I’m so excited to share with you NickOvalle.com! I have the privilege of serving alongside Nick at Community Bible Church where Nick is our WebMedia Manager. He has one of those unique skill sets where he’s a super creative, that is also very organized and detailed in his work. Nick can do everything from code websites, graphic design, and video production to project management and copy editing. I’m so excited to see what he will be putting out on his new blog and think you will want to check it out as well. Head over to NickOvalle.com now and make sure to subscribe to his RSS feed!
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Have you ever wondered what people are engaging with on your site? Through the Content feature on Google Analytics you can see what pages people are going to, how long they are saying, where they are leaving from, and so much more! Let’s take a look at some of the core features of Google Anaylytics Content feature.
When you first open the page you will see a graph that will look much like the Google Analytics Home screen, but the graph displays total page views rather than overall site views. This means that if someone goes to 5 different pages on your site they will be counted 5 times on this page, but only once on the overall site views.
Below the graph you will see a bolded list of numbers. These are the key statistics that you will want to monitor on this page. Let’s review this list and what each of these numbers mean:
Pageviews: this is the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.
Unique Pageviews: this is the number of visits during which the specified page was viewed at least once. A unique pageview is counted for each page URL + page Title combination.
Avg. Time on Page: this is the average amount of time visitors spent viewing a specified page or set of pages.
Bounce Rate: this is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page).
% Exit: this is the percentage of site exits that occurred from a specified page or set of pages.
Generally when people visit your site you will want to engage them beyond the home page and these analytics help you to really understand how well you are doing this. You can see how many and which pages they visit, how long they stay on these pages, and which ones they typically exit your site from.
Below the primary list of Analytics you will see the title “Page” with a list of your pages underneath. This will list you site pages in order of popularity giving you the pageviews and % of site views. You can actually click on each of these pages for another full page of analytics on each of these pages, but I won’t get into that detail in this blog post. Check it out though, I think you will also find this information to be interesting and valuable.
This information can tell you a great deal about the content on the site and potential adjustments that you might need to make. One page might get more views just because of the location of the link on the home page or it could be the appeal of the graphic or the wording of the link. I encourage you to take this information and experiment with various changes trying different locations, graphics, etc. to better understand the behavior of your audience to your site.
Whatever you do though, don’t get comfortable! Never stop trying new things!
As I’ve shared before, I love to count things and tracking analytics is honestly a lot of fun for me. In a previous post post I shared my use of both StatCounter and Google Analytics to track web traffic on my blog, but Google Analytics has been my go to when it comes to all of the sites that I track. It is important to understand the platform, what you can track, why you should track, and how you should track the traffic on your website or blog. Before I get into the how to of Google Analytics, let me answer a few FAQs about the platform first:
What can you track?
You can track how many total visitors are visiting your site, how long they are on the site, how many pages they look at, where they live (city not address), how they got to your site, what device they are using, and much much more that I will get to later.
Why should you track?
It is important to know who your audience is, what content they’re engaging with, what drives your traffic, etc. Without this understanding you can waste a lot of time creating content that no one engages with or in promotional efforts that are ineffective.
How often should you track?
I recommend checking Google Analytics at least once a week for 15 minutes and once a month for close to an hour. Honestly I check multiple times each day, but that’s not necessarily healthy and the best use of your time.
So let’s get to the meat of the post: where to start. Here are the practical 1st steps if you don’t yet have a Google account. If you like many people already have a Gmail account you can use your Gmail credentials to setup your Google Analytics account as well. Here are the steps:
1) Go to http://Google.com/analytics and setup your account
2) Add your website or blog as a property: Instructions here.
3) Install your tracking code into your website or blog: Instructions here.
With these 3 simple steps, you’re all set and ready to start tracking traffic on your site. Know that Google Analytics can only track traffic from that point on and can not track back traffic.
Now, what should you begin tracking first?
When you first open your Google Analytics report for your blog or website make sure that you are in the “Standard Reporting” section and this should be what you see on your screen:
1) Check the Graph: The first thing that I always look at is the graph checking for spikes or dips in traffic. I want to know what might have caused a spike or dip in web traffic. You can put your cursor of the tip of the dip or spike and it will give you the specific day that this took place. We will discuss later how to dig into these peaks in more detail, but you will likely be able to pinpoint it to a specific post or link that led to the spike.
2) Visitors: The next thing I look at is the Total Visitors number to see how many people all together have seen the site. The total number will count people multiple times if they visited your site multiple times through the designated time frame. I then look just below it the Unique Visitors to see how many different visitors came to the site (everyone is only counted once in this number). The pie graph just to the right of this will display then how much of your traffic is new visitors vs. returning visitors. It’s important to see if your audience is primarily the same people or if you have a great amount of traffic that are new visitors.
3) Time on Site: The other very important thing to look at on this page is Avg. Visit Duration which will tell you how long people stay on your site on average. You can also see if they browsed your site looking at many pages or primarily just looked at the 1 landing page. These numbers will tell you how engaging your content is and how appealing the other links/pages on your site are to visitors of the site.
These quick tips will get your started and tell you a great deal about your web traffic, but know that this is just the beginning of all that you can track and all of the value that you can gain from understanding the behavior of those who visit your website or blog. Google Analytics can be an incredible tool if you learn to use it wisely. I look forward to sharing with you all that I am learning and would love to hear from you as well.
Please share how often you use analytics and what questions that you might have about Google Analytics specifically.