Friday, 20 February 2015

How To Use Google Analytics: Channels and Traffic Sources

How To Use Google Analytics: Channels And Traffic Sources

As soon as you step foot in Google Analytics you are bombarded with different tabs and endless possibilities as to what it can do (not going to lie, it still scares me a little). Understanding your analytics can really change your outlook on your blog or website, so it's important to at least have a basic understanding of it. 

In this post, I'll be focusing on the area I use the most, the channels and traffic sources tabs. These help you grasp a better understanding of where your readers and customers are coming from and what areas you need to improve to gain more traffic. 

To find your channels and source/medium tabs, head over to your Google Analytics, scroll down to Acquisition (It's the one with the arrows pointing to the right)

Google Analytics Acquisition Tab


Channels shows you what kind of places your traffic comes from and it groups them into 4 main areas, in order of the most used:

Google Analytics Channels

Most of my traffic comes from referral traffic and my organic search is way down at the bottom (oops). If you've had your domain name/blog or website for a while, you might want to take a look at your SEO to boost your organic search higher up the list. I've recently changed my domain so it's to be expected that my organic is at the bottom, as I've lost all my backlinks

Let's take a closer look at what each of these channels actually mean though and what they can tell us. 

Referral - Links from other websites e.g. people featuring your post in their own posts and linking to you. My top 5 referrals are below for Cat Crawford, as you can see, people find my blog through Bloglovin, then from Jenny Purr, as she recently linked to me in a post, and then there are some forums and RSS feeds at the bottom. This just gives you a better idea of where your traffic is coming from and allows you to see what sites are linking to you. 

Google Analytics Referrals

Direct - This is when someone types in your URL or clicks on a direct link to your site. What I get from this is that my top post from January is my SEO tips for beginners post, a handy thing to know when planning posts in the future, as I now know people really want simplified SEO posts. 

Google Analytics Direct Traffic

Social - What social media platforms are bringing the most people to your blog or website. My top social media platform is Twitter as I post regular promo tweets. I've also been spending a little more time on my Pinterest, so I can see from this that my efforts are paying off! I've also noticed that people are using the app Pocket to save my posts and people are also finding me on Stumble Upon. This means I should think about focusing a little more on those platforms as there's clearly an audience to be tapped into from those channels. 

Google Analytics Social Tab

Organic Search - Finally there's Organic Search, this is where my SEO comes into practice. Below are the keywords that people have used to find my blog, people are still coming here for beauty posts but people are also using my URL as a search term to find me. Over time this will improve and my keywords will change, but as I've changed my domain name I still have to build my keywords for this domain. This can be very useful if used alongside my tips from Finding Keywords and How To Use Them.

Google Analytics Organic Serach


The source/medium tab is basically a more detailed version of the channel tab. Instead of just telling you what kind of channel your traffic is coming from, it also tells you specifically what URL your traffic has come from. 

Google Analytics Source/Medium Tab

It's pretty much a summary of everything from the individual channel tab. The most popular way to get to my site is to click on a direct link or type my blog address into the address bar, then from Bloglovin, most likely the Bloglovin feeds of my followers and then from the link Jen very kindly posted on her blog. 

This just gives you a better overview of where your promotional efforts should be. Google Analytics also shows you graphs to give you a better visual indication of how your traffic is looking. I'm not going to go into reports or any of the stats you'll see on all of these pages just yet, I don't want to overload you with information. As long as you can grasp these basic lists, you can have a much better understanding of how to improve your blog/website. 

Have you ever looked at your blog/websites traffic? What parts of analytics do you wish you knew more about? 

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