*There may be affiliate links in this post. (Please see our legal pages, link in the footer, for more information.)
Today I want to introduce you to something I spend a seriously lot of time on:
I think it’s fair to say that Google Analytics is a must have for self-hosted bloggers, particularly if they treat their blog like a business and wish to profit from it at some point. *Don’t have you own self-hosted blog yet??? Then check out my tutorial and find out how to set one up!
What is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is an online application that tracks visitors to your site. Now that sounds pretty basic but Google Analytics is anything but basic. The amount of information you can gather from you Google Analytics account is just incredible and can really help you propel your business forward.
Why would I want to track visitors to my blog?
Tracking visitors is so important!
Firstly you can monitor if your blog is improving by seeing if you are getting more pageviews or if your bounce rate has lowered (don’t worry if any of these terms confuse you there is a glossary further down the page). Plus you can see where these visitors are coming from, for example if you’re trying out a new Pinterest strategy then you can see if your visitors from Pinterest have increased!
Secondly Google Analytics allows you to see which of your blog posts are the most popular which means you can write more of those types of posts to please your audience.
You can also check out things like the age of your readers and where in the world they’re located. This is super useful for me because I am based in the UK but more of my readers are in the USA, therefore I nearly always included prices in US dollars so everyone understands what I’m talking about.
Do I have to use Google Analytics?
No you don’t have to use them but they are considered the gold standard of website analytics tracking.
For example if you ever wanted to apply for a higher paying ad network that requires a certain number of pageviews per month they would want proof of those pageviews through Google Analytics, not another random plugin. Same goes for sponsored posts and any blogging opportunity that requires a certain level of pageviews or sessions.
Google Analytics kind of has the monopoly on blogging analytics. I mean they interact and connect with almost all the different programs you would want to use on your site (like email marketing programs, different plugins, social media accounts etc.)
Really if you ever plan to profit from your blog you do need to install and setup Google Analytics.
How to install Google Analytics:
Step 1 –
Firstly you’re going to head over to Google Analytics and you should see the page below.
Click on the blue arrow next to ‘SIGN IN’, which should take show the following drop down menu.
Then click ‘Analytics’
At this point you will need to sign into your Gmail account so go ahead and do that.
Step 1.1 –
If you don’t have a Gmail accounts now’s the time to create one. Click on the ‘More Options’ button as shown by the red arrow.
Then click ‘Create Account’.
Once you’ve created your account and your all signed in come back and meet me at Step 2.
Step 2 –
Once you’ve signed in you may get a page telling you about new features or something like that. Just scroll down and click ‘I AGREE’ to get back to Google Analytics. Then you should see a screen like the one below.
Click the ‘Sign up’ button on the right hand side of the screen. Taking you to the screen below.
What would you like to track? – Ensure ‘Website’ rather than ‘Mobile app’ is clicked (it will be darker grey with a small triangle on the bottom if it is selected).
Setting up your account – Name your account, this can be anything as it’s purely for your own records.
Setting up your property
Website Name – Input your website name (mine is Well and Wealthy).
Website URL – Input your website URL (mine is https://wellandwealthy.org).
Industry Category – Choose a category that seems most appropriate to you.
Report Time Zone – Enter your preferred time zone.
Data Sharing Settings – I ticked all four boxes here.
Then click the blue button saying ‘Get Tracking ID’ and agree to the terms and conditions pop-up.
Step 3 –
Now it’s time to install the tracking ID onto your website.
There is actually two ways to do this. One uses a plugin and the other involves you having to insert a bit of code into your website. When I first started with Google Analytics I literally had no idea how to insert code anywhere so I went with a plugin.
Now I’ve done some further research and there seems to be a general consensus that a plugin is the best option because if you update your theme or anything like that it could remove the code. I’m going to be honest with you I have no idea, it sounds complicated, so I’m sticking with the easiest option. Which is what I would advise you to do if you’re not a WordPress techy and if you’re reading this then you probably aren’t… No offense…
So we are going to stick with the plugin method:
Go to the plugins section in the backend of your blog.
