I’m a lightweight user of Google Analytics. My questions are simple. What do people like to read? Which links are they clicking on? What keeps them coming back? My goals are to improve engagement and ensure the stuff I’m writing is relevant.

As a consultant, I have to understand what my audience wants. It’s good for me to know if something is useful or interesting. And if people like a particular topic, I can give them more about that. And less about things they don’t care about.

Social media analytics (eg Twitter, Facebook) are useful. But Google Analytics is invaluable once people have actually arrived on your website. It’s the best tool to measure user acquisition, behaviour and interests. If you haven’t already done so, read how to get started with Google Analytics.

Once you’ve set up Google Analytics for your website, here are 3 easy ways to track the effectiveness of your social media strategy.

1. How many people visit my site, and when?

Log into your Google Analytics account. Select the website you’re interested in tracking (you may only have one website connected) and click on All Web Site Data. You’ll see the home page analytics for that website. It should look something like this:

Google Analytics home page
The Google Analytics home page for my blog

Click on the AUDIENCE tab in the navigation bar to the left of your home page, then click Overview. You’ll see a date range in the top right hand corner – this shows the last seven days as default but you can select any date range you like by clicking on the downward arrow.

The screenshot below shows the traffic (visits) to my blog for the first quarter of 2018:

Google Analytics - AUDIENCE Overview
Google Analytics – AUDIENCE > Overview

In January, I started blogging regularly again after a two-year break (after being busy here and here). In the first quarter of 2018, my audience was small – but were people engaged? I wanted to see when people were visiting my site, how many were repeat visitors, and whether or not they were finding the content interesting.

My strategy is to build relationships with existing and potential clients through regular blog posts and updates. Quality backlinks and media mentions are also important.

For the first quarter of 2018, I had two notable peaks in traffic: first on Friday 5 January (87 unique visits) and secondly on Saturday 24 February (58 visits). Additional spikes in visitors came on sun 14 jan (37 visits), Fri 19 jan (31 visits), Tues 30 Jan (38), Wed 7 Feb (29), Thu 8 March (42) and Sun 10 Mar (31).

I could also see the average length of time visitors spend on my site (just over a minute), and the bounce rate (67.48%). The bounce rate is the number of visitors who leave quickly after no interaction with the site. Looks like I could be doing a lot more to engage my visitors!

2. Where do my visitors come from?

Click on the ACQUISITION tab in the navigation bar, then All Traffic, then Source/ Medium. Again, you’ll need to select the date range you wish to view from the drop-down menu on the right. This is what the Source/Medium report for my website looked like for the first three months of 2018:

Acquisition all traffic source medium
Google Analytics – ACQUISITION > All Traffic > Source / Medium

Scroll down the page to view the full Source/Medium list. Adjust the amount of rows shown by choosing your preferred number in the window to the bottom right of your screen. Click on the column header (Source/Medium) to list the sources alphabetically. Your list should look something like this:

ACQUISITION All traffic source medium close-up 20
Google Analytics – ACQUISITION > All traffic > Source / Medium list

From this list you can see the main sources of traffic to your website or blog. For my blog in the first quarter of 2018, the bulk of traffic came via Google organic search (52.9%), followed by direct (20.6%), Facebook (mobile plus web): (12.77), Twitter (4.74) and Instagram (1.75).

The social media breakdown was pretty much as I’d expect as it reflected where I’d been most active. The one actionable insight I had is that, in terms of social media, LinkedIn was not working so well for me.

This report is also useful for finding backlinks to your site you may not be aware of. I was interviewed by Houzz.com, an interior design website, a while ago. It was good to see they’ve given me a website referral in their social media marketing guide.

If I’ve done a bit of promotion around a specific blog post, I like to see where the traffic on those particular days has come from. So, for example, I could set my date range to focus on one specific day when I had a spike in visitors (eg: 5 January):

ACQUISITION All traffic source medium on 5 Jan only
Google Analytics – ACQUISITION > All Traffic > Source / Medium on 5 Jan 2018

On 5 January I published this post and shared it via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. From this Google Analytics report, I could see that again, Facebook was the biggest driver, with no traffic at all coming via LinkedIn. A reminder to me that simply sharing a link via a Linkedin update doesn’t register well in that platform’s algorithm: to get higher engagement there I’m better off republishing the post as a native LinkedIn article.

3. Once visitors are on my website, what interests them?

Click on the BEHAVIOUR tab in the navigation bar, then Behaviour Flow, and select the date range you wish to view. This is what the Behaviour Flow report for my blog looked like for the first three months of 2018:

BEHAVIOUR Behaviour Flow
Google Analytics – BEHAVIOUR > Behaviour Flow

I love this report. It’s fascinating to see where the visitors who are really interested in my site want to go, and to find out where different bits of content drive them. The green shows users who stay on, and the red shows those who drop off.

Another report I look at under this tab is the one that shows my most popular content. Click on the BEHAVIOUR tab, then Site Content, then All Pages. Again, select the date range you wish to view. You should see something like this:

BEHAVIOUR Site Content All Pages
Google Analytics – BEHAVIOUR > Site Content > All Pages

Scroll down the page to see the table listing your most popular content. Here’s my table of most popular content from the first three months of 2018:

BEHAVIOUR Site Content All Pages list
Google Analytics – BEHAVIOUR > Site Content > All Pages – content table

From this I could see that my three most popular blog posts were Health, clarity and purpose – my resolutions for 2018How to be famous on social media and This week on techmums TV: using LinkedIn to get a job.

It was surprising to see that a blog post from 10 years ago, Who else remembers the Blue Note Hoxton? had also popped up. 90 user sessions came through this route.

This post has seems to have a good clickthrough rate (CTR), but doesn’t come up very high in search results. This suggests it’s a page that people want to see, but can’t find easily. When I wrote this post, I didn’t optimise it for search. More recently, I’ve been using the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin – this means my newer posts should be easier to find.

Final thought

These are three easy ways to use Google Analytics without fuss or customisation. If you want to go deeper, I’d recommend setting up goals and UTM tracking codes. But the above tips should be useful if you want some quick fix, actionable insights. Let me know how you get on!

Photo: Chase Elliott Clark