Welcome to part eight of the Starting a Great Blog tutorial! We’re getting close to the end, but there are still a few installments to go. What’s today’s topic? Stat tracking with Google Analytics. What’s stat tracking? Have you ever wanted to know how many people read your blog in a day/week/month/year? How about how many repeat visitors you get? You can learn that and more with Google Analytics.
Before we get started, here’s some advice: Don’t become a StatisticAddict. Only check your site’s stats once a day at the most (I don’t even check mine daily). Also, don’t be surprised/disappointed that you don’t get much traffic. It takes time and effort to get more users. My advice is to blog, and work to gain new users. Just check your stats now and then to see how you’re doing. Don’t be discouraged.
So, you want to start tracking your blog’s stats? Head over to www.google.com/analytics/. To sign in, you need a Google Account. To get one, head over to www.GMail.com. Just grab an email account there. All GMail accounts are Google Accounts. Now that you have a GMail account, you can go over to Google Analytics and login with it.
Once you reach the Analytics Dashboard, scroll down to the “Website Profiles” box. Click the “Add website profile” link. Make sure “Add a profile for a new domain” is selected, and fill out the form below it. Continue on with the set-up process. At the end of it, they give you a bit of code to paste into your website. Copy and paste it to a spot just before the </body> tag.
Now you wait. Just do some blogging, read your old posts, put together a “Best of [your blog] page, tweak your design, whatever you want. After a few hours, Google Analytics (GA) will be starting to show statistics. Note that they won’t be very accurate for at least a week, as GA needs time to collect data.
To check your stats, login to Google Analytics. In the “Website Profiles” box, find the link next to your blog’s domain. It’s marked “View Reports – New Beta” (the “New Beta” part will probably be taken off eventually). Click the link to open up your Site Dashboard. On this page, you get your most important stats. If there’s a DataWidget that you don’t find helpful, you can get rid of it by hitting the little “x” button. to the left is a menu that opens up other pages with even more data. If you find a DataPage that you find useful/cool, you can add a DataWidget for it to the Dashboard by clicking the “Add to Dashboard” button. I particularly like the “Refering Sites” and “Content Overview” widgets.
Google Analytics is a complicated beast, so I won’t go too much into the details (there’s a whole book on it!). You can explore for yourself, as I did. But remember, don’t become addicted to checking your stats. Don’t be discouraged by a lack of readers (if applicable). Don’t skateboard.
That’s all for today. Come back tomorrow for a tutorial on WordPress’s plugin system.