If there is one tool that you need to track your blog audience, it’s Google Analytics.
I use Google Analytics every single day as a blogger to track my audience.
It helps me to know what’s working well with my blog and to make improvements to my website.
The reason why I love this tool so much is it gives me far more information than the likes of WordPress/Jetpack stats!
I can see page views but also how long readers have been on my site, what device they used, what country from and a whole lot more.
I know that a lot of bloggers put off learning how to set up Google Analytics on their blog as it looks a little complicated.
Compared to WordPress stats, the analytics page looks like a maze. There’s so many sections, let alone the task of setting it all up.
So, to help new bloggers out, I’ve created this simple guide on how to set up Google Analytics on your blog in 2021.
It cuts out all the tech stuff and just gives you easy instructions.
Plus, I have a FREE ebook for you. It’s a Google Analytics manual for Bloggers with handy cheat sheets to extract the most important blog data lightning fast.
So, if you’re ready, let’s do this!
What you’ll learn in this post:
- What is Google Analytics
- Why Google Analytics is important for your blog
- How to install Google Analytics on your blog
Download my free eBook – The Bloggers Google Analytics Manual!
This handy 10-page manual will show you how to get Google Analytics installed on your WordPress blog.
Plus, it has some awesome cheat sheets that will help you find the most important metrics you should be tracking as a blogger!
Sign up now to get instant access:
First up, what is Google Analytics?
If you’re a blogger, you’ve probably heard of Google Analytics as a recommended tool to understand your blog’s audience.
That wouldn’t come as a surprise as it’s the most popular web analytics software in the entire world.
In fact, millions of website owners use Google Analytics on their websites to track activity as it’s so powerful.
But, what exactly is it? Well…
“Google Analytics is a web analytics service offered by Google that tracks and reports website traffic, currently as a platform inside the Google Marketing Platform brand. Google launched the service in November 2005”
In plain-speaking, as a blogger, this software will let you know pretty much anything you want to know about your website audience.
It will let you know how many people have read your blog posts, what they read, how many articles and how long they stayed on your website.
Plus, it can even tell you what country they are from, what language they speak, down to what device they used!
Seriously, the details go down to the make, brand, operating system and size of their screen.
It’s an extremely powerful tool that tracks all of those statistics on auto-pilot. You won’t have to touch anything or keep your stats in some spreadsheet.
It’s all done for you while you sleep. It’s incredible.
But, doesn’t WordPress have its own stats?
Yes, WordPress does track statistics through a plugin called Jetpack which is powered by wordpress.com.
With the WordPress stats, these are very simply laid out. Which is nicer as a user experience.
But, it is extremely limited in what statistics they show you. Plus, I find these statistics aren’t always accurate.
With WordPress stats, they will show you how many page views you’ve had, plus where the user came from. Also, they’ll show you what pages the user looked at.
But, that’s really your lot.
You can’t manipulate that data to see what pages a user looked at from a source i.e. Pinterest.
Plus, they don’t tell you important information like devices, sessions, bounce rates etc! All the important information you should have access to and understand as a blogger.
Here’s a side by side comparison between WordPress stats and Google Analytics;
WordPress stats vs. Google Analytics
- Pageviews – Your blog posts and the number of people who views them
- Referrers – Where your audience came from
- Countries – what country your audience member was looking at your site from (not the nationality of that person)
- Best of all time – a nifty stat which shows your best performing post
- Likes – how many people liked your post
- Comments – your overall comments
- Real-time – see who is on your site right now, live!
- Dashboard – You can set up a dashboard of the stats you want to keep track of
- Page views – How many pages have been viewed in a given time
- Users – How many people viewed your site
- Sessions – Of those people, how many sessions did you have (this stat you’ll need to apply for ad networks like Mediavine)
- Acquisition – Where did your user come from, what social media app, search engine
- Retention – How long did users stay on your post for
- Technology – What device did they use?
- Geography – Where they are from, their language, country etc.
- New vs. Returning – Are they new readers or people who have returned to read your site again
- And so much more!
Is Google Analytics free?
Yes, Google Analytics is a completely FREE tool that is provided for a website owner to track the activity on their website.
You can also use their other apps like Google Search Console, Google Tag Manager, Google Speed insights and Adsense for free too!
I would always recommend tracking your blog statistics by going directly through the Google Analytics platform rather than paying for any other analytics tool.
I would also strongly recommend using the Google Analytics website and mobile app to read this data. Or, download the free Google Site Kit plugin which is made by Google.
There is no need to download any unnecessary third-party plugins that are paid tools on WordPress.
