I KNOW many of you reading this will have blogs or websites of your own, so I thought you may like to come along on this Blog Overhaul journey with me! Whether your blog is on TypePad or not, much the information I'll be discussing in this series '10 Ways To Improve Your Blog' is universal.
Let's begin with the most important thing you can do to improve your blog!
If you have a blog or a site you NEED to set up Google Analytics, the single most important thing you will ever do to improve your blog and increase your traffic. Why is it so important? It lets you research the people who are visiting your site, see what they like, how much they read, where they come from, even check out their interests! It is an incredibly powerful tool and will let you target your content and effort in areas where it will be appreciated by your readers - a pretty important feature, don't you agree?
How To Start Using Google Analytics?
- First, you will need to sign up for a Google Analytics account - Google has a nice simple guide explaining how to create and account and associate it with your site - so I won't re-create the wheel. If you already have a Google+ or YouTube account you can sign in with this, they are all linked! You may need to click Sign In/Create and select Google Analytics from the drop down menu.
If you have a Google based account (YouTube or Google +) then you can sign right in. If you don't have either of these, then you will need to click Create Account - just below the grey sign in box.
- Once you are signed in, there aren't that many steps, so this next bit is pretty easy - all you need to do is fill in the empty boxes! The only tricky bit is figuring out what Industry Category to select, choose the one closest to your site content, but if in doubt you can select Online Community. I'd also recommend leaving the default Data Sharing settings as they are.
- Once you can see and select your blog or site within Goole Analytics you can move onto Setting Up Analytics Tracking. Once you have set it up and confirmed it's working, then Google Analytics should begin producing tracking data within 24 hours and this is where it starts to get fun.
- Now before making any important decisions based on the data reported by Google Analytics, you need to wait at least a week, preferably a month! If you have data collected from too short an amount of time then you could be making important decisions made on a really GOOD or a really BAD week. What you need to do is allow enough data to be collected to be able to have an average - I know I know the waiting is annoying, but you will have a better idea of how things are really going at the end of it!
My Top 5 Google Analytics Reports & Why They Are Essential
Once you have allowed Google Analytics to collect enough data you are ready to start doing a little research and making some decisions! So how do you use the Google Analytics data to improve your site? Well read on and I'll discuss what I did, I won't cover every piece of data displayed in Google Analytics - as you'd be reading for a month. So in order of importance here are the 5 reports I'd recommend you check out first:
- Technology: Browser & Operating System Information
This is important as it will tell you how and on what device your readers are viewing your information. You can find this out by selecting:
1. Technology from under the Audience section.
2. Select the date range you want to query
3. Click the Secondary Dimension button, select User and choose Operating System from the drop-down menu.
You will see a graph like this...
I found this particular information a complete head spin. Why?
Well, the first row was about what I expected, I had over 9000 people reading my blog on their PC using Chrome, the second-row shows I have about the same number of visitors checking out my blog using Safari on either an iPhone or iPad. Was my blog even Mobile friendly, I thought so - looked fine when I looked at stuff. But just in case I decided to run the Google Mobile-Friendly Test on my site - my site FAILED! Ah what! I had poor load times, widgets that wouldn't work on my site and the worst bit - the expensive drop down blog menu I'd worked for weeks on - was practically useless on mobile devices as mobile readers couldn't see all the fancy stuff used in it! So a VERY large number of people looking at my site on mobile devices were missing out, or worse having a really bad experience! This tells me it's one of the first things I need to fix (and I have!).
- Where Do My Readers Live?
This was my next stop and will guide you about what kind of language to use and when to publish new content. Being an Australian blog I'd assumed (yes I know - never assume) that a big part of my audience was Australian - Wrong again!
You can find this under Audience and then under Geo, then click Location.
It turns out that the largest part of my audience is located in North America - waving hello to all my readers in the USA, Australia, UK, Canada and India - who make up the top 5 countries in my reader list! What can I take away from this information, well at this point the Google Translate widget I installed is a pure vanity because there aren't a whole lot of people reading my blog who don't speak English. Also that I'm publishing my posts at 9am Australian time - when I should be aiming to publish when my US readers are online to get the best results.
- Which Pages Are People's First Introduction To My Site?
You can pick up a whole lot of information from the Landing Page data. This table shows you the most popular landing pages on your site in order of popularity. This is essential in understanding what new readers are looking for, also why people who come to your site might leave right away. This is just the kind of information you can use to make decisions about what is important enough to be added to your menus - your prime real estate. To find this data in your own Google Analytics go to Behaviour, then Site Content and choose Landing Pages.
So I knew my page on Doodling was popular, and I can understand the Mixed Media Tutorials being up there - but the real surprise is that my page on International Women's Day is right up there as is Ink Pad Storage suggestions. This data shows us which pages are most popular and what data people are searching for. Perhaps I need to make these popular topics a lot easier to find and increase the amount of content, maybe even add a few eye-catching graphics in my right-hand column? I think I also need to have a look at that page on Women's Day to see why people are finding it so interesting as this one was a complete mystery.
- Which Social Networks Are Driving My Blog Traffic?
Social Media is an incredibly important part of growing your blog readership - but where do you direct your effort, there are so many social media platforms it can be difficult to decide which is most important. This data will tell you what is working for you currently and what needs improvement. To find the data in Google Analytics select Acquisition, then choose Social and finally Network Referrals.
From this data, I can see that the images I add to Pinterest are incredibly important and driving a significant amount of traffic to my blog. I can capitalise on this my adding more Pinnable images and more images to Pinterest. On the flip-side I can see that my Twitter and Instagram needs much more work to make it a useful tool to drive traffic to my site.
- How Are People Finding My Site?
So you've set up your site, how are people finding you? You can use this information to investigate what areas need improvement, if your meta data or key words are working and if any advertising campaigns are working to draw more readers. You can see this information under Acquisition - then All Traffic and finally Source/Medium
I can take away a few pieces of key information from this, first my meta data and key words are my top asset giving the best results. Second people are actually searching for my site (and not just generic search terms). You can also see from this that social media and other sites referencing my data are also in the mix as being important sources of traffic. Considering I don't have and paid searches or advertising campaigns, the fact that these areas are reporting as -100% or 0% - is not surprising. This helps to give me a little focus and figure out where to start. It's important I make sure my tags, titles and categories are up to date and on point so that people searching online (Organic Search) can find me and my content. I need to make sure to keep posting and linking in Social Media and I need to work on my email list!
Put these 5 reports together and it gives you a pretty good place to start, some useful information and heaps of ideas for improving your blog or site. I hope this has helped you take a closer look at your Arty/Crafty blog and find out where you can start making improvements to attract more readers.