I have a blog site…what Google Analytics should I look at?
As I work directly with businesses and site owners on a regular basis I always get asked the question “Google Analytics has so much data, what should I look at?”.
This is a great question because more often than not people focus on too much, too little, the wrong things or nothing and blame the website for not achieving the goal they set out to do.
So, let’s talk about blog, news and informational sites. This covers everything from a small blog about cafe reviews in your neighborhood to worldwide news sites, the same principals apply. The goal of a blog/news site is to DRIVE ORGANIC TRAFFIC. I’m sorry about the bold and italics but I really want to stress this, your content drives traffic, your site drives conversions. The goal of any blog/news post is to get someone on the site or keep them on the site.
That being said let’s begin…
1. What are people reading on your site?
This is the most important part of a blog/news site. Your goal is to grow traffic so if you have more content about what your users want to read about you will get more traffic. To understand what your users are looking at on your site, in Google Analytics go to Behavior -> Site Content -> All Pages. You will see some spam links here but it will tell you what your users are reading on your site.
This is a screen snippet of todays analytics for The Agency Journal. It shows that currently we have received a lot of spam referrals from web-revenue.xyz so we’ll ignore that one. Aside from that Creati an Umbraco Content Picker, Adding eCommerce Tracking to Magento and adding a new User to MySql from the command line are top posts. Therefore if (and we will) write more about these topics we will increase our expertise in the eyes of Google for these topics, be creating more content which our users want and therefore increase traffic and time on site.
2. Find out how your visitors find you
It’s great to write content which you share on Social Media or hope to rank in Google for specific search terms or send out in your email but until you know where your users are coming from it’s impossible to figure out where to focus your efforts…because let’s face it, content is time consuming.
For instance say you’ve written a blog post and you share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus or your favorite social media site it might take you 30 mins and you get say 20 clicks for 2 days. Now say you have the same blog post but you share it on a forum which has an active discussion about the topic and it takes you 1 hr and you get 10 clicks, per day, for 1 year. Would you then focus more on social media or begin seeking out more forums? I hope you all said seek out more forums…3650 clicks from a forum is better than 20 clicks quickly from Social Media for one day (or less until it falls off their news feed).
So to understand this go to Acquisition -> Overview in Google Analytics. Here you can see your Referrals, Organic Search and Social. Here is a screenshot of another news site I look after so you can see more results:
They get 16k sessions from Organic Search, 6k from referrals (such as forum links, with about a 10% false positive from spam) and only 972 from Social (see social stats below). So if you were getting around 3% of your total traffic from Social would you spend much time on it? NOPE, and these guys now only automate their posts to go to social media and they achieve the same results but saved 45hrs a month (we tracked the time they spent doing this before and after). How many more posts could you write by saving 45 hours? Probably enough to increase organic search by more than 3%.
Here is a screenshot of their Social traffic breakdown. This site is a mens fashion review site for mid-upper class products to help you relate because even I thought it would do great on social until I saw the stats.
3. Find out what’s making you money
As much as we all like sharing our content it begins to wear thin unless we are making a few bucks for an extra carton of beer, new bed for the dog or taking the family out for a nice dinner once in a while. Because of this we need to know what is making you money. Please note, you need to have Google Analytics linked to Google Adsense to see the upcoming data.
In Google Analytics go to Behavior -> Publisher -> Overview. This will show you your top pages and how much they have made you. Needless to say, if you want to increase revenue, write more about what people read when they click on ads more. Review sites tend to do better because say you are looking to buy a camera and you search for camera reviews and then a special ad comes up on the page for that exact camera, you’re more likely to click on it…hence higher revenue.
These are the main things to focus on in Google Analytics for a blog/news site. You can go deeper into things and look at demographics, age, gender, location etc but unless you are getting millions of page views a week these 3 things will help you build a successful blog.
Lastly, just for a little social proof. I’ve used these techniques to build 3 sites in the last 2 years from scratch to 20k unique visitors and 100k+ page views a month in 6 months. So in case you think this won’t work for a new site, it will and has. The only extra non-Google Analytics tip I can give is to use Google Keyword planner to plan content which we’ll write about in the near future.