Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2017



I am super proud and thrilled to have been shortlisted in the Equestrian Blogger of the Year 2017 final, nominated by Haynet and MirrorMePR!! 

Whether you're a first time reader or a regular visitor to our blog, I really hope you enjoy sharing my journey with Louie in training, competition and everyday yard life. If you do, it would be FANTASTIC if you can give my blog a vote: https://s.surveyplanet.com/SySrs0gpZ

Voting takes a matter of moments - and is done in 3 simple steps!

Getting to know #HorseHour's Founder, Amy Frost!

Over the last 12 months, I've enjoyed tuning into the many and varied podcasts created by #HorseHour. #HorseHour originally started on a Monday evening on Twitter between 8pm & 9pm every week. The hashtag (#HorseHour) provides a great base for equestrians worldwide to interact with one another, share their content & engage overall with like minded people in a dedicated time.

I recently reached out to founder of #HorseHour to find out about what is stands for and why Amy created. More interestingly, I was curious to understand the podcast's creation and the direction in which it was going.

Amy has very kindly agreed to guest blog on Team Tunnah Eventing to answer some of the questions that I had burning!! 


Sunday, 8 October 2017

One of My Most Proud Moments...

Today, I had one of my most proud moments with Louie.

We headed out showjumping to the fantastic Alnwick Ford Equestrian to jump around two of their unaffiliated classes. After a few busy weeks of dressage in August and at the start of September, I was pleased that we didn't need to be plaited nor be a contender for the 'Daz Doorstep Challenge'! However, I obviously couldn't go with a yellow tail and socks, so the day before I gave Louie a quick hose down after a long morning hack before popping him back in the field.

Back to showjumping...


Sunday, 1 October 2017

September Round Up


The met office predicted an Indian summer in September... The month started off in a very different way, with temperatures falling, more rain & wind that we'd seen in the last few months, and of course, it is the first month of Autumn.

Following a dressage focused August, we kicked off September with a brilliant show jumping training session. The last time we had jumped in early July, it hadn't gone to plan, and I quickly found out that Louie's saddle was pinching. So, armed with a brand new saddle, we headed off excitedly for a jump training session with Philippa.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Blogger Review: Horse Addict

First up, what a great concept by Mathilde from Passion For Horse for all the members of the Equestrian Bloggers Facebook group to review a blog, and tell our audiences why we think they have such a great blog!! In short the concept puts all the blogs into the mix, and draw one for you to review, meaning that everyone is review and also gets the chance to make their own review of another too...


I was drawn to review Anne Leueen and her blog Horse Addict. This is a fairly new blogger for me to follow, and I discovered it when Anne post her introduction to the group on Facebook. Anne has something similar to me in that she gave up her love of riding when she went to university - fortunately for me, I managed to get back into it right afterwards, whereas Anne started back up at 50. Today, Anne enjoys dressage with her ginger Hanoverian gelding, Biasini!

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Q&A with Diary of a Wimpy Eventer & Allstar Academy pupil, Victoria Brant!


Earlier this year, we all tuned into Horse & Country TV to enjoy the second series of the Blue Chip Allstar Academy! The first series provided some great viewing, enjoying watching the riders and horses being put through their paces both under saddle and on the ground...

Just before the series kicked off, we were lucky enough to catch up with Tina Wallace who was about to feature on the show with her horse, Banksy. But also starring on the show was Victoria Brant, who most of you will know from her ever popular Facebook page and blog, Diary of a Wimpy Eventer.

I started following Victoria on Facebook long before the show, and always enjoyed reading her updates. One thing that always struck me about her was her get up and go, positive outlook on pretty much everything... Since the show, Victoria has been able to leave her marketing 9-5 job, setting up on her own as a consultant, as well as launching her own books prior to the show!!

I felt Victoria was someone that most people could complete relate to - I'm a bit of a wimpy eventer myself, always on the hunt for a pair of brave pants that will fit... I also work in marketing, and have often pondered how & when you know you have the support to get up and turn your 9-5 employment into your own business. I also try to always keep my blog content very real to who I am, being honest and genuine in my posts which is something that I think Victoria has stayed true to throughout her impressive recent growth.

So sit back, grab a cuppa and enjoy our quick catch up with the fantastically positive, Victoria Brant!!

Monday, 25 September 2017

September's Equestrian Blog Hop


During August, Heather Wallace of Bridle & Bone introduced the idea of a blog hop to the Equestrian Bloggers Facebook group, and I'm pleased to be taking part in the first ever one!!

What is a blog hop?

In very simple terms, it is a group of bloggers who all post at the same time on the same topic, all with completely unique perspectives. Using a linky list, visitors can literally hop from one blog to another, discovering new content, new bloggers and new opinions along the way. So make sure you check out all of the great bloggers that are choosing to take part this month - their links can be found at the bottom of this post.



September's Topic: Why Did I Start Blogging?

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Friday, 22 September 2017

A Positive Spin on the Autumn Equinox

Today marks the Autumn Equinox, which you're all probably more than aware of!


So why am I blogging about it? Well, I think one thing that all equestrians have in common is the dreaded 'w' word, as well as the mornings & evenings getting darker.

It's only last week that Louie & I were enjoying hacks out until 7.30/8pm, and that it was light enough at 6.20am to take him up to the field. This week, I'm struggling to fit an hours hack in on an evening and Louie is waiting to out on a morning until after I've mucked out.

But don't get too depressed about those cold, dark nights drawing in! Instead, look at it this way!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Quickfire Q&A with Samantha Hobden, founder of Hay-Net.co.uk


Many equestrian bloggers will already be familiar with Hay-Net.co.uk, but it's not only for bloggers. Anyone interested in finding out the latest news, top blog and product reviews can head over to the site for a daily round up of all that's going on in the equestrian blogging world.

I first started using Hay-Net.co.uk about 18 months ago, both as a way to share my blog post, but to also discover other equestrian bloggers from around the world with all sort of different interests in all things equestrian. Today, the site has branched out a little further into the countryside living, recently awarding Sophie in the Sticks as Country Style Blogger of the Year 2017.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Equine Physio & Rider Balance with Lee Clark

I'm a big believer in equine physio sessions. Some people aren't and ask why I have a session for Louie every 6 months when I don't do the same for me. My answer is simple - Louie can't tell me his aches and when he's a bit stiff or sore. We all know that muscle ache feel that we get when we've gone a harder session in the gym, or when we've used a muscle we don't usually...

So for me, equine physio is as important as the farrier and vets visits, and has long been a part of the routine of having a horse.


Louie last had his physio in December, so mid summer he was due, but without a correctly fitting saddle, I decided to wait to make my appointment. My physio is also trained to treat humans, and runs Rider Balance session, looking at the way a rider sits and rides their horses. It also considers the saddle fit on your horse too. I booked in for both.

Monday morning, Lee Clark arrived bright and early at the yard. I've used Lee for about 8 years now, and think his attitude to his work is second to none. Not only do I see on his Facebook page that he's somewhere in the world giving lectures or attending lectures to learn new techniques and research, but he is always very good at explaining the points he makes. He's very thorough and almost methodical in his approach to the horse and its treatment.

Equine Physio Assessment


We started with a basic assessment of Louie in the stable, standing on hard and a walk & trot up on the hard ground. Lee uses an app that records the trot ups and allows him to watch back in slow motion, as well as adding graphics, lines and such like to show the gradients and movement of your horse.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Blogger's Corner: Boost Your Traffic with Pinterest


What ever you read online about how to boost traffic to your blog, Pinterest has a high chance of being mentioned as a top source. I've give the social sharing site a good go, trying different tips & technique to try to see how I could drive more traffic from it. You'll notice that ALL of my posts in the last couple of months have Pinterest friendly images, I joined a couple of niche group boards as well as broader blogging boards...but nothing translated into traffic from Pinterest.

Then, Lindsey Rains, from Alta Mira Horsemanship, popped up in my equestrian blogger Facebook group saying how valuable Pinterest is for her traffic. I immediately wanted to pick her brain and steal all her knowledge to make all my efforts translate. But, instead and better than that, Lindsey agreed to a guest post for my Blogger's Corner series focused all on how she has made the illusive Pinterest traffic come to her!

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Turning our hooves to a bit of showing...


I've definitely never been inspired to have a showing career with any of the horses that I've had, and while I've had a super duper day out on Louie this morning, I'm still not inspired to do so... Sorry to all you showing fanatics out there!! 😬

I've given it a go twice before - once after about 6 months when I first got back into riding with a little loan black mare, and the other when I gave Thomas a bit of a break from eventing in the middle of summer. While I always have had all more horses super shiny when going out competing, I really have felt the pressure of not only a clean horse but also keeping myself clean and my tack clean.

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Back in the saddle to showjump

Just a quick update from us today (we need to be up bright & early tomorrow to have a go at showing!)...but today, we got back in the saddle to start some showjumping training. The last time we did, things didn't go totally to plans due to Louie's saddle having become somewhat too tight behind his shoulders.



Friday, 1 September 2017

August Round Up

WOW - where did the last month of summer disappear to!?


August started VERY well and with something very exciting... A new saddle for Louie & I. Louie's had a big growth boom this summer, growing in height as well as finally bulking out (he no longer has two front legs that come from one hole!!) The downside to this has been that rather abruptly, we realised his saddle was far too narrow for his now fairly sizeable shoulders... Louie started behaving quite odd in the right canter, and upon changing to a saddle, less forward cut saddle, the issue was massively reduced.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

British Riding Clubs Northern Championships

Wow, what a bank holiday weekend!!

If you follow our adventures, you'll remember that at the end of June, our riding club team made qualification for the British Riding Clubs Northern Championships to be held at Bishop Burton. We didn't go to the qualifier with any expectation, but only to give Louie some experience at a bigger, busier and more atmospheric venue, never dreaming of making qualification!

Anyway, with the support and help of the other 3 team members, we did!



Showtime preparations...

Friday, 25 August 2017

Meet Julia Hope, Editor of Totally Horse & Pony Magazine

Back in April, I did my first guest blog for Totally Horse & Pony magazine. After a couple of emails back and forth between the magazine's editor (& creator), Julia, we decided that I would create a blog once a month, focused around Fashion & Style. It's something that I don't currently cover on my own blog so gives a different angle completely when working with the magazine.

Since then, I've done four blogs covering different areas of fashion and style. I've also been able to build up a great relationship with Julia, bouncing ideas off one another and talking about upcoming collaborations & concepts.

Take a flick through the posts that are already published.


But what is Totally Horse & Pony magazine all about really?


Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Blogger's Corner: Instagram Insights

Instagram Insights & Iconosquare

Instagram Insights to Turn Your Creativity Into a Big Success!


When we think of Instagram, we all think of beautiful photos that give us that inspirational feeling. But did you know that Instagram can provide you with a whole lot more that just pretty pictures?

In this edition of Blogger's Corner, I'm going to show you the benefits of upgrading your account to Instagram for Business, as well as making the best use of Iconosquare's free 14 day trial...

First up, I'll lay it to rest - there is NO tool currently on the market that can schedule to Instagram. A lot say they can, but they can't. End of. 

What they do offer is for you to construct your Instagram post, complete with description, hashtags, location and tagging of other accounts, and save it to which ever app or tool you're using with a time & date. Sounds like scheduling, right? Not quite. 

At that time & date, the tool will then send you a notification to hit post, almost like a calendar memo. As Instagram now has the ability to create & save drafts, I'm not so sure these tools now have a function (unless you're super forgetful) - just use your calendar if you are. Plus, from my experience of hitting post within these apps & tools, some of the image quality is also lost through posting from them... Never a great start to a beautiful pic!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Friday, 18 August 2017

A Guide to the Land Rover Burghley Horse Trials 2017


The final big international 4* event of the season in the UK - Burghley Horse Trials. Every year, I keep saying, I must go - I know, I can't quite believe it either that we haven't been - & based in Lincolnshire, I don't have a real excuse for not going there & back in a day!!


With over 160,000 visitors across the four days of competition, Burghley Horse Trials is evidently a popular event to head to as a spectator. Equally, it's highly popular with the world's best combinations, averaging 80 each year to battle it out for a piece of the £250,000 prize fund.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

It's Not Just The Horse You Need To Make Show Ready...

So, usually it's me, Sophie, that does all the posting on Team Tunnah Evening, but today, it's Andrew's turn!! Getting Louie show ready - training and cleaning - is very much left up to me, but there's also the horsebox to consider, which is definitely a job I leave firmly up to Andrew!


Here it is - Andrew's first blog!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Blogger Recognition Award - Equestrian


My blog started out as a way for me to look back at my competitions performance and training progress to make tweaks & see the progression we were making, as well as being easy to spot areas that we needed to improve on. This changed a little when Louie & I's partnership started back in January 2015 - the blog a story of my journey with my first young, recently back horse. In November 2017, this changed again following my one of my proudest times of my blogging efforts - winning Equestrian Blog of the Year. Today, I continue to blog about competitions and training sessions, as well as documenting the journey that Louie & I are on, but it has become a lot more too.

