Welcome fellow sewing fools! This is the first in what will be a series of posts about analytics for quilt bloggers. Each week we will dive a little deeper into the topic. But first you are probably wondering why I think I am qualified to talk about this stuff. I have worked in the online marketing field since 1998. I owned my own agency providing search marketing services to small mom & pop shops up to several Fortune 500 companies. I have also held several positions for private companies leading online marketing teams. I have spoken at some of the largest conferences, eMetrics and SMX, on the topics of analytics and how to communicate their importance. I even dressed as Captain Analytics and created my own superhero logo for my cape when I had to go to a work function with a superhero theme. I feel strongly that analytics for the sake of analytics is a waste of time. However, meaningful data that can help you make decisions about how you run your blog is a gold mine. I call these Metrics that Matter and we will dive into those week by week. But first, let’s make sure you have the basics covered.
Do you have Google Analytics (GA)? If not you should. It is a free tool that will provide you professional level analytics data. There are lots of analytics providers out there but we will specifically use Google Analytics in this series of posts because it is accessible to everyone. Regardless of your blogging platform, you should be able to use it.
- Create a Google Analytics Account here: http://www.google.com/analytics/
- Click Access Google Analytics on the top right of the page
- Click Sign Up and complete the process to start a new account
Depending on your blogging platform installing will vary. For WordPress a lot of themes have you simply add your GA account number and they handle the rest. If your theme doesn’t do that there are lots of free plug-ins you can install to manage the tagging for you. I am currently playing with the Better Analytics plug-in.
For Blogger I found this tutorial for installing GA. http://www.wikihow.com/Add-Google-Analytics-to-Blogger
Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console)
Next you need to sign up for Google Webmaster Tools Search Console. This is a critical tool for managing your site in Google. You can learn how your site is being crawled, indexed and if there are any issues. You can even find what keywords Google associates with your site. Cool stuff huh!
You can get Google Webmaster Tools here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
Once you have Google Analytics and Search Console installed you can link them together to see Search Console data in Google Analytics.
So, what does all this data mean? We are going to start with the basics on the Audience Overview. Here is mine for the last 30 days. (I can’t wait to see these improve!)
A session is an interaction with your website by a user. Whether they visit 1 page or 100 it will be counted as a single session. Sessions are important to understand as it gives you an idea of how many times someone is viewing your site. Sessions end when the visitor was inactive for 3o minutes or it becomes a new day. For example, a person comes to your website and reads a post, clicks around and reads another post. That is a single session. If that user leaves your page up for more than 30 minutes and then returns to interact with your site again it will be counted as a second session. Some people will also refer to this metric as a Visit.
Users are individuals that have visited your site within the date range.
Pageviews is a count of how many individual pages on your website have been viewed. This metric is important in understanding how engaged your visitors are which brings us to the next metric…
Pages/Session is simply the number of pages divided by the number of sessions. Generally speaking, you want this number to grow. The more pages per session the more engaged your visitors are browsing around your site for more than what they came to read.
Average Session Duration
This is a metric of time and is the length of time your sessions last on average. This is also a good metric to measure engagement. The longer the session the more time a visitor spent reading your pages.
A bounce is when a visitor visits a single page and exits your site. In some cases a high bounce rate is bad as it can indicate that your site doesn’t load properly or doesn’t have the information easily available. However, if your site is well designed and the visitor can get all the information they need on a single page, then the bounce rate isn’t important. Bounce rate is important to watch as you might discover there is an error on your site but I have never felt that bounce rate is otherwise actionable.
% New Sessions
This is a great metric for quilt bloggers. % New Sessions is how many people are coming to your site that has never been. This is an estimate as Google Analytics can’t always identify every person uniquely. For example, if I visit from my phone and I’m not logged into my Google account and then I visit from one of my computers and I am logged into Google then I would count as two unique visitors.
If you have any questions of comments about this or analytics in general let me know below!