Google Analytics is the gold standard for blogger and website analytics.  If your goal is to work with brands, Google Analytics is the stats package you need to have - but it can seem overwhelming.  Christina Austin from Strawberries for Supper is here to help in part 1 of a 2 part series on understanding Google Analytics for your food blog. 

Google Analytics - The Standard for Food Bloggers | Food Bloggers of Canada

Google Analytics can be intimidating at first glance. There are many terms used that those in the digital marketing industry understand but, for the layperson, they can be bewildering. Thankfully, they are also logical and once you get more familiar with the terms the learning curve starts to level out.

Google Analytics, at its most simplistic, is a system that allows you to track visitors’ behaviour on your website on a non-individually identifiable level. You can see how they found your site, how many pages they visited while they were there, how long they stayed, if they had been there before, what their location was when they were on your site, and even some general demographic information about them.

You see some of this information on the first page after you log in to Google Analytics. The default settings show you things like: sessions, users, pageviews, and bounce rate. Statistics like sessions and users are pretty straightforward and easy to understand if you are a new user of Google Analytics. {Fig 1}

Google Analytics - The Standard for Food Bloggers | Food Bloggers of Canada
Fig 1

Bounce Rates

One of the stats that can be a bit disconcerting is bounce rate. You will likely have a high percentage figure but don’t dismay; it is really no big deal. In fact, the higher the number of visitors, you will likely have a pretty high bounce rate.

The bounce rate tells you the percentage of visitors that only visited one page on your site before leaving. One of the reasons for having a high bounce rate is that you rank high in google searches for a number of queries. People search for something, see your site in the top 3 sites and they visit your page. Essentially, they get what they need and leave. If they do a search and trudge through 10 pages of search results then they are highly motivated visitors who searched long and hard before landing on your site. They are more likely to stick around.

Vanity Stats

Many of the statistics on Google Analytics are what are called ‘vanity stats’: sessions, page views and users. They give you an ego boost or can deflate your ego, depending on how you are judging yourself. They are the figures that brands are looking for to see if your site makes the cut for whatever number they have decided makes you a good candidate for a sponsorship opportunity. These numbers don’t actually give you information that you can use to achieve whatever goal you've set for your blog, so in a way, they can be a trap if you focus too much time on these. It is not enough to know how many people have come to your site to make improvements to help you achieve your goals; you need to look deeper into Google Analytics to help you do this.

There are several metrics on Google Analytics that even a novice can use to help make improvements on their blog without having to set up custom reporting.

Understanding the Landing Pages Metric

The first is ‘Landing Pages’ as this indicates your most popular posts in terms of searches or referrals. You will find this in two places: one is in ‘Search Engine Optimization’ under the Acquisition heading. It initially show you the posts with the highest number of impressions but by clicking the Clicks column it will show you what pages people actually clicked on to visit your site from searches.

RELATED:  Google Analytics Pt.2 – Goals and Reporting

The other place you will find ‘Landing Pages’ is under the heading of Behaviour and the subheading, Site Content. Here you will find the posts that are drawing people to your site from all traffic sources. Depending on the time of year, this may change if your site takes a seasonal approach to food. In the summer, I get a lot of visitors for my canning recipes and now that it's winter there are a lot more visitors coming to my comfort food recipes. By looking at what pages draw people to your site, it can help you to determine what you should keep doing and perhaps what should be scrapped for future ideas. {Fig 2}

Google Analytics - The Standard for Food Bloggers | Food Bloggers of Canada
Fig. 2

Site Referrals

Another part of Google Analytics that can help show you where you should be pointing your efforts is the ‘Referrals’ section under the Acquisition heading and subheading All Traffic. Pinterest is often the top or close to the top referral site for most food bloggers. You may be surprised to see where other visitors come from and you may want to try increase the traffic from those sites by submitting more recipes to them or photos.

Google Analytics - The Standard for Food Bloggers | Food Bloggers of Canada
Fig. 3

Site Speed

The third place that you should pay closer attention to is Site Speed under the Behaviour heading. {Fig 3}You will see how quickly your site loads on average and you can also look at Page Timings and Speed Suggestions within the Site Speed heading to get a sense of pages that may have more loading time problems than others. Speed Suggestions {Fig 4} shows what the problem is that is causing a page to load slowing and give tips on how to correct it. You can see these suggestions by clicking the highlighted numbers in the PageSpeed Suggestions column. It is certainly worth your while to look into this issue further so you don’t lose visitors before your site even loads for them.

Google Analytics - The Standard for Food Bloggers | Food Bloggers of Canada
Fig. 4

Once you find out where you are slow on your site, what your most clicked on posts are, and where most of your referral traffic comes from, you have some actionable information that you can use to improve your site. This only skims the surface of what information has been gathered by Google Analytics on your site. You can create your own dashboard, set goals, and create custom reporting and we can delve into this further in the next post on goals and reporting.

Google Analytics: The Valuable Metrics for Food Bloggers 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

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

 










  GET YOUR FREE NATURAL SWEETENER SUBSTITUTION GUIDE  
JOIN OUR MAILING LIST
Categorized:: Resources, Marketing & PR, Blogging 101, Technology and SEO

Tags: , , , ,

9 Comments

jess meddows
Reply

Great article, Christina. Our blog is just around the year mark, so we’re still learning a lot about analytics. I’ll need to go in and have a proper look at our site speed, now that I’ve read this article.

Kris
Reply

This is amazing! I have bookmarked this for all of the times that I can never remember how to use analytics (every time). Thanks so much for the great resource.

Shauna
Reply

Very useful info! I’ve been delving into analytics a bit more lately and have a better understanding of what it all means. So much to learn!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *