Google Analytics is a powerful feature-rich tool providing great insights into what your readers are reading and want to read. You can easily use it to create a more interesting blog that draws more traffic.
The problem most people have is that Google Analytics provides so much information that they are overwhelmed. I believe you should use Google Analytics to answer four questions:
- What are my visitors reading?
- How long are they staying?
- Where are they coming from?
- If they are coming from a search engine then what were they searching for?
What Are They Reading?
The Content Overview box displays the top five destinations on your blog. (You can click the View Report button to reveal a longer more detailed list.) For example, I can see that this post is the post popular one on my blog by an overwhelming margin.
Now that you know what people are finding the most interesting, you can start to provide more of it.
Of course, you should ask yourself, "Does it reinforce my desired brand image to provide more of what they are reading?" Consider that your readers' view of your brand may be different from yours. You'll have to decide how to handle that.
How Long Are They Staying?
Let's find out. At the bottom of the Content Overview box there is a "view report" link. Click on it. When the page refreshes click on the View Full Report Link.
Example the Bounce Rate column. Bounce rate is the percentage of people who left your site after visiting that page. Pages with a lower bounce rate indicate content that is interesting enough to motivate your visitors to explore your site further. You should probably start providing more content on the topics with the lower bounce rates. What if the content you really want them to read has a high bounce rate? Figure out how to make that content more interesting.
Where Are They Coming From?
On the Dashboard, click on Traffic Sources, then click on Referring Sites. When you see a significant amount of traffic coming from another website or blog you should make it a point to reach out to that site or blog owner and develop a relationship with them. Get to know that blog or website and try to reciprocate.
If They Are Coming From a Search Engine Then What Were They Searching For?
On the Dashboard, click on Traffic Sources, then click on Search Engines. This will tell you which search engines are sending you traffic. Click on a search engine in the list to reveal the actual search terms entered by users coming to your site.
Now that you know what they are looking for you can provide more of it.
Throughout this process you should be viewing this data as a measure of your brand's alignment. What do I mean by that? The most popular articles and search terms give you some insight into the world's perception of your brand. Is that the perception you want them to have? If so then fantastic. If not then you' have some work to do. (Years ago, we paid gazillions of dollars for focus groups to give us this information. Now we can get it for free.)