Thursday, April 8, 2010
First things first, the above image was taken from Google Analytics. So it belongs to them. Now, if you recall, a few weeks ago I showed you how to get your blog and Google Analytics talking to each other. Hopefully things worked well for you and you now have a few weeks of data to look at in Google Analytics. Or perhaps you've had Google Analytics set up for a long time and just never understood what to do with the information. Well, I'll try to go through some of the basics over the course of several posts since there is so much to learn. This week I'm going to give you an introduction to the Dashboard and then focus on the Traffic Sources statistics, showing you where to find them, what they reveal, and how they can be useful to you.
When you log in to Google, go up to Settings on the top right and click on Google Account Settings. Select Analytics and you will be brought to your account. There should be a green check mark under Status, meaning all is working properly. Click on View Report to the left of the check mark to start viewing your data.
Your dashboard with a graph chart and numeric stats will appear. The longer your blog sends information to Google Analytics, the farther back in time you can go to compare activity and learn from your blog's trends. If you hover over the points on the graph it will tell you the date it represents and the number of visits to your blog on that day. It's OK to see a roller coaster graph. You will likely see more visits during the week and less visits on the weekend. We happen to spike on Mondays and Fridays due to our Monday Movie Meme on Mondays and BlogAnon or Tech Tips posts on Fridays. But many bloggers see their biggest traffic on Wednesdays.
The Site Usage section beneath the graph gives you a quick snapshot of your stats during the period of time your graph covers. You can change the time period in the top right corner - either selecting a specific period of time or requesting a comparison to a point in the past. The dashboard also tells you quickly where your traffic is coming from in the world, how people find your blog, and what posts they have visited most often.
To get into the meat of your stats, you can select one of the categories on the top left menu. The Traffic Sources section is important to me because it lets me know which places are sending us the most traffic. Selecting Traffic Sources will open up a new Dashboard overview, specific to Traffic. The Top Traffic Sources section at the bottom lists the places sending most visitors to your blog. To the right of that, it tells you the Key Words that most often lead people to your blog.
Our top key words are "the bumbles" and right after that is "the bumbles blog." That means that our blog's branding is strong, easy for people to remember and a search of our name is successfully bringing people to us. The third most frequent key words are "dannon mexican dip" which would lead them to one of the few food posts we have here - sharing Dannon's Mexican Dip recipe (which is yummy). These key words are always near the top, regardless of when I check our Key Words stats. This bit of information tells me that people are coming to that post with regularity when looking for that recipe, meaning that this post is a landing page for random visitors. It would make sense to build in a few links within that post to other parts of our blog to encourge them to stick around.
There are also lots of key words that make no sense to me in how those words would lead anyone to our blog. This happens a lot because search engines are not a perfect science. And I don't pay too much attention to them if they are a small percentage and aren't consistently turning up on our key words list. Clicking on the View Report link at the bottom of this section will give you a longer list and show you which days those key words led people to your blog. We don't write with key words in mind, but they can tell you what strangers have in mind when they arrive at your blog. If you want to reel more of them in, use those words more often. If you are selling a product or promoting a feature, you want to see key words related to them popping up on a regular basis. That's why it is nice to see "bumbles movie meme" showing up near the top of our Key Words list.
Back at the Traffic Sources Dashboard, the other section I look at is Sources, to the left of Key Words. When we participated in a lot of memes, this was the spot I used to find out which of those memes brought visitors to our blog, and which did not. For example, I spent a lot of time each week visiting a ton of the participants in Wordless Wednesday. We got a fair amount of comments on our post each week, but I wasn't sure if anyone was actually finding us through WW or if they were just stopping by unrelated to that meme. When I looked at our Sources list, WW was nowhere to be found. This told me that very few people were actually clicking on our link at the WW site. I dropped regular participation in that meme and incorporated photos in posts I wanted to write instead.
Our top Source is Feedburner - meaning most people are accessing us from their Reader. Which means they are subscribing to our feed. Which is good. Thank you! Our second Source is The Daily Meme. This is because we have our Monday Movie Meme listed on that site. That tells me the Daily Meme relationship is working and I need to keep their button on my sidebar to give thanks back to them. It also means there are lots of new people interested in learning about the MMM all the time so keeping the topics fun and relatable to all types of movie lovers is important.
Clicking on the View Full Report link at the bottom of this section will give you the longer list. It tells me that many of my friends on Goodreads have been stopping by to read those War & Peace summaries I've been posting and linking to in my book group there. It also tells me when they come by, how long they stay, and whether they check out any other pages or just leave and go somewhere else. Many of these Goodreads visitors have never been to our blog before and they seem to be checking other pages out. The Bounce Rate tells you the percent of people who leave after visiting one post/page. The higher the percentage, the more people are one and done. The lower the percentage, the more people are exploring your blog before leaving.
The last thing I learn from Sources is which fellow bloggers are stopping by most often because they like what we have to say, or because they are linking up to us and sending traffic our way - maybe via participation in the MMM or a collaborative post like the War & Peace summaries I do with Stacy. Sometimes I am surprised by the bloggers I find on our Sources list because they aren't always leaving comments so I had no idea they were hanging around. By seeing them on our Sources list I know that we need to make sure we are visiting them to return the favor, and discover more of what we share in common that makes them interested enough in what we have to say. It's a great tool for discovering and building blogging relationships.
I'll try to cover the Content and Visitors sections of Google Analytics in future Blog Tips posts, which alternate with our BlogAnon posts on Fridays. If you have tips, thoughts or requests about Google Analytics please share in the Comments. You can also join the discussion in our Bumble Town forum where we will be posting topics to match each Friday's blogging post to provide a place for more involved conversation. Hopefully, you'll find a way to use Google Analytics' information to make your blogging experience an even better one.