3 Important Things Your Analytics Can Tell You
Analytics - every blogger's best friend and worst nightmare. They can be an incredible source of information and even content ideas, but they're certainly not easy to decipher. However, with a bit of work, they can tell your some very important things about your brand and business (besides how many people have read your blog this month).
So first things first, install Google Analytics if you haven't already - it's invaluable!
1. Your target audience.
One big thing that you can learn from your analytics is who, exactly, is reading your blog. By activating the demographics monitoring section, you can see what percent of your audience is male vs. female, the age rages your audience falls under, and the interest categories for each visitor.
But you'll first need to enable these settings! (Because I thought mine were enabled and they weren't, oops) In your Google Analytics dashboard navigate to the Demographics tab, shown below.
When you click on Overview, a screen will pop up prompting you to enable these stats. Here's Google's tutorial:
What it means for you:
Knowing your target audience can be really important for content strategy and marketing. Say, for instance, upon viewing your demographic stats, you find out that a majority of readers are female college students, ages 18-25. This immediately can tell you a few things about your content and editorial calendar - 1. Write more about college lifestyle (if you are so inclined and authorized) and 2. Maybe stay away from things that don't affect them, like posts about buying a house or starting a 401(k).
Obviously, if you want to write about certain things, and you feel they fit your brand, then this information only goes so far. But from my experience, audience acquisition is more of a "If you build it, they will come" situation - as in, if you write about college lifestyle and beauty and whatnot, then your audience is likely to be made up of twenty-something girls. If you write about parenting and finance tips and what not, then your audience will probably fall into a 30-40 age group.
Generally speaking, audiences tend to model themselves after the blogger. For example, I am a 21 year old college student who likes to write about crafts, beauty, fashion, and blogging. My audience is typically made up of other twenty-something girls who like to do crafts, play dress up, and blog. Art imitates life.
2. How people find your site.
This is a huge one, especially in terms of content strategy, figuring out what posts are popular, and coming up with new ideas that will line up well with what your audience expects.
Navigate to the Acquisition tab in your Analytics dashboard (above). Here you'll see several options, but the one we're going to focus on right now is under Search Engine Optimization. If you click on Queries, it will show you all the search terms that people have Googled that has led to your blog. How awesome is that, right? Here's the first page of my queries. People really like coffee posts and that damn Finn Butler poem I blogged about like two years ago. As you can see, it shows you what people searched, how many impressions (number of times that your post or site showed up in search results) as well as how many times your links were actually clicked.
If you move down to the Landing Pages tab, it will show you exactly which blog posts are being clicked on and searched for, which is beyond awesome.
What it means for you:
Reading through this information may seem daunting, but it can be an excellent source of information regarding content strategy. Seeing which posts are the most popular can give you a sense of what your audience would like to see more of, as well as seeing which posts you should re-share on social media, or re-vamp and post again (for more on remodeling old posts, see here). It can also help you come up with new content related to what people are reading most. For example, it looks like I might want to post more about apartment inspiration or my fall reading list.
3. Where your audience is coming from.
One last mega important thing you can learn from your analytics is how people are getting to your blog (other than Google searches, which makes up a small amount of most people's traffic). If you navigate to the All Traffic tab under the Acquisition menu and find the Referrals category, it can shown you exactly where your traffic is coming from. My biggest referrer is Pinterest, as you can see.
But even better than that, if you click on the name of the source, it will show you even more info. So for example, when I click on Pinterest, it gives me a comprehensive list of exactly which pins by which people are driving the most traffic to my site.
Clicking the link button next to each url will bring you straight to that pin - how cool is that?
What it means for you:
This one is important because it can show you exactly where a large majority of your audience is coming from. Since so many of mine are from Pinterest, that means I may want to put even more effort into Pinterest and into making my posts pinnable.
If, for instance, you see that you have a low conversion rate from another social media network, that may tell you that you need to focus more of your efforts into sharing your content there (or conversely, it may mean you just want to drop that one altogether).