A Simple Google Analytics Guide For New Bloggers

Google Analytics Guide For Bloggers

EDIT: I’ve updated this Google Analytics guide to include installation instructions for both Blogger and WordPress! 

In the past I have seen several bloggers, mostly but not always new ones, wondering how to get Google Analytics – or just really whether they need it.

My answer to the need for GA is a resounding yes! It’s great to have some data to look at to see how many people are reading your blog as well as how they found it. Analytics does a lot more than this, so do bear in mind that this guide is pretty top level and will only show you the basics if you’re a beginner!

So, you’re likely to be aware that GA exists already, but you might be unsure of how to set it up properly on your blog – so let’s crack on with this Google Analytics Guide for new bloggers…

How to sign up for Google Analytics

The first step is to sign up for Analytics – if you have Blogger, you have a Gmail account and you should preferably use this to sign up. If you don’t have a Gmail account, you’ll need to sign up for one first.

Then go to www.google.com/analytics, click Access Google Analytics and follow the instructions to sign up.

It’s dead easy to get your account ready – the bit that concerns a few bloggers is installing it to your blog – but it’s pretty easy to do – I promise.

How to install Google Analytics onto your blog

In order for GA to pick up the data, you’ll need to add a bit of tracking code to your blog. This tracking code will be provided to you on your GA account. Just sign in then go to Admin > select your Account > select the Property > then under Tracking Info click Tracking Code. Highlight and copy the code.

How to install on Blogger

Sign in to your Blogger Dashboard and click Template.

Google Analytics Guide - Add tracking code to Blogger

This will take you to the page which lets you either Customise or Edit HTML.

Click Edit HTML to load up the coding for your blog.

Before making any changes to your coding, be sure to save it to a Notes or NoteTab Pro document as a back up (this is usually a .txt file, and just removes any formatting so the code stays ‘fresh’!)

So now you’ve got your code up, and you’ve got the tracking code ready to add – you’ll need to know whereabouts to paste it in so that it is able to work properly!

Luckily, GA are rather handy and let you know to add it after <head> but before </head> – the best way to find this area is to click inside the box with the code in, press CTRL+F (or  cmd + F on Mac).

A little box will appear at the side where you just type in head (obviously not in bold…) and it will highlight the occurrences of that word.

The GA code can be pasted anywhere there as long as it’s not disrupting other code (it’s best to paste it just before the closing tag </head> to be safe).

Next, click Save Template and make sure it saves before leaving that page. All done!

How to install on WordPress

Adding the tracking code on WordPress.org sites (self hosted) is even easier! The best way to do it is via a plugin which you will need to install and activate.

There are quite a few out there, but I opted for Google Analytics Dashboard for WP as it ‘talks’ to your Analytics account and automatically adds the tracking code to every page of your blog. Much easier than fiddling around with copy and pasting into the code of your site! Here’s the Installation instructions.

Now you’re all set up…

Bear in mind that GA will not automatically start pulling in data – it can take a little while so don’t panic if you aren’t seeing numbers straight away. I can’t really give a definitive time frame of how long to wait, but I think I left it an hour or two before taking a look at the results.

So once you’re all set up, it’s time to have some fun and start finding out the cool stuff!

On GA, make sure to open the correct ‘property’ to look at the data. For example:

Google Analytics properties
I would need to click on All Web Site Data.
The rest of this guide is going to look at the reports you will most likely want to look at. These are:
  • Audience Overview
  • New Vs Returning Visitor
  • All Traffic
  • All Referrals
  • Social Network Referrals
  • Site Content
Like I said, there’s lots more you can do – but these will get you going for the mean time!

Audience Overview

audience overview

Audience Overview will usually be the report that appears when you first log in. As you’d expect, it’s an overall view of users, pageviews, average duration on site etc etc.

If you want a quick glance at what’s going on, then take a look here.

To access the report click Audience, then Overview on the drop down in the left side bar.

New Vs Returning Visitor

new vs returning on GA

Looking to find out the rough percentage of new visitors compared to those who have popped by before? This is the report for you.

