Using Google Analytics to improve your blog

Using Google Analytics to improve your blogIf you’ve done much research into advice for bloggers and blogging tips, you will have undoubtedly come across two types of bloggers.

  1. Bloggers who obsessively monitor their Google Analytics stats and analyse every number. They probably have real-time analytics constantly open.
  2. The bloggers who claim to barely look at Google Analytics and trust that their quality content will attract readers. They can what’s popular from their social shares and engagement so they don’t get obsessed with boring stats.

I sit somewhere between the two camps and I think this is a pretty good place to be sitting. So why not pull up and chair and join me as I tell you how and why I use Google Analytics and how you can use it to improve your blog.

 

What is Google Analytics?

Let’s start at the very beginning in case there’s anyone completely baffled by what this Google Analytics thing is.

Google Analytics is a reliable and free service from Google which tracks the amount of people reading your blog or website. You can find out what they’re reading, where they’re coming from, where they go afterwards, where they live and, most importantly for most bloggers, how many of them there are.

Here’s a good guide to setting up Google Analytics for either WordPress or Blogger.

 

Why use Google Analytics?

Even if you’re not a stats person, I’d recommend installing Google Analytics. There might be a particular post that’s getting way more traffic than the others or the posts you spend days crafting might not be getting any traffic at all.

It will help you see which posts your audience are enjoying so you can create more of them and stop wasting your time on the things no one reads.

 

Google Analytics warning

It can be easy to get obsessed with Google Analytics and get caught up in stats and figures rather than quality content. It can be frustrating when a blog post that took you 15 minutes to write gets more traffic than a post that took you days, but you need a balance between the quick and easy posts and the indepth ones.

You need to be creative and enjoy the posts you’re writing so sometimes you need to forget about stats and do what you love.

How to use Google Analytics to improve your blog

What days are most popular on your blog?

Use Google Analytics to figure out which days are the most popular on your blog. For me it’s Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sunday evenings so this is when I try to post new content.

My traffic drops dramatically on a Saturday so I started posting on Saturdays too in the hope I could bring it back up but it didn’t have much effect.

Improvement tip: Post on your busiest days. I find it’s easier to go with what happens naturally so don’t fight it, use it to your advantage.

 

What time is most popular on your blog?

Don’t just look at the days, look at the times too. Some people find their readers are around first thing in the morning. Maybe it’s at lunch time or maybe it’s in the evening after work?

Improvement tip: Play around with posting at different times to see what works the best.

 

Check out your audience behaviour flow

This is where you can see the behavior of your readers. It shows which page they begin on and where they go next.

If you see that a lot of people land on your homepage and then don’t go anywhere else, you know something is wrong. If you see them click from one page to another to another to another, you’re doing something right.

On The Travel Hack for example, a lot of people enter the blog via ‘What women should wear in India’ as this gets a lot of Google traffic. From this page they usually click through to my Top Tips for Visiting the Taj Mahal or How to survive sleeper trains in India or Taking an organized tour in India. From the tour post they go on to read about my other tours with Intrepid Adventures and they’re intrigued and they’ll go to my About page. This is exactly what I want and from using Google Analytics I can see what does and what doesn’t work.

Improvement tip: Insert links or use a widget to direct your readers to other posts they may be interested in.

 

Analyse your social stats and referrals

If you’re a blogger, it can be easy to get bogged down by social media.

“I need to spend x-amount of hours each day on Twitter. I need to be sharing and growing and engaging and developing! Argh!’

Yes, social media IS really important and it can help grow your blog dramatically but it doesn’t have to be the be all and end all.

Only about 15% of the traffic for The Travel Hack comes through social media. I honestly have no idea if this is a good or a bad stat, I don’t even know if I should keep that a secret!? But this tells me that social media shouldn’t take up too much of my time.

60% of my traffic comes from Google so I know that creating quality content people are searching for is more important than having a large social following.

When I look even closer at my social media stats I can see that most of my traffic comes from Facebook and Pinterest. This highlights the importance of Facebook and Pinterest to me, despite the fact I have a larger following on Twitter.

Improvement tip: Figure out which referral channel has the best results and focus on this. Consider ditching or cutting back on any social channels with smaller results.

How to use Google Analytics to improve you blog - a non-boring, non-techy guide

Average time on page

You can use Google Analytics to see how long people spend reading each blog post. If people are spending 20-30 seconds you know they’re not very interested in your content and they’re getting bored quickly. If they’re spending 4 minutes or more then you’re doing something right.

4 minutes doesn’t sound like a long time but we live in a world of short attention spans and lots of distractions.

Improvement tip: Ask yourself why people are getting bored quickly or what it is about certain blog posts that keep them interested? Try to apply the positives to future posts and learn from the negatives.

 

Audience demographics

Don’t assume your audience are a certain type of person. If you show your personality in your blog it’s likely you’ll end up with lots of readers very similar to you but I was really surprised to find I have a lot of male readers in the USA.

