Want to track goals on your blog? Google Analytics is the tool you need. In this tutorial, we'll share how to setup Google Analytics for your blog, step by step.
If you have a blog as a means to support your business, you need to treat it like any other aspect of your business.
You should be paying attention to key analytics to support decision-making and site enhancements. You should be tracking its visitors, tracking your most popular posts, tracking new readers, and more.
The common theme:
That means you need to get a handle on the analytics for your site. Google Analytics is an excellent tool but can seem overwhelming.
So here’s our beginner’s guide to Google Analytics for bloggers.
Why is Google Analytics Important?
Let’s start with why you should be using Google Analytics.
Even if your blog is for personal use, or isn’t a key component of making money for your business, you need to look at your data and measure your traffic.
Using Google Analytics, here are some of the examples of what you can learn about your site:
Number of visitors to the site.
Demographic information such as where they live, what language they speak, age and gender.
How they got there – what sites are sending traffic to your site.
How many organic searches end up arriving at your site thanks to SEO efforts.
Which pages are the most popular on your site.
Which pages get the most, and least, organic searches.
The preferred blog content of your users.
The number of conversions. This could be visitors who made a purchase or accomplished the key goal of the page, like signing up with their email address.
Where your conversions came from – how they go to the site and where they went when they arrived on your site.
How many users arrived via mobile.
Whether your site is mobile-friendly.
The loading speed of your site and how to improve it, including stats on the click-through-rate, average time on page and bounce rate.
Referrals from websites and social networks.
This is a good start on the list of metrics you can follow thanks to Google Analytics. In this way, you’ll be able to determine how to enhance, change, or tweak your website or your blog content based on the information you learn.
There are a few other good reasons to use Google Analytics, besides tracking the traffic patterns of your users.
That’s always a bonus, particularly for an application that powerful.
It also integrates with other Google programs, including AdWords.
Finally, lots of people use at least some Google products, making it relatively easy to use.
So let’s get started with a step-by-step guide.
1. Install Google Analytics
To get started, you will need to set up a Google Analytics account (if you don’t already have one). To do so, you can use the Google account you have for other services, if you have one. For instance, if you have a Gmail account, you can use it.
It’s important to establish an account that only you have access to and that you plan to use all the time. While you can grant access to others as needed, you don’t want others to have control of the account.
That means if you hire a web developer, for instance, don’t let them establish an account for your website under their Google account. That person may not stay on staff for the life of your website, and if they leave your employ, you will have to start all over again.
2. Set Up Your Account and Property
With the Sign Up button, you will provide a variety of information to establish your account. This includes:
Your account name
Your website name
Your website URL
The industry category
The reporting time zone
You can use various hierarchies for your account. For instance, if you have more than one business or more than one website, you can establish up to 100 Google Analytics accounts under one Google account. In each Google Analytics account, you can establish up to 50 website properties. And in each website property, you can establish up to 25 views.
This can be important if you have several websites or several businesses. For instance, if you have a number of businesses each with their own website, you could put them all under a business account. But if you have several businesses and each of them has several websites, you may want to set up different accounts for each business.
While you can’t move a website/property from one Google Analytics account to another, you can rename your accounts or properties.
For our purposes, let’s assume you are looking to establish an account for one website for one business. We will also establish the default view, which includes all data.
So once you’ve entered the account and website information, configure the data sharing settings. We recommend selecting all the options:
Google Products and Services
Then you’ll see a tracking code button that says “Get Tracking ID,” which you will use on your site pages.
3. Install the Tracking Code
The Google Analytics tracking code is how Google knows your site has been visited. It has to be copied and pasted into each page you want to track on your site.
How this is done depends on the nature of your site and the platform you use.
For instance, a WordPress blog is different than Tumblr, or Shopify. You can always search “YOUR PLATFORM + how to install Google Analytics” for detailed instructions on this step.
4. Set Up the Property Tab
Now you can configure your settings to start tracking important information.
Admin » Property » Property Settings
In property settings, toggle the buttons to “on” to set up the following:
Enable demographics and interest reports. This enables you to see data on the age, gender and interests of users.
Use enhanced link attribution. This lets you see page analytics such as which links users are clicking on in your pages. The Embedded Mode is the recommended choice.
Select “Adjust Search Console” to connect Google Analytics with Search Console. This gives you information on SEO, click-through-rate and more.
Enable User Metrics in Reporting. This gives you a better calculation of what a user is on your site.
5. Establish Goals
Next up, you need to configure the Goals setting. To do that, click on:
Admin » View » Goals
Select New Goal, and determine if the goal templates are suited to your site, like “create an account” in Acquisition, or select the Custom option to set up customized goals.
For instance, as a blogger, perhaps your goal is to have people complete a contact form. You can then create a thank you page that will be the final step when users sign up with their contact information.
Want to know the best part?
Such a “thank you” confirmation page can be powerful in getting people to make a further commitment, perhaps making a purchase. After all, one of Cialdini's Principles of Persuasion is consistency.
