I am constantly preaching the need for bloggers to have Google Analytics on their blog during #Blogchat. A big reason why is so you can track changes in your blog, good and bad, so that you can understand why the change happened.
Yesterday this blog had 2,235 visitors, which is about 90 more than the previous high for one day. What I want to do is walk you through the stats in Google Analytics to figure out why this happened, and also give you some insights into how you can do the same for your posts.
One thing I do every day is a comparison between the current day’s traffic and the traffic from one week ago. For example, today I’ll track the current day’s traffic (Thursday) and also compare the hourly traffic against last Thursday’s traffic. This gives me an easy way to see if traffic is doing better or worse than it was a week ago. Here’s what that comparison looked like for yesterday compared to a week earlier:
That’s a really strong graph as it shows that traffic for yesterday (blue) was higher than the previous Wednesday during every hour yesterday except for the final one of the day. This is what you want to see, because it indicates that traffic is growing week to week.
But the traffic last Wednesday was 1,785, whereas yesterday it was 2,235. That’s a 25% increase, and while I’m thrilled with that jump, I want to figure out why it happened.
So let’s put on our cyber detective hats and dive deeper into the blog’s stats. The first place I’ll start is by taking the above data (yesterday’s traffic vs the previous Wednesday’s) and segment that traffic into channels. You can find this in Google Analytics by clicking Acquisition>All Traffic>Channels:
Three things immediately jump off this graph to me:
1 – Note that there was a BIG jump in search traffic.
2 – While the number of visitors that arrived at the blog from an organic search increased, the percentage of overall traffic that came from search actually went DOWN.
3 – There was a BIG jump in traffic from Social.
Now, the big jump in search along with the big jump in social is interesting to me. It increased by 14% week to week, which is much higher than it normally does. I want to play a hunch and check out the sources of the Social traffic. So I click on Social and it will show me which social sites drove traffic to my blog yesterday and a week ago yesterday:
A-ha! So almost all of the surge in Social traffic yesterday vs a week ago was actually coming from just Twitter. This is my suspicion: As people were sharing my content yesterday on Twitter, it was leading to more links to my content being seeded higher in search results on Google. So the better my content did on Twitter yesterday, it resulted in it also doing better in search results on Google. That would explain why search traffic spiked because overall the two traffic sources that accounted for almost all of the overall traffic bump yesterday were Google and Twitter. Perhaps this is a result of Google indexing tweets into search results?
But I still don’t know if any content in particular was driving the increase in traffic. That’s what I really want to know. So back to Google Analytics, I click Behavior>Site Content>All Pages:
Double A-Ha! The 4th and 5th most viewed posts yesterday were both new posts I wrote this week. And a big chunk of the overall growth in traffic can be tied back to these 2 posts (288 new visitors).
This also gives me important insights into the type of content that resonates with my readers. And since I’ve already looked at the channel data, I know that most of the increase probably came from Twitter, so really I know that these two topics likely resonate with my followers on Twitter.
And the beauty of this is I can come back tomorrow and do the same analysis on this post, and compare how it does today vs how the above two posts from earlier this week did. BTW, a big reason why I wanted to write this post is because I have been doing these type of analysis for a while now, and I know that posts that do a deep-dive into actual numbers are popular with readers here. Another advantage to knowing your blog’s stats!
The point in all this is to invest time in understanding your blog’s stats so you can improve your blogging efforts and efficiency. If I hadn’t looked at my blog’s stats I would have little idea that yesterday was a record-setting traffic day or more importantly why it was a record-setting traffic day. Now I know, and that knowledge will help me improve my blogging efforts moving forward. Just as it will for you if in you invest the time in understanding your blog’s stats.
Kelly Hungerford says
Mack, as always you provide help and not hype. Your master sleuthing is not only really helpful ( I love how your step-by-step breakout encourages readers to dig down and find out which post is performing and where) but also is a great example of turning a daily routine for yourself into a helpful piece of content for others to learn from.
I love how you track this week to last week. When I surveyed people to two top two functions GA users didn’t know about were:
– how to track a week vs another
– how to set up email alerts so that GA stats are pushed to the inbox
As always, thanks Mack, and congrats on the increase of traffic! Good work does pay off!
Kerry O'Shea Gorgone says
I agree! Helpful, detailed and honest (as always).
Mack Collier says
Thank you Kerry 🙂
Mack Collier says
Kelly I don’t think I know how to set up email alerts so that GA stats are sent to me 🙂 Of course I check it so often that I probably don’t need them most of the time. And thanks!
Kelly Hungerford says
See what I mean?! 🙂
True, if you are in GA all the time you probably don’t need to send yourself emails. But if you work in a team this is a great feature and so are Alerts, so here’s a quick how-to:
Email notifications: You can set up an emails to be delivered for any report in GA.
Click on the report you want sent to you and then up in the Nav bar to the left of Export you’ll see the word Email. Click on it and you can schedule when you’d like that sent.
What’s great is you can send them daily, weekly or monthly. Perfect for proactively keeping team and management in the know.
An overview of all reports being sent can be viewed in your Main GA dashboard under Admin-> scheduled Emails.
Alerts: another great time saving tool is Alerts and you can configure them to be sent for just about anything. So if traffic, conversions, etc…
You can configure this under your GA dashboard-> Alerts
Hope this helps!
Mack Collier says
Thanks Kelly, that’s great, I’ll check this out!
Aww, now I get how all of that works. I haven’t tracked traffic for a while now but now that my blog is transitioning into a new direction I am all about numbers and what new readers want.
I think I will take your approach and compare stats daily. I have one post that consistently gets new traffic and last week it jumped up 1,000 more views so I’m curious where that came from – Now I can. thanks.
Mack Collier says
Hey Sara! Definitely helps to know what’s causing the spike. For example, I noticed that the post I published today was already getting referrals from Google within a couple of hours. That’s much faster than normal, so I think the cause is it was coming from my tweets being seeded in Google search results! But yes, you definitely need to figure out why that post spiked if you can. Sounds like it suddenly got new traffic from some source, would help you to figure out where. I would start by looking at the views it got last week and see if there was a spike on one day. Then once you figure out which day it spiked, go check your overall traffic for that day and see if you see traffic coming in from a new source. Like if you usually get about 20 clicks a day from Pinterest, but on Weds you got 500, which is the same day your post got an extra 500 views. That probably means it got pinned more that day and sent you extra traffic! Good luck!