
Average Time On Site
It’s important to know how much time your visitors spend on your blog. In most cases you want readers to stay longer, engaging with the content and going from one page to another, except for websites which provide short and fast services, where readers come, get the information they need, and leave quickly (grammar services or online banking).
Looking at this data you can also determine whether those who visit your pages actually read the content. If your post of around 700 words was viewed by 1000 people, but the average time they spent on the page is below 10 seconds, you can be certain most of them have not read what you’ve written. The reason can be your slow loading time, or maybe the starting paragraphs are poor and you need to tweak them to intrigue visitors into reading further.
Here’s where you determine what content works best for your audience. Check which pages get the most views, how long people stay on those pages, and what are the bounce rates. If your visitors don’t bounce off but read and click through, then your most popular content is not only interesting, but also encourages them to explore other pages on your blog. Consider these numbers next time you need ideas for blog posts.
Exit Pages and Exit Rates
Exit Page is the last page searchers visit on your blog before they leave, and after viewing multiple pages, or just reading that one. The Exit Rate measures the percentage of visitors who exit your blog through a particular page. This metrics help us identify whether our visitors find the information they look for and if they are satisfied. If your landing page data matches closely with the exit pages, it may indicate that the people who land on your blog are not satisfied with the content provided, so they leave having no reason to return.
When analyzing and combining the information gathered from your blog’s Google Analytics make sure to put all numbers into their context to get accurate results, and don’t forget that these metrics are not generic for all types of blogs and websites, but you must decide for yourself which ones are the most important to you based on the goals you want to achieve.
Do you use Google Analytics? What metrics do you find valuable? Tell us in the comments.