Blog TipsSEO

How to Use Google Analytics

By Jul 31, 201435 Comments

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There are a lot of websites out there geared toward gathering traffic and search stats for your website. However, if you’re not using Google Analytics, then you’re missing out! Google Analytics is far more accurate tool, and more trusted by advertising companies. It’s one thing to have Google Analytics installed, embedded, and tracking your website, but another to actually use it. Once you learn how to use Google Analytics, you’re best off throwing away other third party stat counters.

google analytics

How to Use Google Analytics

Your first step is creating a Google Analytics account. If you already have a Google account, you can simply sign up, and your Google Analytics account will automatically sync with your Google account.

Add your website to Google Analytics.

Simply go to add account, or under the Admin tab, you can also add a new account. Once you add your website, you will be given a tracking ID.

google analytics new account

Sync your website with Google Analytics.

In the case of anyone using WordPress, you can simply install the plugin called Google Analytics for WordPress, and sync it with your Google Analytics account. In order to sync it, it will ask you to log into your Google Analytics account. The plugin just mentioned even has a good guide on how to hook your WordPress site with Google Analytics.

Once you have hooked up the plugin, and synced your website, you should go through your Google Analytics dashboard and familiarize yourself. For those not using WordPress, you may need to verify your site by embedding the Google Analytics javascript tracking code into the header of your website’s markup.

Get familiar with Google Analytics.

In order to use Google Analytics, you must understand what kind of tracking tools are available to you. Google Analytics tracks:

  • Amount of unique visitors
  • Amount of Returning visitors
  • In-bound and outbound traffic
  • How long a visitor stays on your website
  • Search terms
  • Any special campaigns you set up
  • Demographics of each visitor like age, language, and what browser they are surfing your site with
  • Real time stats

Once you’ve understood what Google Analytics can do for you, you need to start planning your marketing campaign. The campaign should be one you plan on your website, whether a special series of posts, an event like a giveaway or webinar, or a landing page for a product. In making a plan, your traffic stats will change and allow you to see whether whatever plan you put together worked or not. In the case that a campaign does work, the stats also allow you to see if the marketing plan needs any adjustment. As a matter of fact, for each blog post or page you add to your site, you are adding more potential for collecting traffic data from your visitors.

For example, you might want to start selling a product and create a special landing page. With this product, you’ve been wanting to target a specific audience on Twitter without using the ad network that Twitter uses. In order to find out how well your product campaign is doing, you can set up a Goal under the Conversions section in Google Analytics. Google Analytics has a good guide on setting up goals.

Your Traffic Numbers

For those who don’t want to get into setting up goals, the areas you want to focus on for your website are in your traffic numbers (both returning and unique visitors), your bounce rate, where the traffic is coming from, and the demographics of your visitors.

Google Analytics traffic stats

Example of traffic stats in Google Analytics

Your traffic numbers and demographics are very important pieces of information that you will usually share with potential advertisers. If a specific brand is geared toward a specific gender, culture, or age group, and your website matches, you could acquire more relevant advertisers on your site.

As for your bounce rate, the lower the percentage is, the more likely that people are actually interested in viewing more of your website other than just the front page. Even if you’re not selling a product or service for money, you are still selling yourself. You’re asking them to read your articles and maybe subscribe to your newsletter, share your posts on social network websites, or comment on your blog. The bounce rate can be an eye opener on whether your blog is attracting anyone, and exactly what they like to see on your website

The great thing about Google Analytics is that it is free to use. There are a lot of other third party statistic softwares, but even compared to many of the premium traffic statistic tools available out there, Google Analytics is a great starting point for bootstrapping bloggers and small business owners.

Have you hooked your website up with Google Analytics?
What stats do you like to look at the most?
Have you ever tried setting up a goal for a new social media marketing campaign for a giveaway or for your products?

Keep Reading

Are you looking for information about using Google Analytics to grow your blog? Here are a few posts you’ll find helpful:

About Nile Flores

Nile Flores is a well known WordPress designer and developer, and blogger with over 13 years under her belt. Her passion is helping people and she's also presented at more than a dozen WordCamps across the United States. Her website is Blondish.net. Nile focuses on designing and developing WordPress powered websites that convert, aside from teaching bootstrapping bloggers and small business owners on how to create, promote, and maintain their website. When Nile isn't knee deep in code, she's writing poetry, practicing kempo karate, and raising her son.


  • Thanks so much for this post. I recently went self hosted and couldn’t figure out why my stats weren’t working! I have now fixed it! Thank you!!

  • Christine says:

    This might be a silly question but are your unique visitors the “users?” I’m trying to figure out what each number means. So far, the only one I understand is pageviews.

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  • samantha says:

    I honestly had no idea, im pretty new into blogging and this seesm like something that everyone should know and pay attention to, very detailed and to the point.

    Visiting from.

  • Your article will help those without knowledge of the subject, thank you

  • This is so helpful! Google Analytics feels like a foreign language to me sometimes so this is really great to learn how to use it!

