I remember vividly the night I hit “Publish” on my very first blog post about 3 years ago. I was so excited about the prospect of readers and visits and retweets that I couldn’t sleep, so in the middle of the night I opened up my computer again.
There was nothing. Total silence on Twitter, maximum 1 visit recorded in Google Analytics. That visitor was almost definitely my boyfriend.
Talk about anti-climactic.
What happened next? That letdown certainly didn’t motivate me to churn out more blog posts or to promote myself more. In fact, it was just the beginning of a lackluster blog that sputtered and stalled out over the course of 2 years. Google Analytics never helped me become a better writer or a better marketer – it only reminded me of how my work was only reaching an average of 3-4 people a week.
The ironic thing is that I had recently jumped deep into the Google Analytics pool for some of my clients. I was digging around, learning all kinds of juicy information about audiences, top content, conversion rates, etc.
It turned out that I needed to be analyzing someone else’s work in order to foster a loving relationship with analytics. So long as I didn’t have to be confronted by my own failures (TRANSLATION: pathetic traffic numbers) I could spend all day up to my eyeballs in reports.
Fast forward to today, Week Two of my blog being out in the world.
I finally get what you’re going through if you’ve been working on your own business for more than about 45 minutes: this shit is HARD. You have at least 80 things to do on a given day, and every blog post, Tweet, and launch that you run puts you and your reputation out there and on the line. The possibility of failure, pathetic traffic, poor sales numbers and negative feedback increases by the minute.
Maybe you’ve turned a blind eye to your Google Analytics account solely because of a lack of time. You’ve got to eat and sleep in addition to running your business, so fiddling around with confusing menus and looking at charts that you can’t explain simply is not at the top of your list.
But I’m going out on a limb here. If you’re someone who shies away from looking at your data, then there’s something else at play. Google Analytics is a tool that will tell you straight up, without any sugar coating, if you’re not “crushing it.” That you haven’t accomplished that growth in traffic you’ve been working towards, or that people who visit your website almost never come back.
Harsh, Google Analytics. Way harsh.
Whether it’s a question of time, lack of knowledge, or a nagging feeling you’d rather not confront, you’re here because you’re ready to make a change. You know that in order to get that big growth you’re after, you need to be examining what’s going on behind the scenes.
Just to give you a little extra motivation, here’s what you can find out about your business once you and Google Analytics buddy up a bit:
(Note: If you don’t have Goals set up yet, you won’t see a lot of the info outlines here. Make sure you take that step before anything else; instructions are here.)
Your most popular blog topics.
Look at the top urls under Behavior > Site Content > All Pages to see which pages on your website get the most views.
Whether all the blogging you’re doing is what’s really affecting your conversions.
Check out Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path to see what pages people were looking at in the moments before they signed up for your list or bought your product.
Whether all that time you spent on a specific marketing technique is growing your list.
Been making a specific effort to focus on paid advertising or guest blogging? Click on Source / Medium when looking at the Conversions > Goals > Overview report to see where exactly your sign-ups are coming from.
Where your mega fans are located.
Go to Audience > Geo > Location and click on “City” where is says “Primary Dimensions.” You’ll get a more detailed look at where the majority of your site’s visitors live, and you can dig even deeper by sorting the columns by Pages/Visit, Average Visit Duration and Conversion Rate.
What isn’t working.
Find out if you have any pages on your site that cause an unusually high percentage of people to leave by looking at Behavior > Site Content > Exit Pages.
If your traffic is growing.
Open up the dates so that they show data from the month you installed Google Analytics up until today. Look at Audience > Overview and look at how the line graph depicts your website’s traffic over time.
See how much a little jaunt inside your Google Analytics account can tell you? It’s just proof that you need to be taking advantage of this free resource as much as you can.
Want to figure out Google Analytics in an hour or less?
There are only 6 metrics inside GA that I actually pay attention to on a consistent basis. Let me walk you through them in the short-n-sweet tutorials inside my Google Analytics Quick & Dirty Video Course.
“You don’t know how long I’ve been trying to understand my Google Analytics. I’ve spent countless hours on YouTube trying to figure out what everything means and I still end up confused. Metrics are not my thing but you made it super simple for my VA and I to follow – so thank you!” – Janet Kafadar, Course Design Consultant