What The Heck Is Google Analytics?

In this post I’d like to show you some of basic things you can learn about your audience by using Google Analytics. Step one, if you don’t have Google Analytics, go to http://google.com/analytics and set up an account for free, then install it on your site. Many of the popular blogging platforms make it pretty easy to do.

The purpose of Google Analytics is to provide you with metrics about your site’s visitors, for free. The data you see is all anonymous—meaning you won’t see that Joe Smith from Milwaukee Wisconsin read a certain page. But what you can see is, within a date range that you specify, how many people are coming to visit your site on a daily basis. Here’s what else you can see.

The basic data you can see goes beyond how many daily visitors your site attracts. You can also see how long they spend on your site. The more time your visitors spend, the more they are reading and engaging with your content. You can also see where in the world your readers are located, as well as what browser they like to use.

Now let’s get into the juicy details. You can use Google Analytics to learn about what your visitors like to read. This information is found from clicking on the Behavior menu option on the left navigation, then click on Overview. On this screen you can see your most popular pages first and then the list descends to the least popular. You can also see how much time, on average, readers are spending on your pages—if they are enjoying what you wrote, they’re going to spend more time on the page, right?

The next key piece of information you can see on Google Analytics is where your traffic is coming from. This is important because it will tell you, depending on where you’re promoting your blog entries, which ones are bringing you the most traffic. You might also see some unexpected sources of traffic, like if some random person linked to your blog from their site and are throwing traffic your way. (You can then reach out, send a thank you note and make a new friend and start thinking about guest blogging.) You can see your traffic sources under Acquisition, and then click on Channels. This will show you a generalized source of where your traffic is coming from. For example, it’ll say Social, Search, Direct and Referral. You can click on those words on the left of the chart and drill down. If you click on Search it’ll show what search terms were used in a search engine to find your site. When you click on Social it’ll show you which social media sites are sending you the most traffic. Referral will show you which non-social media sites are sending you traffic. Then Direct means that this is the number of people who go right to your site without searching or clicking on a link in social media.

With these basic pieces of information you will know exactly what your readers like, and then you can deliver more of that content to them, and know what’s working when you promote your blog.

As they say, knowledge is power — and will make you a more effectively promoted blogger.

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