Friday, 7 August 2015

The Reason You Shouldn't Rely on Blogspot Stats (and Should Use Google Analytics Instead!)

Most bloggers, no matter the subject, take a good amount of time working on how to improve their stats. It's part and parcel of the job hobby - you want to see how you're improving, watch your growth in real-time, see what it is people love about you and your blog and the content you publish. Sure thing, if growing your visitors and improving your statistics isn't at the forefront of your mind, then I doubt tracking how well your blog is actually performing isn't high on your to-do list, but if you are aiming to grow your blog, your readership and your viewing, then you need to stop relying on Blogger Stats to do so.

If you're a Blogspot user, you might be in for a nasty shock when you realise your statistics are wrong. Combat these false facts by using Google Analytics, and here's how!

You Should Be Using Google Analytics!


When I blogged on Book Badger, I relied on Blogger Stats to monitor my blogs growth and viewing figures, after all, I was working with publishers almost every week, reading review copies almost every night, statistics were a big part in what kept be me in the running to do what I loved. Almost a year after I started, I decided to check out Google Analytics and see whether it would shed more light on my blog, and delve deeper into what was working and what wasn't. Once I'd installed it and waited a few days for the information to be collected, I checked out my results..

My Blogger Stats were wrong. I'd been lied to.


The truth of the matter is, my Blogger Stats weren't technically wrong, they were just feeding me the wrong information, at least, it wasn't the information I wanted. Where I turned to my Blogger Stats to see my visitors and pageviews, I assumed that my statistics were all human traffic. How wrong was I. Blogger Stats collect data from all the traffic coming and going from your blog, which does include human traffic, but also includes bots and spam, which, believe it or not, can be the reason why you're getting over 10,000 pageviews per month, and hardly any actual social interaction or comments on your blog.

Finding out this the hard way was heartbreaking. I was hit hard by the fact that I wasn't as established as I thought I was. The information I'd giving publishers was false. I was hurt that I'd believed I was well liked and appreciated in the community, and that that showed on my stats, but it didn't. That's when I knew that using Google Analytics, wherever I bloged, was a complete and utter must.

I've not been without GA since I made the move to Beautiful Bookish Butterflies, and before Nellie and Co. was even in the design stages, Google Analytics was up, running, working and monitoring my actual statistics, my real statistics, and I've never looked back. In fact, I can't remember the last time I looked at my Blogger Stats!

Did you know you can do more than just track traffic though?


I've learnt a lot about Google Analytics since I've started using it, and the super cool features it has that I'm almost certain other users won't be aware of, and a few that might just convert you, if being lied to isn't worthy enough.

You Can Track Your Blog and Posts 7 Different Ways


A snapshot of Beautiful Bookish Butterflies Analytics Feb-Jun 2015

In the above snapshot, you can see that Google Analytics allows you can track your blog by the number of sessions that have taken place (the number of times one person has spent on your blog consistently in a short space of time), by the number of users (the amount of unique people visiting your site), the number of pageviews, the number of pages visited on average person session (the amount of roaming and checking out the rest of your blog people do), the average length of time each session lasts (the time spent on each page), the bounce rate (the percentage of users who follow one link, read that post, and click out rather than stay on your site and explore) and the percentage of new sessions.

Personally, when I consult Google Analytics, I tend to focus on the number of users, the number of pageviews and the bounce rate. On Nellie and Co. especially, I want people to explore our resources and archives and find the right advice to help them. I want users to want to find our hidden secrets and enjoy being on the site, and want to see more, and these are all things I work on through the three items I track.

Bounce Rate is the feature that a lot of bloggers are told not to worry about, as it's pretty common for blogs to have high bounce rates (usually between 70-90%) due to visitors following a link, reading the post connected to said link, and then clicking out. I believe that no matter the type of blog you run, whether your doing it as a hobby or as a business, your bounce rate is important. It's what keeps people on your site for longer, the site you run and maintain, the site your pour your everything into, why would you not want visitors to stay and explore more. I have a post coming up soon about easy ways you can help improve your bounce rate, and I do hope you check it out.

You can even check what posts people love most


A snapshot of Beautiful Bookish Butterflies Analytics Feb-Jun 2015

In the above snapshot, you can see that Google Analytics allows you can track what posts people are loving most and checking out, with bells and whistles to boot. Not only can you keep an eye on the kids of posts people enjoy from you, but you can check out how many unique page views each post has received (the amount of individual IP addresses finding their way on said page), the average amount of time spent on each page, the amount of entrances (people entering your site through each page) and exits (people leaving your site through each page) and once again, your bounce rate.

This is the part of Google Analytics I personally spend the most time on and researching. By regularly looking at which posts get the most attention on Nellie and Co. I can work on creating more of that content, which is continue to bring in the readers, and hopefully, even more readers in the long run. I admit to obsessively checking my bounce rate (because as mentioned earlier, you should really consider it no matter what you're level of blogging experience is or what you blog about) and this section allows me to do that ten fold. It's also the section that enables me to give some of my lesser loved posts more love by sharing them more, linking them in upcoming posts, or even creating new content that is related so I can improve it's ranking in my analytic's results.

Its not over; use Webmaster Tools to track search terms!


I'm currently in the midst of learning more about this feature myself, but from the looks of things, it could very well become my joint favourite feature of Google Analytics! Search Engine Optimisation (or SEO as it is commonly known by) works by making the search engines work for you, when all your hard work is done and dusted, and you can check out this new feature with this tutorial on how to set up Webmaster Tools, or Search Console Data Sharing as it may be titled, and get all of the know how you need with this handy dandy tutorial from Melyssa at The Nectar Collective on how to utilise Search Engine Optimisation through Google Analytics for your blog or website!

Google Analytics is without a doubt my go-to when it comes to monitoring and checking on Nellie and Co. and I don't think I could blog as well as I do without it. Sure, it can get a little heavy when you're checking on it regularly, and it can be disappointing to find that a post you absolutely loved writing doesn't get the love you hoped for, but that's what Google Analytics does, it challenges you to be a better blogger, and shows you what's working and what isn't. It's the very blunt blogging best friend every blogging needs, and it puts Blogger Stats in their place. If you're still using Blogger Stats to monitor your blog, you're letting yourself down - get yourself onto Google Analytics and do it right.

Do you use Google Analytics? If not, why not?

23 comments:

  1. Oops, a little typo here?

    "A snapshot of Beautiful Bookish Butterflies Analytics Feb-Jun 2016"

    Anyway I'm so sorry you went through that little shocker! I imagine it's hugely disappointing to think that you're regularly getting x pageviews only to find out you're actually getting half that (or whatever). It's going to feel like a major setback for sure. Even if you're not TECHNICALLY any worse off, you're sure going to feel like you are!

    However, Google Analytics also has its fair share of spam users. It's been getting worse in recent months. For example, I've been getting a lot of bogus referrals from 4webmasters.org (don't visit them, I don't want the morons to get any traffic!). However, they're not REAL referrals. They're pushing fake page views to my GA account (and many other peoples'). I think it's a lame ass attempt to get them more traffic.

    So one thing you have to keep on top of is blocking these spam referrers. Here's an awesome guide on how to do that: https://blog.sucuri.net/2015/07/malicious-google-analytics-referral-spam.html See the section on "Stopping Ghost Referral Spam". Basically what you're doing is blocking anyone who is pushing data to your site from another site.

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    1. Ashley!! I've been wondering about this because I feel like my Google Analytics is picking up spam referrals but I didn't know what to do about it. You're so awesome for leaving this tip! I'm going what it says right now :D And Thanks Amanda for posting a great topic! I still have so much to learn about Google Analytics...

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    2. Thanks Ashley for that typo mention, I'll get right onto fixing that!

      Finding out my stats had been WAY off was quite a blow, and I wasn't making it big at all, but it was still a harsh shock and really knocked me for 6, but moving to GA was a great move for me. I'm not surprised to hear that GA has spam users too although I hadn't been suffering a lot of it myself, but I'm so glad you've shared a little about it and how to stop them (I'll be checking out that guide myself to prepare) so huge thanks there, it's something I'll be making time for in future.

      Jade, I'm glad you learnt a little from both Ashley and I, and hopefully GA is something you learn more about with time - it's simply a great blog feature that you gets loads from :)

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  2. YES to this entire post. Before I made the switch to Wordpress, I would glance at my Blogger stats and be kind of confused as to my stats- it said I was getting a lot of pageviews, but my reader engagement was so low. I then put my blog on Google Analytics and then saw the true stuff on there. There is just SO much great stuff on there, I love it so much! I definitely use the pageviews, unique pageviews, number of visitors (the pie chart breaking down the old and the new is so awesome) and average visit duration time. Although, I do enjoy clicking through everything once in a while just to get an update.

    These days, though, I don't use Google Analytics much. I've been trying to focus more on engagement, so on comments, Tweets, shares, etc. I want to build more of a community around my blog, so I haven't been super focused on pageviews, persay. I want people to visit my blog, but also comment or Tweet me or something! Which is tough, but that's the ultimate goal. :)

    Lovely, lovely post Amanda! <33

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    1. I enjoy having a click around too Aneeqah, I can easily waste a good 30 minutes having a right old nosey around my GA stats - it's fun and exciting and keeps you improving I think. I think working on your engagement is a great thing, and there's nothing better for your blog than networking, so I wish you the best of luck! :)

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  3. I started using GA a month or two after I started blogging and it is so useful. Although, if I am completely honest, I have barely used it in the last year. I'm not quite sure why, I just didn't really have the energy to go and trawl through all my stats. Definitely recommend it over the blogger stats though, they give you barely any information at all.

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    1. GA v Blogger Stats is just not contest, GA wins everytime! I think it's worth checking a few times a year though, just to see where your blog is in terms of stability and viewing.

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  4. I actually just made my Google Analytics account about a week ago. Up until then (I could even say now, I still look at them) I'd been relying on Blogger statistics. Comparatively, my stats were completely different, visitor-wise. Surprisingly my page views were almost similar, but my visitors' operating systems, countries, and my traffic sources, among other things, greatly differed. I'm still getting the hang of Google Analytics and I'm not completely sure about all of its functions yet, but this was a helpful tutorial! I didn't know I could access a lot of the things you mentioned in this post, so I really appreciate you taking the time to explain everything. Hopefully my stats will be more reliable in the future!

    Claire @ Cover to Cover

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    1. I think sometimes the page views can be really similar, and that's good, it means you've had less bots spamming your blog with fake views, but GA is definitely worth some time to learn the ropes with. With time comes experience, you'll be rocking your stats in no time Claire, good luck! :)

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  5. Fantastic post! I use Wordpress stats through Jetpack and sometimes it doesn't give me all the info I need. It's so easy to install a plug-in for Google Analytics so I'll definitely do that :D

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    1. I think no matter your platform, GA is always something worth having on your blog Emily! :)

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  6. Yes! I use GA myself, and was lucky to find out about the oddly inflated Blogger stats BEFORE I started actually paying too much attention- a friend told me all about it and I got myself set up with GA the next day! It seriously is amazing. And I had been confused with Blogger stats too, even though I didn't put a TON of effort into looking at the time (I was too new to request ARCs or anything of the like) and it would say the most ridiculous things that mathematically couldn't even be real! I just sent a link to your post to a few fellow bloggers who were confused about it, because even though I have tried to explain it, you did basically a thousand times better of a job than I did! Thanks for this, I think it will be a HUGE help to a lot of bloggers out there!
    Shannon @ It Starts At Midnight

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    1. Wow, thank you so much Shannon, I hugely appreciate that, and if I've helped a few of your blogging friends, then I consider that a job well done on my side of things. GA is tough to learn about, but once you've got the hang on things, you're just soaring through your stats and you can work them well, something you obviously know already. Blogger Stats are harshly unreliable, and for bloggers, reliable is key! :)

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  7. This is such a useful post Amanda, good on you for learning how to use Google Analytics and for sharing the differences between relying on Blogger & GA! I agree Google Analytics is the most powerful way to track your stats and to find out any and what information you may ever need about your site. It's definitely a great way for site improvement!

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    1. Thanks Jeann! Improving how you blog and how you get traffic is so easy with GA, it surprises me how many people don't know this, so it's great to teach it briefly to others so I can help! :)

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  8. OOOH! This is such helpful information!!! I'm a Wordpress.org user so I don't have Google Analytics but I'll find a plugin to help remedy that quickly. Now I can see why I have so much views that just hover on the homepage but not enough comments. It's disappointing, realizing all your cherished views are just robots. :/

    Claudia Victoria @ PenMarkings & Quite Literary

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    1. It really does knock you, but you're clearly prepared for this now Claudia, and if my experiences can help others, I consider this post to have done it's job, so I'm more than pleased! :)

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  9. As someone who has a serious blogging hobby as well it is nice to see this information broken down in this way. I had a feeling that the numbers on my own blog was a little off and after checking it there was some information that was being represented differently than I thought. Google is a great tool that all bloggers should use. Thanks for this post!

    Mattie Lawrence @ Awesome Online Advertising

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  10. I’ve been using blogger for more than a decade for multiple sites, and I’ve always found their stat tracking to be really unreliable. Analytics is a much better representation of what’s actually going on in terms of your traffic, and lets you target your posts and social media promotion much better.

    Kendra Scott @ Business Online Presence

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  11. Well, i started using them, then somehow i couldn't get back to it, & just let it drop. No idea how to start it again.

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