When it comes to creating your media kit, one of the most important things you can include is information on your site analytics. We touched on this in our post about what to put in a media kit, and today we want to discuss in further detail so you know exactly what your site analytics mean and how to make sure everything is set up correctly. After all, your site analytics can tell you a lot about your blog and help you plan for its future — beyond securing partnerships! Understanding your site 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. Let's get started!
How to track your site analytics
While there are numerous options for tracking site analytics, the gold standard is Google Analytics. At minimum, you should install this on your site, whether or not monetization is currently a part of your blogging plan. Why? Google Analytics can only track your site from the time you install it. This means that if your blog experiences significant growth over the course of a year, and you decide you're ready for monetization, you won't have a history of analytics to prove your growth rate — and brands will want that information specifically from Google Analytics. Since installing Google Analytics on your site is a pretty simple process (we'll be going over it in this post!), it's beneficial to install it now regardless of your current plans. Furthermore, Google Analytics can provide valuable information that can inspire your work in the future, like a follow up to a popular post or an answer to a common search on your site.
As we mentioned, Google Analytics isn't the only option out there. We also love the Site Stats built into the Jetpack plugin. Your numbers in Jetpack will probably differ from Google Analytics, and that's totally normal — it's just a difference in tracking methods. Defer to Google Analytics when it comes to stats for your media kit. But, we love Jetpack for its simple display that integrates beautifully with your WordPress dashboard. Jetpack gives you the most important stats you can act on right away, without leaving your WordPress site.
Another program we love is Inspectlet. As their site says, Google Analytics tells you what, and Inspectlet tells you why. While you won't need Inspectlet for your media kit, it shows you exactly how people are using your site through recorded sessions. Their free plan includes up to 1,000 recorded sessions per month. Each recorded session shows you exactly what the user sees, where and when they scroll through your site, and where and when they click on something. To install, use the Insert Headers and Footers plugin to paste their provided code into your site.
How to install Google Analytics
Like Inspectlet, when you sign up for a Google Analytics account, they'll provide you with a few lines of code to add to your site. However, we recommend installing the MonsterInsights plugin instead. Once you install the plugin, you only need to go to their settings page and authenticate your Google account, and it will do the rest from there. We like that they've simplified the process, but more importantly, they will ensure your Google Analytics code is kept up to date. This means that when Google Analytics adds new features that require you to update your site script, the plugin will update it for you automatically, so you never miss out on new features. It also ensures that Google Analytics remains installed on your site even if you switch WordPress themes. And we love the reports from MonsterInsights, which show you the most important information directly in WordPress.
What your stats mean
So you have Google Analytics installed — but how do you put it to use? What do you need to pay attention to, and what do your stats mean? Let's got through the most important stats to keep an eye on.
Users, sessions, and pageviews
The first thing you’ll see when you login to Google Analytics is your numbers for users, sessions, and pageviews. Put simply:
- A user is one unique person visiting your site in a given time period.
- A session includes any interactions that person has with your site from the time they open it to the time they close it.
- A pageview is any unique page that person views.
So a person who visits your home page on Monday and your blog page and a single post on Tuesday would be counted as one unique visitor with two sessions and three pageviews. Pageviews are important for brands, because it’s an indication of how many times their ad or post may be viewed on your site. If you're interested in site growth, these are numbers you need to pay attention to. We recommend evaluating these numbers on a month to month or quarter to quarter basis. These numbers can go up and down quite a bit from week to week due to any number of factors — how often you've published, what type of content you've published, and even what's going on in the world outside your blog. You'll be able to understand trends better by comparing months or quarters instead.
This is the section you'll want to pay the most attention to when planning your content, as it's where you can find out which posts are your most popular over a given time period. The MonsterInsights Reports section will give you the most important information — a list of your top posts/pages over the past month, but it's also worth digging into the Behavior section directly in Google Analytics, particularly once you have a year or more of tracking information available. In this case, you can see what content was most popular during the same time the previous year to help you plan seasonal content. Also, set the dates in Google Analytics for the entire year, and you can see your most popular content for the year. If it's evergreen content, consider highlighting it on your site (like with the Highlight Widget from our Presidio theme), so that new readers can discover it, too.
Audience is all about who is using your site, which can be helpful from both a content planning standpoint and for your media kit. On the Google Analytics dashboard, you can find an overview of the times people are using your site — consider posting your best content on the days where you have the most users, and schedule site maintenance on the days with the least. Brands will be most interested in the demographic information for your audience — average age, gender, and location. Explore the location tab to see a map of your users, and drill down to get information specific for brands. For example, if you're pitching a local brand, how many site visitors are local, on average? If you reach a large local audience, that could be a huge selling point for a brand.
Acquisition tells you how people are finding your site. This is where you need to look to find out who's already talking about you and which of your outreach methods are working. 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. Check out your organic search traffic to see what keywords are already performing well for you, and consider publishing related content and improving the SEO for the content you've already published for that keyword. Also, be sure to check out your referral traffic to see who's linking to your site. Is there a way you could team up to boost each other's traffic, since there's some overlap in your audience?
A final note
Site analytics can be really discouraging for a lot of people — 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. If you find yourself discouraged by the numbers, stop checking your stats for a while — they'll still be there when you're ready.