Improvement tip: If you find you have an unexpected number of readers in a particular area, particular gender or age range, consider writing posts specifically for them. I’m thinking I need some packing guides for men for the unexpected amount of male readers.

 

New Vs Returning visitors

Take a look at how many returning visitors you have each month and how this compares to new visitors.

Improvement tip: If most of your views are from new users, what can you do to ‘capture them’ and keep them coming back each week/month? Maybe you need to have a more prominent email subscription link?

 

Bounce Rate

Your bounce rate is the percentage of people who only view one page on your blog. They basically land on one page and don’t look at anything else so they bounce right away again.

A high bounce rate indicates people aren’t interested in reading anything else on your blog. It could also mean it’s difficult to navigate your blog and people can’t easily find anything of interest to click on next.

Improvement tip: If your bounce rate is high, make it easier to find more interesting content to click on. Ask yourself why people are looking at one page and not going any further?

 

Trackbacks

If you’ve written a guest post or you’ve been mentioned on another website and there’s a follow link to your blog then you’ll receive a trackback notification. You will then be able to see how much traffic you get thanks to that link.

Improvement tip: Check which websites bring you a lot of traffic and write for them again. If a blogger has kindly mentioned you, make sure you thank them and let them know you appreciate it. Share the article via social media to spread the love.


 Read more:

A week in the life of a travel blogger

Tips to leave your job and become a full time blogger and freelancer

An update after full time blogging for one year

How bloggers get freebies


 

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TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (32)
  1. That’s really useful thanks, hon. I’m like you I’m interested in my stats and monitor them but I don’t let it obsess me! One thing I’m interested is do you lose or gain readers the more you post. I know people want new content but I don’t want to over load them!
    Lots of love,
    Angie

    1. You definitely 100% gain new readers the more you post. I know what you mean about bombarding people with too many posts so I have the option for when people subscribe for email updates to either receive a weekly summary of all the new posts or an email for every new post. That way people only get lots of notifications if they want them.
      I think the only time you lose readers when you post more is if you start posting low quality blogs because you don’t have the time. Quality over quantity but if you can do both then you’re on to a winner!

    1. Hi Naomi, thanks so much for the suggestion. I’ll add this to my list and hopefully add a post with simple Analytics tips with easy to follow pictures. There are a few on YouTube but they’re SO boring!

      1. Ahh that would be great, I will keep my eyes peeled!!! I agree about youtube ones, my attention span isn’t good enough to concentrate on how to videos! Much prefer reading at my own pace 🙂

  2. Really helpful, thank you!!

    I’m currently in the process of redesigning my blog and taking a harder look at my stats and what I can be doing to improve them!

    Merry Christmas!
    Emma x

  3. As much as I know about Analytics and SEO, I mostly just look at them out of curiosity. I think I do need to sit down and really strategize with the information – thanks for the little nudge!

    p.s. that was one of the most challenging math questions I’ve come across on a blog haha!

  4. Monica you always have the best and most helpful tips for travel bloggers! Bonus for me is that you always write them in a very knowledgeable way, but it’s easy to actually understand 🙂 So kind of you to share your tips with others. Best wishes for the holidays!
    Jessica
    http://www.thebellevoyage.com

  5. So, about that bounce rate… I know there’s a lot of different answers to this, but what do you consider to be ‘high’ and ‘low’? I think blogs generally have a much ‘higher’ bounce rate than your average website for, say, a business. But I still have no idea what is ‘good’.

    Thoughts?

    BTW, hope you have a wonderful holiday!

    V
    Life+1

  6. Great post about Google Analytics. I have just recently used Google Analytics to track the number of visitors in my website but as mentioned above there’s more about it than that. Google Analytics provide insights that is very useful in improving a blog. Thanks for this tool.

  7. Pal thanks for the post,
    I am an amateur travel blogger following your posts and being with you on twitter may help me a lot,

    thanks pal

  8. Thanks Monica, I’m quite new to blogging and have been checking google analytics a couple of times a week. I have also set up on Bloglovin recently, do you know if the analytics tracks this also?
    Sarah

    1. Hi Sarah. Google Analytics does track Bloglovin’. For me it comes up if you go to Acquisition -> All traffic -> Channels and then click ‘Other’ and within ‘other’ I can see ‘Feedburner’ and Feedburner is Bloglovin for me. It may be different depending on how you set it up but hopefully that will help you find it.

      I actually find it much easier to use the Google Analytics app for iOS. It’s much simpler!

  9. Such great tips! And I really lobe how non-techy these are, really. Because the one’s I’ve read so far, in hopes of getting a clue about Analytics, have ended up confusing me.

    Thanks a ton. And I love your space here.

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The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

We believe luxurious travel can be affordable and isn't just for the rich. Follow along with our worldwide adventures as we share our trips and tips for incredible travel experiences on a modest budget.