Author: Mary Ambrose, CPA/MBA/Blogger
There are a lot of free and paid SEO tools out there for webmasters, digital marketers and bloggers.
But the most authoritative and accurate of them all are Google’s own products available to the public: Google Analytics and Search Console.
As long as you’re the website owner or an admin, you can have free access to these two wonderful SEO must-have-tools.
Read more to learn how to set them up and create linkage and connection among your blog, Analytics, and Search Console accounts at all times.
No time to digest this thorough guide right now? No worries. Just download the PDF version below and study it in your spare time.
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Why You Should Connect Your Blog With Google Analytics
As the content creator and marketer for your blog, you want to know where your audience come from and how they interact with your posts.
With the help of Google Analytics, I can clearly see that I currently have readers from over 40 countries and almost 200 cities in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.
And this data already excluded bounced users because I only want to look at real visitors who actually read my blog posts.
Below is a sample screenshot from my Google Analytics account. It is a visual depiction of geographical locations of my readers. This is the result over a five-month period.
I fully expect the entire world map marked blue by the end of the year.
Not only that, you can see how long readers spend on your site and how many pages they viewed.
I always find it fascinating to see readership and subscribers grow daily and how people in various locations of the world are reading my blog. I’m sure you’ll love that aspect of growing your business as well!
Best of all, you can see
- which social media platform is driving the most traffic
- what percentage of traffic to your blog are through organic search
- Best and worst performing posts
With that kind of information, you can focus on improving the less effective articles and publish more of the type of content that has been gaining traction.
Without free tools like Google Analytics, you won’t be able to see such detailed metrics because other online SEO tools only provide similar insights for paid members.
Now that we’ve established the unbeatable benefits of Google Analytics, let’s see how to set it up properly next!
How To Register And Set Up Your Google Analytics Account
Most of us already have personal Gmail account.
Similar to how you want to separate your personal financial information from your business, I also recommend you to sign up a business Gmail and use that to sign up your website’s Google Analytics account.
Google is also nice enough to provide you with the option to create a new Google account using other email providers such as Yahoo or Hotmail.
Follow the self-explanatory on-screen instructions until you see the following blank form for you to fill out your blog information.
2. Create a new “property” in your Analytics account
“Property” in Google technical terms simply means a web domain, a.k.a, your blog URL.
Assuming your site is “https” because that’s a basic Google security requirement since 2018, be sure to select “https” from the drop-down menu.
It’s also important to choose the accurate industry category from the drop-down so that your site metrics can be bench marked within your industry properly.
Next, don’t forget to revise the default reporting time zone based on your location and preference as necessary.
3. Add tracking code
The next few default check boxes under Data Sharing Settings should remain checked.
As you can see, you can have a maximum of 100 domains under one Analytics account. Pretty generous!
Although most of us won’t have that many properties in our lifetime….
A critical next step is to hit the blue button and get the tracking ID for your site.
The tracking ID is a unique identifier for the “property” you just created and Google Analytics uses this tracking code to record visitor behaviors on your site.
Once the tracking ID is assigned, if you hit the “Home” button, you can see what your ID is. It’ll look like this:
Voila! Your Analytics account is officially established and you’re ready to connect it with your blog!
Keep reading for how to do just that without lifting a finger to code.
How To Connect Your WordPress Blog To Google Analytics Without Coding
As mentioned in “Complete guide to create a blog”, one of the pre-installed plugins on WordPress when you first installed it on your new blog is Google Analytics Dashboard Plugin for WordPress by MonsterInsights.
Yes, you want to limit the number of plugins on a new blog. However, this one is a must-have if you can’t do the coding yourself to add your Analytics account tracking ID to your site.
Or, you may simply want to avoid any manual changes to your site’s coding system. Certain coding changes will get overwritten every time a newer version of the WordPress theme comes out.
Not all plugins are created equal.
However, we’re in luck on this one because the MonsterInsights plugin is well tested and widely used by over 2 million users world-wide.
It won’t slow down your page load speed, which is part of the reason why I highly recommend this plugin.
If you, by any chance, deleted this wonderful plugin from your WordPress, intentionally or accidentally, you can find it by doing a search in the plugin repository in the dashboard and follow the on-screen instructions to install and activate it.
The screenshot below is from my own dashboard, that’s why it shows “Active” status.
I, for one, accidentally deleted this plugin during the first couple months blogging.
30 days of “ghost period” already passed by the time I realized my site activities were not being tracked!
This is what happens when you only blog part-time and didn’t even have the chance to check things regularly.
Of course, I immediately reinstalled the plugin.
As a result, my Google Analytics page view charts have no record of any visitors for that 30-day period simply because my site was not tracked.
What a bummer!
Now you know why you MUST have this plugin if you don’t want to add the tracking ID manually yourself to the code?
Once you’ve installed and activated it, the next step is to connect your WordPress blog with your Analytics account.
Go to “Settings” menu of the plugin and chose “Authenticate with your Google account” option.
Just follow the on-screen instructions to select your Google account and allow this plugin to access your Analytics profile.
