Google Analytics 101 – A Beginner’s Guide
Oh Google Analytics. What a crazy, wonderful, overwhelming tool you are. For those new to blogging, Google Analytics is a free tool that tracks your website traffic and behavior. It’s not the only analytics tool available, however it’s the golden standard for most blogs and websites, and it’s free to use.
A Note About Analytics Before We Dive In
Over here at the BGB Community, we’re all about learning, growth, and community, right? Obviously analytics are a crucial part of blogging. They provide a great tool for measurement of behavior and traffic on your site. However, don’t let yourself become a slave to analytics. At the end of the day, even blogs with small amounts of traffic can make a huge impact. We want to show you how to use the tools without becoming beholden to them. Think about it like a scale for your blog. It’s just one way to measure progress.
Alright, onto the wonderful world of Google Analytics.
(Ps. If you’re looking to install GA check out this tutorial here)
First, we want to define some of the most common terms and metrics you’ll use on your Google Analytics Dashboard and why they matter for your blog.
Common Google Analytics Terms Defined
A pageview is counted for every time a page is viewed (that has a Google Analytics tracking code.) That means whenever a user goes to a page or refreshes a page it will be tracked as a pageview.
A session is defined as the series of pageviews that one user makes within one visit to your site within a certain period of time (most sessions are set to thirty minutes). So one user can click through five different pages and that would count as 1 session but 5 pageviews.
Pretty self explanatory, but this is the number of different pages visited on average per session. So if your average page/session rate is 3, that means the average person visits 3 pages each time they go to your site. The higher your page/session is the more engaged your readers are with your content.
Bounce and Bounce Rate
A bounce is any session with only 1 pageview. Your bounce rate is the percentage of total visits that ended with a bounce. So, if your bounce rate is 70%, that means 70% of the sessions on your site only had 1 pageview. The lower your bounce rate, the better engaged your audience is.
UMV (Unique Monthly Views)
Unique monthly views is a metric that a lot of brands will ask you for. It means how many individual users did you get in a given month. It includes new and returning users. This is also a good metric to measure growth with. You can see the percentage change month over month in your sessions by looking at your UMV’s for any given month.
3 Behaviors to Pay Attention To in Google Analytics
1. Where Your Traffic is Coming From
Makes sense right? If you’re getting readers to your site, you want to know where they’re coming from so you can maximize those channels. We’re big believers in working on what works. We recommend putting 80% of your efforts into optimizing the top 5-10 channels that are bringing you traffic. For example, if you see that Facebook is a huge referral, keep focusing on that platform. Rather than try to move the needle a little bit on a number 20 referral, see if you can exponentially effect those sources of traffic at the top. By focusing more on less, you’ll be able to make a greater overall impact and save yourself some stress.
How to Find It
Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium
2. What Content on Your Site is Performing Well
Next to finding out how they got to your blog, you want to know what content is performing well, that way you can create more of it. Again, the 80/20 rule comes into practice a lot when you’re analyzing your metrics. Look at what’s working well and focus 80% of your effort on those things while devoting 20% to exploring new areas and opportunities. For example, if you notice that 6 out of the top 10 posts are all easy breakfast recipes, then double down on breakfast because people clearly love what you have to say in that department.
How to Find It
Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
3. Reader Engagement
Once you know how people are finding you and what they love, it’s time to dig in to how engaged they really are with your content once they’re on your site. Two helpful metrics for this are pages per visit and session duration. The number of pages a user views is a great indication of whether they want to keep reading more of your content. It can also indicate
How to Find It
Pages/visit + Session Duration
More Useful Resources on Google Analytics:
What do you think?
- What is one question you’ve always had about Google Analytics?
- What’s one interesting thing you’ve realized about your blog via Google Analytics?