WordPress is a great framework for a website. You can easily add content, create pages, and customize the site to include just about anything. No matter how good the design is or how great the graphics are, if you can’t get traffic to your site, people won’t buy your products or hear your message. In business, it something doesn’t get tracked, it doesn’t get improved. One way to track your site traffic do is Google Analytics and yes, there is a plugin for that. The one I choose is Google Analytics for WordPress.
Where is that plugin…
To get the plugin, you can download it from the link above or install in from within your WordPress dashboard. To properly set it up, you need to have a Google Analytics account (which is free). Google will provide you with some code to put on every page in your site. Luckily, WordPress provides the framework and the plugin adds the code in just the right places.
The plugin setup is very easy. Once you have your Google Analytics account, you need to authenticate your site with Google Analytics (Google does a great job of walking you through that process). Once that is done, there are many settings to customize your plugin. Here are some of the specific settings I have taken advantage of:
- Where should the tracking code be placed: I choose to put the code in the header which is the default
- Track outbound clicks & downloads: I choose to track outbound clicks and downloads. That way, I can see if visitors are going to other sites via my links. Important if you use affiliate links to track progress and just to see what links visitors like.
- Custom Variables – Logged in Users: This setting allows you to separate the users from the visitors in the final reports if you wanted. Potentially very valuable if you have a lot of user traffic.
- Advanced Settings – Ignore Users: I choose to ignore the administrators of the site for my Google Analytics reports. This allows me to modify the site and check all kinds of stuff without artificially inflating my traffic numbers.
So, how does having Google Analytics help you?
The internet is full of information. I am not in any way an expert on Google Analytics or WordPress but you don’t have to be. Even if you are completely new to having your own website, there are some bits of information that can be helpful.
When you first open Google Analytics, after logging in and selecting your account, you see a Visitors Overview. Under the Visitors Overview, there are a few statistics that you would want to take notice of:
- Unique Visitors: As the name suggests, this is a count of visitors that have visited the site for the first time over the time period specified. So, if you are looking at data for the past month, your Unique Visitors are how many new people have visited your site during the month. Cookies are used to track the visitors.
- Avg Time on Site: This is the amount of time visitors spend reading content or navigating your site. The longer the time, the more engaged your visitors and the more of the content they are consuming.
- Bounce Rate: This number describes users that leave your site after reading only one page, or a single page visit. So, if a visitor gets to your site from a link in another blog, reads the page or post, then leaves, that visitor has just been added to the bounce rate. This number is important to track visitors progress through your site. If the number is high, visitors are leaving after reading the first page. If it is low, visitors are moving through your site, from one page to another, a good sign of engagement.
The next area of interest is traffic, or where are the people visiting your site coming from. Under Traffic Sources -> Sources -> All Traffic, you will see a list of the sites visitors were at before they clicked on a link and visited your site. For example, (right now) I see that I have 102 visits from Google. I also see how many pages, on average, those visitors looked at before leaving my site. I also see the average time on site, bounce rate, and percentage of new visits. This information can tell you how people are finding your site. If you are getting traffic from Google but not Bing or Yahoo, you can focus more attention on those search engines to increase visitors. This area will also show you how many people are just typing in your URL to get to your site.
A website is only as good as the information it presents. Content is king, some would say. Without good (or even great) content, why would anyone visit your site? Under Content -> Overview, you will be able to see a breakdown of the visitors by page. Want to see what content is getting the most attention? This is the place for you. At my account right now, I see that approximately 24% of my visitors are going to my website. The next popular post, Tattoo Design – the Deathly Hallows, received 39 visits. You will see the top ten most popular pages with an option to see the full report. In this area you will see your page views (visits), unique pageviews (similar to unique visitors), average time on page, bounce rate, and % exit (the number of visitors that leave that page divided by the total pageviews ). Personally, I am most interested in unique pageviews, and bounce rate.
That is a basic overview of Google Analytics and the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin. Both of these can be great tools that will allow you to track the performance of your site. Remember, if you don’t track it, how can you tell if any progress is being made? With Google Analytics, you have the right tools to ensure you are making the choices needed to grow your site. Good luck