With blogging pretty much taking over the gosh darn world, more and more of us are starting to pay attention to the geekier side of sharing our lives on the Internet – the stats.
Whilst numbers are just numbers, there’s no denying that some delving into data can help to shape and grow your blog so you can reach your own goals. Whether that’s increasing readership or engagement, or simply making a decision around any ‘niche’ you want to focus on.
But if you’re new to Google Analytics, it can be a struggle to decide which numbers are the most useful. So, after some fab feedback from you guys who have been enjoying my GA posts (see them all here), I decided to have a think about the reports that lifestyle bloggers should be keeping an eye on in order to grow their blog the way they want to.
- Finding and understanding your audience
Within the Audience reports, your first port of call should be the Demographics Overview report. I bloody love this report, as it gives you a breakdown of the Age and Gender of your audience. Note that you’ll need Universal Analytics for this data (but this is the standard for anyone setting up a new GA account anyway).
You will also need a fair amount of data for this report to generate relevant information – depending on the amount and type of traffic your site gets, I’d say to go back about a year on the date range. If you’ve had GA less than a year, just go back as far as you can.
Above are the demographics for my blog with a date range of April 2014 – Sept 2015. I have to admit that I was surprised by the number of 18-24 year old readers, expecting a much larger majority of those being 25-34 (purely because it’s the bracket I myself fit within…just).
It’s also quite cool to see that 11% of my audience are male – an unsurprising minority, but I actually expected it to be even smaller!
If you click on the separate Age and Gender reports (below Overview), you can even see a breakdown of other data such as Average Session Duration and Bounce Rate (% of single page visits, i.e. if someone leaves your site straight away after viewing only one page).
In addition to demographics, you can also view Interests. I assume this data is collated based on cookie data (data that is picked up from browsing behaviour), but it can reveal some great ideas of new topics to cover, or can confirm that your audience are truly tapped in to your content!
- Improving traffic
- Shaping how you promote your blog
Where your readers are coming from is absolutely crucial if you are promoting your blog posts. It helps to inform what particular social networks or referral sites are delivering the most traffic, but it also identifies areas of weakness.
Within the Acquisition section of GA, you can see an overview which shows you a breakdown of:
- Direct Traffic (i.e. those that type your URL in or have your blog saved as a bookmark)
- Social Traffic (which is of course coming from social networks)
- Referral Traffic (coming in from any external sites including but not restricted to social)
- Organic traffic (users being driven to your blog from search engines)
- Narrowing down your niche (if you wish to)
- Generating new post ideas