A Quick Guide To Google Analytics & Understanding Your Site Traffic For WordPress

Launching a new blog can be tough especially since it’s all, well, new. A key part of making progress after you launch is being able to track and monitor your progress using measurable factors like traffic and audience metrics.

Surely you’ve heard the age old saying “you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” This is true throughout life and in many circumstances, but it especially applies to WordPress traffic. You need to keep track of your stats, see what you’re doing right (or wrong) your website traffic and then make adjustments to boost traffic.

Why You Should Track Your Website Statistics

Analytics are a great way to see who is visiting your site, when they visit during the day (or night) and where in the world they come from. This is an important resource so you can really optimize your content by creating relevant and targeted articles for your audience to be released at the absolute best time.

Another important reason to use analytics is to see what your visitors are doing on your site and how your content is performing. Analytics make it possible for you to see which articles are getting the most views, how long your readers are staying on them, if/what links they are clicking and the related bounce rate (visitors who exit without reading). This are important tools so you can create better content that your audience will respond to.

Google Analytics

One of the most common way to measure and keep tabs on traffic is with Google Analytics. Which makes sense – Google is the #1 search engine so naturally they have the ultimate tool to help users optimize their SEO methods.

What You Can Do

Google Analytics is a one stop shop for all things traffic and audience related. With this tool you can collect data on your traffic sources, devices, events, and more. Plus there are many reporting tools to help you view the data in an easy to understand format such as graphs, percentages, maps and timelines. This way you can see at a glance which posts are performing, where the majority of your readers are from or even how a customer goes from your homepage to a completed purchase.

There are tons of great features and reports, too many to go over right now. But you can learn more about Google Analytics by visiting their features page, and then dig into how to use them via their free Analytics Academy online courses.

How To Sign Up For Google Analytics

Google Analytics SIgnup

Signing up for Google Analytics is quick, easy and free. You’ll just need a few things before you can signup:

  1. A free Google account to use for your analytics
  2. A Google Analytics plugin OR access to your WordPress website via FTP OR a compatible theme (like Total)

The first step is to click on the button to Sign Up. Make sure the new account option for “website” is selected. Then add an account name, website name, URL and your industry/timezone info. Then click on the blue button to get your tracking ID.

Next you’ll be presented with a tracking code for your website. Copy the code to paste into your preferred Google Analytics plugin (like one of the ones we share below).

If you’d rather not use a plugin that’s totally fine – some themes like the Total WordPress theme include built-in Google Analytics support. For example, Total has a custom action field where you can paste your code right in the WordPress dashboard (you can see more details in the documentation). Or if you’re more hands on (and know what you’re doing) you can paste the code into your functions.php files using the following snippet:

<?php
add_action('wp_footer', 'add_googleanalytics');
function add_googleanalytics() { ?>
// Paste your Google Analytics code from Step 4 here
<?php } ?>

The final step is to return to your Google Analytics account to save. Now you just have to wait a bit for Google to collect data from your website so you can start checking out your stats and reports.

Monitor Website Traffic The Easy Way

Of course you can log into your Google Analytics account and sift through all of the many (many, many) reports, graphs and other tools provided. To do that you would paste your tracking code into your theme or core WordPress files. Or you can make your life much easier by using a plugin. The following plugins bring Google Analytics right to your WordPress dashboard.

Google Analytics + by WPMUdev

Google Analytics +

We love Google Analytics + because it’s easy to use, thanks to the super simple setup (paste your activation & tracking codes) you can start checking your beautiful stats, graphs, maps and more right from your WOrdPress installation. Plus this particular plugin is multisite compatible, so you can use it to keep tabs on your entire site metrics as well as on a per-subsite-basis. There are also a handful of advanced options you can enable to better target your advertisements and marketing campaigns.

Learn More About Google Analytics +

Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

Google Analytics by MonsterInsights is a popular free solution for integrating Google Analytics with your WordPress Installation. Just add your Google tracking code and start learning about your traffic! There are additional options to track demographics, record outbound links as page views, customize tracking of internal links and more. Plus for even more features  (and support) you can upgrade to premium to add more reports and e-commerce tracking.

Get Google Analytics by MonsterInsights

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP

Google Analytics Dashboard for WP is a Google recommended plugin that you can use to view your stats. This plugin includes various options so you can view your real-time Google statistics from your dashboard. View many of the standard Google reports for your visitors, sessions, page views, bounce rates and more.

Get Google Analytics Dashboard

Other Alternatives For Tracking Your Stats

Maybe you don’t want to go through all the hoops to setup Google Analytics, or perhaps you simply don’t like relying on third party websites. No problem – you can still keep track of basic website traffic statistics on your own. Here are two simple plugins we’d recommend if you want to keep track of your stats.

WP Power Stats

WP Power Stats

WP Power Stats is a simple and fast plugin that adds statistics for your page views, traffic sources (as well as device and browser sources), referrers, post views and more. And it does all this by monitoring site stats on it’s own, no other service required. Plus the plugin has been translated into 9 different languages!

Get WP Power Stats

Analytics Dashboard

Analytics Dashboard Plugin

The Analytics Dashboard is a premium plugin to help you monitor your post views, comments, top authors and categories, and basic Twitter metrics. Plus the plugin is fully extendable, so if you are a developer (or you know one) it’s possible to create your own dashboard widgets for even more metrics.

Learn More About Analytics Dashboard

Jetpack

Jetpack Site Stats

Already have Jetpack installed? Lucky you – there is a simple site stats feature built right in, all you have to do is activate it. From the Jetpack tab you can enable “Site Stats” under the Traffic Growth section. This adds a basic way to track your traffic referrers, search terms, subscribers, clicks and your top posts/pages.

Get Jetpack for WordPress

Wrapping Up

There are lots more features for you to learn about Google Analytics so we really do recommend checking out their free online courses. And you

Kyla
Post Author: Kyla

Hi! My name is Kyla, and I'm the VP at WPE. Although I'm still new to WordPress, I love every bit and I have fun sharing what I learn with all of you!

Disclosure: This page contains external affiliate links that may result in us receiving a comission if you choose to purchase said product. The opinions on this page are our own. We do not receive payment for positive reviews.
Got something to say? Join the discussion.
  1. Emily says:
    Thank you for the suggestions. I am always trying to get more from analytics.
  2. James Hipkin says:
    If you are looking for a simple way to add the GA script and your theme doesn't accommodate this, consider Tracking Scripts Manager (https://wordpress.org/plugins/tracking-script-manager/). We developed this plugin for use in the custom themes we build. Our customers found it very useful. We released it to the plugin repository so that others can use it. You can use the plugin to add all kinds of scripts in addition to the GA script. Facebook retargeting, marketing automation, media tracking scripts, etc.
  3. Rachael says:
    Thanks for post. I have been using Google Analytics Counter Tracker for my website data statistics for 4 months now. It is easy to use and also free. I have no difficulties or regrets. It is the best so far.
  4. Betty Linn says:
    This is really helpful,I use Google Analytics Counter Tracker plugin on WordPress for my blog, and i can say its awesome! It is Very simple and easy to use. When you Connect your Google Analytics account and get Google Analytics stats;Group stats by hour, day, month and year;See data for different time periods in your reports, just to mention a few function.

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