    • Nile Flores says:

      I’m glad to heard this is helpful for you Madison. It can be. There’s a lot more to it than my article, but most of the meat and potatoes that most bloggers and small business owners that don’t have too much time are in this.

  • Gary Kerr says:

    Great article! well explained and very informative.Your Google Analytics tutorial much helped me to understand each term associated with it.Thanking you so much for providing the information about Google Analytics.

  • Thank you so much for the useful tips! I have Google Analytics set up but don’t pay to it the attention I should!

  • Would anyone happen to have any insight as to why Google Analytics would be WAY off regarding the visits it collects? I’ve used Google Analytics for years and know that it can produce accurate results, but just recently the counts have been grossly different from what my WordPress stats collect. I know that WordPress stats are a little inflated but Analytics is now reporting more than 500 uniques LESS than what I’m seeing on my WordPress dashboard.

    I moved my Analytics code to the header so that script would process first (because it was at the bottom). I’m still not seeing any difference. Any help would be mega appreciated. 🙂

    • Nile Flores says:

      Both Google Analytics and WordPress are going to be way off from places like Webalizer, which is in-house stats with cPanel hostees. Because Google Analytics and WordPress are 3rd party stats, the script behavior is a little different. Unfortunately, advertisers won’t accept Webalizer stats… but they will accept Google Analytics more so because you as the account owner can grant viewing privileges without compromising your security, and therefore can ask you to verify the truth of your stats by asking for permission to view them.

      Webalizer and WordPress- they have to be given direct access and that means giving the only password and username you need… not good and most companies won’t ask for that as they are held to standards when it comes to security.

      Also, it’s advisable that you don’t have more than 1 statistics counter working. You could run into random conflicts/ glitches… so can your guests, which means one or both of the statistic softwares are not collecting all the data you want it to.

      If you apply Google Analytics to the header, you will be fine… it’s advisable to add it there instead of the footer.

  • Woohoo, I needed this…. I just got my new blog planner and wall calendar today…. I have this installed on my site as well but wanted to know how to use it better. I wrote down all my stats tonight !

  • Mari says:

    Just when I thought I knew something lol I learn something new thank you!!!

  • Jen schrempf says:

    Thank you! I had never heard of this before. I am getting more serious about blogging and looking forward to putting this use. Thanks so much.

    • Nile Flores says:

      Hi Jen! A lot of times, in the beginning, that is the best focus to have. Blogging isn’t perfect and you really need to just blog first and then once you’ve got through a month or two getting the hang of it, then you can think about focusing on looking at stats. However, having Google Analytics embedded into your site in the beginning will give you a leg up for when you’re ready to start putting a social media marketing plan together. 🙂

  • Great beginner post! I’ll be looking at the other links, too. Thank you. I honestly haven’t gotten past reading the pie charts. /insert embarrassed smiley here

    • Nile Flores says:

      Aside from the beginner stuff, further on… there’s some not soo n00b advice in there to make sure anyone that has a website, regardless of being a blogger, small business owner, or any type of website. The goal is ROI- getting that comment, that share, that subscriber, and even that sale.

  • Michele says:

    this is such a great and overwhelming tool! I am not a numbers person, but I love how you break down what this information means to me and blog! definitely helpful in learning more about my audience-Thanks!

    • Nile Flores says:

      The great thing is that for people like you, Michele, who don’t like to dabble much in numbers, you really only need to know a few things, the ones I mentioned in the article, your Google Page Rank, your Alexa Rank, your social handle numbers, and your Klout score. These are what you put in your deck when advertisers approach you, or you are the one approaching them. 🙂

  • Just did this to my blog yesterday! I kept coming across Google Analytics so many times I figured it was a sign to finally add it….

  • Melissa Dell says:

    Great post! I love learning more about GA – totally the math need in me. And thanks for linking to my media kit dashboard tutorial!!

    • Nile Flores says:

      Thanks Melissa! Google Analytics is definitely interesting to use. Frankly, I don’t like to look at stats. It’s pointless. The ROI and engagement are more important. Occasionally I’ll create a new goal up on new post series or new services, but the end result is if I’m getting that conversion through comments, shares, subscribers, and sales.

  • Great tips on what to zero in on as far as stats go.

    • Nile Flores says:

      Thanks Sondra! A lot of people get overwhelmed… so really, for those new to being a website owner and trying to get into using Google Analytics, I figure letting everyone know what’s the more important stats to look. 😀

  • Thanks for the tips. I have Google Analytics installed and use it mostly for choosing key words to blog about.

    It’s great to get this insight into the other numbers too.

    • Nile Flores says:

      That’s great, Aruna! That’s perfectly okay. If you haven’t already, you may also want to have Google Webmaster Tools… this gives you an even more in-depth look on how Google’s search engine actually sees your website. Some stats there may be a little similar to Google Analytics, but this might interest you because of the keyword data.