If you’re a writer with a website, you’ve probably used or contemplated using Google Analytics. And for good reason! It’s a free tool that offers all sorts of information about your website users–you know, those people you’re praying will read your books. This article will flesh out three ways Google Analytics can be helpful to authors.
It’s worth it to spend a little time learning how to use Google Analytics. It’s a pretty robust tool, but with time, you can figure out what parts are worth it to you. Not sure where to start? Google offers a Google Analytics Academy to walk you through the main features. I’d highly recommend learning the basics before you dive into the deep end.
Without getting too technical, let’s look at some of the ways writers can use this tool:
Getting the Most Out of Social Media
The Source/Medium report in Google Analytics identifies each traffic source, how much of an audience you’re getting from that source, and how that audience is engaging with your site. This is where you’ll see how your presence on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., is driving readers to your website. You will be able to tell if you have better interactions from one social media site or another. Maybe you have more users coming from Twitter, but most of them “bounce” (immediately leave) from your site. Meanwhile, your Facebook traffic may have fewer individual users, but may have longer and more interactive sessions.
When you notice the differences between how different social media traffic behaves, then you may be able to adapt your social media presence accordingly. There’s no one way to respond, either. In my prior example, maybe you would decide to spend less time on Twitter, and devote all your resources to Facebook. Or maybe you think you’ve gotten everything you can get out of Facebook, so you change your content and focus on Twitter. Perhaps you decide to venture into a different social media site, and begin an Instagram account. The point is to make sure you’re optimizing your time spent on social media.
Is Technology Impacting Your Website Interactions?
It’s alway a good idea to look at what devices people are using to view your website. Within in Google Analytics, authors can see what percentage of people are using their desktop computers and what percentage are using their phones or tablets (and even what brands of phones or tablets). Within those groups, it’s important to see if you see any difference in the quality of interactions your receiving. Which type of device is used the most when viewing your website? What are the interactions like for that device?
For instance, it’s not uncommon to notice that your phone users have a higher bounce rate. Their average sessions may last a shorter amount of time as well. If you find this to be the case, it might be time to consider retooling the look of your website on phones. Many people (*raises hand*) spend a lot of time on the look of their website but pay most of their attention to how it looks on a desktop. That makes sense because we build out websites on desktops. However, in this increasingly mobile world, it’s important to take the look of your site on phones and tablets seriously.
Location of Your Readers
One useful resource for authors is to look at the geographic location of their website users. You can see countries, states, and cities. If you find you have a surprising amount of foreign users from a specific country, maybe you want to think about a book translation. If you notice that you have a lot of users from a certain region of the country or state, maybe schedule a stop there on your book tour!
Is That All?
No, that isn’t all. Writers can use Google Analytics in a multitude of ways, only a few of which I’ve outlined above. The three ways I mentioned are only meant to get you thinking about how you might use it. From tailoring your site content to just keeping track of your traffic in the most passive manner, it’s an extremely helpful tool in trying to drive more readers to your website–and hopefully also to those important buy links.