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Google Analytics Pt.2 – Goals and Reporting

Google Analytics is the gold standard for blogger and website analytics.  But how do you did down into the nitty gritty so that it’s helpful to growing your blog?  Christina Austin from Strawberries for Supper is here to help in part 2 of a 2 part series on understanding Google Analytics for your food blog. 

Google Analytics - Goals & Reporting | Food Bloggers of Canada

After you have been sniffing around Google Analytics for a while, perhaps watching the Vanity Stats (sessions, page views and users) a little too closely or even killed some time watching the Real Time stats, you may be ready to delve a little further into the information that is being collected. There are some simple ways you can use some tools within Google Analytics to pull out answers to questions you may have.

Start by setting up a Goal or two. A goal in regards to Google Analytics is some sort of action you want users to take on your site. It may be to click on ads, or sign up for an email newsletter. One thing food bloggers have in common is that we want visitors that come to our site to click on multiple pages.

Google Analytics - Goals & Reporting | Food Bloggers of Canada

Figure 1 (click on image for a larger view)

Setting Up A Goal In Google Analytics

For your first Goal to track within Google Analytics, I suggest tracking multi-page views since it is simple to set up.

To do this, click on the Admin heading in the top toolbar. Under the View column, you will see Goals with a little flag icon beside it.

Select “Pages/Screens Per Session” and then click ‘Next Step’.

Then all you need to do is decide how many pages per session you want to track, name your goal, and click ‘Save Goal’. You can find a report on this goal under the Conversions heading in the left hand column of the main reporting tab. {Fig. 1} The information isn’t recorded by Google Analytics until the goal is set up, so you won’t see any results for a few days.

Google Analytics - Goals & Reporting | Food Bloggers of Canada

Figure 2 (Click on image for a larger view)

Custom Google Analytics Reporting

Now that you have a goal that you’re tracking, you may want to learn a little more about what’s happening regarding multi-page views (or whatever goal you set). I wanted to learn what pages are leading people to click on multiple pages.  I set up a custom report to tell me this.

Click on Customization and then click ‘New Custom Report’.

Click on ‘Add Metric’ to set the main topic of the report. For me it is tracking my goal so I selected ‘Multi-Page View (Goal 1 Completions)’.

Under ‘Dimension Drilldowns’, select ‘Landing Page’ under the ‘Behaviour’ dropdown menu. Save your report and it’s waiting for you. {Fig. 2}

Reports can be quite useful if you’ve made some changes to your blog or you’ve become more aggressive with marketing your blog on sharing sites. You can track if your efforts are commensurate with any improvements on results. We only have so much time in the day and if you are spending hours and hours on something that you thought would yield results, but isn’t, you will want to keep track.

For example, if you have made a lot of changes to your Pinterest Boards and you see an uptick of visitors from Pinterest who are clicking multiple pages, then you can infer that the changes you made were successful. These reports don’t give us all the answers, but they do provide a piece of the puzzle to be included in all the work you do on your blog. Reports are a tool that can be leveraged to see what is working, what is not, and to help find flaws on your site.

Recommended Reading:  The January Blog Challenge Day 20: Make Popular Posts Pinnable

Creating a Custom Google Analytics Dashboard

So if you followed along with the metrics you should be paying attention to that were discussed in the previous article, Google Analytics: The Valuable Metrics for Food Bloggers, you will know that there are some stats you want to see that are not displayed on the default dashboard. You may want to create your own dashboard now that you have a better idea of what you should be looking at when you check on your analytics. Those goals and custom reports that you just created can be added to your custom dashboard too.

To get started, click on ‘Dashboards’ in the left hand column and then click on ‘New Dashboard’. The first screen gives you two options: to create your own fully custom dashboard or get a little help with the template. I suggest starting with the template they have and then removing any widgets that are included that you don’t want.

Google Analytics - Goals & Reporting | Food Bloggers of Canada

Figure 3 (Click on image for a larger view)

Once you’ve given your new dashboard a name, you can start adding widgets for metrics you want to monitor. You can do this by clicking ‘Add Widget’ and then choosing something from the dropdown menu or you can add something to the dashboard outside of the dashboard creation page. When you are looking at goals or your custom report, you can click on the ‘Add to Dashboard’, which is on the top row, just under the page heading. {Fig. 3}

Google Analytics - Goals & Reporting | Food Bloggers of Canada

Figure 4 (Click on image for larger view)

It is pretty simple to add or delete widgets once you get started. You may also want to play around with the display options for each widget. For example, the default display setting for ‘Sessions By Country’ was a geo-map. I didn’t like that so I changed it to a table so I could see at a glance the numbers rather than hover over a country on the map.

When you start adding and deleting widgets, things get shifted around. When you hover over the title bar of the widget, you will be able to move the widget to a better spot if the dashboard is looking visually disorganized. {Fig. 4} The custom dashboards that you create are under the menu of ‘Private’ under the ‘Dashboard’ heading in the lefthand column.

Start playing around with setting up goals to track and create a few custom reports. They are easy to create and easy to delete, so if you find a few that give you information you don’t find useful, then move on to another one. As fun as watching the Real Time stats can be, looking deeper at Google Analytics is probably a better use of your time.

Google Analytics: Goals and Reporting was written by Christina Austin.  Christina has been writing Strawberries For Supper for over three years. Originally intended as a blog about her dogs’ food heists and other shenanigans, her love of cooking and sharing recipes quickly took over. She’s a local food enthusiast and self-described ‘lazy cook’ who isn’t afraid to of a shortcut while still cooking with real food rather than processed convenience items. You can usually find her in her Waterloo, Ontario home, tripping over a pair of dogs in the kitchen or super hero action figures that are scattered throughout the rest of her house.

Follow Christina on social media: Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Twitter

 

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