Tracking Your Blog's Progress Series You have a free tool at your fingertips to track stats for your blog that you could never afford to buy. Google Analytics is an enterprise class application, meaning it would cost Fortune 100 companies tens of thousands of dollars to license if it were for sale. But it’s free for anyone to use, and just because Re/Max, Discount Tire, CK Restaurants (Carl’s Jr, Hardee’s) are using it doesn’t mean that the smallest personal blog can’t use it too!This is the first article a new series to help you work through your blogging mistakes called Tracking Your Blog’s Progress. Please subscribe via rss or email at the top right of any page so you don’t miss any of the future installments!

As I’m writing this today is Sunday. Sunday is a lazy day, and this is rare because I usually don’t write anything on Sundays. That’s cause I’m out late a lot of nights with my band, and Sunday afternoon is a good time to relax from the stresses of the week. Yesterday was especially hectic because my 16 year old daughter accidentally hit the gas instead of the brake when maneuvering out of the garage with the car. What happenned? She smashed into the door jamb ripping the mirror off the car and smashing the quarter panel, and also ripped part of the garage wall out and completely off the foundation. Now there’s a stressful day!

So if you need to relax too, here are 5 great ways to check your blogging progress using google analytics on a regular basis.

Check your Google Analytics Stats

If you’re not already using google analytics – you should be! If you need to add it to your blog – just visit my WordPress plugins used page and find the google analytics plugin I use so you can enable it in your blog. Everyone that checks their stats want to see more visitors and pageviews, but there are other things you should be looking for.

5 Key things to check in Google Analytics for blog progress:

  1. Average pageviews: What’s the average number of pages a visitor sees before leaving your site? Over time this number should increase if you have quality content because you gain subscribers and repeat visitors. Also, people should be finding related content to read. If this number doesn’t increase over time you should either re-think the quality of your content or your blog layout. Are you showing related items, featuring posts, and providing breadcrumbs? What’s a good number? I feel under 2 needs improvement, 2-4 is acceptable, and 5+ is exceptional!
  2. Time on site: The number of pageviews is of course tied to how much time they spend on your site. If they view an average of 2.5 pages and the average time is 35 seconds you have a problem. It means they are click, clicking away to find what they want – and not getting it. Every blog is different, but my general rule of thumb is that the time on site should be at least 60 seconds for every average pageview. Time on site should increase with average pageviews and as your blogging progress increases!
  3. Bounce rate: The bounce rate is the amount of visitors that viewed a single page and left your site (which is an indicator your visitors didn’t find what they were looking for). You will always have a bounce rate, but the higher it is the poorer you are at retaining visitors. I think 90% and up is pretty bad, 60-90% is to be expected once you get 25+ quality posts, 40-60% is excellent, and under 40% is amazing! If you click on the bounce rate link on your analtics dashboard home, you get a breakdown page with the bounce rate by day. This is very interesting because you can see your bounce rate vary wildly throughout the week. With this information you can actually begin to figure out what people want to read more of on your blog. For instance, if your bounce rates are typically 70-80% but you had one day of 40% and one day of 50% figure out either what you posted on that day – or what people read that day. If it was say for instance about wordpress seo, those visitors probably found related posts about either wordpress or seo that caused them to view more than one page. Write more in these areas! Also pay attention to the days (and posts) with high bounce rates. Do you need more content in these areas – or was the bounce rate high because you were posting off-topic or in an area not highly enough targeted to your blog’s niche?
  4. New visits: This is the percentage of people visiting your blog for the first time. Over time, if you’re making progress this number better be going down, because if you’re doing a good job you should be consistently increasing repeat visitors through rss subscriptions and bookmarks. If it isn’t think about re-tooling your blog layout to encourage bookmarks (both social and regular), and subscriptions via rss and email
  5. Traffic Sources: It’s important to know where you traffic is coming from because all blogs start out with mostly search engine traffic. Over time if you are making progress the percentage of referring sites should growing and growing. It’s an indicator of blogging progress because quality content and posts will naturally draw links from referring sites. In addition, if you are spending time networking with bloggers in Entrecard, blogCatalog, myBlogLog, StumbleUpon, etc., your referring traffic will grown and grow. If you click to view the report for Top Traffic Sources you can drill down and get more key data, like what search engines you ARE getting traffic from and which ones you ARE NOT. Watch your keywords and continue to use the ones that are bring the highest number of visits now, and make plans to work on the lower ranked ones or keywords that want to start getting traffic from. Where your traffic is coming from and how it changes over time is a key indicator of your blogging progress.

Google Analytics Tricks

  • First – common questions and help can be found in the Google Analytics Help Center.
  • Schedule email reports daily, weekly, or monthly: At the top of every google analytics report is an “email” button. Click it to schedule emails weekly, daily, or monthly for reports you want to see. You can combine as many different reports as you want into one email, and choose to get a PDF file, or other formats like csv or xml for use in Excel or other reporting applications.
  • 7 Advanced Google Analytics Tricks can be found on the Da Vinci Planet blog. These are very helpful advanced tricks like how to track downloads, flash, outbound links, affiliate links, adsense clicks, how to use link tracking, and how to identify additional search engines.
  • Be sure to read Sticky Design Tricks to Keep Your Visitors from Bouncing
  • To keep detailed track of your 404 errors, read this article on how to Create Custom Google Analytics Code to Place on 404 Error Pages. They even have a special section on a custom WordPress 404.php error page with specific googlebot and robots meta tags!
  • If you find that you’re getting a lot traffic from Google Images, then you really need to read how to Track Google Images Search in Google Analytics.

Quality Google Analytics Resources

**Disclosure – These links to Amazon books are affiliate links. If you are interested in purchasing one as a google analytics reference or training guide, I would encourage you to buy it by clicking from this page. The small commission received from selling a book helps me to write more free articles and quality content for you!

The books displayed here represent the highest reviewed Google Analytics books on the market today:

Google Analytics 2.0 Google Analytics 2.0

Web Analytics: An Hour a Day Web Analytics: An Hour a Day

Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions Actionable Web Analytics: Using Data to Make Smart Business Decisions

Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning Competing on Analytics: The New Science of Winning

Do you have a question, or item to share that would make this article even better? Please, by all means – comment now!