Over the past couple of months I’ve spent a lot of time at work with my head in Google Analytics. Learning more about analytics has made me far more active in tracking usage of this blog. In just a few of weeks I’ve seen the benefit – I noticed an unexpected referer driving a significant amount of traffic here, after some investigation I found it was a spam site and have taken action to block it from crawling my blog.
I’m all about sharing, so here’s a run down of how I’m using Google Analytics for this blog.
With the following metrics I look at month on month comparisons and changes in activity in the few days after I publish a new post. To aid this I’ve started adding annotations to the overview charts every time a post is published.
- traffic source
- search terms
- popular pages
Here are a few metrics I use to track how my readers are engaging with the content.
Average time on page €” a useful indicator of whether people are actually reading your content.
Pages per visit €” likely to be low for a blog as people generally come to read one post and then leave. I’ve recently added related posts to the bottom of each entry, so I’ll be looking to see if this number rises over the coming months.
New vs returning visitors €” the basic stat is interesting but this is more useful when combined with other metrics. I combine it with average time to see the difference in time spent on my blog between the two groups; returning visitors spend nearly twice as long on the site.
The easiest way to monitor all of this is through a custom dashboard. For my personal dashboard I’ve scheduled a report to be sent to me monthly. If you’d like my dashboard template, just email me.
There are plenty of other dashboard templates out there, including this blogger dashboard from Portent. With this one you’ll need to remove some of their site specific filters.
Access through Acquisition > Social > Datahub Activity.
This one’s fairly new to me, it allows you to track activity related to your blog on external social networks. For example, I’ve been able to see which of my posts are bookmarked and each time a reader adds a post to read later in services like Pocket or Instapaper.
Search Engine Optimisation
Access through Acquisition > Search Engine Optimisation.
You’ll need to configure Webmaster Tools to open up this report. It adds a few extra metrics on top of the standard keywords report. You can find out how often your site appears in Google results pages and for what terms. For these searches you can also see how often people click through to your blog.
What metrics do you track for your blog?
If there’s anything else you’re tracking for your blog, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.