You’ll get a fancy pie chart of this on the Overview report (above), but by opening the main report you can see information such as how many pages they viewed per visit and how long they spent on the page.

There are a few other bits of data here such as Bounce Rate and Goal Conversions, but don’t worry about these for now – it’s highly unlikely they’ll apply to your blog anyway – unless of course you set up Goals.

Access this report in the left side bar: Audience > Behaviour > New Vs Returning

All Traffic

monitor traffic on google analytics

To find out just how much traffic you get over a set period of time (more on setting time periods a bit later), this report gives you a view of the change in traffic, and the sources that your traffic is coming from. These numbers are good for sharing with brands if you are outreaching (or they are outreaching to you).

Access this report by going to: Acquisition > All Traffic.

The Overview and Channels will show you a more general picture (for example, on All Traffic, you will see a break down of traffic coming from individual social channels etc, under Overview and Channels these are condensed as just Social)

All Referrals

blog referral traffic

Referrals are essentially all the sources that drive traffic to your site. Most bloggers should expect most traffic to come from social sources, direct traffic or via Blogger itself. But everyone is different – you may find most of your traffic is direct (i.e. people coming straight to your URL) or from searching Google.

This report will show you the source, how many have viewed the blog in that way, what percentage are new visitors and a few other nifty stats.

View this report by going to: Acquisition > All Referrals

Social Referrals

social referrals tracking

If you’re pretty active at promoting your blog on social media, you’ll want to be able to monitor the results of your efforts. To find this out, check the Social Networks Referral report.

This will list the social networks that are driving traffic towards your blog, along with the number of visits that each has driven. Pretty insightful stuff if you ask me – it’s no surprise that most of my social referrals come from Twitter. It’s where I promote the most, and where I engage with other bloggers the most.

Find this report under: Acquisition > Social > Network Referrals

Site Content (All Pages)

Blogger site content check

This is juicy stuff if you’re curious about how well individual posts perform. This report ranks your posts by number of visits, showing you Page Views, Unique Page Views, Average Time On Page and more.

I always find Average Time On Page particularly insightful – if a blogger is spending more than a couple of minutes reading a post, then there’s a pretty good chance they are engaged in it. If they only spent a second on the page, they didn’t come across what they wanted.

This is really useful for showing you the types of content that are working well on your blog – as well as those which are not!

Access the report: Behavior > Site Content > All Pages

So there’s just some of the awesome reports worth a look. Here’s a couple of tips to make the most of the data:

Changing Date Range

Analytics will automatically set a date range of a month. If you want to expand or reduce this, you’ll need to go to the top right of the report and click on the arrow next to the box that states the current range.
A calendar will come down and you can go back as far as you like (however, it won’t pick up any data prior to when you set up the tracking code). Don’t forget to click Apply so that it updates!

Search Function

Reports will have a search function to let you find a particular page you want to look at. This will be located on the right hand side just above the data. There are also Search filters to the left (Primary Dimension) that will narrow down the data, too.
There we have it! A basic Google Analytics Guide to get you started! If you have any questions at all on how to do anything on GA, or any resources or tips to add, let me know in the comments!
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6 Comments

  1. May 14, 2014 / 8:40 pm

    This is so useful, thank you! I know how to use GA once it's set up, but was really struggling with the initial set up so this will be so handy x

  2. May 15, 2014 / 8:07 pm

    You're welcome! Let me know if you need any help with setting it up 🙂 x

  3. December 12, 2014 / 10:11 pm

    This was really useful Cat, thank you 🙂
    Amy x

  4. December 29, 2014 / 6:24 pm

    No problem at all, Amy 🙂 x

  5. April 26, 2017 / 12:29 pm

    Ahhh this was so helpful! I use GA at work but as I work in a fairly big organisation it is set up by another department, so I’ve never installed it before. Started a blog a couple of weeks ago and of course wanted to get cracking with analytics. Thank you for sharing 🙂
    Sophie x

    • Cat
      April 26, 2017 / 3:05 pm

      Glad you found it useful! If you need any help with the setup just shout 🙂 x

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