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Setting Up and Using Analytics

Key Metrics:
Unique visitors per month, average time on page.

Why it Matters:
Analytics give you insights into your audience and tell you how many unique readers your blog posts get, how long those readers are on your site, and where they are based.

Final Result:
Your team can track traffic and user engagement driven by your content marketing efforts. This will help you make meaningful decisions about future content production.

Set up Google Analytics

By far, the most common option for site analytics is Google Analytics. It’s not necessarily the easiest to use, but it’s powerful, free, and widely documented. If you’re using Gatsby, the Gatsby Google Analytics plugin will take care of most of the work. If not, just make sure the Google Analytics tracking script is added to the <head> section of your blog’s HTML.

Alternatively, you can set up your Google Analytics script using the Google TAG Manager (GTM). GTM allows for automatic asynchronous loading of scripts, which is helpful for optimizing page load speed metrics like the largest contentful paint, but it’s more complicated to set up. You can see a list of TAG manager features here to decide if it’s worth the investment when you’re getting started.

Track unique visitors

Over time, you obviously want the number of unique visitors to your site to rise. When you publish and promote a new piece of content, you’ll likely see a spike in traffic from social media and newsletters, but “organic” search engine traffic from specific keyword searches will drive much more traffic in the long term.

Tracking unique visitors in Google Analytics

It’s hard to set realistic goals for the “unique visitors” metric when you’re just starting out because it depends on so many factors (domain rating, existing audience, brand strength, promotional process, industry size, and content saturation). But, as you start your content engine and consistently publish new, search-engine-optimized content, you should start seeing organic traffic gains within the first six months.

After three to four months, you should be at a point where you can see a noticeable week-over-week increase in unique visitors to your blog over the past few months, with most of the traffic growth coming from search engines.

Later in this course, we’ll discuss exactly what kind of content you should be creating and offer some tips for optimizing it, but for now, it’s important to get comfortable with Google Analytics so you can analyze your results over time.

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