Getting Started with Google Analytics: Tracking and Analyzing your WordPress Website
Tracking your website’s analytics is a must if you want to run a truly successful online business. Analyzing metrics like who your audience is, how they behave on your site, and how they are engaging with your content, will help you gain an insight into how your website is performing. This data can then be used to alter and improve your website, helping to ensure its success.
Google Analytics is a free and extremely useful tool that will track and report on your website’s analytics. Not only does Google Analytics provide you with a wealth of information about your audience and website, it also delivers it in concise and accessible reports, helping you to understand what your site’s metrics are really telling you.
In this article, we will discuss the benefits of using Google Analytics. We will look at how to set up Google Analytics’ tracking for your website using the WordPress plugin MonsterInsights. And we will then consider some of the key metrics that Google Analytics reports on. Let’s get started…
Why use Google Analytics?
As already mentioned, Google Analytics is a free tool that provides in-depth reports giving you insight into audience engagement and website performance. Google Analytics is quick and easy to set up and can track a range of metrics. Results are then presented in readable graphs, tables, and charts.
Using Google Analytics will enable you to evaluate the performance of your content, marketing campaigns, products, and much more. This information can then be used to improve your website’s user experience, tailor your content to appeal to potential customers and clients, run marketing and ad campaigns that engage with your target audience, and ultimately increase your site’s conversion rates.
So let’s find out how to set up Google Analytics…
Getting Started with Google Analytics
The first step is to sign up with Google Analytics. This is a quick and free process, made easier if you have a Gmail account.
Once you have verified your new account, via text or email, you will need to answer a few questions so that Google knows what you want to track.
Opt to track Website, then enter your website’s URL, and select your site’s industry. Google will then provide you with a Tracking ID.
This code needs to be inserted as the first item into the <HEAD> section of each web page you want to track. Alternatively, you can simply use the WordPress plugin, Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights, to do this for you.
Installing MonsterInsights on your WordPress Website
Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights is a popular and powerful free plugin. It will enable you to quickly connect your Google Analytics account and WordPress website. And all without having to touch a line of code.
To install MonsterInsights on your website, open your WordPress dashboard. Then select Plugins > Add New.
Next, type Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights into the search function.
Wait for the plugin to be retrieved and then select Install Now > Activate.
Connecting Your Google Analytics Account and WordPress Website
Once the MonsterInsights’ plugin has been installed on your website, select Insights > Settings from your WordPress dashboard menu. Then click on Authenticate with your Google Account.
You will now be asked to log into your Google Analytics account. Here you will need to Authorize MonsterInsights to access and manage your data.
Once you Complete Authorization, your accounts will be synced. MonsterInsights will now be able to start tracking your website’s data.
As you can see, using the MonsterInsights’ plugin is much quicker and easier than having to add the Google tracking code to each page of your website. However, if you need to track more advanced data, including ads, forms, and eCommerce analytics, you will need to upgrade to MonsterInsights Pro.
What Metrics Can You Track with Google Analytics?
So, once you have Google Analytics up and running on your website, what metrics can you track? And how can this data help you improve your website? Let’s find out…
Where is Your Traffic Coming From?
Understanding where your traffic is coming from is key to maintaining and increasing future visitor numbers. To find reports on your website’s traffic, open your Google Analytics’ dashboard. Then select Acquisition > Overview from the menu on the left-hand side of the screen.
Ideally, you want your site to be receiving traffic from a number of sources. (Being reliant on just one source is a risky strategy). If the reports are showing that low numbers of visitors are arriving from social media, then you may need to concentrate on improving your social presence. Or if your organic search numbers are down, then you may need to implement some new SEO strategies. Equally, if you have been focusing on guest posting, and traffic from referrals is up, then you know your hard work is paying off.
Are Your Bounce Rates High?
High bounce rates are nearly always a warning sign that something isn’t right. Therefore, if your bounce rates keep increasing, it is imperative that you know so you make some changes.
High bounce rates can be caused by a number of reasons. Your site may be loading too slowly, it may not be user-friendly or mobile-friendly, or you might be attracting the wrong type of traffic.
Here are a few strategies for lowering bounce rates…
- Update Your WordPress Theme – A modern user-friendly theme, built with speed, SEO, and responsiveness at the forefront of developers’ minds, will help keep your visitors happy and on-site. Check out Array’s collection of beautiful, handcrafted themes, that will help your website achieve impressive results.
- Display Related Posts – The longer your audience stay on your site, the more likely they are to convert against your goals. So encourage people to view further pages by displaying a related posts widget at the bottom of an article. The free plugin Jetpack provides a Related Posts module. This can be quickly activated and will help to lower bounce rates.
- Rank for the Right Keywords – If your articles aren’t ranking for the right keywords, then you may well be attracting the wrong audience to your site (hence the high bounce rates). Use the free WordPress plugin, Yoast SEO, to ensure every article you publish is optimized for the search engines. This will help you reach your key target audience, who will be interested in sticking around on your site.
It is also important to note that landing pages may have high bounce rates. If these landing pages are converting, then high bounce rates here aren’t necessarily a problem.
Which Pages are Most Popular?
Analyzing which pages are most popular on your website will help you understand what content appeals to your audience. Under Behavior > Overview you will be able to find out how many visits each of your pages has received. You can also view unique page views, entrance numbers, bounce rates, time spent on each page, and much more.
This data will help you to evaluate how your content is performing, what is working, and what needs improving. You can then use this information to inform your future content strategy.
Who Is Your Audience?
Google Analytics provides numerous reports about your audience. Under Audience, you can find out where visitors are from, view demographics including age and gender, learn when people are most likely to visit your website, determine the technology used to view your site, and much more.
By understanding your audience and how they interact with your website, you can plan appropriately for their needs. This may include writing content with a localized theme based on audience location, or publishing content at specific times when you know the majority of your audience will be online. Audience insight can also be particularly helpful when identifying target groups for advertising or social media campaigns.
Apart from the generic metrics that Google Analytics tracks, you can also set up goals that are specific to your website. To do so, select Settings > Goals and then create goals appropriate to your site’s objectives. These could be related to media engagement, lead generation, revenue, or you can create custom goals. Once set up, you can track how your website is converting against your goals, and analyze metrics that are relevant to these conversions.
Final Thoughts on Google Analytics
As you can see, Google Analytics is an in-depth, and extremely useful tool, and a must-have for anyone who wants to run a successful online business. As far as metrics tracking goes, we have hardly touched the surface of what Google Analytics can do. So if there are further analytics you would like to monitor then it is more than likely that Google Analytics will be able to cater for your needs.
Most crucially, after evaluating the data provided, make sure you use it inform your future planning. This will ensure your website keeps growing and improving, helping to drive traffic, retain regular customers, and increase conversions.
Have you got any questions about setting up and using Google Analytics? If so, please feel free to ask away in the comments below…