Day One: Setting Up Google Analytics
Now that you have your Google Analytics account up and running (see yesterday’s post if not), it’s time to learn how to read your stats.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed in GA, because it offers tons of different kinds of statistics. Some are going to be more important to you as a blogger, and many statistics are offered in more than one place on the site. On Friday I’ll show you how to customize your home page so that all the statistics you care about are in one easily-accessible place.
Today I’m going to explain the statistics you will see upon signing into GA, on the “Standard Reporting” tab.
This is the page you will see when you sign in:
You’ll see on the orange menu bar that “Standard Reporting” is chosen, and the first screen is the “Visitors Overview.”
This screen provides a general overview of the number and type of visits your site is receiving. Let’s look more closely at the different parts (“widgets”) on this screen:
The first part of the page shows you a graph of your daily visits over the past month (the “day” button should be selected on the top right of the graph).
You can edit the dates that are shown (drop down box in the top right), but it will by default show you the last month’s worth of visits.
From this graph, you can see which dates you had the most visits, and on which days you had fewer people visiting your blog. As you can see from the graph, I had the most visitors on Sunday, September 2nd. Looking back at my blog posts, I can see that on that Sunday evening, the Monday Mingle I was cohosting went live, which is what caused my visits to spike on that day.
You might also use the graph to see which days of the week you get the most visitors, and you might use that information to assess if certain link-ups are working for you.
As we scroll down the page, we come to some statistics:
This will tell you how many visits you’ve had over the past month, how many of those visits were different or “unique” people, and how many pageviews you had in total. The reason there are more pageviews than visits is because when one person goes to your blog and clicks around to different pages, the time they spend on your blog counts as one visit, but every time a page is loaded or reloaded, that counts as an individual pageview.
Google Analytics’ pageviews are considered to be very accurate, unlike the stats that Blogger shows you (mine were three times higher in Blogger). As much as I want to spread around my Blogger stats, GA stats are what sponsors and advertisers want to see.
As you go down the list, you’ll see the average number of pages viewed while visiting your blog, the average duration of a visit, and your bounce rate.
The bounce rate is the percentage of people who came to your blog and left right away, without clicking on any links. You want this rate to be as low as possible, obviously, because you are hoping to engage your readers so that they click around and read more.
The last statistic on this list is the percentage of visits which are new people coming to your blog. You can also see this info in the pie chart, which shows the percentage of new visitors and returning visitors. Personally I think a balance of these percentages is good, because while you want to have new people coming to your site, you also want to see people coming back again and again.
The bottom of the page shows a lot of information in a small space, because you can change the view by clicking on the links in the left sidebar.
You will see this information in other places, later in the week, but as you click around here, you’ll see information about your readers, including the languages they speak, the countries and cities they are from, and which browsers they are using to view your blog.
And that is the basic information that you are going to see on the Standard Reporting/Visitors Overview tab. For the rest of the week, we will be looking at the different widgets on the site, and then you will see how to customize your GA home page so that all the information you care about is in one place.
Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to spread the word!