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How to use Google Analytics with WordPress

How do you know who is coming to see your site, how long they are staying and what they like?

How can you tell if your late night blog writing is paying off and actually attracting traffic to your site?

Answer: statistics.

Most websites come with cpanel access (ours do anyway) and this gives you access to various stats tools to help measure your site’s traffic.

In my experience, some of these can lead to an over inflated idea of your sites success due to the way they measure visits.

My preference is to use Google Analytics instead, which involves a little bit of work but is well worth it.

Here’s how i suggest you add Google Analytics to your wordpress site:

  1. If your wordpress theme has a facility for adding extra html to the HEAD section of your pages, its best to copy and paste the analytics code straight in there. If your theme doesn’t have this facility, its still possible to go this route but unless you are very confident in your knowledge of html and the structure of your site behind the scenes simply DON’T.
  2. Most themes don’t have that facility so instead you can use a plug in and there are many of them to help you here. Just search for google analytics in the plug ins section of your admin area. Make sure you click through to the plug in’s support site to see if its up to date and compatible with the latest version of wp before you install it.
  3. If you haven’t already, you will need to set up a google analytics account. Once done, you can add your site’s url as a property in the account which will generate a code. This code goes into the plug in settings page.

Once you are set up you can track the activity on your site very accurately and in great detail. Here’s a screen shot from a site I’ve been managing recently:

So which of these figures should you be interested in?

Most important especially in the early days is Unique Visitors, this is the big one. Don’t listen to people who talk about “hits” as each individual visit can generate lots of hits. What you want to know is how many individuals are you attracting to your site.

After that you will want to look at Bounce Rate; this is a measure of the number of single page visits you’ve had and a good indicator of how relevant visitors are finding your content when they click through from a link from somewhere else on the web and from search engines.

This happens when you write obscure blog post titles like “do you like pina colada and getting caught in the rain“…just stoopid!

I once included the phrase “wife swapping” within a post title for a lawn bowling green site and it still gets a lot of (presumably disappointed) visitors.

Seriously though, the bounce rate is a good thing to track.

There is a whole books worth of stuff I can tell you about Google Analytics, but its best just to have a good old search around in the mass of information it collects to see what is important to you.

Incidentally, if you are installing Google Analytics, you definitely need this.

Alternatively drop me a line, give me a call or just use the buy now button below and I’ll do it all for you…easy!

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