Most people who recommend these are affiliated with those companies and gain commissions from signing you up.
I’m all for affiliate marketing but Google has incredible software that is completely free and it does an amazing job. Why pay?
Related post – How to Start a Profitable Blog in 2021
Why I don’t recommend paying for plugin tools like Monster Insights
I personally don’t recommend downloading any paid apps like Monster Insights to track your WordPress statistics.
Although their plugin is nicely laid out, there are plenty of complications with these apps. I’ve experienced it myself.
I found with Monster Insights installed on my website, page views were ‘double tagging’.
This means that for every one person that visited my site, Monster Insights was tracking that I had two.
Luckily, I found this out after a few hours.
As much as it’s nice to fool myself that I was getting double the views, It’s inaccurate data and not a true reflection of your site stats.
Google Analytics only takes a few minutes to set up and then all it requires is a little orientation around the dashboard to understand the data.
I wouldn’t pay for any unnecessary plugins when Google provides it for free.
Plus, don’t forget, I have a FREE Google Manual for bloggers to help you out as well!
So, let’s move on to how to set up Google Analytics on your blog
Okay, so now you know how amazing Google Analytics is, it’s time to install this awesome piece of software on your blog.
This tutorial will be on how to install Google Analytics on a self-hosted WordPress blog. As in wordpress.org not .com.
So, if you are on a different platform like Squarespace or Blogger, the set up will be slightly different.
This may not be the guide for you. So, I would double check instructions for other platforms before installing.
Warning: you will need a Gmail account with Google in order to install Analytics. So, if you don’t have one, I’d set up now. It’s also completely free.
?Did you know? You can also connect your blogging email address to a Google Workspace (previously Gsuite) account? This makes monitoring your emails far easier plus you have access to all the different tools Google offers! Click here to find out more.
1. Firstly, head to Google Analytics
Firstly, we’ll need to head on over to the official Google Analytics website which is analytics.google.com.
Or, if you type in Google Analytics in Google, it will be the first result that pops up.
2. Create an account by signing in with your Gmail
So, now you’ll need to create a new account.
You’ll need to do this by signing in with your Gmail account or Google Workspace account:
3. You’ll then be taken to the welcome screen
Once you’ve logged in, you’ll be taken to this welcome screen.
To begin, just click on the button that says ‘Start Measuring’:
4. Now, you set up the account
So, now we’ll need to put in some simple information.
We can set up our Analytics account in 3 easy steps.
Step 1 – Account Details
Google Analytics will ask you to input the name on the account.
I would put this as the name of your blog or the URL/Domain of your blog.
Then you can tick your preferences in ‘Account Data Sharing Settings’
Step 2 – Property Set Up
This will be when you put in the name of your property which is your blog.
But, the ‘name of the property’ doesn’t have to be a blog URL/domain.
It’s just a way to identify what the property is you’re referring to while using the software.
So, I’d put it as the name of your blog.
Then, you can set what timezone you’ll want to track the property by.
Plus, your currency (don’t worry, it’s still free, this is simply for Adsense features).
Step 3 – About your business
So, now we’ll need to tell Google about our business which is our blog.
Although a lot of this isn’t required information, it doesn’t hurt putting it in.
It won’t be used for anything, it just helps Google understand more about you.
So, you’ll first be asked about the industry your website is part of. Then, the size of your team (I predict it’s 1-10) and also why you want to use the app.
Click on ‘to measure content engagement with my site’ and any others that apply to you.
Then hit the ‘Create’ button.
5. Agree to the terms of service etc.
Check the two boxes I agree.
Or, disagree if you wish or read through all the text.
But, I’m pretty sure we’ll all just hit agree 🙂
6. Once created, head to ‘Data Streams’ and select ‘Web’
Once you’ve pressed the agree button, you’ll be taken straight to a ‘Data Streams’ page.
It will have IOS app, Android app and Web on it.
7. Set up the Data Stream and input your URL
Once you’ve selected ‘Web’, you’re now going to put in the URL of your blog.
You’ll want to select https:// then type in your domain in the next box without the http e.g. blogbizacademy.com.
Then, give your data stream a name. Again, I’d make this the name of your blog.
Keep the ‘Enhanced Measurement’ toggle checked! This will have loads of awesome features.
Then click ‘Create Stream’.
8. Head to Tagging Instructions
So, now we’ve created our data stream for our blog. We’ll now need to input some code on our site.
Don’t worry, it’s super easy.
There are two ways that you can do this now in 2021.
When I first set up my blog, the only option was to input some code in the <head> tag of my website.