Next, select “All Web Site Data” from the drop-down and click the box to indicate you’re not a robot (obviously).
Once you click the “Complete Authentication” button, you’re all set!
It may take up to a day for your Analytics account to start showing your blog activities, but my experience has been that it usually takes just a few hours to show up-to-date data.
One clever way to double check if your blog is properly connected to your Analytics account is to check the “Real-Time” view on Analytics.
By opening a specific page on your site, you can check if the Real-Time Overview window is showing that particular page as being opened currently by someone in your physical location.
If the live view below does reflect the reality, then your site is connected to Google Analytics and tracking real time data properly.
One thing to note is that if you’re logged in as administrator on your WordPress dashboard, then your activity on your blog as the admin isn’t accounted for in the live view below.
So, you want to test this while being logged out of your WordPress account.
Also, if a user on a web page has been idle for more than a few minutes, then the real time view below will also not show that user as an “active” user and won’t be reflected in the snapshot view.
One other tip to ensure the connection is established properly: you’ll want to connect your blog to Analytics account after you’ve launched your site, not before.
I’ve heard enough stories from other bloggers complaining having trouble connecting to Google Analytics before the blog goes live.
Timing is everything. Spare yourself the headache and just perform this task after your site is launched.
How To Set Up Google Search Console Account Properly
You might be wondering: “why do I need to set up both Google Analytics and Search Console accounts?”
Well, they have different focuses.
Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) primarily shows webmasters or bloggers how your site is viewed by search engines, whereas Analytics indicate how site visitors interact with your pages.
As you can see, Search Console definitely provides additional key data for your blog that you don’t want to miss.
Signing up for a free Search Console account is easy. And here’s how:
Part 1: Sign up for an account via this official link
Once you hit the blue button “Start Now”, you’ll be prompted to use one of your Google email accounts. If you don’t have one yet, it’s really time now to get a Gmail account.
Part 2: add different variations of your “property”
Once you log in, similar to how Google Analytics setup process works, you’ll be asked to add your website (“property”) to your Search Console.
Follow the on-screen step-by-step instructions to add it. This part is easy to do.
But what most people don’t do is to claim different variations of the blog URL to Search Console’s “properties” list.
Below is a perfect example of four variations of a URL:
For my site, it has the “https” designation from day one. But that doesn’t mean people won’t type in the URL in browser with just “http”.
If that does happen, you’ll want to have a “301 redirect” from the “http” link to your preferred destination link of “https”.
By the same token, you may have different users key in your URL with or without “www” in web browser.
Since I have SiteGround as my hosting company and I have the GrowBig Plan, SiteGround gave me free CDN service that boosts page load speed.
With CDN, part of the integration with the site setup is to have the “www” as part of the URL.
As a result, my accurate domain URL is https://www.queensdomania.com/
And that’s why my “preferred property” on Search Console is this particular URL.
Choosing your preferred domain is easy.
You just click the Settings gear icon, select “Site Settings”, and then choose your preferred URL in the “Preferred Domain” section.
Once the preferred domain is set up, the other variations of your site URL will be automatically redirected to your preferred domain.
By setting up different variations of your URL, you can see metrics for these different variations and they’re tracked separately by Search Console.
These 301 redirects are also recommended not to be removed because this can help the search engine understand your domain better.
Part 3: Verify ownership
For the property ownership verification piece, I’d recommend you to use Yoast SEO plugin that’s mentioned in the “Complete guide to create a blog and make money from it”.
Within Yoast SEO’s “Webmaster Tools” tab of General settings menu in WordPress dashboard, you can input your Search Console verification code in the corresponding line.
Once you save the changes in this plugin, just go back to Search Console to verify ownership. It’ll be approved and verified instantly.
You can do the same with other search engines such as Bing, Baidu, etc.
One alternative method of verification is through the tracking code set up on your Google Analytics account mentioned earlier in this article.
If your Analytics account is all established, verified and tracked for the same URL that you’re trying to verify with Search Console, then you can simply choose to use your Analytics account to verify.
That’s the beauty of linking both accounts for the same blog.
How To Connect Google Analytics With Search Console
Now that you’ve set up and verified both your Analytics and Search Console accounts, next step is to connect the two.
To do that, click on the settings gear under “Admin” tab, and click “Property Settings” icon under the “Property” column.
Scroll down to the “Search Console” section and adjust the settings.
Once you are at the next screen and select the report-view you’d like for your property, you should see something like this with your own URL which indicates that your site has been verified and your Analytics and Search Console accounts are now connected.
Now, go back to your Analytics dashboard, under “Acquisition”, you’ll be able to see live tracking Search Console data within Analytics itself.
Even though you only get partial Search Console metrics within Analytics account, these data still provide a comprehensive enough view of everything you need in a one-stop-shop.
Google Analytics and Search Console are valuable free SEO tools that you want to utilize to full potential for your blog so that you know where to focus on or improve to drive more organic traffic.
This practical step-by-step guide helps you navigate the setup and connecting process that can be daunting for many new bloggers.
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