Have you ever come across articles from bloggers boasting about page views to their site or views on Pinterest and you wished so much you could reach those numbers? The truth about blogging stats is that most bloggers have no clue what those numbers actually mean.
If you want to grow a successful Christian blog ministry, it is important that you understand your analytics and how to use them to make your blog better.
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Understaning Blog Analytics
Analytics are basically all the details about everything that happens on your blog:
- how much traffic you are receiving
- where the traffic is coming from
- how readers engage with your content
- pages with issues
- much more!
In a nutshell, your analytics lets you know what you are doing right and what needs improvement. In order to accomplish this, you need to first get your blog connected to both Google Analytics and Google Search Console. These are the places you will track your analytics.
It is highly recommended that you connect it to your blog manually instead of using a plugin such as Monster Insights. Plugins can fail but also, too many plugins are not good for your site so keep them to a minimum.
**If you are just getting started with blogging, be sure to read about 10 Steps to Starting a Christian Blog.
Understanding Google Analytics Data
It is important that you have Google Analytics connected to your blog so you can track our site's performance. There is a LOT of data that comes from Google Analytics!! For the purposes of this tutorial, we are only going to talk about the main performance view that comes up when you log in.
Google Analytics Terminology
There are a lot of terms that you'll find in Google Analytics so it is important that you understand what they are.
- Users – The total number of individual users who visited the site during the date range.
- New Users – First-time users who visited during the date range. This number will be a portion of the number shown in “users”.
- Sessions – The number of times your site was visited (includes an initial visit and return visits). You want the number of sessions should be much higher than the number of users because that means users returned for additional visits to your site.
- Page Views – The total number of pages viewed on the site. You want this number to be double, triple, quadruple the number of sessions because that means your visitors are clicking through to read more than just the page they landed on.
- Pages/Session – This is the average number of pages viewed during a session. You want this number to be MORE than 1 page.
- Average Session Duration – The average time a user spends on your site during a session.
- Bounce Rate – This number is calculated when a visitor lands on your site and doesn't engage with your content. Basically, they come and leave very quickly without scrolling or clicking through to other pages. A high bounce rate can indicate that 1) Your content isn't that great (not usually the case); 2) Your posts are too short; 3) You don't have links for your readers to click on to find more content; or 4) You are participating in blogger clickthru threads. Regardless of the reason, a high bounce rate can indicate to Google that your content isn't relevant because visitors aren't staying on your site to read more.
The main terms you will pay attention to are users, sessions, page views, and bounce rate.
To put these in a way that you might better understand:
If I visit your site today and read 2 posts while I'm there: 1 user, 1 session, 2 page views.
But if I return tomorrow or later in the week and read 2 more posts during that visit, I am now: 1 user, 2 sessions, 4 page views.
What Stats Should You Focus On
Now that you understand the correlation between all the numbers, what should you focus on?
First, don't become obsessed with checking your analytics! Check them once a month so you can truly see how things are doing because there will be normal peaks and valleys throughout the month.
There are 2 things that I recommend tracking:
- amount of traffic
- where it is coming from
How Much Traffic Are You Getting
Of course, the main thing to track is how much traffic your blog is getting!
- Sessions should be higher that Users – That means that some users are returning to read more!
- Page Views should be higher than Sessions – That means that users are reading more than just one post during their visits.
Where is Your Traffic Coming From
More importantly than how much traffic is where it is coming from. Ideally, your goal is to generate organic traffic (from Google and other search engines) because that will provide more growth in the long run.
To find this out, go to (on the left side of the page) ACQUISITION – ALL TRAFFIC – CHANNELS. This will breakdown your main traffic sources (organic, social, email, other). In this view, ORGANIC is a total of all organic traffic (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc)
ACQUISITION – ALL TRAFFIC – SOURCE/MEDIUM will break it down even more to show how much from each search engine.
Understanding Pinterest Analytics
Pinterest analytics is another area of data that you need to really understand so you can use it to improve your pinning strategy. I'm sure you've come across a blog post or Pinterest pin that boasts “see how I went from Zero to 1M views on Pinterest….” and couldn't wait to learn how to do that. While 1 million monthly viewers may sound impressive, it really is a misleading term.
Monthly Viewers – This number reflects the number of people who SEE your pin. This includes the number of times it was displayed in someone's home feed or if it showed up after a search query. This is a hugely misleading number because many newer Christian bloggers see this as a number that matters. Yes, the more people that physically see your pin, the better the chances of them clicking on it, but just because they see it doesn't mean they will engage with it.
Monthly Engaged – This is the number (of the two) that matters most. You could have 1 million views to your pin but if you aren't getting any engagement on the pin then you aren't doing as well as you thought. The term “engaged” includes any action on the pin such as taking a closer look, clicking on the pin, and/or saving the pin.
These two numbers will always be different and your views will always be more than your engaged. I've come across accounts with upwards of 1M monthly views that had less than 15k monthly engaged. Considering the image above has over 12K engaged at 300K views, that 1M views account doesn't seem so impressive after all.
Misleading Blog Stats
You may have come across other bloggers who talk about having reached high page views or sessions to their site. While it may sound impressive to see an image that shows high page views, it is important to view that stat with the rest of their numbers.
It is pretty easy to get people to click over to your blog (increasing users and sessions). Many new bloggers (and some trying to boost stats) participate in click-through blogger threads to get more traffic. This will be evident in that you'll see high page views but an average session duration of only a few seconds.
This is NOT good traffic! Good traffic is natural. Good traffic means the visitors stick around for a little while on your site. Good traffic means they often come back for more (# of sessions are more than the # of users)
Good traffic leads to engaged readers that will join your email list and/or convert your affiliate links/purchase your products.
How Blog Analytics Can Help Your Blog Grow
If your goal is to build an email list and/or monetize, your analytics provide all the information you need to be successful in those endeavors!
A review of your top traffic posts from the past year will let you know what types of optins might convert into subscribers. It also gives you a starting point for what types of affiliate products to recommend instead of just randomly promoting stuff.
So now that you understand the truths about blogging stats, you can really understand how to analyze the data to improve your Christian blog strategy for reaching more people.
Understanding these numbers can also help you in discerning what is real and what is inflated when reading posts from other bloggers boasting of high numbers.