You generally don’t have to blog very long before you start hearing other bloggers talk about Google Analytics. Google Analytics is used for tracking your website statistical information. Find out the benefits of Google Analytics and learn how to install it for yourself here.
Benefits of Using Google Analytics
If you are serious about blogging (or ever plan to be) you will greatly benefit from using analytics. Google Analytics can provide important information such as:
- How many people visit your site each day (or month, or year…)
- How long people stay on your site before clicking away
- How many pages people typically view in one visit
- Where your traffic is coming from
- Which of your posts are the most popular
- Which posts are causing people to leave your site
- Your reader demographics (age, gender, interests, etc)
All of these pieces of information can create a very detailed picture of how your visitors are using your site so you can optimize to give them the best experience possible (and to increase your site earnings for yourself if you’ve monetized!) Google Analytics is a very powerful tool!
**It is important to note that Google Analytics will only start monitoring your stats from the time you install the code on your blog. It will not report stats from before that time. That is why you want to install Google Analytics as soon as possible, even if you aren’t sure how much you’ll use it. (You will!)
Before You Begin
First, you need to have a Google Account. If you don’t already have one, you can sign up for a free Google account here. In addition to being necessary for installing Google Analytics, having a Google account will allow you to set up a Google email address, connect on Google+ and use Google Drive to store and share files.
Once you have a Google account, you can go to Google Analytics and select the Access Google Analytics button in the top right corner. You may be asked to log in to your Google Account. Follow the steps to input your blog information to fully set up your Google Analytics account and get your tracking code.
If you have your tracking code, you can skip ahead to Installing Google Analytics on Genesis Theme or Installing Google Analytics on Other Themes.
Finding Your Google Analytics Tracking Code
You may have set up a Google Analytics account, but didn’t know what to do with the tracking code you were given at the end of the set up. Now is the time to find that code and get it on your blog.
Log in to your Google Analytics account and click on the Admin tab at the top. A new screen will appear.
Under the Property column (middle column) find and click Tracking Info. This will expand the menu further and you will need to click on Tracking Code.
The next page will give you your tracking code. It should start and end with script tags (<script> </script>).
Installing Google Analytics
If you’re not using a Genesis theme: you will need to find where you can add scripts to your own blog’s head section. It may simply be in your own theme settings, or you may have to add the code by going to Appearance > Editor and adding it to your site header manually.
If you are using a Genesis theme: it is really easy to add your tracking code to your site.
In a separate window or tab, open your WordPress dashboard. Find Genesis in your left side bar. Expand that menu and select Theme Settings. Scroll down until you see the heading, Header and Footer Scripts.
Copy the tracking code from your Google Analytics screen and paste it here in the box for wp_head(). This will set up tracking of all pages on your site.
Do not install Google Analytics in more that one place on your blog. You may end up installing a plugin later that will allow you to copy and paste your Google Analytics tracking code into that plugin’s settings. However, if you have already installed the tracking code elsewhere on your blog, you do not want to add the code again to a plugin on your blog.
I would recommend adding the code directly to your blog, as described above, rather than using a plugin. If you were to later delete that plugin, you would lose that tracking functionality as well.
If you have the code on your site in more than one place, your stats will not get reported properly. Your page views will get double counted and your bounce rate will drop dramatically. Your numbers may look better at first, but this is false information and will not help you make accurate decisions going forward.
How to Check If You’ve Installed Google Analytics More Than Once
If you think you may have installed the Google Analytics tracking code on your blog more than once (or you’re just curious), one way to check is to use a Chrome extension called Tag Assistant. In your Google Chrome web browser, go to the Chrome Web Store (it’s free) and search for “tag assistant.” You can find it under extensions.
After you install the tag assistant on your browser, it will add a sideways smiley face icon next to your search bar. When you are on your own site you can click on that icon and then click Check this page now. You will get an analysis of tags found on your site.
As long as you only have one tag for Google Analytics, you are good 🙂
I admit it. Last fall when I was making a lot of changes to my site and trying to follow all of the blogging recommendations out there, I managed to add Google Analytics tracking code to my blog in THREE places! I knew something was wrong when my bounce rate got down to less than 3%.
I had originally coded Google Analytics to the header of my blog through my theme settings, the proper way as described above. Then I later decided to add additional analytics plugins to my site (Google Analytics by Yoast and Google Analytics Dashboard for WP) and things got messed up. I linked them both to my Google Analytics which caused my tracking code to be reported two extra times on my site.
These plugins were not even necessary! I prefer to check my anaytics directly on Google’s site. After I deleted these two plugins, the Chrome tag assistant (mentioned above) showed I only had one instance of the tracking code on my blog.
Deleting those plugins did not fix my stats for that month. I had to wait a whole month to get an accurate month of stats.
Do you have Google Analytics installed on your blog? If not, go install it now! And be sure to let me know if you have any questions! Hopefully this post will help keep you from making the same Google Analytics mistakes I have made!