There are a few final loose ends I’d like to tie up in this little series, so this last post is going to be a buffet of Google Analytics tidbits. I’ll define a couple potentially baffling Google Analytics terms, explain how to add data to your dashboard, and point out a few Google Analytics reports you might want to check out.
The first word to take notice of is “bounce rate.” Think of a ball bouncing around a small room. It was tossed in through a window on one side of the room and is bouncing toward the door on the other side of the room.
Your visitors are like the ball, and your blog (or web site) is like the room. If your visitors bounce into your blog and only read one page, you will have a high bounce rate because more people bounce in and right back out again. However, if most of your visitors bounce into your blog, read several different pages, and then bounce out, so your analytics would show a lower bounce rate.
Now, for a normal web page, the goal is a bounce rate between 20% and 35% (it’s like golf: lower is better). For a blog, however, where most of your recent content is displayed on your main page, it is very common to see a high bounce rate.
Visits vs. Page Views
What’s the difference? For this definition, let’s think of your home with all it’s rooms. Now imagine a friend comes over. During that one visit, your friend will probably go into your living room, the kitchen, perhaps the bathroom, and maybe your dining room too.
In this comparison, the parallel to visit is quite obvious: one visit is like the one visit your friend makes. The page view stat is comparable to mini-visits your friend makes to each room in your home, if each room is like a page on your blog or website.
In other words, no matter how many different pages a person looks at on your blog, she will register only one visit, while generating as many page views as pages they look at. Are you seeing a similarity between page views and bounces? The more page views a visitor registers, they will influence your bounce rate in a good way: It will go down.
Add to Your Dashboard
As I said before, Google Analytics is not some free, cheap web stats generator that offers all the real goodies to paying customers. As is the standard for Google products, Google Analytics is free. So I encourage you to explore it as you become more familiar with it. You might stumble across a report that you find interesting, like Entrance Sources or the screen resolutions of your visitors.
You do not have to click through to these reports every time you log in to Google Analytics, though. You can add any report to your dashboard in one simple step: Just click the “Add to Dashboard” button under the page title for every report.
Other Interesting Google Analytics Reports
Now that you know how to add interesting reports to your dashboard for easy viewing, let me tell you about a few of my favorite reports.
Traffic Sources > Keywords and Content Overview (on Dashboard)
Sarah told me about this one, and she actually has some pretty cool results. She discovered from her Keywords report that “any variation of ‘kai springfield sushi’ in Google, [her] original review appears on the first page of results” (Kai Disappoints On Valentine’s Day). The Content Overview report (which already appears on your Dashboard) showed her that her post on Springfield’s Kai restaurant was getting a lot of hits.
Even if you don’t have a record blog post, these two reports considered against each other can reveal some very interesting trends about who is finding your blog and what they are coming for.
One thing to note in the Content Overview or Top Content report, especially on a blog, is that your top site will probably look like this in the Google Analytics report: / Huh? Just a slash? Yep, that’s right. That indicates your main page. For my site, it’s http://xgravity23.blogspot.com.
Visitors > Languages
It’s simple: I like this report because I like languages, and I like seeing which languages pass through my little part of the blogosphere.
Dashboard > Map Overlay
This is by far my favorite report, plus it appears on the Dashboard, so you won’t have to go searching for it. I love looking at which countries are sending visitors. This is highly interactive, so as you are exploring, click away! Clicking on the map can take all the way down to the state level and you can see which cities are sending visits and how many.
This is my last planned post on Google Analytics, but as you are using it, don’t be afraid to email me or leave a comment with your questions. I’d love to help clarify!