This consistency principle states that people like to be consistent with things they have previously said or done. Getting people to make a small initial commitment, like signing up to receive your blog, can lead to that further commitment of buying a product.
Getting back to tracking analytics goals, establish your custom goal by entering the URL for that confirmation page after the .com in the Destination field. Then select “Begins with” from the menu. You can select a dollar value for that goal, if applicable, and choose “Create Goal.”
Using templates or custom goals, you can establish up to 20 goals for your website. Choose ones that are most applicable to your business; if you don’t need 20, it isn’t necessary to set them all up. Start with a few that will help inform decisions about your business.
As in our example, as a blogger, one important goal would be a sign-up for an email list to receive your blog regularly. If you’re using your blog to sell products on your site, purchases will be an important goal to track.
It all depends on the nature of your business.
Now you know how to do the basic conversion tracking in Google Analytics.
6. Set Up Site Search Tracking
This feature will help you understand how often users access the search function on your site, including what search terms they used, how effective the search results are, and whether the results created a deeper engagement of users into the site.
Admin » View » View Settings
Then go to Site Search Settings and toggle the Site Search Tracking to “ON.”
You can adjust the Query Parameter field to designate parameters such as term, search, query, and keywords. You can enter up to five parameters, separated by a comma.You can also turn on site search categories if your search function allows users to refine searches.
7. Set Content Grouping
This is a great setting in Google Analytics for bloggers. It will give you analytics on specific topics, such as what you wrote for a blog post. Knowing what your readers like will allow you to write more of that content.
To set this up, go to:
Admin » View » Content Grouping
You can then select specific topics to gather analytics. It’s easier to establish by selecting “Group Using Rule Definitions.” Create a Rule Set, and enter the content you want to track.
For instance, if your niche is “Google Analytics for Beginners,” that’s what you would type in. When looking at the data, the Behavior report will give you information about pages with that content, like pageviews and unique pageviews.
8. Set Up Filters
You’ll need to set up a filter for anyone who administers your site – yourself, as well as any and all employees. Basically you want to exclude from the data all your visits to the site.
To do this, go to Add Filter, Create New Filter, and name it. Then Google “what’s my IP address?” to find your IP address and insert it in the space provided. Do that for your computers, tablets and smartphones.
9. Start Looking at the Data
Now sit back and let the data run for a while. After a week or two, you can go in and look at the analytics.
Here are some things you can learn.
Here’s a snapshot of some of the data contained in these reports:
Active Users: Tracks them for 1, 7, 14 and 28 days, to determine user enthusiasm for your site.
Lifetime Value: Determines lifetime performance of users across multiple sessions.
Demographics: By knowing the age and gender of your users, you can tailor content, advertising and more.
Language and Location: Will allow you to further break down where your users are coming from, and whether you need to consider advertising or content specific to this information.
User Behavior: This can tell you whether users are new or returning to the site, as well as frequency and engagement of those users.
Technology: Will help you know what your users are employing for their browsers, operating systems and networks, so that your content and site performance will match what they need.
Mobile: Helps you understand what mobile devices are being employed by your users, again to help with your site development.
Users Flow: This information shows how users move through your site, from the source they arrived at, the pages they visited and where they exited the site.
This data shows the ABC cycle of your users: Acquisition-Behavior-Conversion.
From this, you will learn how you acquire users, how they behave once on the site, and how they convert (perform the action you want, whether that’s making a purchase or signing up for your blog.)
Data here also includes items like Channel Groupings, which tells you traffic sources such as Paid Search or Direct. You can also gauge social interactions, which are measured when a user completes an interaction with a social button, like sharing your blog post on Facebook.
This data provides pageviews and unique pageviews, as mentioned. Pageviews are counted each time a user comes to a page, which could be several times in one session, if they refresh or hit the “back” button. A unique pageview is counted only once per browsing session.
You’ll also see bounce rate, average time per page, site content by page or page title, and site search stats.
There’s vital information in here on landing pages and exit pages, which are important to track.
For instance, if one page is particularly popular as a landing page, you want to make sure there’s relevant information on that page to convert visitors. If there’s a prominent exit page, perhaps there’s a reason for that. Is the page too slow to load, or does it have irrelevant information that drives users away?
These are just a sampling of the kind of data you will find in the reports. The important thing is for you to experiment with the reports, learn your way around Google Analytics, and use the data to make informed decisions.
It may seem overwhelming to think about tracking the data contained in Google Analytics. But it’s important to have as much information as possible to help make decisions about your business, and to ensure your blog post efforts are supporting that business.
Our beginner’s guide to Google Analytics for bloggers will help you set up the right analytics, and track the right information to ensure success for your blog and your business.
Danielle Canstello is party of the content marketing team at Pyramid Analytics. They provide analytics and enterprise business intelligence software. In her spare time, she writes around the web to spread her knowledge of the marketing, business intelligence and analytics industries.