SEO is the heart of building a thriving website. You put time and effort into keyword research, building backlinks, and getting everything right, but this is only part of the equation for building blog traffic. Without a way to measure how well your site is performing, you cannot make good decisions about the future. Google Analytics is an excellent free tool that you can use to see how well your SEO efforts are doing, and this Google Analytics 101 article will get you started.
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is an incredible tool that tells you information about how you acquire visitors and what they do once they get to your site. Google Analytics can tell you what advertising campaigns are working, where you are getting your most shares, and what they do once they get there. Do they stay and read a few articles, click on affiliate links, or do they immediately leave and go somewhere else?
Google Analytics also tells you about the demographics of your website. It tells you what devices they use to access your website so that you can double-check to make sure your content displays correctly. This powerful tool also lets you see specific actions that people take when they get to your website, such as purchases or clicking on links. The best part is that Google Analytics gives you this information in real-time.
Why you should use Google Analytics: Google Analytics 101
Now that you know what Google Analytics can do, it is time to explore how you can use this information to drive traffic to your website and entice them to stay. The data that Google Analytics provides goes deep, and there is plenty for an expert to explore, but even a beginner can use a few basic pieces of information to get a better idea of how their site is performing. Here are some facts about Google Analytics for beginners.
Google Analytics gives you data on:
- Visitor acquisition
- Visitor behavior
- Exit pages
- New versus returning guests
- Devices used to access your site
Google Analytics also gives you other information, but these are the most useful for building site traffic and improving performance. The next thing that you need to know is how to put this information to use. You know that these things are important, but how do you take this knowledge and turn it into real results?
The first thing you need to understand is that there can be many reasons for the data. Uncovering the reason for the stats is a little like solving a mystery. For instance, if you find that a certain page causes your visitors to click out almost as soon as they can react, then you know there is a big problem with that page, especially if it happens consistently. You know this from the page bounce rate statistic.
Some things that can cause a high bounce rate are:
- Page not relevant to search
- Page loads slowly
- Video or graphics load slowly
- Page displays incorrectly
- Wall of words
- Information disorganized
- Page not easy to follow
- Clashing colors
- Technical error
- Misleading title or meta description
As you can see, there can be many reasons for your visitors’ behavior. Your next job is to figure out which of these common problems, or others, might be the reason for a high bounce rate. Then, you can develop a theory and test it by making one change. After you make the change, wait about a month and see if the bounce rate changes.
This is a good example of how to use the information learned from Google Analytics. This method could be applied to any data. For instance, if you are appealing to the wrong demographic, you can develop a theory and see if you can attract the demographic that you want.
The Affiliate Factor
Another example of using bounce rate is for affiliate landing pages. You want these pages to have a high bounce rate because you want the visitor to visit the merchant page as quickly as possible. Now you have some examples to give you a few ideas on how to use the data, depending on the purpose and type of site that you have. There are no easy answers that apply to everyone, but at least with Google Analytics, you can get an idea of where to begin to look.
How to set up Google Analytics
Setting up Google Analytics is easy, and it can integrate with most common web applications, such as WordPress, Wix, Shopify, MailChimp, Teespring, and many others. The steps for setting up Google Analytics vary slightly for different applications. You will have to consult the help pages of the platform or app to get the exact process, but here are the basics of how the process works.
- 1. Create an account and sign in. You can begin the process here.
- 2. Install Google Analytics. Next, you will need to install Google Analytics to the website you want to track. The installation process varies according to the platform that you use for your website.
- 3. Generate a Google tracking code. This step is the same for all platforms. To do this, go to your Google Analytics Admin menu. You will find the button with a settings icon in the lower left-hand corner of your dashboard. Select “Tracking Code” from the Traffic Info menu. Copy the code. Some platforms also require you to get the Global site tag.
- 4. Got to your website. Now, go to the admin panel, C-panel, or dashboard of your website. From here on, the process varies by platform.
- 5. Installing Google Analytics on other platforms and applications. Each platform is different. For instance, on Shopify, you access the process through the Preferences menu tab. For Wix, you go to the Marketing tab and follow the instructions for entering your tracking code under the Market Integrations selection. On WordPress, you can use a third-party plug-in or install it manually.
Installing Google Analytics is a simple process on most platforms. You can find many tutorials that will take you through the steps for your platform or application. Another thing to mention is that you can install Google Analytics on multiple websites; you are not limited to only one.
Google Analytics for bloggers: what to measure and how
Now you can see that Google Analytics is a powerful tool that anyone can use to get traffic and make sure that they keep coming back for more. These Google Analytics tips and tricks for understanding data will give you a few clues that you can use to get measurable results on your website. Here are some of the most important metrics that we feel you should track to improve your site performance.
Before you write a piece of content, you probably do some work on developing keyword research ideas, but how do you know how those keywords are performing? That is where Google Analytics comes into play. It can show you how much of your traffic is coming from organic search, social media, referrals, paid search, or direct traffic.
Google Analytics acquisition reports let you know how your visitors find your site so that you can make adjustments. For instance, if your organic searches are not driving the traffic that you want, it can mean that you need to do better keyword research. You can also see unique page views versus returning visitors, which can help you plan campaigns in the future. This is only the beginning of the information that you can find on the Google Analytics console, making it one of the most powerful tools you can use to build your audience.
Bounce rates are another important indicator. Many factors can make a visitor leave immediately. The keywords on the page might not be relevant to their search terms, or there might be something that turns them off like a graphic or text that does not display correctly on their device. This data at least gives you an idea of where to start to look for the problem so that you can solve it.
Exit Page Data
The last page the visitor viewed also gives you valuable information. For instance, if it is the “Thank you,” page on your checkout, then it is a good sign. If it is your landing page or a certain article, then you need to look into fixing it so that people want to stay.
Another important tool is Google geo-data. This piece of information tells you where your visitors are located. Most people assume that their visitors are from their own country or locality, but the results might surprise you. This information might give you information that you can use to change the demographics so that they match those of your products or service. You also might find a new, lucrative market in another country that you had not considered.
Summing it Up
Google Analytics gives you a snapshot of what you are doing right and areas where you could make some improvements. You can run these analytics for all traffic across the whole site or for one specific page. These four pieces of information are the ones that I feel will make the most difference for beginners. Knowing the data is one thing, but it is up to you to develop a plan for using it and the insight that it provides.
Knowledge gives you the power to make improvements and to take your business to the next level, but knowledge alone will not do it. As you can see from this Google Analytics 101 article, the data can be interpreted in many different ways. At least with Google Analytics, you can get an idea of where to start. Be sure to check out other ways to improve the SEO performance of your website so you can reach your business goals.