How To Understand What’s Going On With Your Website Using Google Analytics

by Tiffany Johnson

The following are two important plugins to track your web traffic. If you are not currently tracking your website traffic, it’s time to start tracking it.

Google Analytics for WordPress
Google Analytics Dashboard

The most important of the two plugins is the first one, Google Analytics for WordPress

Google Analytics is a free and very powerful program that allows you to analyze various aspects of your website traffic.

The plugin inserts a special code into your website in order for your traffic to start tracking.

If you are using the second plugin, Google Analytics Dashboard, you can view your stats update on a daily basis from within your WordPress Dashboard.

For a more detailed and specific date ranges you’ll want to head to the Google Analytics website and login to your account.

In fact, go ahead and open another tab in your web browser and let’s step through the Google Analytics dashboard together.

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Notice I’m using the beta version of Google Analytics for the purpose of this post. I also think this update gives the information a cleaner look and that could be because I’m getting used to the updates in Gmail and Google+. Everything is streamlined.

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I’m sharing my exact data with you for two reasons:

1. So you an see real results from a blog site that has recently discovered it’s identity.

2. For selfish reasons – because 6 months from now I’ll have a snapshot of what my traffic used to look like. I’m expecting much higher numbers in the future. This is kind of like revealing my monthly income only it’s the vitals of my website. Also, makes me feel kind of vulnerable. It’s good to step outside of your comfort zone, so here we go!

Do you have your second tab open in your browser and are you logged in to your Google Analytics account?


This tutorial will cover the Daily Visits area listed on the dashboard because this is where it can get confusing with the terms.

First set the date range you’d like to review.

Click the dropdown by the date and select your range from there.

Understanding the Daily Visits Overview

Click in the top right corner to get the Standard Reporting for your daily visits.

This EKG looking chart shows the overview based on your date range of the number of unique visitors that have come to your website.

Very much like an EKG chart, you want it to go up and down, not up, up, up or completely flat-lined. If you were having test done at the doctor’s office and it showed a straight line across, what would that mean? Exactly no pulse, you’re gone, translation –> no traffic to your website.

If it were up, up, up, there’s a major problem health wise, translation –> it’s completely unrealistic for visitors to continuing increasing without a tiny dip. This chart is nice and healthy when it’s going up and down. There will be days where you have spikes like when you post your blog, run a promotion, or send out an email blast. and there will be dips, maybe during the holidays for some or on the weekends for others. The dips will vary based on the nature of your website niche.

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Let’s define some of the terminology in the image above:

Visits: The number of times a visitor has been to your site in a 30 minute period (called a “session”). If a user is inactive for 30 minutes or more, if they have more activity later, it will be counted as a new session. If a visitor leaves your site and comes back within 30 minutes, it is counted as the same session.

Unique Visitors: The number of first time visitors to your website over the course of a specified time period.

Pageviews: The number of pages that has been viewed on your site.

Pages/Visit: The number of pages viewed, on average, per visit.

Avg. Time on Site: This is the average time a visitor spends on your site. It is shown in hours:minutes:seconds.

Bounce Rate: The percentage of visits that viewed only a single page on your site. A “bounce” is a visitor who comes to your page and then leaves without viewing any other pages.

% of New Visits: This is the percentage of all visitors in the report period that visited your site for the first time.

If you click on the chart to the left of the term the overview chart will be specific to that term. For example, if you click on the chart beside ‘Pageviews’ it will provide a chart so you can see the number of pages view based on the date range you selected.

Looking at the data for our website, we’ve got a high bounce rate (below 50% is ideal and below 40% is even better), however the average time someone spends on the site is 4 mins and 13 secs. Not bad considering the blog is the homepage. This means people are actual reading the information and not going to the site for a quick minute and then leaving.

Now that you’ve looked at your own results, what will be your next steps to improve your stats? It may be consistency, content change on your blog, or keep doing what you’re doing. Please share below.