Understanding Google Analytics

Updated – I did a google hangout on air on Google Analytics sharing what I taught at Alt this year. (also embedded at the bottom)

I’m obsessed with google analytics, seriously I LOVE numbers and data so of course I find it fascinating! There is soooo much that you can learn from it that can help you build a better blog or website. There is a lot to google analytics of course, so this is just SOME of the basics. I’ll do a follow up with more so leave your questions!


GA is really the only thing sponsors ask for, if there is another one you like, that’s fine, BUT you need to have GA too.  I will mention that if you also have something else installed and notice that your numbers are way off, like GA is double the other numbers, then you accidentally have it installed twice and while it’s hard to give up rockin numbers they are fake and will come back to bit you if you keep it on.


front page, you can see that I have 3 different blogs/website’s that I follow in GA.  You can get your basic visit numbers from here, but not much else until you click over.  And of course the date range, it is always the last month.


from the audience overview page you can see in the top right where you can change the date range and get all the numbers you might need.  The graph shows views by day per your date range.  Unique visitors is the number of people who came, visits is the number of actual visits (including revisits from unique visitors, and then pageviews, the number of pages that were seen in your date range.

Also the pie chart shows new visitors vs people returning to your site, clearly not my blogs strength…  At the bottom you can also get a basic overview of demographics, clicking through to seethe top 10 in any area.  To see more in depth numbers and info click on the other areas under the “audience” menu.


Like this is some basic info on what browsers people are using (really that many people are still using internet explorer? shocking!) It’s important to know this so when you make changes to your layout you can test it in your most popular browsers to make sure they all look great.  I have a friend whose blog is a total mess in chrome, but she still hasn’t changed it, so she’s losing her views that are visiting from chrome.


The next section in Audience I like is “location” (under GEO) I have a very diverse group of readers, from all over the world.  I have my highest numbers in the USA but about 1/2 of my audience is outside of the USA!  This is great to know for sponsors, as I can work with international clients much better than bloggers who only have an audience in the USA.


And the map is totally interactive,  if you click on a country then state and even city you can get more info.  here you can see that CA (my largest state audience) only makes up for 6.51% of my pageviews!  My UT audience is REALLY tiny so I know that working with local vendors, sponsors or activiteis aren’t a great fit for my readers, and if I do too much of them could turn them off.

hovering on the blue circles will give you a close up of the area and hovering over a light blue dot will give you the numbers for that area.


Under “behavior” is “frequency and recency” and you can see the number of visits each of your readers are giving you!  Clearly most people come once and not again, which is something I DESPERATELY want to make better.  but the fact that I have 50 people that have visited my site more than 200 times is AWESOME!


I love the mobile section – in the overview you can see what people are suing, desktops, mobile and tablet!  It’s amazing going back a year and two how much these numbers have changed.  More than 60% of my readers are mobile, it’s time to invest in making my site more mobile friendly, THAT’S for sure!


And if you click under “devices” you can see even more details!  I clearly need to stick with apple product reviews more! It’s also interesting to see the average time on site based on device!  Tablets seem to do better than anything else for me.


And the final area of audience I like go visit is the “visitors flow” It shows where they are coming from, the page they are starting on, then IF they click over where they click to! clearly a lot of visitors come for just one page, the few that click another though tend to keep clicking (thus the 1.44 pages per visitor).  And the next, next and next pages, you can keep clicking over and see more and more


Moving on to another section – “real time” I kind of DIG this new addition to GA.  It shows you RIGHT THEN how many people are on your page!!!  what device they are suing, referals, social traffic, location, keyword and most active pages from the over view stage  It’s mostly for fun.  You can look at a week/hourly under audience overview if you just want to see when people are on your site.

My girlfriends think it’s hilarious to message me and say, I’m on your site now, do you see me? cause they know I have it on most of the time!


Kay, next section – “behavior” – starting with overview, this quickly shows you your top 10 posts and other basic info.  I love watching my average time on site.  I am loving my higher time on site… I need to figure out a way to keep my time on site up and add more returning visitors, right?


Kay I spend the MOST time in this section – Behavior – site content – “all pages” this is going to start with your top 10, but you can click over and scroll through the 2000+ pages that got viewed this month.  I use this to check on my best posts, over time, month, quarter, year, etc…  it’s interesting to see what does better in the summer/holidays, other seasons, etc…

In my case my older posts are rockin it right now (thank you pinterest), now see what posts are most popular and make more like it!  Clicking on the little icon next to the post title info? click on that to be taken to the page!  Now usually you can tell which page they are on, but sometimes it’s nice to click over or sometimes the pages (esp as you get into the later stages) are kind of gobbledygook


Now the Acquisition section – all referrals, here is where you see where most people are coming to your blog from, clearly pinterest is going to be high for most of you.  If your doing your SEO correctly google will be up there too, it’s number 11 right now for me.  You can also keep an eye on places you link up to, if it’s worth it or not, sites you guest post on, etc…  Decide if you want to keep doing link parties and guest posts or if it’s maybe not worth it.


If you click on one of the referrals you’ll be taken to breakdown page, with links to which posts/pins/FB posts that are actually referring people! it’s amazing, I love seeing which posts are linking to me, and remember if you click the little icon it will open another window with the referring page!  Which is nice when you can’t tell which pin is which, or which fb post is pointing to your site!


I wanted to show you my year in review, it’s a fun thing to look at! Sometimes focusing on one month at a time and you miss the overall vision of your site and posts.  By looking at a quarter or year at a time you can see the overall patter in your blog.  See that high point the day before thanksgiving? Thanksgiving recipes.  See that low point on the right? Christmas day.  See how my views do better in the winter months than the summer? My crochet patterns do better in the winter than summer.


How about my best day last year?  Jan 5th? WHAT THE WHAT?  The day before Thanksgiving made sense, but a random Sunday in Jan? I didn’t even POST that day? So let’s take a closer look – looking at the top 10 pages from the day you can see that my thread crochet converse shoes were ROCKING that day!!!  Huh? That pattern was 2 years old!


So where did everyone come from? Go to referrals and we can see that it was featured on homesteadsurvival.com that day, that accounts for a lot of the traffic, and then it got pinned a lot as well!

ANYWAY! I hope this helped make google analytics not quite so scary!  There is even MORE you can do with it (goals, more with demographics, etc…), but these are the things I use the MOST, and I hope you enjoyed it!

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Ashlee has been cake decorating for 9 year, and blogging for 7+. She has 5 children ages 3-13 that she enjoys throwing parties for. She loves to bake, cook, crochet, knit, do home improvement, graphic design, photography and writing.
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  1. says

    Hello! Thank you for the information. I am fairly new to blogging and really want to learn how to grow my blog and numbers this year! All the information is overwhelming. If I can learn one new thing a day, then I feel like I am doing good.

  2. says

    I am a GA addict too!! I am always checking real time on my phone app. I really should use the info more constructively though!!

  3. says

    Ashlee I just spent not one but two evenings reading this post (I fell asleep going over it last night. Don’t hate me, stats are not my thing!! I left the tab open all day so that I could finish it tonight) This was immensely helpful. I hardly ever even check GA because it’s so overwhelming (I’m addicted to statcounter) But I love this breakdown! You rock!

    • says

      Thanks so much! I’m glad you liked it. It’s pretty basic, i’ll be going into more depth this Wednesday during a google hangout on air.

  4. says

    Hi Ashlee,

    Thank you for a fabulous post about Google Analytics. I actually now have a much greater understanding of my numbers and where to find what I need!


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