UNDERSTANDING GOOGLE ANALYTICS REPORTING
Google Analytics (GA) is by far the most trusted voice in the industry when it comes to website tracking and analytics. So, if you haven't yet, it's important to sign up your blog and equip yourself with a basic understanding of the platform.
In a nutshell, GA tracks the amount of traffic to your site, where that traffic comes from, and what people are doing on-site. It is an invaluable tool that will help you to understand where you blog is going right, and wrong. Setting GA up is incredibly easy – you just add a small piece of tracking code into your blog format. Find step-by-step instructions to guide you through this process here.
On first log in, there are a few core settings to get to grips with. First off is the date setting (top right) – adjust the dates to view or compare specific time periods in all your reports. There is no limit to the dates you can search, apart from the earliest being the date you installed Google Analytics.
Useful, too, are the hourly/day/week/month settings which dictate how your graphs are formulated. Look for granular patterns by selecting the hourly option, or be more topline and select week/month.
You also need to know how to download a GA report. Navigate to the report you’re interested in and then simply click ‘Export’ in the top left, select the format and a download will initiate.
What Brands Need To Know
When a brand asks you to share your blog stats, there are a few things they will definitely be interested in. To find a summary of your site traffic stats, click Audience, then click Overview, and then adjust your dates to give a full month. Here you’ll find, beneath the graph, the basic details you will need to share with brands or magazines you’re hoping to work with. Sessions is the number of times people have been to your site, Users is the number of individual people (tracked via IP address) who have been on your site, Page Views are the number of different pages/posts all these users have viewed. The best way to explain this is, if one person visits your site on 2 different occasions and views 3 pages, your stats would show = 2 sessions, 3 page views and 1 user.
Brands may also be interested in your site demographics, to work out whether their campaign is relevant to your audience. To find these, click Audience and the Demographics > Overview to find their average age and gender of your visitors. Click Demographics > Geo > Location to find out what country they are visiting from.
Your Domain Authority is another useful metric for brands. It helps them to understand how well your site ranks on search engines - scored from 1 – 100, with a higher score being more desirable. You can use the MozRank tool to find your Domain Authority – simply search your site URL.
Within GA you’ll be faced with lots of charts and tabs, which can be a little intimidating. But don’t panic, you won’t need everything on offer. Here is a breakdown of the tabs on the left-hand side which will help you navigate quickly and efficiently:
Real-Time - here you can see the traffic on your site in live, real-time. See which pages are the most active, where in the world visitors are coming from, what websites and social media channels referred them, and what device they are viewing on.
Audience – the Overview tab does just what it says on the tin, it’s a brief summary of your site’s audience. For more detail, choose between tabs for Demographics (where you find out the age and gender of your users), Geo (their language and location), Behaviour (what % of new vs returning visits you are getting and how many times people visit your blog), Technology (what browser and what platform people are visiting you from) and Mobile (the breakdown of visitors using your blog from mobile/desktop/tablet).
Acquisition – Overview is your one-stop-shop again, this time to discover where your traffic comes from. Use the granular tabs to delve a little deeper: All Traffic (the channels, sources and referrers sending visitors to your site), AdWords (if you are running Google advertising, you can view and analyse which advert campaigns work well, and what money you are making from them), and Social (which social media channels generate the most traffic for you). The Campaigns area is relevant if you are using tracking UTM links to monitor your content, find out more about this here.
Behaviour – this is very useful when you are trying to work out which blog posts get you the most traffic and how engaged people are on-site. All Content (where you can see which of your posts generate the most traffic and how long is spent on those posts), Site Speed (useful if you are developing your blog, as it lets you know if your posts are taking too long to load), Site Search (reveals what people search for using the search box on your blog).
Conversions – you don’t need to worry about this section, unless you are selling things via your blog. Further info on conversions can be found here.