Live Blog | Know Your Stats: Mining Your Website Analytics to Improve Your Blog

Do you know how long people are on your site? Can you tell a potential advertiser the percentage of traffic clicks through to the outgoing links you write about? Or, how many people tried to fill out your contact me form and failed? Scott Stawarz of octavity.com, simpleweight.com, and Scott.Stawarz.com answers these questions and more during this session.

All slides from this presentation can be found at http://octavity.com/fit-analytics/

What was covered:

  1. First Step
  2. Set-up
  3. Terms
  4. Site searches, event tracking, goal tracking
  5. Beyond Google Analytics

1. First step:

  • Why are you fit blogging?

Reasons given by the audience included: Get support, accountability, networking, teach others, getting paid, for fun, motivation, help others, get recognized, and improve health and fitness. We want to track and get better at it by weighing in weekly, track running, food,  have goals, etc. Analytics are a bit like tracking our weight loss, exercise minutes, and food intake. Analytics are a way to track statistics in order to improve your site. Scott’s goal is to make these statistics not so overwhelming, and show how to pull out data that is actionable and useful.

  • Define goals and determine how to measure them.

These goals can include downloads of PDFs, # of comments, # of contact us completed, number of page views, weight loss, posts published per month, affiliate clicks, ad clicks, tweets and likes, rss/email subscribers, engagement/visitor loyalty, incoming links, cost (time and money), and return on investment.

  • Identify ways to measure success

2. set-up analytics.

There are many possible tools that can be used. The most common option is Google Analytics. It is free and possible but also can be overwhelming. Yahoo also offers this service as well. Other options that are more costly but can offer more include Onmiture, WebTrends, CoreMetrics, and Urchin. GetClicky, Woopra, Piwik, HaveAMint, LuckyOrange, and AWStats can give some more realtime statistics.

There are three ways to set up analytics on your site:

  1. enter the code manually
  2. use a plug-in
  3. it may be included in your existing theme (Thesis) or service.

The plug-in is easier to install and has more functionality, but manual code is faster. Two recommended plug-ins are Google Analytics for WordPress by Joost de Valk (recommended) and Google Analyticator by Ronald Heft. On WordPress, you should avoid using plug-ins if you don’t have to, but the analytics plug-ins are helpful because they will do some things magically for you.

Set-Up Demo: see the slideshow at http://octavity.com/fit-analytics/ for step-by-step detail on manual and plugin setup of Google Analytics. Also, there is a new option for site speed tracking. Generally, the faster your page downloads, the better your Google search results will be. Pictures, Javascript, and Flash will slow it down.

If using the Google Analytics for WordPress plug-in, select the option to track outbound clicks and downloads. This statistic is very important to advertisers, because it shows how often the links you recommend are actually used. Also, select Show Advanced Settings in order to track by the year, tag, and category it was posted. If you see that certain categories are clicked more often, you can cater to readers by writing more on those topics. If you offer PDFs or E-books you’re selling or giving away, add the extension you’d like to track for download count. If you use Google AdSense, make sure to click the option to track that in order to see what posts generate the most money. Leave the defaults for everything else.

3.  Terms

  • Hit: request for any term or file from your website and is an old term. This stat isn’t that important because one webpage can have 6000 hits by itself.
  • Visit: a browser session. This is an important statistic, and will show how often someone comes back.
  • Visitor: an absolute unique visitor. In analytics, you can change the code to determine the period of time one stays a returning visitor
  • Time on site: how many minutes someone stays on the entire site. This shows how engaged a person is, but can also show that a person could be confused on how to move on, such as make a purchase
  • Time on page: how long someone stays on a particular page
  • Bounce Rate: the % of single-page visits. This shows how many people came right to your site and then go back to where they were before. It could be good because they saw exactly what they needed to and then moved on. Or, it can be bad because they couldn’t find what they were looking for quickly enough and left. In bounce rate, the exit page equals the landing page.
  • Exit Rate: % of exit for the page and landing. If one page has a high exit rate, it may mean that there is a big problem with that particular page.
  • Engagement: Interest in your site. This can be measured by page depth, time on site, returning visitors, surveys, click path analysis, and conversions.
  • Conversion rate: does the visitor achieve the website’s goal? Goals can include leaving a comment, clicking a link, making a purchase, download an e-book, watching a video, clicking on an ad, subscribing to RSS, and more. Google Analytics has three ways of tracking goals: URL Destination (did I land on that page?), Time on Site, and # of Pages per Visit

Ways to use analytics (see the demo on Scott’s website for more detail and step-by-step detail on custom reporting):

  1. What should I write about? Check out Traffic Sources-Keywords
  2. What pages can I improve? Use Weighted Sort Bounce Rate
  3. How engaged are our visitors? Visitors-Visitor Loyalty
  4. Do you have fans? New vs. Returning Visitors
  5. How is my link building, social media, or ad campaigns working? See Traffic Sources-Referring Site and URL Builder: Campaigns (ex: Twitter-see demo on website)
  6. What time should I post? See Visitors-Map Overlay. Use the geographic report to see what part of the world your visitors are from. You can also set up a custom hourly report to see what time you get the most visitors.

GOOD TIP: Only check your Google Analytics once a week.

4. Site Searches, Event Tracking, Goal Tracking

  • Site Search: track what users are searching for on your site. Use this in order to find hidden ideas for blog posts and to improve your site navigation. (see Site Search demo at http://octavity.com/fit-analytics/ for detail)
  • Event tracking: Use for tracking PDF downloads, outbound links, and video usage. It will require some custom code or a plug-in and is limited to 500 tracked events per session (visit). (See Event Tracking demo at http://octavity.com/fit-analytics/)
  • Goal Tracking: Used for tracking conversions. Once a goal is set up, it is recommended not to change it. Some possible tracking goals can include: contact us form, e-commerce, engagement, RSS subscriptions, blog comments, and event tracking-new analytics. (See goal tracking demo at http://octavity.com/fit-analytics/)

5. Beyond Google Analytics:

  • RSS Tracking: Can use FeedBurner, PostRank, RapidFeeds, Feedity, FeedCat, FeedSqueezer
  • Heat Maps: CrazyEgg, LuckyOrange. Heat Maps will let you see where a visitor is hovering and what people do on your page. LuckyOrange also will let you watch in real-time how the visitor is moving the mouse and using your site and costs $7 per month.
  • Why are people at my site/why do they leave/did they find what they are looking for? You can use ClickTale, LuckyOrange, UserTesting.com or surveys such as 4surveys.com and LuckyOrange

BONUS TIME!

  • Everyone should be set up with Feedburner. (see Feedburner demo at http://octavity.com/fit-analytics/) If you don’t have it, you wouldn’t know what particular posts are popular. You can also auto-post to Twitter through Feedburner. You can also filter results without Feedburner to see that followers do love you and actually visit.
  • See the slideshow to find out more about In-page Analytics and the new Google Analytics version.

HOMEWORK:

  1. Install an Analytics tool on your site (even if you don’t plan to use it)
  2. Decide on YOUR goals and how to track
  3. Set up goals, event tracking, and site search
  4. Look at trends, segment, and tie it back to your own return on investment

SOURCES:

This session was captured by Jodi of Just A Bit Wicked