This past weekend I was invited to Houston, TX to speak about Google Analytics to the first ever Blog Elevated conference. For a first time conference, I was very impressed by how well it was planned by Lisa and Bobbie. They had a great venue, big name sponsors and an amazing group of speakers lined up. You should attend next year if you can.
I knew all along that the presentation would be focused on Google Analytics and in participating in the #txbloggers chat before the event, Lisa and I decided that the audience would most appreciate a beginners guide to Google Analytics (aka Google Analytics 101). The goal of the presentation would be to both inspire bloggers to get more involved with their analytics as well as demystify the complexity of getting started. Given the reaction from the crowd and sheer number of tweets from the presentation, I think it went very well.
Google Analytics for Bloggers: Presentation Notes
While the slides should do a decent job of speaking for themselves, I’m going to use the rest of this post to put some “color” behind what you may see in the presentation for those who did not have a chance to see the presentation in person. For those of you who want to see me in action, in the next few weeks I will be giving a few more GA talks in Minneapolis and Indianapolis and they may borrow liberally from the concepts presented here.
This presentation was broken down into 8 quick hitting tips that any blogger could use to get Google Analytics on their site and start to find insights into the data that they collect.
1) Creating a Google Analytics Account
We start by walking through the shockingly easy process of creating a Google Analytics Account.
In addition to setting up the account, we touch on the difference between Universal Analytics and Classic Analytics tags
2) Placing Google Analytics On Your Site
Next, we walk through how to add this code to your site. Several methods for adding code are defined, including:
- You Can Put the Code In Your Template
- Add Google Analytics in Your Theme Settings
- WordPress Blogs can use Yoast GA plugin
The end recommendation is:
Don’t Be a Hero, Use a Plugin!
3) Getting Clean Data on your website
The key to getting clean data in your website is to make sure that you filter out the visitors that you don’t want to see in your reports. The most common visitor you want to filter is actually yourself!
You can create a filter in Google Analytics to blog your IP address. It’s actually quite easy.
4) Setting Goals For Your Website
Start by answering the question “What is the purpose of my website” and then set up goal tracking in Google Analytics to help you measure if you are achieving that purpose. Setting up goals is easy and can be done in one of 4 ways:
- A key page view on your site (like your thank you page)
- Time spent on site
- Total Pageviews in a visit
- Events triggered (like a video view)
The most common events for bloggers will be a key page view, with the next most common being time on site and page views per visit.
Another piece of advice is to group your goals into Macro goals (things that make you money) and Micro goals (things that are important, but may not generate revenue).
5) Analyze Content Performance
Perhaps the place where bloggers can go to learn the most about their writing is the content report, which provides insights into which pieces of content are receiving the most views and how visitors engage with those posts. In this section we define what some of the metrics in this report mean and I give advice for how to understand what you are seeing.
- Average Time on Page: Indicates How Long Visitors are Engaging with Content. Generally, more time is better
- Bounce Rate: Shows the Percentage of Visitors That Leave Your Site Having Only Viewed This One Page. Lower is better (but can be misleading)
- Page Value: Indicates the Relative Value This Page Contributed to Your Goals. Goals Must be Configured to Work
6) Tracking SEO Results in Google Analytics
The keywords report in Google Analytics is almost entirely useless since over 70% of all keywords are currently shown as (not provided). Fortunately you can use the Google Webmaster Tools reports in Google Analytics to try to piece together a story. Just be careful when looking at this data, because it does not match what your organic search traffic report shows you.
We walk through the process of configuring Google Webmaster Tools for those who do not have it set up yet. Signing up for Google Webmaster Tools is very important for all bloggers to understand how their site is viewed by Google.
7) Track Social Media Activity on Your Site
The Social Media reports are a great feature in Google Analytics that many people are not aware exists. We talk about 3 uses for these reports that everyone can use. This includes discovering:
- How Traffic is Driven to Our Sites Via Social Media
- How Visitors Interact With Social Sharing Buttons
- How Google Harvests Activity from Social Data Hub
8) Custom Dashboards for Bloggers
Last, we talk about how to pull all of this information by creating a custom dashboard. Rather than looking over every report each time you log into GA, how about looking at a consolidated view of activity for the previous 30 days?
Why spend your precious time creating a dashboard when you can download a dashboard from an expert analyst like Avinash Kaushik? The Google Analytics gallery allows you to install reports from all kinds of sources.
Live Tweets from the Presentation
Before I was set to give this presentation, I scheduled several tweets that would accompany my slides as I was talking. It was my first time doing this and it was a fairly big risk to schedule tweets in the event that my timing was off, but I went for it anyway. The result? Some great engagement with my twitter account and some awesome shares and retweets. I’m definitely going to think about scheduling tweets alongside my presentation again! Here are some of those Tweets.
Google Analytics is like Othello, Seconds to Learn, Years to Master #blogelevated— Jeffalytics (@jeffalytics) September 21, 2013
Tip: Choose Universal Analytics for New Accounts and Classic Analytics for existing Google Analytics Accounts #blogelevated— Jeffalytics (@jeffalytics) September 21, 2013
Tip: When it comes to installing Google Analytics on your site, Don’t Be a Hero, Use a Plugin! #blogelevated— Jeffalytics (@jeffalytics) September 21, 2013
Last, I am considering offering a more in depth training session in Houston and Dallas to meet the demand for knowledge from this crowd. If you want Google Analytics training near you, the best thing to do is fill out the request training form on Jeffalytics.