If you run a monetized blog, it’s absolutely important that you collect and analyze important data about the blog. This is usually called website analytics and the data collected for analysis includes things such as who visits your blog, where they are located, what they did once there, how long they spent on the blog, among other things. Such details can help you optimize your blog to better target the rightful audience and serve them better.
There are quite a number of tools that provide website analytics but you want to start with Google Analytics. It offers free in-depth analytics for your website, with the option to upgrade to the premium version for even more detailed analysis and advanced features.
Website analytics help you understand user behavior so that you can optimize your pages to boost your results.
Getting Started With Google Analytics
First, you need a Google account to access Analytics – your Gmail account works fine and if you don’t have one, it takes a few moments to sign up.
- Log into Google Analytics using your Google/Gmail account.
- Set up a new account for the website (or app) you want to track. You’re going to do things such as provide your website URL, configure data sharing settings, and accept Google Analytics terms and conditions. Once the setup is complete, you will receive a tracking ID or code.
- Paste your tracking code into your site. Depending on what type of website you have, there are several ways to do this. For this post, however, we’ll focus on WordPress sites.
Installing Google Analytics in WordPress
You can install Google analytics into your WordPress site through the functions.php file or using a plugin.
Using a Plugin
This is the easiest and best way to insert your Google Analytics code into your WordPress website. There are countless plugins that do this and what you choose is up to you.
For this post we’ll use the Insert Headers and Footers plugin to insert the code. After downloading, installing and activating the plugin, go to its settings page in the admin dashboard and paste the code that Google Analytics generated for your website into the header section of the settings page. Save and that’s it. You’ve installed Google Analytics in your WordPress site.
Using the functions.php file
Here is the code to add to your functions.php file:
Once that’s done, give it at least 24 hours before you see any data. You can log into your analytics account any time and click on the Reporting tab to see your site’s analytics.
How To Use Analytics Data
Familiarize With Google Analytics Terms
Now that you’ve setup Google Analytics for your website, the first thing you want to do before you try to decipher the data is to understand the various analytics terms. You’re going to see a lot of these terms in your analytics reports: metrics, dimensions, users, sessions, pages, session, pageviews, bounce rate, campaigns, and conversions, among others. Get to know what they mean in order to better understand your reports.
Determine Your Site’s Goal
Collecting website analytics is one thing; putting it to good use is another. For starters, the data can be overwhelming so it’s important to have a specific goal for collecting it. By having a specific goal, you can focus only on the data that matters to your website.
For instance, if you run an online retail store, your main goal for analytics is most probably conversion metrics. This is different from a consultancy website, for instance, because the key analytics in this case would probably be engagement metrics.
Setup Scheduled Reports
Once you’ve decided which metrics to focus on, it’s a good habit to schedule periodic reports to be emailed to you. this way you can check your site metrics on a regular basis while staying organized. Monthly reports are ideal for many websites especially online retailers. However, you can schedule your reports for any given period that works for your business.
If you are using your website for more than simply displaying information, you need some kind of analytics to make the most of the traffic you receive. Thankfully there are many free tools that provide detailed analytics, which if analyzed correctly and acted upon can lead to significant improvements to your site’s performance.
What site analytics tools do you use?