Now, there’s Google Site Kit an official Wodpress plugin by Google which is really snazzy and makes it a lot easier to install.
It also keeps your Analytics, Search Console and Speed Insights in one place!
I’m going to go through each of those options below:
Option 1 – Insert Google Site Kit
1. On your WordPress blog, head to plugins
2. Select Add new > Google Site Kit
3. Activate Google Site Kit
4. Sign in with your Gmail account
5. Then, click on each icon to accept the services (Analytics, Search Console, Speed Insights). I recommend all of them except Google Adsense. You may need to log in with your Gmail each time to accept a service.
6. With the analytics acceptance and set up, you’ll need to make sure you’ve selected the property you created earlier. There should only be one set up.
7. Press accept and wait for Google Analytics to load with data! This may take some time, around 2-24 hours especially if your website is new.
Option 2 – Insert Gtag manually
So, if you want to install your Google Tag manually that’s easy enough to do.
It’s important to know that in order for Google Analytics to work effectively and report on ALL pages on your website. You need to make sure that there is a Google Tag placed on every page of your website.
It would be a lot of work to input this code manually on every page. So, we’re going to install a lightweight plugin to help us do this.
Here’s how to install the tag manually on your site:
- In Analytics, open up ‘Global Site Tag’
- Here, you find some code here that you’ll need to input in a <head> tag across your site
3. Head to your WordPress dashboard and click on Plugins
4. Click on ‘Add New’ then type in ‘Insert Headers and Footers’ in the search bar
5. Download the plugin and press ‘Activate’
6. Now, on your WordPress dashboard head to Settings > Insert Headers and Footers
7. Then in the ‘Scripts in Header’ box, paste the Google Tag Code.
8. Press Save and it should connect via Google Analytics. Like the Google Site Kit, it can take between 2-24 hours to populate the data.
Success – you now have Google Analytics set up on your blog!
Awesome. Data should be populating onto your dashboard any minute now.
Then, you can keep track of any activity on your blog with little work.
It’s all done on auto-pilot so you don’t have to touch anything to do with code or tags after that.
You just visit the Google Analytics dashboard to see your latest stats. I keep a bookmark of my property on my browser and check it almost every day.
You’ll now have instant access to extremely important blog statistics and you can manipulate that data anyway you choose.
You can check how many people visited your site today, in one month, a year!
Plus, you can see how long people visited your site and if they read more.
Read next – How to Find Your Blog Niche
This is to let users know that your site has ‘cookies’. No, not the yummy kind, unfortunately.
Cookies are tracking codes that essentially store information about the audience that visit your blog.
Remember how I said that Google Analytics can tell you information about your readers, even down to the size of the screen on their device?
That’s through these cookies!
So, you’ll need to let your audience know that this is happening under Data Privacy Laws.
I know it sounds a little scary but it’s just a blog page you can create on your site.
This will contain information about how you’re tracking that information through Google.
Then, you can link this page into the Footer a section of your blog.
For more information, see this article by WPBeginner.
Understanding Google Analytics as a blogger
So, now you have Google Analytics all set up on your blog. You’re probably thinking, now what?
Well, there are some key metrics that we can locate in the Analytics dashboard straight away.
In 2021, with the new Google Analytics dashboard, these are:
- Page views – can be found in Engagement > Overview
- Users – can be found in Acquisition > Overview
- Sessions – can be found in Engagement > Overview
- Source of traffic i.e Pinterest/Google – Can be found in Acquisition > Traffic Acquisition
You can have fun playing around with the dashboard and filtering your statistics.
Once you have your page set up a while, you can filter the information by date.
The date filter can be found in the top right of the analytics platform.
Download the FREE Google Analytics manual for bloggers here!
If you’d like some extra help with Google Analytics and some more important blogger metrics, why not download my free Google Analytics manual?
It’s specially made with bloggers in mind and it has 10 pages of valuable information.
Plus, it has a secret cheat list on how to find the important metrics bloggers look for to improve their site.
Sign up for instant access below:
So, that’s how to set up Google Analytics on your blog
I hope that this little blogging guide about Google Analytics was helpful to you.
Although this software does look pretty overwhelming, its a great way to track all the activity on your blog.
Plus, you’ll eventually need this data to apply for ad networks, pitch to brands and let people know how many people visit your website!
It’s an incredible tool that will track everything on auto-pilot so you don’t have too.
If you have any questions, make sure to leave a comment below.
We’ve successfully covered in this post:
- What Google Analytics is
- Why Google Analytics is important for your blog
- How to install Google Analytics on your blog