You’ve got a blog and you love it. It’s engaging and it looks great, too.
At least, that’s what you think. If you’re like many new bloggers, you can’t know for sure because you don’t have much data about what happens when visitors drop by. You’ve decided to get a handle on it by adding Google Analytics.
Adding Google Analytics (GA) to your blog isn’t too difficult, especially if you’re using a platform like WordPress where plugins are available to make the task even easier. But it can come with some hiccups when you’re still familiarizing yourself with its features.
Here are some basic tips for adding Google Analytics to your blog so that you get helpful data, not misleading numbers. I don’t get highly technical here. The way I see it, there are loads of resources out there that tackle that stuff, and I’ve linked to some of them.
Instead, I’m trying to present general tips that I wish someone would had told me when I started setting up Google Analytics years ago for earlier blogs, which I could have then investigated further on my own.
These tips aren’t really about interpreting data; instead, they’re more about getting GA in order so that you’re in a good position later to interpret traffic on your website.
Be careful that you don’t have two tracking code snippets on your page.
You should only have one tracking code snippet per page. If you’re using a template for your blog, ideally you should place the snippet just before the closing </head> tag. A big issue for sites with two snippets is their data will show a very, very low bounce rate.
So, if you notice that you’re rocking <2% bounce rate (especially if you’re pulling a lot of organic traffic) and it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Make sure you’ve only got one snippet per page.
Create a custom filter to track only your website’s traffic.
Sometimes, people “hijack” your web tracking code. In other words, they put your code on their page, which messes up your data.
In my view, the filter to include only your website’s traffic is the most important filter to apply to your profiles and is a required first step for a best practice configuration. It ensures that your data remains clean and prevents GATC hijacking -spammers use it to get their URLs in your reports in the hope you will click through to view ads. If you apply only one filter to your account, make sure it is this one (emphasis mine). (296)
Basically, this step is a way to ensure that you’re getting numbers that accurately reflect traffic on your blog.
Use a filter to exclude your visits.
You can run up a lot of visits to your own blog, especially if “you” is a joint operation with multiple people blogging on a single site. And of course, that artificially inflates and skews your numbers. Be sure to exclude data from internal traffic in order to get accurate results about external activity.
Set up a goal for reader engagement.
Ideally you’d like readers to stick around a while. Monitor visit duration by creating a goal around it. This goal should remain flexible — a blog with short posts should be less concerned by shorter visit duration than, say, a blog with nothing but 1,000-word research articles.
Link Google Webaster and Google Analytics.
When you link Google Webmaster to GA, you can see data from Webmaster tools in Google Analytics reports. I like this association particularly for analyzing which keywords bring visitors to your blog.
This list is far from exhaustive. That’s the beauty of analytics — there’s so much data to draw from, and so much room for customization.
What about you? Do you have any tips for bloggers who are interesting in adding Google Analytics to their blog?
(Note: Any affiliate links on this blog are for products I’ve bought on my own and find valuable.)