Click ‘Add New’ and search for ‘Google Analytics’ you should see a few options come up but the one I use and recommend is ‘Google Analytics for WordPress by MonsterInsights’ (it has a little purple monster as a logo and it’s FREE yay).
Click ‘Install Now’ and then ‘Activate’.
Click on your new Monster Insights plugin and head to the settings section.
Click ‘Authenticate with your Google Account’ –> click next –> click ‘Click To Get Google Code’ –> click ‘Allow’ –> paste code into box below –> click next and select the analytics profile you just created –> click next and you’re all done!
Really it was that simple!
Your Google Analytics account should all be working now although it can take a couple of days to collect data initially. You can also see your analytics within the MonsterInsights plugin if you prefer.
If you found that super confusing MonsterInsights also have their own tutorial that’s slightly different you could check out.
Step 4 – How to remove yourself from your own Google Analytics
This is a step that so many people don’t do but it’s absolutely crucial to get accurate website data.
Basically if you don’t complete this step you will end up tracking your own visits to your website. Personally when I’m writing a blog post or fiddling about with the look of my site I keep hopping on and having a look at what I’ve done. I’ve racked up a good few hundred pageviews in one day of myself just having a look round!
Not ideal! Especially if you’re a new blogger and every single pageview is so precious. For example as a new blogger you might be trying to figure out a good Pinterest strategy, therefore you going to need your analytics to be completely correct so that you know if the strategy is good or not!
Okay so lets filter you out of your analytics.
Go to your analytics homepage and click on the ‘Admin’ button as shown below by the red arrow. (Yours should have numbers on it, mine is all at zero because I created a test account to write this tutorial.)
You should be taken to the screen below.
Click on ‘View Settings’ as shown by the red arrow above and you will be taken to the screen below.
First we have to create a ‘view’ so scroll down and click the box under ‘Bot Filtering’ then click ‘Save’.
Then scroll back up and click ‘Filters’.
This will take you to the page below.
Click ‘+ ADD FILTER’
Filter Name – Call it something like ‘Exclude myself’ or ‘Exclude internal traffic’
Filter Type – Ensure ‘Predefined’ is selected
Then click the drop down menus of ‘Select filter type’ and click ‘Exclude’.
Then click the drop down menus of ‘Select source or destination’ and click ‘traffic from the IP addresses’.
Then click the drop down menus of ‘Select expression’ and click ‘that are equal to’.
Your screen should not be looking like this.
We need to get your IP address now so open up Google search and type in ‘what is my IP address’.
You should get a number come up in a box at the very top saying it’s your public IP address.
Copy this number and paste it into the IP address box. Then click ‘Save’.
That’s it you are all done!
Woohoo go you!!!
Google Analytics Glossary:
Just a few key terms that bloggers need to know to get the most out of Google Analytics. Google Analytics themselves do have an excellent glossary if you come across something else you are unfamiliar.
Traffic – The amount of people visiting your blog.
Audience – The people visiting your blog.
Pageviews – Every time one of your pages loads in a browser. So if I clicked on a link to your blog and read one post that would be one pageview, if I then reloaded the page four times that would be five pageviews. If I then clicked on a link to read another one of your posts that would count as another pageview.
Sessions – This is the number of times a person has been on your site. Each session lasts 30 minutes. So if I went on your site viewed a couple of pages and then left that would count as one session. If I went back on your site one hour later that would count as two sessions. If however I had gone back on your site within my original 30 minutes that would have been counted within the same session.
Bounce Rate – This represents the amount of people who leave your site having only seen one page. So a 100% bounce rate means everyone is leaving from the page they entered your site on and not exploring any more of your website.
Demographics – This gives you some useful information about your readers. On Google Analytics you can learn about their age and gender.
Acquisition – How you are acquiring (or getting) traffic.
Source/Medium – Where that traffic is coming from like a search engine or social media.
Behaviour – What your readers are doing once on your site.
Very soon I shall be creating a post on the key things bloggers should be looking at on their Google Analytics account, so stay tuned for that one!
In the meantime perhaps you could pin this post so others benefit from it (plus it would make me super happy!)
I hope the blog post really helps you in getting Google Analytics all setup on your blog. As ever please comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions!