The 100K Challenge: How it’s going + how to recognise the signs of Google Analytics addiction

This is the first web traffic update on my January BHAG to attract 100,000 visits to my personal blog in a month. Read on to find out how it’s going so far and how to recognise the signs of Google Analytics addiction.

Here is a recap of the 100,000 web visits in a month blogging challenge. In short, it started on 30 December and I have until 29 January to achieve 100,000 visits to my personal grand slam tennis blog.

We’re now five days in to the challenge and I can honestly say that if you’d like to become a Google Analytics addict, set yourself a challenge like this!

I’ve always had a borderline addiction that has proven to be constructive for both my clients and myself; looking at Google Analytics regularly to find web traffic trends and uncover information that is useful for improving their websites and online marketing.

This week the addiction has escalated to keeping a browser tab open on Google Analytics all day, and continually refreshing the stats to see how I’m tracking for the challenge.

Then there’s the Real Time Stats.

Finding out in real time what people are looking at on your site, where they are located, and how they found it is very addictive if you like that kinda thing. I find it particularly good when I’ve tweeted a link to my website and want to see how many people click on the link in the short term.

To view Real Time Stats in Google Analytics

  • Once you’re logged in to your account, click “Home” on the orange bar at the top (to the left of Standard Reporting)
  • Click “Real Time” on the left to pull down the options below
  • “Overview” lets you see how many people are on your website right now, and underneath you’ll see what countries they are from
  • You can also select “Traffic Sources” to see how they found your website and “Content” to see which pages are being viewed.

To View All Your Traffic

  • Select “Standard Reporting” from the orange bar
  • Set the Date Range on the right for the dates that you’d like to view
  • To include today’s traffic, make sure you include the current date
  • The “Audience Overview” dashboard screen shows these stats:
    • Visits: This is the total number of visits, which includes people who visit more than once – this is the stat that I’m aiming to achieve 100,000 for!
    • Visitors: This is unique individuals (or actually unique computers or devices)
    • Also listed is Pages Per Visit: The average number of pages viewed during each visit
    • Average Visit Duration: Average time spent on your website during a visit
    • Bounce Rate: Bounce rate is really important and is a sign of how engaged your visitors are with your website.
      • If your Bounce Rate is 100% then everyone who visits your website leaves without clicking on anything, so you probably need to make some changes.
      • With Bounce Rate, the lower the better.
      • You also need to keep in mind that if your website is a blog, a lot of people will visit, read your current article and then leave, so your Bounce Rate may be higher than for example an ecommerce website. In this case, view Bounce Rate in conjunction with Average Time on Site.

Here’s my Audience Overview Dashboard for 30 December to 2 January (the first four days of the challenge)

So what does this tell us?

You can see that there were 2,619 visits but how can I use this to track my progress in the challenge?

The answer is to compare the stats to the same time last year. The challenge is to grow my web traffic 560% in comparison to last year. Because of the nature of my blog and what I’m blogging about I expect my web traffic to gradually increase in the first half of January and then really peak in the second half when the Australian Open is underway.

Compare your stats to the past

  • Check the box for “compare to past” underneath the date range in the top right hand corner
  • Select the date that you would like to compare to
    • Either select the same dates or the same time period ie for this exercise I’ve selected the Sunday to Wednesday from the same time period last year

Now you can see that while there have been 2,619 visits this year, last year there was 675 visits. (In the screen shot above look at the stats in the bottom left corner).

That’s a 388% increase.  Not quite the 560% increase that I’m aiming for yet still significant and I think I’m vaguely on track to achieve the goal!

Traffic Sources

To find out where your web traffic is coming from:

  • Click “Traffic Sources” on the left, then “Sources” and “All Traffic”
  • Here are some of the main web traffic sources:
    • Google / Organic : visitors who found your website in Google
    • Direct / none : visitors who went to straight to your website, for example, by typing your website URL into the browser
    • Source / referral : these are visits that are referred from another website, for example from Facebook, or from another website that links to yours
    • Google /CPC : paid visits via the Google AdWords program
    • List name / email : visits that clicked through from your email campaign

For each traffic source you can see the number of visits, Pages / Visit, Average Visit Duration and Bounce Rate.  This will help you evaluate which are your best sources of traffic.

Content

Content is one of my favourite sections of Google Analytics because it shows which of your pages and articles are the most, and least, popular.  You can learn a lot from that.

If you have a WordPress website you can choose which keyword to use in the URL for each article, which allows you to easily identify each article via your Google Analytics.

You can click on the top of each column to sort from highest to lowest, for example click on “Bounce Rate” to see which pages have the highest Bounce Rate. If those pages also have a reasonable amount of Pageviews, take a fresh look at the page and see if you can add any new links to that page in order to reduce the Bounce Rate.

Here are my Top 10 content pages.

You can see that the top page has significantly more Pageviews than the others.  This is one of the pages that generates a lot of organic traffic from Google.  Next week I’ll explain how I selected the keywords for that page and where I used them.

Also watch this video to find out how to use Google Analytics to find out which articles rocked and which ones bombed.

That’s my update for today.

Here are the take-away messages:

  • View your Google Analytics regularly and become familiar with your own stats, so that you know when they have a spike or a dip
  • If you find that you become obsessive about your stats and you need to hang with like-minded people, put your hand up in the comments below and we can form a support group
  • If you’ve had your website for a while, compare your stats to the past. For example month to month or year to year, to see how your traffic has (hopefully) increased.
  • Become familiar with the traffic sources that generate visits to your website. Find out which sources have the highest quality traffic (based on time on page and pages per visit) and aim to get more traffic from those sources. You can also set up Goals to evaluate your traffic sources, but that’s a topic for another day.
  • Find out which pages of your content have the most, and least traffic and figure out why. Are some pages getting more organic traffic? Do some have a more effective headline? Do some get retweeted and shared more often?  Figure out what makes the successful pages work and aim to reproduce your efforts in future content.
  • In terms of the blogging challenge, I’ve made headway but there is a ways to go yet!

 If you have questions or feedback you’re welcome to leave them in the comments below.

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Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net