How to use blog analytics to grow your lifestyle blog

Google Analytics is an essential part of any blogger’s toolkit — and not just for securing partnerships! Understanding your blog analytics is key to evaluating what’s working for your site and what isn’t, so you can make the most out of your content.

Maybe you’re just getting started and need to install Google Analytics on your new WordPress blog. Or maybe you’ve been blogging a while but haven’t checked your analytics, let alone actually used them!

In this post, we’ll walk you through you how to add Google Analytics to your WordPress blog step by step. We’ll also go over what you need to look for to use Google Analytics to improve your blog. Let’s get started!

Why it’s important to track your blog analytics regularly

Why it’s important to track your blog analytics regularly

Whether or not monetization is currently part of your blogging plan, it’s important to install Google Analytics as soon as you can. Why? Google Analytics can only track your site from the time you install it. And since it’s a pretty simple process (we’re covering it in this post!), it’s beneficial to start early.

When you’re ready to work with brands, you’ll need that historical data to show your growth rate and other standard metrics all brands require. And even if you don’t monetize in the future, that historical data can help you uncover trends to inspire your work in the future.

Now, we totally get it — you already have a million tasks to do for your blog. And looking at your numbers regularly can be discouraging when you aren’t seeing the growth you hoped for.

But that’s exactly why you should track your site analytics regularly. When it becomes part of your blogging routine, the numbers have less power over you.

As a lifestyle blogger, you’re naturally very passionate about the content you create. When you don’t feel like the numbers reflect the time, care, and effort you’ve put into your content, of course it feels personal!

When you track your site analytics regularly, you learn to treat your numbers as just another tool for understanding and growing your blog, rather than a reflection on your value or efforts. You become curious to uncover the trends behind the numbers and get creative with your solutions for repeating or recreating previous successes.

Ultimately, when you understand what’s working for your site and what isn’t, you can create a better blog and set yourself up for long-term success.

Why you should use a plugin to add Google Analytics

Why you should use a plugin to add Google Analytics

You’ve been told over and over again that you should limit the amount of plugins on your site. So why do we recommend using a plugin to add Google Analytics, when you could just add the code yourself?

First, if you don’t have any experience with code, you may not know exactly where to add the code Google Analytics provides. A plugin simplifies the installation process for you.

Plus, using a plugin insures that your Google Analytics code remains separate from your WordPress theme. That means you can run theme updates or change your theme altogether, without worrying about losing your Google Analytics code.

Finally, the MonsterInsights plugin, which we’ll discuss in detail later, allows you to view key analytics directly within your WordPress dashboard. This makes it easier for you to track your site analytics regularly.

How to add Google Analytics to your WordPress blog with the MonsterInsights Plugin

How to add Google Analytics to your WordPress blog with the MonsterInsights Plugin

We recommend the MonsterInsights plugin for lifestyle bloggers because it offers an easy user experience. The free version is sufficient for most bloggers!

Let’s go over how to set up Google Analytics in WordPress step by step:

Sign up for a Google Analytics account

1. Go to the Google Analytics website and click on “Get started today.”

2. Sign into your Google account if you have one. Make sure you login to the account you want to connect with Google Analytics — so your blog account, if it’s separate from your personal.

3. If you don’t have a Google account yet, or want to create a separate one for your blog, click the Create Account link. It will walk you through the process.

Create an account and property for your blog

1. For account creation, enter your blog name for Account name, and click “Next.”

Most bloggers only need one Account and one Property for your blog. A Property is for one web presence you are tracking. An Account can have one or more Properties.

For example, if you were to launch a sister site to your blog, you’d add a new Property to your existing account. If you were to launch a completely separate blog, you’d create a new Account with a new Property within that. You can create multiple Google Analytics Accounts under the same Google account for easy access.

2. For property creation, enter your blog name for Property name, select your time zone, then click “Next.”

3. For business details, select the industry category that most closely matches your blog niche. Select your business size, then click “Next.”

4. For business objectives, choose “Get baseline reports.” This will set up your account to easily access the data you need for your blog.

5. Read through the terms and conditions, and accept if you’d like to move forward.

6. For your platform, choose Web, then enter your website URL and name and click “Create Stream.”

7. From there, instructions for adding your tracking code to your site will pop up. Choose MonsterInsights plugin. Google Analytics does provide instructions for setting up MonsterInsights, but we’ve provided more specific instructions below.

Set up the MonsterInsights plugin

1. Go to Plugins > Add New Plugin, and search for “MonsterInsights.” Click on “Install Now,” give it a moment to install, then click the same button when it says “Activate.”

2. Once you activate, MonsterInsights will launch a welcome page. Click on “Launch the Wizard,” which will walk you through setup.

3. For website category, choose Publisher (Blog).

4. Click the button to Connect MonsterInsights.

5. Click the button to Continue and Connect to Google.

6. This will take you to the Google account sign in page. Sign in with the Google account you used to sign up for Google Analytics.

7. Google will ask if you want to give permission for MonsterInsights to access your data. Click “Allow” if you are ok with MonsterInsights syncing your data with WordPress.

8. Once you’ve signed into your Google account and given MonsterInsights access, you’ll be taken back to the MonsterInsights Setup Wizard. Select your Google Analytics Property in the dropdown menu. Heads up! The checkbox to signup for emails from MonsterInsights and WPBeginner is automatically checked. Be sure to uncheck the box if you don’t want to receive emails. Then click “Complete Connection.”

9. The recommended settings are automatically set to what we would recommend for bloggers. The only setting you may consider turning off is the option to install updates automatically. Given the plugin functionality, it is a low-risk plugin when it comes to potential site-breaking updates. However, turning off automatic updates gives you full control over when your plugins are updates, so you can more easily troubleshoot any issues that arise.

