If you’re a blogger, data is your friend. When you learn how to connect your blog to Google Analytics, you have access to information that can help you better serve your audience.
Your data tells you what’s working in your business and what isn’t. You know how many visitors your blog is getting, where the traffic is coming from, which blog posts are most popular, and more. When you act on this information, you can quickly build a money-making blog that doesn’t suck up all your time.
I confess – I love data. But if you aren’t a numbers person, you may not be excited about diving into your blog’s data. You may even think it sounds intimidating.
That’s okay. I kept this process straight forward. In fact, this post focuses only on the simplest method of connecting your blog to Google Analytics. There’s no coding involved.
In this post, I show you:
- Why you need data about your blog
- How to connect your blog to Google Analytics
- Some basic data analysis strategies to use once you have your blog connected
Are you ready to move from randomly deciding which posts resonate with your audience to having solid facts to back up your opinions? Then let’s dive in.
For a complete guide on how to start and grow your blog, check out my book Make Money From Blogging. Learn how to build your blog, market it like a pro and finally make money doing what you love.
Why You Need Data About Your Blog
Data keeps you from guessing when it comes to blogging strategy. It provides an honest look at your traffic. It allows you to track how your readers interact with your website. And most importantly, data from Google Analytics can help you clearly see what is working and what is not.
Learning how to analyze data on your site allows you to focus on the strategies that work for you. So, you can stop wasting time on tasks that aren’t resonating with your audience or furthering your blogging goals. And when you’re trying to juggle being a mom and running a blogging business, you don’t have time for tactics that don’t work.
You can use data from Google Analytics to learn:
- What posts draw in the most traffic
- Which posts perform well on which social media platforms
- Where your traffic is coming from (i.e.: Pinterest, Facebook, guest posts, your Amazon author’s page)
- What links your readers click
- If visitors stick around awhile or immediately bounce
- The demographics of your readers
- How many readers make a purchase, and which posts convert the best
- What keywords are working
And, you can learn all of this for free.
By taking time to regularly review these numbers, you can ensure that your content calendar matches what your readers are interested in. You can write more of what they want to read. Data can also help you increase your conversion rates and earn more income from your blog.
Now that you have a better understanding of why data can help you improve as a blogger, it’s time to connect Google Analytics to your blog.
How to Connect Your Blog to Google Analytics
There are a several methods for connecting your blog to Google Analytics. And your options vary, depending on which theme you are using on your website.
In this post, I teach you how to connect Google Analytics with a plugin. I’ve found this to be the simplest method that works regardless of which theme you are using.
There are two steps to connecting your blog to Google Analytics.
- Create an account and sign up for Google Analytics
- Install a plugin and connect your account
But before you start, make sure your blog is live. I’ve heard from other bloggers that connecting a site before you publish it can cause problems.
If you need help getting your blog up and running, this post is for you:
If you already have a live blog, continue with the steps below to learn how to connect your site to Google Analytics.
Step 1: Create an Account and Sign Up for Google Analytics
This step will take you a couple of minutes. Here is what you need to do:
- Head over to google.com/analytics
- Click the “Start for Free” button
- Log in with your Gmail account (create one if you don’t have one)
- Click on the “Admin” link in the top menu and select “Add New Account.” Enter all the requested information about your site. Make sure you select https if you have an SSL on your site (which you should.)
A few notes about this step:
- Your account name can be anything.
- The website name is your blog name.
- Your website address is your blog’s URL.
- The industry category should be the one closest to your niche.
When you scroll down further, there’s a series of check boxes. I left mine checked (Google’s recommended options).
Then click the blue “Get Tracking ID” button.
Step 2: Install a Plugin and Connect Your Account
Now it’s time to connect your Google Analytics account to your website with a plugin. Again, there are other ways to do this step, but this one is simple and fast.
On your website, install the Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights. It looks like this:
Click on “Install Now.”
Follow the directions in the setup phase. The first step is to select a category. If you are a blogger, select blog.
Next, you need to authorize MonsterInsights to access your account:
Once you click “Allow”, you need to select the account or property you want to track. In the drop down menu, select the account you created in Google Analytics. Let MonsterInsights complete the setup.
Wait for Data
It takes about 24 hours for Google Analytics to start tracking data for you. Once this time passes, you can begin accessing your data.
I recommend checking back after the first day to ensure everything is working. Then I suggest ignoring your data for one full month. That way you have more data to analyze.
You want to make informed decisions based on accurate data. You may have a post that does well one day, but then gets no more traffic. Waiting a month allows you to gather enough information to see what is going on.
Begin Looking at Your Data
When you’re ready to dive into your data, it can be overwhelming at first. Since I wrote this post with beginners in mind, I focus on two pieces of information: traffic acquisition and reader behavior.
You want to see where your traffic is coming from. This tells you which marketing activities are generating the most blog readers.
Once you log back into your Google Analytics account, click on the “Acquisition” button.
From here, you can see where your traffic is coming from. For example, you can see which Pins on Pinterest resulted in people clicking through. Or if your participation in a Facebook Group thread gave you a traffic boost. Or whether your latest guest post drove more readers back to your blog.
You want to focus on what works and do less of the things that aren’t generating results.
In this section, you can also see what percentage of your traffic came from organic search. This information gives you insight into your SEO strategy.
You find this next section in Google Analytics in the Behavior tab. Here you can discover more about how people interact with your blog.
You can see what your bounce rate is. This is how many people click through to your blog and then almost immediately click away. You want to keep this number low. Not all traffic is created equal. You want more blog visitors who read your content, sign up for your email list, and buy your stuff. Not the people who leave your site after a few seconds.
You can also see:
- How many page views you get
- Your most popular posts (in the overview section)
- The speed of your website
- Search terms bringing people to your website (Google Search Console is a better tool for this, but that’s a blog post for another day)
- The flow of actions people take on your site
There is so much data waiting for you to check out in Google Analytics. So, one final word of caution – start by tracking only a handful of data items. I recommend checking your data once a month and capturing your key metrics in a spreadsheet or other document.
For example, each month I track the following (in an Excel spreadsheet):
- Total page views for the month
- Unique users for the month
- Google traffic
The first two numbers tell me whether my marketing efforts are working in general. The last number indicates how much traffic is coming from organic search so that I know whether my SEO strategy is working.
If any of these numbers moves significantly (up or down) from one month to the next, then I investigate why. For example, if I see an increase in unique users, I want to know where that traffic came from and which blog posts they read.
Make Changes to Your Blog Strategy
Once you have a picture of how people interact with your website, you can adjust your blog strategy. Here are ten suggestions to get you started:
- Create content similar to your most popular posts.
- Reorder your menus to make it easier for people to find what they are looking for.
- Speed up your site, with options such as caching or optimizing your photos.
- Change your reader persona to more accurately reflect your most engaged readers.
- Go through your popular posts and add affiliate links if possible.
- Create a relevant freebie and link to it in your popular posts.
- See what keywords are bringing people to your site and optimize your content for them.
- Add internal links in your most popular posts to encourage readers to check out additional posts.
- Do more of the marketing activities that are driving the most traffic to your site (and stop doing what isn’t working).
- Ensure your content is mobile friendly and easy for readers to scan.
For more insight on how to use Google Analytics data, check out these blog posts from other bloggers: