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How to Add Google Analytics to WordPress in 5 Minutes or Less

You want to know whether your blog is doing well, right?

Whether those posts you work so hard on are attracting traffic, and where that traffic is actually coming from?

Whether your last marketing campaign was a smashing success or an unfortunate bomb?

Because if you don’t know whether what you’re doing is working, you’re basically running around blind. And that means you could be wasting valuable time and energy on stuff that just plain ain’t moving the needle.

There’s great news, though …

If you install Google Analytics on your blog, you’ll never have to wonder how your blog is doing again.

Why Every Blogger Needs Google Analytics

Google Analytics is what replaces “I think this works” with “I know this works.”

It tells you where your visitors come from, which posts they just can’t get enough of, and, well … almost anything else you can think of.

Seriously, Google Analytics is like your own personal spy agency for your website.

But here’s the thing:

Google Analytics can only do those things if you can actually get it installed on your WordPress blog.

And that’s why I’m here to lend a helping hand.

How to Make Google Analytics Friends with WordPress

Installing Google Analytics is actually quite easy, even if you’re not a tech-head. Honestly, you can have it installed in five minutes or less.

Basically, there are two distinct parts to this process:

Part 1: You need to create a Google Analytics account and add your website to Google Analytics. All of this happens inside the Google Analytics interface. You won’t lay a finger on your site.

Part 2: You need to add the tracking code that Google Analytics gives you to your WordPress site. This is the part that trips a ton of beginners up. No worries, though. We’ll get through it together.

I’ll give you detailed step-by-step instructions for each of these processes below.

Ready? Let’s go …

Note: If you already have your Google Analytics account set up, and you’re just struggling with adding the tracking code to your WordPress site, go on ahead and skip to Part 2.

Part 1: Creating Your Google Analytics Account

Alrighty, the first step in your journey to the goodness of Google Analytics is to actually create your Google Analytics account.

For this, I’m going to assume that you already have a regular ‘ole Google account because, well … you’re on the Internet. If not, you can always create one right now.

To get started with Google Analytics, head here. If you’re not already logged in to your Google account, Google will prompt you to sign in. If you are logged in, you’ll see a signup wizard right away.

Go ahead and click that big Sign up button on the right:

Sign up for Google Analytics

Next up, you’ll need to add details about your website. Here’s what you’ll need to enter in the Setting up your account section:

  • Account Name — This is just for internal organization. You can enter whatever you want. In my analytics account, I put “Personal Projects” in this box.
  • Website Name — Again, this is for internal organization. Just enter the name of your website in plain words. For example, “Smart Blogger.”
  • Website URL — Paste in your website’s URL. The only tricky thing here is to make sure that you choose either http:// or https:// from the drop-down, depending on whether or not you’ve enabled SSL. Just look at the beginning of your URL to figure out which applies to your site.
  • Industry Category — This is optional. Google uses it to help provide tailored reports for your industry. If you don’t see a category that perfectly fits your website, feel free to leave it blank. It’s really not worth stressing over.
  • Reporting Time Zone — Most of the time, you’ll want to set this to your own time zone. But if your target audience has a radically different time zone from your own, it can be helpful to choose the time zone where most of your audience lives so that your analytics sync with their daily life.
Setting Up Your Google Analytics

Once you’ve knocked that out, scroll down to the Data Sharing Settings options. There are no right or wrong answers here — it just depends on your penchant for privacy.

I’m a grouch on the topic, so I always uncheck every single box. But you can feel free to check and/or uncheck according to your own preferences. And once you’re done deciding how much data to fork over to Google, scroll to the bottom and click that nice blue Get Tracking ID button:

Get Google Analytics Tracking ID

You’re almost there, but first, Google wants you to read their lengthy Terms of Service Agreement which, let’s be honest, you probably won’t read (I know I didn’t!).

Once you accept their terms of service, Google will dump you straight into the Google Analytics interface:

Google Analytics Tracking Code and ID

This part of the interface is where you’ll find your Tracking Code and Tracking ID.

Keep this tab handy because you’ll need this information in the next part.

Part 2: How to Add the Google Analytics Tracking Code to WordPress

You have a couple of ways to add the Google Analytics tracking code to your WordPress site, each with its own pros and cons.

You can choose to use the Insert Headers and Footers plugin, which is the quickest method and does a clean install of the Google Analytics tracking code without any added bells and whistles. This plugin also isn’t limited to Google Analytics, and if you ever need to add more code to your site’s header or footer sections, you can use this plugin for that as well.

Or you can choose the Google Analytics Dashboard for WP plugin (GADWP), which helps you both install the tracking code and view analytics reports inside your WordPress dashboard.

Note: GADWP isn’t the only plugin that offers this feature. You can choose from a number of quality plugins like MonsterInsights and Analytify. I recommend GADWP, though, because it has a couple of free features — like tracking form submissions and tracking how far visitors scroll down the page — that are only available in the paid version of the others.

The best choice comes down to whether or not you want the ability to view reports inside your WordPress dashboard.

And not everybody agrees on this.

Some find it useful to get a basic sense of your stats without having to leave your WordPress dashboard.

Others feel the reports you get inside your dashboard are too limited, and you end up using the external Google Analytics dashboard anyway, so the widget only clutters things up. On top of this, the Insert Headers and Footers plugin may save you from having to install further plugins down the line, and the fewer plugins you have, the faster your site will be.

If you have any doubts or are struggling to make a decision, install the plugin that gives you reports inside your dashboard and see if you find it useful. You can always switch later without too much fuss. Plus, you can still use the stand-alone Google Analytics dashboard, too.

Make your choice below:

How to Add the Tracking Code with Insert Headers and Footers

Okay, so you decided you don’t need to view analytics inside your dashboard, which means you can do a clean install with the Insert Headers and Footers plugin.

Go into your WordPress dashboard and click Plugins → Add New. Then search for Insert Headers and Footers.

Once you’ve found the plugin, click the Install Now button and it will change to Activate. Click Activate and you’re good to go.

Insert Headers and Footers Plugin

Once you’ve activated the plugin, go to Settings → Insert Headers and Footers in your WordPress dashboard:

Insert Headers and Footers Plugin Dashboard

Remember when I told you you to keep your tracking code handy? Here’s where you’re going to use it.

Head back to the Google Analytics interface and copy the whole script in the Website Tracking box:

Google Analytics Web Tracking Box

If you accidentally closed the tab or skipped the first section, you can always find your Google Analytics tracking code by going to Admin in your Google Analytics dashboard sidebar and clicking Tracking Info under the Property column:

Google Analytics Tracking Info

Okay, you have your tracking code. Now copy it, go back to your WordPress dashboard and paste it into Scripts in Header:

Scripts in Header

Then just save your changes and … presto, you’re done!

That wasn’t too painful, right?

Keep reading for a quick and dirty guide to get up and running with the Google Analytics dashboard.

How to Add the Tracking Code with Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Okay, so you decided you do wish to view reports inside your WordPress dashboard. That means I’ll help you install Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.

And it’s easy. You can install it right from your WordPress dashboard by going to Plugins → Add New and searching for Google Analytics Dashboard for WP.

Once you’ve found the plugin, click Install and then click Activate.

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Now head to the new Google Analytics tab in your WordPress dashboard and click the Authorize Plugin button:

Authorize Google Analytics Plugin

In order for the plugin to show you reports inside your WordPress dashboard, you need to give it permission to access your Google Analytics data. That’s what this authorization process does.

Once you click the Authorize Plugin button, the plugin will prompt you to enter your Access Code.

To get your access code, click the red Get Access Code link:

Get Access Code for Google Analytics

Then you need to Allow the plugin access to your Google Analytics account:

Allow Google Analytics Plugin Access

Once you click the Allow button, Google Analytics will give you your access code:

Google Analytics Access Code

Copy this code, head back to your WordPress dashboard, and paste the code into the Access Code box. Then, click Save Access Code:

Save Google Analytics Access Code

And you’re done! You’ll now see an Analytics widget on your WordPress dashboard homepage. (Yours might be in a different spot than pictured below, but you can move it as you wish.)

Google Analytics WordPress Dashboard

You’ll also see a new Analytics column for all of your posts and pages.

To access analytics for specific posts, just click on the Chart icon in that column:

Access Google Analytics Per Post

Once you click the Chart button, a lightbox window will pop up with stats for that specific post:

Cool, huh?

Now you might be confused by some of the terms you see — “what the heck is Bounce Rate?” — but no worries, I’ll explain some of the basics below.

Finished? Then Check Out This Google Analytics Quick-Start Guide

Okay, so you’ve installed Google Analytics. Now what?

When you head to your Google Analytics dashboard, you might feel confused by all the different numbers and reports.

Yes, there’s a ton of data in Google Analytics, which can feel overwhelming if you’re new to it and you don’t know what everything means.

To assist with that, I want to introduce you to some basic Google Analytics reports and terminology that can help you understand what’s happening on your site. I’m not promising to make you a Google Analytics expert (there’s a whole academy for that!). But I can get you started on the right path.

Google Analytics Terminology 101

When you log in to your Google Analytics dashboard, Google is going to dump a bunch of terminology on you:

Thanks, Google … but what does all that even mean?

Here’s your cheat sheet:

  • Users — The number of unique visitors to your site for the specified time period.
  • Sessions — The number of visits to your site. One User can have multiple Sessions. For that reason, the number of sessions will almost always be higher than the number of Users (and can never be lower).
  • Bounce Rate — The number of people who leave your site without completing any actions. For example, if a visitor immediately clicks the “back” button, that counts as a bounce. Because of how Google Analytics calculates Bounce Rate, a user might still count as a bounce even if they only click the “back” button after spending ten minutes reading your post.
  • Session Duration — How long, on average, each visit to your site lasts. From the screenshot above, you can see that the average visitor spends 48 seconds on my site. Don’t take this number as gospel, though. It can be a bit misleading.

3 Basic but Helpful Google Analytics Reports for Beginners

Google Analytics is mind-bendingly deep in functionality. And one of the joys of Google Analytics is finding creative new ways to structure reports and approach your data from different angles.

But if you’re just signing in to Google Analytics for the first time, that doesn’t mean anything to you.

So we’re not getting into all of them here, but let me share some basic reports with you to get your feet wet:

1. Checking Your Visitors’ Demographics

Knowing your visitors’ demographics can provide incredible insight into your audience. Where they’re from, what age they are, what they’re using to access your website. You won’t believe how useful this can be.

For instance, on one of my sites, 80% of my visitors use their computers, while on another, over 80% visit from their smartphones. That’s a massive difference. And you’d better believe I put a higher emphasis on mobile-friendly content on the second site.

Learning more about your audience’s demographics will help you find little idiosyncrasies like that for your site.

To do it,  head to Audience → Overview:

You can click on any of the links under the Demographics column to see a more detailed report.

For example, if you click on the Operating System option under System, Google Analytics gives you a breakdown of your visitors’ operating systems:

2. Finding Your Most Popular Content

Do you actually know which posts get the most traffic on your blog?

Don’t guess. Go to Behavior → Site Content → All Pages and look at the real data:

Google Analytics Find Most Popular Content

You’ll see all of your most popular content, as well as additional metrics for each piece of content.

3. Discovering How People Find Your Site

Figuring out which content sources drive the most traffic to your site helps you focus your efforts on the channels which deliver the best bang for your buck.

Better yet, you might find some sites sending traffic to you that you never knew existed! Maybe you can reach out to them and form a stronger partnership.

For all those traffic insights (and more!), head to Acquisition → Overview:

Google Analytics Acquisition Overview

You’ll see a breakdown of the different channels that drive traffic to your site:

  • Organic search — Traffic that finds your site through a search engine.
  • Direct — Traffic that types your URL directly into their browser’s address bar.
  • Referral — Traffic that finds your site through a link on another website.
  • Social — Traffic that finds your site through social media.

To see more information about a specific channel, all you need to do is click on it.

For example, if you click on the Referral option, Google Analytics will show you a report of all the websites that drove traffic to your site for the specified time period:

Google Analytics Referral Option

Let’s say you published a guest post on an A-list blog, and you want to see exactly how much traffic it sent you. This report will tell you!

And these reports are just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to know more, check out Casey Kluver’s guide that dives much deeper into various Google Analytics reports.

Congrats! Your Days of Guessing Are Over

You’ve just learned how to stop guessing and start knowing. Gone are the days of wondering what’s making your blog and its visitors tick.

Now you’ll have all the relevant data right at your fingertips, ready to pull up at a moment’s notice.

You’ll know which marketing strategies and content work the best, as well as which could use a little rethinking.

That means you can work smarter and build a better, more data-driven blog.

And that, friends, is pretty dang awesome!

About the Author: Colin Newcomer is a freelance writer for hire with a background in SEO and affiliate marketing. He helps clients grow their web visibility by writing primarily about digital marketing and WordPress. In his spare time, he travels and curates graphic t-shirts.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each

Common SEO Mistakes

Common SEO Mistakes

Even the most seasoned content marketers make mistakes. In the world of SEO-driven content, with constant algorithm tweaks and changing search patterns, it’s nearly unavoidable. However, those same mistakes can often lead to discoveries that enable even better content performance.

The key is being able to recognize those easy-to-fix SEO mistakes and address them. As a result, your content will become an optimized, integrated network of metaphorical highways, leading searchers to best-answer content in a strategic and purposeful way.

So, what are the most common SEO mistakes, and how can they be addressed? Below, I’ve singled out the ‘usual suspects’ along with guidance on how to fix them while setting yourself up for long-term SEO success.

SEO Mistake #1 - Choosing Target Keywords Based on Volume vs. Relevance

How Keywords Affect Content Marketers: Great content isn't great unless people see it. But when content marketers overemphasize high-volume keywords, they miss out on meaningful engagement.

It’s tempting to plug into your keyword research tool of choice and select keywords with the highest search volume as your focuses for new content. But if the content you’re creating doesn’t match the search intent for that high-volume keyword, it’s unlikely to perform to your expectations.

The Fix: Google it! All jokes aside, evaluating the first ten search results for your target keywords can help you understand what searchers are trying to find, and what supporting content you should provide to truly be the best answer for that query.

While you’re analyzing those top results, pay attention to key factors that will shape your content creation and promotion strategy:

  1. What type of information is NOT included in top content, but is topically related? This can help you inform how you differentiate your content.
  2. What’s the content demand for that keyword? For example, are mostly top of funnel blog posts ranking, or are you seeing mostly product or service pages?
  3. How many backlinks and referring domains are pointing to the top search results? This can help you understand how competitive the first page of results is, and whether or not ongoing link building should be part of your content promotion strategy.
  4. How long is the top-ranking content for that keyword? This will help you determine ideal content length for your own post.

SEO Mistake #2 - Targeting the Same Keyword with Multiple Pages or Posts

How Same-Topic Targeting Affects Content Marketers: Pressure to create comprehensive content on a topic can actually result in dilution within search.

The conventional wisdom that more is better doesn’t apply universally — especially when it comes to SEO-driven content. Creating multiple pieces of content that target the exact same keyword is a surefire way to stand in your own way of success. There’s enough competition out there for B2B marketers without having to compete with your own content.

For example, a B2B technology company that wants to rank for B2B software consulting should optimize their service page for that term based on what is currently being served in search results. But, if they also create a series of blogs or resources that are targeting that specific term, search engine bots will be confused about which page is the best answer for that query. This could result in none of the content appearing in the top 10 results, in favor of competing sites with a more clear ‘answer’ to that query.

The Fix: Determine which of your pages or posts is the best answer for that particular query by analyzing ranking and analytics data. Which post or page sees the greatest amount of engaged organic traffic for your target keyword, and most closely matches the associated search intent?

Once you’ve determined your target page, it’s time to evaluate the remaining content targeting that keyword. Look for opportunities to:

  1. Remove or prune low-value or outdated content. Is there a blog post full of stats from 2009 that’s hindering your priority page’s chances of ranking? It might be time to consider removing that post and implementing the proper redirects.
  2. Optimize existing content for related, but different, keyword targets. For example, if you have a priority post for Chocolate Chip Cookies, and another post that more closely relates to ‘Crunchy Chocolate Chip Cookies’, consider optimizing that post for the latter and implementing internal links back to your priority cookies post.
  3. Combine closely related content. For example, if you have several blog posts around your targeted keyword(s), consider combining those posts into a longer, more robust piece of content.

SEO Mistake #3 - Ignoring Internal Link Structure

How Internal Linking Affects Content Marketers: Links are like electricity on the web, lighting up content for people and search engines alike.

Content is discovered by links. Your site’s internal linking structure tells bots (and users) which pages are most important, and which pages are most relevant to specific keywords. If you link to several pages from the same anchor text, for example, there will be some confusion about which page is truly ‘about’ that topic. Other times, you could have pages or posts on your site that are orphaned, with no internal links directing users or bots their way. This can confuse your site users, search engine bots, and even your own team. Confusion is not a ranking factor!

The Fix: Make sure you develop and continue to update your site’s keyword map. It can be as simple as a spreadsheet that lists your page’s URL and associated target keyword(s). This keyword map will help you determine what anchor text should be used to link to your target pages.

Next, conduct a site audit to determine:

  1. If there are orphaned pages that need internal links
  2. If you are linking to multiple pages with the same keyword-rich anchor text
  3. Where there are opportunities to create additional supporting content
  4. Where you might have opportunities to reduce and prune existing supporting content

Next, you’re going to want to crawl your site to find any orphaned pages. Then, map those into your overall keyword strategy and implement internal links.

SEO Mistake #4 - Ignoring Data from Other Digital Tactics

How Marketing Data Affects Content Marketers: Inspiration often drives ideation for many content marketers, but data drives optimization for ideal content performance. Marketing performance data can provide both.

Any data you can collect about how your audience engages with your content has the potential to be an SEO gold mine. For example, analyzing the keywords from your paid search campaigns can give you insight into which keywords are your best converters, and what content best suits searchers for those terms. Social posts that get the greatest amount of engagement can tell you which topics your audience is most interested in. Ignoring data from your other marketing and sales channels means missing out on an opportunity to better engage your prospects.

The Fix: Meet with different teams or departments to find out what kind of content performs best on their channels. Look at the data each platform or channel provides and compare that with your site analytics data for a full picture. And, be sure to share your channel performance data with the rest of your marketing team. The more information available related to content and marketing performance, the better equipped you are to optimize.

SEO Mistake #5 - Giving Up

How Persistence Affects Content Marketers: Content performance in search is a long game and persistence is essential for success.

SEO is a marathon, not a sprint. Sometimes a lack of results can feel demoralizing, but giving up is simply not an option. You wouldn’t stop building your house just because the nearest lumber yard ran out of wood, right? You’d find another lumber yard and keep plugging along.

The Fix: Take a step back. Re-evaluate the search landscape, your competitor’s organic presence, and your site’s overall health. Being able to remove yourself from the frustration can help you find opportunities you may have missed and additional whitespace to tackle.

Next, seek out advice from other SEOs. Ask questions on social media, in specific groups or forums, or send a question to your favorite SEO blog. If budget permits, enlist the help of a consultant or SEO agency that can help you break through your roadblocks.

Finally, we have two big SEO bummers that are tougher to fix, but absolutely necessary to address.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Migrating Your Site with No SEO Plan

How Migrating Without a Plan Affects Content Marketers: A bad migration can effectively undo your hard work, reducing content visibility and creating more user friction.

If you listen closely, you can hear the sound of SEOs cringing around the globe. A botched site migration can wreak havoc on your organic positioning and torpedo your results. It can take months, even years to recuperate organic visibility to pre-migration levels.

The Fix: Always, always consult your in-house SEO team or SEO agency when you’re considering a website migration. Before you move forward, it’s imperative you have a plan for technical, on-page, and off-page factors.

If you’ve already migrated your site and have experienced a loss of organic traffic and rankings, start with a site audit. Check for the basics, like whether or not your site is being indexed, first. Then start to evaluate technical factors like broken links, crawl errors, and duplicate content.

When in doubt, don’t hesitate to reach out for help. Recovering from a site migration is a challenge for even the best of SEOs, and sometimes those big challenges call for a little teamwork.

Bonus SEO Mistake: Not Optimizing for Mobile

How Not Optimizing for Mobile Affects Content Marketers: Even the greatest content can’t stand up to a bad mobile experience. Users will bounce, reducing engagement and sending negative signals to search engines.

Mobile accounts for about half of web traffic worldwide. Knowing this, in March 2018 Google started migrating sites to mobile-first indexing. Providing a seamless mobile experience is no longer optional, especially when you’re living in the wild world of search.

Sites that didn’t properly prepare for this can and will likely see some declines in organic search traffic and rankings as a result. And, as more sites follow mobile best practices, more users will notice and become frustrated by poor mobile experiences. This leads to declines in other pivotal ranking factors like on-page engagement. In short, if not properly addressed, a poor mobile experience can wreak havoc on your search visibility.

The Fix: The first thing to do is to conduct a mobile audit on your site. Understanding your site’s mobile performance is step one toward making improvements. Look for things like:

  1. Mobile site speed. A couple great tools for this are Google Page Speed Insights and Pingdom. These tools can tell you where to look for issues like slow-loading code, images that aren’t optimized, and other technical issues.
  2. Mobile experience. Visit your site on your phone. Ask someone who doesn’t use your site regularly to do the same. Record your experience, take notes on where you get stuck and why. Click on everything. Turn your phone into horizontal mode. Try to think of every single way a user could browse your site. And, don’t forget to try a site search on mobile.
  3. Look at mobile analytics. This will tell you key metrics like mobile bounce rate, mobile time on page and pages per session.

These steps will help you build a hypothesis to test against. Is your mobile bounce rate crazy high? Does your site take a long time to load? Is your time on page way out of line with desktop traffic? Then, use A/B testing to root out the discrepancy. Use these same metrics to test if the fix is working. Then, repeat with another element.

So, What Does This All Mean for You?

Ultimately, following SEO best practices as a content marketer can reduce performance-related headaches and set you up for long-term success.

For example, when Innovatech Labs decided it was time to make major changes to their website, they worked with our team at TopRank Marketing to implement a safe website transition strategy, minimizing their risk of reduced content visibility on Google. This assessment involved avoiding many of the big risks mentioned above, including linking, use of data and keyword research which allowed us to act quickly post-migration to combat organic traffic declines. The result? Double- and triple-digit increases in organic traffic (and increased conversions, too!).

A best-answer content strategy focused on creating content with the most relevance to their audience was the ticket to better marketing performance for a martech SaaS company. Working with the team at TopRank Marketing, long-tail and hyper-relevant keywords were researched for a comprehensive content strategy to help the brand content become the best answer for those queries. The “best answer” approach and topics were applied across organic and paid efforts. As a result, the volume of both paid and organic MQLs increased, leading to better content performance and spontaneous proclamations of love from the client’s sales team.

Fixing these big SEO mistakes aren’t only for short-term wins. Our longtime partner Antea Group USA has achieved amazing triple-digit growth over three years by avoiding these big mistakes and implementing an ongoing commitment to SEO-driven, best answer content.

As I mentioned earlier, even the most experienced content marketers can make these common SEO mistakes. But, with the right SEO strategy driven by diligent execution and monitoring of results, you can get back on track. The key is to be intentional about your site’s architecture, as well as the content you create, and to never, ever give up.

Still feeling stuck? Or maybe your team doesn’t have the resources to take on this battle alone? Check out our SEO services, tweet us your thoughts @toprank, or drop me a line in the comments. We are here to help!

The post 5 SEO Mistakes Killing Your Content Performance and a Fix for Each appeared first on Online Marketing Blog - TopRank®.

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