If you have a blog and you aren’t using Google Analytics then you are really missing a great opportunity to grow your blog.
I first installed Google Analytics when I started my blog back in 2014. Since then, I’ve used Google Analytics as a great learning tool to understand what brings people to and keeps people on my blog. I would guestimate that I’ve doubled my blog readership just by using this tool.
A few pointers before I get started:
- I find the Google Analytics smartphone app to be much more simple and convenient to use compared to the website
- You can select date ranges to look at specific data. Sometimes I look at data for just 1 day. Sometimes I look at data for a whole year.
- Data can be viewed in graphs, pie charts, line graphs, etc. Choose whichever suits your fancy!
Okay, let’s get started…
Here are my Top 10 Tips for Using Google Analytics to Grow Your Blog
10. Landing Pages
This tells you which page your reader comes to first. This will give you some insight as to what brings people to your blog, which is very important!! My top landing page is now my experience getting a tonsillectomy as an adult. Side note: this is actually very meaningful to me because my tonsillectomy was complete HELL, and if I can give *anyone* out there tips to make it a little better than I feel like this blog is worth it. Okay, moving along…
How I used this to grow/benefit my blog: So how did I use that to benefit my blog? I first went back and made sure all of my tonsillectomy posts were clearly tagged and linked to each other. This way when someone lands on this page, they will see that there is more of my site to explore… and hopefully they will think I am kind of cool and come back to read other posts. I also made sure to add a few more follow-up posts about my tonsillectomy experience as well.
I talked a lot about the products I used when I got my tonsillectomy, so I went back and added Amazon Affiliate links to these products. To my surprise, people actually click on these links and buy the products. I’m not trying to get rich off of this blog but it’s nice that this little stream of income covers the yearly expenses of maintaining this site.
Tip: Look back at your top landing pages for the past 6 months or so.
9. Social Overview
This feature will let you know which social media sites bring traffic to your blog. My top 3 are Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter. I’m going to be completely honest here and say that I haven’t invested much time in using social media in general. This is evidenced by my 180 Twitter followers. It takes a lot of time to set up posts/tweets in advance and right now I’d rather use my time to do things like drink wine and watch trashy reality TV (you know, the important things in life). But nonetheless, this is a great Google Analytics tool that can grow your blog!
How I used this to grow/benefit my blog: I used to try really hard to promote my blog through Twitter, but by using this feature I saw that my most popular social media outlet was actually Pinterest. So I decided to ditch my Twitter efforts (I sucked at it anyway, obviously) and focus on Pinterest… Pinterest is where it’s at, yo.
Now if someone wants to teach me how to use Twitter then I will love you forever.
8. Organic Search (under acquisition)
This feature is especially insightful because it tells you what terms people were searching for when they came across your blog.
How I used this to grow/benefit my blog: I realized by using this tool that people came across this blog when they were searching about how to become an RD: how to become a dietitian, a day in the life of a dietitian, what does a dietitian do, etc. Since I’m a dietitian and blog about that, a lot of these readers tend to follow my blog and come back after their first visit. It’s a great way to grow readership. So I made sure to set up a “Becoming an RD” tab on my menu so these readers can easily navigate my site. I also make sure to optimize the SEO tactics so that my dietitian-related posts are more likely to come up in search results. I also try to throw a new post in there every now and then for some fresh content.
Referrals is super important because it will show you which other blogs / sites are sending traffic to your blog. Blogging is such a big community and you can definitely use this to your advantage to grow your site.
How I used this to grow/benefit my blog: Now for some blogs, I’m a silent reader because I like their content, and I will leave a comment every now and then if I really relate to that specific post. But for others, I comment because I like the community aspect of blogging. What I mean is that I comment on other people’s blogs, they comment on mine, we follow each other, and then other readers see these comments and come and check out my site. I’ve met a lot of cool people this way.
So if I comment on someone’s blog, they don’t respond to my comment, they don’t come and comment on my blog, and no readers from their site visit my blog, then I’m not getting a lot out of the whole “community” aspect of blogging. So I try to pay special attention to blogs who send referral traffic to my site, because I know the readers from that blog are also into the blogging community thing.
This is where you can see if someone has shared a link to your website on their blog.
How I used this to grow/benefit my blog: If someone links one of my posts on their site then I am sure to thank them for the shout out. I also make it a point to follow them on social media and Bloglovin’, and then they might do the same and we can become internet besties. I try to keep them in mind and give them so extra love (tweets, pinning posts, etc.) on their posts as well.
5. Bounce Rate
This is the percentage of readers who leave your site after viewing just one page. You basically don’t want this number to be high.
How I used this to grow/benefit my blog: I kind of expect my bounce rate to be high (>80%) on my posts like my tonsillectomy tips and pinterest posts. The primary place where I pay attention to bounce rate is under my referral section. If people are coming to my site because I commented on another health & fitness blog then I want them to look around and not just leave after looking at 1 page. So I like to see this below 50%.
When my bounce rate has been high, I’ve had to take a step back and re-evaluate my site. Is it easy to navigate? It my design too cluttered? Is my site mobile friendly? All of these things can factor in to why someone doesn’t stay on your site. I know for me, when I visit a new site, if some box pops up in my face asking me to sign up for an email or follow on Facebook then I usually hightail it out of there I also think bounce rate gives you some good insight into link-ups. Are people just stopping by your site to leave a comment or are they really looking at your site?
4. Mobile Info
This very simply will tell you how many readers are accessing your site via a mobile device vs. desktop or tablet.
How I used this to grow/benefit my blog: 50% of my readers are accessing my site via a cell phone, compared to 38% from desktops and 12% on tablets. But um, hello, I did not make my site mobile-friendly until June! Big mistake. Be aware of where your readership is coming from and tailor your site to this.
3. Trends in Sessions
If I am ever making a major change to my blog, I’m sure to make a dated note of this and observe the trends in readership that follow.
How I used this to grow/benefit my blog: I stick with the things that increase readership and re-evaluate the things that don’t. For example, after I started participating in the What I Ate Wednesday link-ups, my sessions increased by 4,000 that month. This let me know that participating in this link-up was bringing more traffic to my site. When I stopped blogging during the month of May, my readership decreased by 3,800 that month. So perhaps next time if I want to take a break from blogging, maybe I should just auto-schedule some posts in advance instead of just throwing in the towel? It’s interesting to keep track of these things.
I made my site mobile-friendly in June so I will definitely be keeping an eye on readership before and after.
2. New vs. Returning Visitors
This is displayed in a simple pie chart and tells you the percentage of new visitors vs. returning visitors.
How I used this to grow/benefit my blog: It is no surprise to me that 75% of my readership comes from new visitors considering that my top landing pages are all pages that come up in Google searches. My goal in knowing this is to try to get these readers to stick around. I keep this in mind by trying to do the following
- Have a functional and clean site layout
- Make sure even informational posts reflect my personality and writing style
- Link all posts that are alike
You can also use this as a source of previous comparisons. When I first started blogging, my rate of returning visitors was something embarrassing, like 5%. So at least I’m convincing a few people to stick around, right?
1. Custom Reports
I have a tutorial coming for this, but it’s very easy to set up a customized report in Google Analytics. I have several and they are some of my most insightful data from GA.
How I used this to grow/benefit my blog: One of my custom reports is the busiest time of day. Mine happens to be between 12-1pm. So I know that if I post after this then I’m going to miss out on half of my readership. Another custom report is for the busiest day of the week. This was eye-opening to me because I saw that Fridays are my slowest day of the week. So now I’m sure NOT to post something in-depth on Fridays.
Stay tuned for these tutorials.
I write my blog because I like sharing my thoughts and connecting with people. I’m not some amazingly huge blogger and I’m definitely not quitting my day job anytime soon. So while I’m sharing ways to increase your readership, every single one of my posts is not all about that. But anyone who writes a blog probably wants people to read it, and I hope these tips help you increase your readership!