I love data analysis. No… seriously I love it. I’ve spent many wistful hours checking Google Analytics for useful insights and I can tell you it’s like catnip to me!
It’s so addictive, especially when you begin to get a real feel for what it can do and how much it can benefit understanding about what visitors think of your blog and how effective are your efforts to promote it.
Google Analytics shows you profound detail about how people engage with your blog. It can help to inform your marketing strategy and highlight problems you’d otherwise never be aware of.
It is such an incredibly valuable tool, that it should be one of the first things you implement when starting a blog.
But it does have its drawbacks.
Without even realising it, Google Analytics can lead you into an over-analysis loop in much the same way that YouTube sucks you into an endless stream of related videos.
So how often should you be checking Google Analytics and at what point does it make you unproductive?
I’m going to outline my take on it and explain why I feel that checking GA too often is simply not useful.
Checking Google Analytics in a Healthy Way
When you first encounter Analytics it offers a fairly eye-opening, dare I say exciting, learning experience. I have seen business owners literally drop their jaws wide open at the realization they have a new and fabulously useful toy to play with.
GA is an especially great tool to play with when you’re new to it. It’s pretty intuitive and as a consequence you can figure out an awful lot of things for yourself. Of course it can become extremely complicated the more you delve into it and that’s one of the things I love about GA… you can always learn something new, no matter how much experience you have.
When you’re new to Analytics I think it’s okay to spend a lot of time learning about what it can do. However, Google Analytics is only ever going to give you insights… it won’t directly generate visitors to your blog.
Checking Google Analytics constantly will not make your visitor counts increase!
My advice to any blogger using GA as a newbie is get used to what it can do, but don’t get sucked into a checking loop since it can only ever give you insights and not hard cash.
It can be extremely tempting to check reports every few minutes to see how many visitors you have had since you last checked 15 minutes ago, but allowing yourself to get into the habit of doing this this is bad news for two reasons:
- It’s a waste of time.
- If your visitor numbers haven’t changed since you last checked, it’ll make you depressed.
When is Checking Analytics Okay?
I’m my opinion, and it is only my opinion, for new bloggers who want a general view of how traffic is progressing, check GA three times daily:
- At the start of your working day.
- Mid-way through the day.
- At the end of the day.
Even this might be too often if your blog is less than 3 months old since the majority of blogs this age will likely see very few visitors each day. Even a 6 month old blog might still be waiting for a deluge to begin!
Want proof? Check the SideGains blog traffic stats to see what average visitor growth for a new blog looks like!
So as a general rule, you should be checking your Analytics no more than 3 times a day. Any more than this is a waste of time thats better spent writing blog posts and promoting them.
There are exceptions of course…
When Should You Check Google Analytics More Frequently?
If say the following are great reasons to justify checking Google Analytics more frequently than I’ve suggested as a rule:
- Learning how to use it
- When you’ve made changes to your blog.
- If you’re investigating issues such as falling sales or visits.
- When you’re watching the performance of campaigns (paid or otherwise).
Learning How to Use Google Analytics
I covered this already really but it’s likely you’ll want to spend a lot of time checking GA when you’re new to it… it’s the best way to learn.
Checking After You’ve Made Changes
If you’ve made any change to your blog (excluding publishing or editing posts!) you might want to consider checking your Analytics account a little more frequently to understand whether the changes have impacted your site in some way.
As an exmaple, I recently upgraded my WordPress theme (MH Newsdesk If you’re interested). It all went perfectly but when I checked Google Analytics later that day I saw SideGains had received zero visitors. Ann hour or so later, I checked again and saw the same thing.
This irregularity coupled with the fact I’d made a change made me realise something was up. It was: I’d forgotten to add the Google Analytics tracking code to my theme after upgrading. Hence no visitors tracked!
I wouldn’t have noticed this If I hadn’t checked my Analytics account more frequently than I normally do, and I would have lost more than a couple of hours of data in the process.
Checking When Investigating Issues
You might have experienced a dip in visitors, sales or commissions. Google Analytics can help you to identify If there is some reason for this.
Maybe there’s a problem with your site? Perhaps something g outside of your control has affected things? Maybe your just in a so I period? Checking Google Analytics and comparing current stats with historic ones can help to clue you into what’s happening.
Monitoring the Progress of Campaigns
If you made efforts to push a campaign, you’ll rightly want to understand how it’s performing in real time to gauge how effective it is as it’s hapoening: that’s part of the excitement of campaigns after all!
If you’ve worked hard to l promote something, it’s natural you’re going to want to check co how it’s doing. Enjoy the buzz for sure… but don’t spend all day refreshing your Analytics screen every five minutes!
- It’s tempting to check GA every 5 minutes to watch progress. But most often this is a waste of time, especially if your blog is new.
- Obsessively checking Google Analytics is not time we’ll spent. It’s better to spend your time focussing on writing blog posts and promoting them.
- Be tough on yourself and only check Google Analytics three times throughout the day, unless you REALLY need to check more for a specific reason.
- If you’re investigating issues, monitoring changes or checking on a campaign you’ve launched by all means check your GA reports check more frequently.
That’s it for now!
Do you find yourself checking Google Analytics a little too often? Let me know how you handle it in a comment below.