Google Analytics is a phenomenal tool that allows you to measure all sorts of valuable information about your website from incoming search terms and sources, visitor behavior on your site, and customized goals. Best of all, Google offers all of this for free.
When you’re starting out, you might be obsessed with “hits” (visits to your site) but it’s important to realize that the number of visitors to your site is one of many items you should be tracking to see your site’s progress and identify areas of improvement.
You can set up a few dashboards all designed to track different aspects of your website: SEO, e-commerce, and goal conversions to name a few. We’re introducing you to this simple Google Dashboard setup for bloggers that gets you tracking the right sort of statistics which turns Google Analytics into more than just a hit tracker.
Download the template for your Google Analytics dashboard. Explanations for each widget in the dashboard seen above:
Most popular blog posts
This widget tracks the most popular blog posts on your site and includes the exit rate of each post. This won’t track all of your pages, only blog posts, and you can refine it further if you have a good permalink (URL) structure to show your most popular posts in certain categories. We include exit rates to understand if people are viewing that particular post and then leaving. Posts with high traffic and high exit rates should be optimized to send visitors deeper into your site and explore more of your content.
Top organic landing pages
Where are people ending up after their initial search? Each of these pages listed in this section show the first content (page or post) visitors see when they get to your site. Is your site a fit for their search? A high bounce rate may indicate that you need to align the content to fit what people are searching for.
If you have a large amount of visitors coming to your site from their mobile devices, it’s time to optimize for them.
Screen dimensions & bounce
After you know if visitors are on mobile devices, an understanding of screen dimensions is important. Fully understanding each user’s experience is an important aspect of design and can lead to more pageviews and longer time on site. More pageviews and longer time on site indicates a visitor who aligns with your content and is enjoying the content you are providing.
Most popular search terms
A list of all your search terms which gives you an overview comparison of all your search traffic. Another way of saying: most popular keywords bringing people to your site.
Top branded search terms
You have certain terms that are branded to your identity. They are unique and when someone searches for it, they should find you. A search for “Uhuru Network” indicates the person was looking for our agency, however “digital agency”, a non-branded term, could mean they are exploring the sector. Monitoring your branded search terms is important because it measures the awareness people have of you and how successful your external marketing is.
Top non-branded search terms
Separating branded from non-branded gives you a better view of the “long tail” of SEO. These are the non-branded keywords (i.e. “digital agency”) that we rank for. A good SEO strategy will see a significant amount of traffic from non-branded terms.
Google Analytics is more than visitor tracking. That being said, it’s still important to know how much traffic you’re getting, just don’t make it the only variable you track.
Where your readers are from
In this example, we have traffic sorted by state. You can go broader, if it applies to your blog, and sort by country or you can go smaller and sort by city. In this case, we’re emphasizing California-based traffic which is why our metrics are set for the state level.
Top sources of traffic
This is a general list of traffic sources to your site. In this case, we have a high number of search engines giving us traffic (a sign that our strategy is working).
Links to your site (not search engines)
This box shows the sources of traffic with main search engines, “not provided”, and direct removed. Knowing the sites linking to you can be key in establishing quality links – a cornerstone of any SEO link building strategy.
This is a great start in developing a solid analytics dashboard that gives you a quick overview of important statistics and measures for your blog. Feel free to download it for your Google Analytics dashboard.