Google Analytics is like a jungle. So much information and numbers that it can quickly become confusing. Fear not my friends!
There are only a few metrics that bloggers and businesses starting out should be looking for.
Don’t have Google Analytics setup in WordPress yet? Make it happen here.
Top 5 Google Analytics Reports
1. Percentage of new visits
It’s good to monitor total traffic, but keeping an eye on what percentage of your visitors are new will give you a good indication of how well your blog is growing.
2. Pages per visit/average visit duration/bounce rate
I’ve grouped these together because they all measure the same thing: user engagement.
An average number of pages per visit is two to three. If people are visiting five or six of your pages, then you can be sure you’ve got a great blog.
An average visit duration (the average time people spend on your blog) is one to two minutes. If you’re getting average visit durations of more than five minutes, it’s an indication your content is very engaging.
Bounce rate is when a visitor leaves after one page view. (A 50-60 per cent bounce rate for a blog is excellent)
If you have a 90 per cent bounce rate, it tells you most people are not finding what they were looking for when they visit your blog.
If your bounce rate is lower than 20 per cent, something is probably wrong and you should consider installing some other analytics programs like JetPack to compare the bounce rates.
3. Top content
In the menu on the left click Content, then click Site Content and then All Pages.
You’ll see a graph that shows the ebb and flow of traffic for each post over your selected timeframe.
At a glance you’ll see which of your posts are the most popular.
Posts are ordered in terms of which have had the most visits. In the main window, you will see how many Pageviews each post has had during the time frame you selected, as well as Unique Pageviews, Average Time On Page, Entrances, Bounce Rate, %Exit and Page Value. (Don’t worry about Page Value unless you are setting up an e-commerce site).
In regards to Average Time On Page, anything more than one minute is pretty good.
Blog readers generally don’t hang around reading one post for much longer than that, so if you’re getting five or seven minutes for a post, go ahead and punch the air.
4. Traffic Sources/All Traffic
Here’s where you get to find out how people are finding their way to your blog.
If you’ve done some decent SEO on your posts and your site, your number one source of traffic will be Google / Organic, or unpaid Google traffic.
If you have a large subscriber base, your top source of traffic will be Direct, which means people are coming directly to your blog by entering the URL of your site into their browser.
If you’ve been pumping the social media, you’ll see Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Reddit, LinkedIn and any other platforms you regularly use in this list. You’ll also see other blogs, websites and directories that have linked to you.
It’s interesting to check this metric after you run a Twitter or Facebook campaign, and see what impact it has.
This is one of the really fun metrics on Google Analytics. In the left-hand sidebar at the top, you’ll see Demographics. Click this, then click Location.
A map of the world will come up and you’ll see areas of the world highlighted. This is where most of your traffic is coming from.
You’ll also get a list of countries, with number one being the country where most of your traffic is coming from.
If you click the country name, such as Australia, it will then break it down into states. If you click Region, next to Primary Dimension, it will break it down into cities.
You can even click Other >> Traffic Sources and then Keyword to find out what keywords people in each city are using to find your blog. This kind of information can be very handy for things like Facebook ad campaigns or direct marketing.
Organic Keywords (bonus report)
To find the keywords people are using to find your site click on Sources >> Search >> Organic.
It’s very informative to see the main terms people use to find you and compare this to your primary topic.
You can see more data on a page by clicking the Show rows drop-down.
Google Analytics is a very deep rabbit hole. It’s up to you how far down you want to go, but beware of wasting too much time with it.
Identify the main metrics that are important to your blog, and stick with those.
Have questions? Let us know in the comments.