10. Heads up! This is the part that trips most people up. Click the “Skip for now” to avoid installing additional plugins. The option to add recommended plugins is checked by default and will install 4 additional plugins that you may not want or need. The additional unchecked options require upgrading to the paid version and will redirect you to an upgrade page. The pre-checked green options are enabled by default, and you do not need to confirm them to activate.

11. On the confirmation page, you’ll be prompted to upgrade for additional features. Scroll down and click “complete setup without upgrading.” The free version is sufficient for most bloggers. While GDPR compliance is only available in the Pro version of MonsterInsights, you can add GDPR compliance with the free Opt-Out for Google Analytics plugin, which is compatible with MonsterInsights (and has an option to add your Google Analytics code if you prefer to use one plugin).

12. You’re done! It will take some time for Google Analytics to start tracking, and once the data is available you can see the most basic information in your WordPress Dashboard or under Insights > Reports. You can also login directly to your Google Analytics account to explore your analytics in greater detail.

Understanding your blog analytics to grow your blog

Understanding your blog analytics to grow your blog

Your blog analytics can give you a lot of information and insights for growing and improving your blog — if you know what to look for. Which is, of course, the tricky part! Google Analytics is a powerful tool with a lot of data to sort through and terms you may not be familiar with.

So let’s go over three specific ways you can use Google Analytics to improve your blog, and how to find the information you need.

Gather metrics for your media kit

Your media kit is an overview of your blog that presents all the information a brand would want to know to work with you. Any brand you work with will expect to see some standard blog metrics, like your monthly pageviews and users, and user demographics.

Make it a habit to record your total pageviews and users each month, so that you’re able to calculate an average for your media kit and keep it up to date. While the free version of MonsterInsights doesn’t give you the option to select dates, it does automatically report your data for the last 30 days. Set a reminder for the last day of the month to grab the numbers for your pageviews and total users from the WordPress dashboard.

Alternatively, if you miss grabbing the data from MonsterInsights, you can access it in Google Analytics. Choose the date range in the upper right corner, then get the total Users from the Reports Snapshot tab. On the same page, scroll down and look for Event count by Event name, and grab the number for “page_view.”

The other data brands look for is user demographics. These stats tend to vary less, so you really only need to review them every quarter or every 6 months. You can find the data under User attributes > Overview. The overview will give you the most important information at a glance, including location, gender, age, and interests.

Your most popular content is also your most valuable blogging resource. Identifying your most popular content can accomplish a number of things:

  • It tells you what’s really resonating with your audience, so you can refine your blog voice and niche and create more content that resonates.
  • It tells you about what performed well each season, so you can plan future seasonal content accordingly.
  • It gives you direction for which posts to update, reshare, and highlight on your website for new readers, so you can make the most of the content you’ve already worked hard on.
  • It gives you specific successful posts to analyze and reverse engineer to create more successful content.

Make it a habit to record your top content quarterly, so you have an overview of seasonal trends, as well as annually, so you can see your overall top evergreen content. You can find this information in the Engagement tab. Explore the Pages and screens tab for a breakdown of your most viewed pages, and use the search bar in the middle of the page to review stats for specific content.

Evaluate your growth efforts

There are so many methods for growing your traffic, and what works for other bloggers may not work for you. So how do you know what platforms and traffic sources are worth your effort?

This is where acquisition comes in. Acquisition tells you how people are finding your site. Review the Acquisition tab in Google Analytics when you want to understand where your traffic is coming from and evaluate how your growth efforts are working.

For example, if you’ve been putting extra effort into Pinterest, check here to make sure your referral traffic from Pinterest is actually growing by comparing month to month stats. You can do that under the Traffic acquisition tab. Change the Session default channel group dropdown to Session source, then use the search bar above to search “Pinterest” or any other source you want to view.

This is also where you learn about your SEO. In the Acquisition Overview you’ll find your how much traffic you’re getting from organic search versus other methods, as well as your top pages from search and top search queries.

Ultimately, remember that any growth effort takes time and consistency, so the numbers are not going to give you the full story on what’s worth your effort. They just give you a data point in your decision making. You also have to look at how long you’ve been working on a particular growth strategy and how much you enjoy it. What you should be working toward is finding a sweet spot of growth methods that work well and that you enjoy.

Why your blog analytics aren’t everything

Why your blog analytics aren’t everything

As we discussed earlier, numbers can feel really personal and discouraging. It’s so easy to get caught up in the numbers and forget why you started blogging in the first place!

Remember that this is just another tool to help you grow your site, and that site traffic can go up and down for any number of reasons. It doesn’t mean that your work isn’t good enough. As difficult as it can be, try not to let the numbers affect how you view yourself. Rather, think of the numbers as a puzzle you can solve as you try different pieces out.

While we encourage you to make a habit of reviewing your site analytics as it will feel less personal over time, it’s also perfectly ok to take a break. If you find yourself discouraged by the numbers and start questioning why you’re blogging in the first place, stop checking your stats for a while. They’ll still be there when you’re ready.

And remember, blogging is about so much more than the numbers. It’s a platform for your self-expression, creativity, and finding your community. When you get discouraged, always recenter yourself with your personal goals and picture the real people in your audience that you’re helping with your content.

Make your blog stand out.

Ready to start, redesign, or monetize your lifestyle blog? Get it done this week with Your Blogging Roadmap, our free choose-your-adventure guide to achieve your next big blogging goal.

Click the button below to get started, and we’ll send you a step-by-step daily plan and emails to keep you motivated, so you can blog better — or, as we like to say, blog in italics.