Google Analytics sounds complicated -- and it is -- but since it will help you reach your reading audience, every author should have and use Analytics. But let's simplify by looking at just a couple of reports and ignoring the rest.
One of the more useful reports tells you what people are looking it when they are on your website. When you know which pages they are spending time on, you can give them more of what they want and less of what they don't want. Then they'll stay on your site longer, come back more often and tell their friends so you can sell more books. You'll also figure out where to stop wasting your time so you can focus on efforts that will give you a better return on your investment.
Here's how to find this report:
- Sign in to your Google Analytics account
- Look at the left-hand column under "Reports"
- Click on "Behavior" which will open a new drop-down menu
- In that new menu, click on "Site Content" which will open yet another drop-down menu
- In this new menu, click on "All Pages"
The graph on the right will show you all the pages on your website that people have looked at from the most-viewed to the least-viewed. In Analytics, your URL is assumed, so instead of listing your pages like this:
the pages are just identified like this:
Usually the Home page is the most-viewed page because that's what you put on your business card, etc., so you'll probably see just the slash at the top of the list. (That's Google's shorthand for the Home page of www.SarahWriter.com/)
You'll also be able to see how many times a page was viewed and an average of how long folks spent on the page. Obviously, if you're blogging or have a lot of content for folks to see, you want them to spend a good amount of time seeing it.
If you really want to get into it, this is what the other columns mean:
- The difference between Pageviews and Unique Pageviews: Sometimes folks click on the same page more than once while they're perusing your website. It's nice that they do, but it's not the same as having a bunch of different people clicking.
- When folks go to your site and don't spend time clicking on different things, Google says they have "bounced." If all they want is to check the date of your book release, that doesn't necessarily make Bounce Rate something to worry about.
- Entrance numbers can be interesting because that means folks started there first instead of on the Home page. That can be a blog post you shared on Facebook or a "Buy Now" link someone else shared for you.
- The Exit numbers tell you the last pages folks looked at before leaving your website entirely, which can be telling. If you sell online and the page folks leave from is the Buy Now page rather than the Thank You for Your Order page, that can indicate a problem with the purchasing routine that you need to fix.
- When your marketing machine is really cranking, you could figure out what each page contributes to your bottom line and assign a Page Value to be tracked. Or ignore it entirelyl
Getting feedback can be inspirational, especially for writers who spend so much time alone with their computer. If you consider Google Analytics in that light, it's pretty interesting to peruse the reports and try to beat last month's numbers. Give it a try!