Another week, another Gay Girl’s Guide To Blogging post! Last week I wrote about Google Alerts, and how they can be useful for bloggers, and this week I want to talk about another Google product – especially since there is so much confusing (and quite frankly wrong) information about this particular Google service; so welcome to the Gay Girl’s Guide To Google Analytics.
Google Analytics is a product that websites can use to learn about the users that visit their site; but this isn’t an expensive tool which only massive brands can afford or find useful! It’s actually a completely free piece of software which anyone can sign up to and add to their website or blog. The only condition to adding it to your site is that you’ll need to be able to amend the code of your website – but don’t worry, this post will talk you through it! (Note: this post will explain how to add Google Analytics to your Blogspot or self-hosted WordPress.org blog. Unfortunately, WordPress.com blogs can’t use Google Analytics due to WordPress stipulations – it’s one of the reasons I always try to convince people to move over to a self-hosted domain!)
So, what is Google Analytics and why is it useful? Well, if you consider your website to be like a big house, with each of your posts being a single room in your house, then Google Analytics is like the doorman who counts every single person who comes in to visit. Whether they come in via the front door (your home page), or climb in a random window (like someone who just arrives at a blog post you wrote 2 years ago and forgot about!), your personal doorman will count out who comes to visit, and which rooms they visit!
How does Google Analytics do this? Well, you’ll need to add a little piece of code to your website. What this code does, once a user comes to your website, is drops a cookie (a little bundle of code) onto the user’s browser – this cookie is your doorman. It’s this cookie which can tell you which search keywords are driving the most traffic to your website (lesbian blogger, for example!) or which of your posts are the most popular, or how many of your visitors read your blog on their mobile.
Why is all this so useful? Well, on one hand, if you’re interested in working with press teams or brands, they will often ask you for your monthly reader figures – and it’s Google Analytics which is the widely accepted standard tool to measure these. But even if you don’t want to work with brands or perform reviews, Analytics will show you where your traffic comes from (including which other sites are sending traffic to your blog), which cities you get most visits from or how long people spend reading your posts! It’s a really great tool if you’re a bit nosy about who is reading your blog, and what they’re interested in.
Once you’ve added Google Analytics to your blog, your doorman will start counting the number of people visiting your site, where they come from and what they do once they arrive. I plan to write a few more ‘Gay Girl’s Guide To Google Analytics’ posts, explaining what each of the sections does and how it can be useful; but in the meantime, please do add the Analytics code to your blog so that you can start measuring your blog as soon as possible – and if you have any questions, just leave a comment here or shout at me on Twitter.
Installing Google Analytics to a Blogger Blog
If you have a Blogger blog, you already have a head start on Google Analytics – because Blogger stats are quite similar to Analytics stats (mostly because both Blogger and Analytics are owned by Google!) – and it’s pretty easy to add the Google Analytics code to a Blogger blog. So here’s what you need to do:
1. Go to the Google Analytics homepage and log in with your Google account. (A Google account can be Gmail, YouTube, Google+, Blogger etc – so if you have a Blogger account, you definitely have a Google account!)
2. On the Account Admin screen, click the ‘Add New Account’ button, which can be seen in the screenshot below. Add your blog name, blog URL and other details as applicable to you – although I would recommend unselecting the Data Sharing Options at the bottom of the page – I try and keep as much data away from Google as possible!
3. You’ll now reach the page which shows the unique Google Analytics tracking code which you need to add to your website. This code is completely unique to you and to your blog, so make sure you don’t accidentally delete any bits!
4. Copy this code, and go into your Blogger back end. Next, you need to add the Google Analytics code to your blog. To do this, click on the Template menu in the left-hand menu and then click the ‘Edit HTML’ button on your currently live template. You’ll then see a box like the one below pop up.
5. Scroll down (or press the control and ‘F’ button) to find the close head tag – which looks like this – </head>. You need to paste the code you copied from Google Analytics directly before the close body tag. Then click the ‘Save Template’ button, and your Google Analytics tracking will be installed!
Installing Google Analytics to a WordPress.org Blog
1. Installing Google Analytics to a WordPress blog is fairly easy, and the first few steps are very similar to installing Analytics to a Blogger blog. To begin with, follow the first three steps as above, so that you have the unique Google Analytics code for your site. Then move on to step 2., below.
2. Log into your WordPress.org dashboard, and hover over the ‘Appearance’ menu on the left hand side. When it appears, click on the final item in the list, named ‘Editor’. This will take you to the HTML editor for your blog theme.
3. The part you need you look at here is the editor for the header section of your blog. You should be able to see the ‘Header’ file in the list on the right hand list of the editor, so just click it, and the code will appear in the box. Scroll down (or press control and ‘F’) to find ‘</head>’. You need to paste in your Google Analytics code before the ‘</head>’. Then click the ‘Update File’ button and you’re done!
Once you’ve added the Google Analytics code to your blog, it’ll take around 24 hours for the first data to start appearing in your Google Analytics profile. In an upcoming A Gay Girl’s Guide To Blogging post, I’ll talk you through some of the ways to use Google Analytics to learn more about what people look at on your blog – so let me know if you have any Google Analytics questions in the meantime!Carley