So you’ve setup Google Analytics for you blog (good job) and now you want to know how the heck do I read the backend? What are Sessions and Bounce Rate and what does it mean? Well, in this post I’m going to give you a quick guide to Google Analytics and tell you exactly what to look at as a Blogger.
Here’s a quick snapshot of what Google Analytics looks like in the backend
First, let me tell you : MORE traffic isn’t always better.
You want to get traffic from people who you’ve envisioned when you were building your brand. You want to get traffic from people who you resonate with. As a blogger, you want someone to visit your site, say YES! I frikkin’ love this content, it’s exactly what I’m looking for and this chick probably has more content that I’d like.
So let me walk you through Google Analytics and what you can read from all numbers…
Sessions & Page Views
Really quickly: a “Session” is started when someone visits your site. Think of it maybe as a trip to the grocery store. Every visit to the grocery store is a new “session”.
Page Views should be pretty straight forward – it’s just how many pages people looked at.
So, for me, I’m trying to really niche down to women entrepeneurs who want to make money from their site and also use WordPress. How many Sessions and Page Views should I get per month? Who knows and I don’t really care.
Please don’t compare yourself to my numbers or anyone else’s numbers! Not only is your blog or website completely different from someone else’s but it’s hard to say where their traffic came from and the value of the traffic they are getting.
Most of this traffic could have come from just a few posts that attract lots of traffic but isn’t really related to my niche at all. It could have fake/spam traffic – I actually do have some spam traffic in my number above (jerks). I could have abnormal spikes in traffic if I purchased traffic or am doing heavy promotion on a webinar. A LOT of factors can come into play when you look at stats so don’t get too bogged down with numbers.
My point is that there is no direct correlation between Page Views and Sessions to your blog’s success. Those numbers by themselves are VERY hard to gage anything from so don’t worry about them!
If someone comes to your site and then just leaves without visiting other pages then “they bounced”. A high value is considered to be bad because it could be that people didn’t find what they were looking for or just hate the look of your site and are turned off, etc.
A bounce rate doesn’t really show those people who came, were engaged enough to read the entire 800 word post, loved what you had to say and will be back but happen to not visit any other pages.
It seem like most bloggers hang around the 40%-60%. Heck, you might just be driving traffic to landing pages on your site so, in that case, just don’t even look at this number.
I would say that if you are blogging and trying to get people to engage with your content and explore your site and you are getting a bounce rate of 80% or above then you should start looking at why people are being turned of. Maybe you have a great headline but the content is not related? Maybe your site is stuck in the 90s and it’s turning people off? Maybe some browsers or mobile isn’t working properly?
Btw, Lindsay over at White Oak Creative pointed me to a great WordPress plugin to help keep track of real bounce rate which basically doesn’t let Google Analytics count visitors as “bounced” if they spend a certain amount of time on your site.
Pages/Session & Avg. Session Duration
Ok! This is where I focus my attention. If these numbers are growing then I know I’m doing a good job of blog content. I’d love to see people spend more time on my site and dig deeper to find content.
Of course, these numbers could also be a little diluted from:
- Landing pages
- Fake spam traffic (again! jerks… there are ways to remove this and I gshould do that).
- People who are regular visitors and only want to see your latest post.
At any rate, This is what I look to first to track GOOD traffic.
I like to keep an eye on what pages are getting traffic. Seeing pages that get traffic from Organic Search means that people are actively seeking that info. Pages that get traffic from social media traffic could mean the content is good or maybe the blog graphic is attractive or the headline is killer – hard to totally know.
In Google Analytics, to view your pages that get organic traffic go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages THEN filter all your traffic that came from “google”. Look at these pages to see what kind of content is getting you the most the traffic based on what people are searching for.
TIP I recommend that you have Google Webmaster Search Console Tool to look for some missed opportunities. With this tool installed, you can see what google searches are getting your page to show up on the google search results but might not be getting you traffic because you are at a low position. Therefore, you have the opportunity to just do some tweaking to that page to get more traffic!
Your blog is organized into categories. An easy way to see what people are interested in is seeing the categories that are getting the most traffic. In WordPress, the category url usually has something like “/category/” so you can filter that traffic to see which categories your visitors are clicking on.
In Google Analytics, to view your pages that get organic traffic go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages THEN filter all your traffic that came from your website and contains “/category/”.
In Google Analytics you can set up several different types of goals. This is directly from Google:
I have a number of goals setup and I LOVE seeing what traffic led to a Landing Page Conversion or Sale! This is definitely a sign of good traffic!
For sales, I get maybe half from my newsletter and the other half from my website.
I also love tracking “campaigns”. Don’t get too bogged down with the name “campaign” as some big thing that will take forever to setup. Basically if I’m trying to get people to opt-in for something (like subscribing to this #betterblog series) then I can customize the link I share with some variables that will tell Google Analytics where the link came from (what they call “campaign”). Then, not only am I able to see how many people visited my target page but where they came from! I can see how many people came from links I sent out on facebook or different tweets I used on twitter, banners on my blog, etc.
Seriously, just try it out now. It literally takes 2 seconds to create a link that will show up as a tracked campaign in google analytics.
This is another great way to measure where you get your good traffic so you can figure out where you should put your efforts!