Google Analytics is an invaluable tool for your blog. Today I’ll be going over the absolute basics, including the difference between sessions, users and page views, what a bounce rate actually means, what kind of posts are the most popular on your site, and more.
Google Analytics allows you to gain a better understanding of the users who are visiting your blog, what they are looking for, and how they are getting to your blog, amongst many other things. Understanding this will allow you to understand your audience better, tailor your content, and ultimately it will allow you to grow your blog.
1. How many people are visiting your blog? Sessions, users, page views – what’s the difference!?
If you click on to Audience > Overview, you will see something similar to the screen shot above. Sessions, users and page views can give you some pretty interesting information about your blog – but what’s the difference between them? Page views refer to the total number of pages viewed on your blog. Users refers to the total number of unique visitors to your blog (a metric that PR companies are normally interested in). Sessions are the amount of times that users have clicked onto your website and may include several page views. So, if you clicked onto my blog and read 5 different blog posts before leaving my blog, this would be 1 session, 1 user and 5 page views.
By selecting the date range from the top right corner on Google Analytics, you are able to track the number of sessions, users and page views for any given amount of time. The same page will also show you the average number of pages visited per session, the average time users spent on your site, and the bounce rate. Which brings me to…
2. What is a bounce rate!?
Unlike most other metrics on Google Analytics, the lower your bounce rate is, the better! This is because the bounce rate refers to the percentage of sessions on your blog in which the users only viewed one page before clicking off. This can happen quite frequently in blogs. For example, if someone searched for ‘MAC Blusher Review’ and landed on your page, they are quite likely to go back to the Google search results page once they have finished reading your review, rather than explore more of what your blog has to offer. In order to improve your bounce rate (ie. achieve a lower percentage of people who click off your blog after one page), you can add links to your blog post encouraging users to click on to other pages on your blog.
3. How to find the most popular posts on your blog.
Go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages and here you can find all the pages on your blog, ranked according to the number of page views each one has received. Be sure to select the right date range to find out what have been your most popular blog posts this month, year, or ever since you first started your blog. Here you will notice that for each page, Google Analytics gives you the number of page views and unique page views. The difference is that page views is the total number of times that page/article has been viewed, whilst unique page views refers to how many different users have visited that page. So if someone has clicked onto a particular blog post twice, it will show up as 2 page views, but 1 unique page view.
4. Where are your visitors coming from – Google searches, social media, etc.?
Click Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium to find out where your visitors are coming from. Anything that shows up as ‘google/ organic’ is coming from a Google search, and you can increase the number of users that visit your blog from Google searches by optimising your site for SEO – I’ve got a full article on SEO tips for bloggers here. You might also notice ‘t.co/ referral’ which refers to users coming to your blog through Twitter, and ‘direct /(none)’ which refers to users who have arrived at your website through typing in your URL.
5. In which countries do your blog readers live?
In order to find out what location your blog readers are coming from, go to Audience > Geo > Location. This will give you a list of the number of visitors to your website from each particular country, how long they tend to stay on your blog, how many pages they tend to visit per session and more.