How to use Google analytics to measure engagement on your blog

How to use Google Analytics to Measure Engagement on Your Blog

How To Use Google AnalyticsAre visitors to your blog really engaged in your content?

How much of what you write do they read?

Is your ‘bounce’ rate an accurate reflection of how engaging your blog is?

It’s important to understand how to use Google Analytics and your engagement statistics so that you can understand what your visitors are doing, and work to improve your blog.

In this article, we outline some metrics you should consider monitoring to understand how engaging your blog is.

1. Number of Returning Visitors

If people really like the content of your blog they may subscribe to get your content via RSS (they use an application to read content from a variety of blogs) or they may subscribe via e-mail. However, it’s likely that this is only a very small percentage of your blog traffic.

What about other visitors to your blog that just like coming back on a regular basis to get your content. Your visitor traffic comes from a variety of sources and one source is just people remembering your blog and coming back.

In the audience section of Google Analytics under ‘Frequency and Recency’ you can see how many people come to your website once, twice etc over a period. In the example below 71% of people only visit the site once. This is something that is worth monitoring on a monthly basis to see if this figure gets better as you continue to develop the content.

Google analytics audience engagement
This shows over a monthly period the percentage of visitors only visited the website once, twice etc

2.  Audience Engagement rate

During your process of learning how to use Google Analytics you will find a section that measures engagement. In this it shows how long visitors stayed on your site.

Beware:  When somebody only visits one page Google puts them in the 0 to 10 second category irrespective of how long they spend on your page. The reason is that Google measures engagement when a visitor moves between pages!

With a blog a lot of people will only view one page so the 0 to 10 second section will generally be high.  Make sure you look at these stats alongside the other metrics we mention, to make sure you get a clear overview of what your readers are doing.


3.  Average Pages / Time on Site and Bounce Rate

These are 3 useful statistics to monitor:

Average Pages per visit:  How many pages do your visitors go to? As mentioned above, a blog may have a low number. There are ways to try to encourage your visitors to visit other pages, for example, providing related posts at the end of a post.

The more pages your visitors go to during a session, the more engaged they might be.  It means they are following your internal links and exploring more of your site.

If you can increase the number of pages your average visitor clicks to, this suggests you are improving how engaging your website is.

Time on site:  You want to monitor how much time visitors are spending on your site. If the average number of pages is low but time on site is high and it’s a blog then this may be because they are reading your post and then leaving!

You can also compare how different blog posts are performing… are some posts keeping people on the page for several minutes, while others lose readers after a few seconds? Take a look at each post, side by side, and try to work out what makes the difference.

Bounce: A bounce is when someone comes to your site and leaves without engaging with other pages.  Sometimes, a high bounce rate is to be expected.  But if you want your site visitors to be exploring your site and they’re all disappearing after looking at just one page, you might want to look at how you can make your website more engaging…

Including videos, great internal linking and compelling calls to action can all help.

Kissmetrics created this infographic that explains what Bounce Rate is and how it varies by industry and website type:

How to understand bounce rates in Google Analytics
How to understand bounce rates in Google Analytics

For an in-depth look at bounce rates in Google Analytics, check out our bounce rate reference guide.

4. Percentage of email Conversions

If you try to build eMail subscribers a good way of measuring engagement is your email subscription rate.  If visitors are really engaged and like your blog they will subscribe.

The best way of measuring this rate is sending visitors to a thank you page after they subscribe and set up a goal within google analytics to measure how many people achieved this goal. Read more information about the topic how to analyze your social media visitors in Google Analytics

You might also want to measure how many visits to your site come from your email list subscribers.  These metrics can show whether these visitors are more engaged because of your email marketing.

In this video, Christopher Penn looks at how to isolate your email traffic within Google Analytics and then look at your subscribers’ behavior on your website.

Are they more engaged than search engine visitors?  More engaged than PPC referrals?

Follow these instructions to separate your email traffic and look at this engagement in depth:

5. Measure engagement by Channel

If you look at traffic -> all sources you can see the average pages per visit and time per visit broken down by channel.  This shows you what is working/not working.

If you understand where your engagement is coming from, you can concentrate your efforts to make sure you get the best results.

On our stats it shows that the lowest bounce rate and most number of pages visited is Google Plus visitors followed by visitors from links to our site on Social Media Examiner. Both of these are working for us so worth spending more time on them.

Summary of How To Use Google Analytics

There are many ways to measure engagement in Google Analytics, select the most appropriate for your business and track on a weekly basis!

What analytics do you use to measure engagement?  Are you going to drill down deeper into the stats after reading this post?

Tell us in the comments!

43 Responses to How to use Google Analytics to Measure Engagement on Your Blog

  1. I use Blogger for my blog but the analytics only go to audience – then are no subdivisions under audience. How do I access these

  2. Hey Ian,

    I own a website with a few writers on it and I was wondering if there is a way I can monitor each authors traffic in analytics.

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  4. I was hoping to find a “Time Reading Blog Post” statistic for our blog. Since the vast majority of people read the one post (page) then leave they get counted as 0-10 seconds by google. Any way around this?

    BTW, Your logic in this statement in your article is incorrect because if readers leave after reading the one post, then it is impossible for one to have a “high time on site”:

    “Time on site: You want to monitor how much time visitors are spending on your site. If the average number of pages is low but time on site is high and it’s a blog then this may be because they are reading your post and then leaving!”

  5. really good post it and good topic, this is competition
    world there are lot of competition between one company to other companies. To
    check their traffic of website Google invented a Google analytics tool .its
    free from Google.and there we can observe many things in that,bounce rate rate
    and exit rate,demography and geography etc etcCheck here

  6. I’m wondering about this:
    Beware: When somebody only visits one page Google puts them in the 0 to 10 second category irrespective of how long they spend on your page. The reason is that Google measures engagement when a visitor moves between pages!

    As you mention if they only visit one page (for eg: 1 minute) it will also be counted as 0-10s. What if they stay only on that one page, longer than 10 second. How do we know if that will counted as 1-10s or 11s-30s or else.

  7. Great post Ian. Engagement is a key topic when it comes to measure blogs. Very often, bloggers treat their blogs as normal websites, and do not look for the right analytics metrics.

    I’ve recently published a new post on how to measure blogs with Google Analytics. It’s a practical tutorial to help bloggers choosing the right KPIs, segments and understand differences versus measuring standard websites. If you like to check it out:


    • It’s over the lifetime of the user. If you’re analyzing between Jan1-Jan31, and a user returns to your site for the 50th time on Jan 1, it will mark count of sessions for that user at 50.

  8. Thank you for this very helpful post. I did learn some new analytics today. In particular Audience frequency and recency. This is the best and most practical site for learning about running blogs.

  9. Great post! we have a bounce rate of about 35% – we have found this metric useful when adding traffic through new channels. If the bounce rate is too high, this means that there is a mismatch between visitor expectations and your offering

  10. Awesome tips and tools as always Ian. Question which is along this same lines.. do you filter out your spam since surely you must be getting ghost traffic too. I find that a lot of that has to do with the overall traffic, mine being on a much smaller scale as compared to yours I’m sure.

  11. Great post! The information on bounce rate is especially useful – glad to know my bounce rate is within the realm of normal.

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