Over the last 6+ months, I have changed my content to include posts about:



It certainly keeps me busy!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Dressage at Leamside Equestrian


7am never seems a good time to have to set your alarm for on a Sunday morning, but this week, I didn't mind too much as it was time for our first dressage competition since the riding club qualifiers at the end of June. We were without a saddle for a couple of weeks at the end of July, so we were keen to get back to it and be out & about!

Friday, 11 August 2017

6 Picks...of Equestrian Clothing Brands

Top 6 Picks of Equestrian Clothing Brands


As part of my monthly feature on Totally Horse & Pony, I decided that August's edition should be my personal top 6 picks of equestrian clothing brands. We all have our favourites and our in the moment & on-trend brands that we spend whatever spare cash we have on, but I've tried to look a bit deeper than that... I've considered all of the clothing brands that I've experienced over the last 10 years since getting back into riding and highlighted my top 6 picks!

Monday, 7 August 2017

Hendersyde Park Horse Trials

After filling up on a full English breakfast at the delicious Running Fox in Longframlington, we headed through the beautiful Northumberland countryside and up to the Scottish border town, Kelso, to enjoy an afternoon of showjumping and cross country at Hendersyde Park Horse Trials. The event boasts stunning views over and along the River Tweed, and runs on good old fashioned turf, in surroundings typical of the area.


I was only ever fortunate to be able to run once here, back in 2013 in the BE90. There must be something about the events in the Borders as both Floors and Hendersyde featured highly on my favourites list. I liked Hendersyde as soon as I got there, but it also has a VERY happy memory of mine and Thomas' only ever British Eventing rosette - a 7th place. We got an OK dressage score (33) and a couple of time penalties, but a CLEAR ROUND - something extremely rare with Thomas (I think he only managed 5 across his six seasons). So I added a few extra favourite points to the event too!! 😉

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

July Round Up

July started with a weekend off for Louie. Well he’d actually had the full week off at the end of June, following a couple of great competition days out and a trip to Copenhagen with work. But we were soon back to it, enjoying some fantastic schooling sessions, as well as some long relaxing hacks out on an evening after a busy day in the office.

Team Tunnah Eventing - July Round Up


Near the start of the month, we attended an unmounted workshop run by one of my coaches, Philippa McKeever Curry in partnership with a local vets, to talk about the conformation of sport horses. It was a very insightful couple of hours, learning about the correct conformation of front legs, hocks and overall body. Philippa also brought in five of her own horses to have the audience’s critical eyes scan over them, allowing any questions about them to be directed to the vet, before loose schooling each one on the flat and over a jump.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

CIC3* Action from Burgham Horse Trials



This weekend was Burgham Horse Trials and due to when we are usually on holiday, I've never been to watch since it was given its FEI classes. We're very lucky to have classes up to 3* right on our doorstep.

So on Saturday, we head up to the event, nestled in a beautiful part of Northumberland approximately 10 miles north of Morpeth, to enjoy watching some of the world's top combinations being put through their paces in the showjumping and across the country.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Blogger's Corner: Grow Your Twitter Using Buffer



Drive even more traffic with Twitter by using a scheduling tool


A few months ago, I was introduced to a great little tools for Twitter - Buffer. Buffer is a fairly sophisticated tool, allowing for scheduling, reporting and managing your social media all from one place.

I've mainly used it for Twitter, and it has sped up so much of my workload for pushing out my own posts, as well as making sure I have a queue of content through retweets and quote retweets. I also only use the free version to the tool and found it meets all the needs I have.

Go to the Buffer site to sign up and get your account plugged in.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Blogger's Corner: Video Apps & Editing Tools


Apps & Tools to Create Engaging Videos for your Blog & Social Media

As you're reading this, you're probably already aware of the emphasis that social media platforms place on the use of video within your content plans. If you're not - go & find out about it!!

Monday, 3 July 2017

June Round Up

June was another busy month (I seem to now be saying this more & more!)



It kicked off in a pretty AMAZING way!! My sister, who has been on the transplant list for over a year, received a phone call at 5.20am Sunday 4th June to say that there was a kidney ready for her. I got several missed calls from her, my Mum & my Dad, and at 6.30am they finally managed to wake me up to tell me the great news... I immediately called my sister and as soon as she answered, I was a completely blubbering mess that couldn't even manage a 'Hello'...

Sunday, 2 July 2017

6 Picks...of 6 Months

Wow...half way through the year already!! Where did six months disappear to? So I suppose we should start by look at what we wanted to achieve & what we have achieved in the first half of the year.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

An Olympic Q&A with Ludwig Svennerstal

Ludwig Svennerstal & Louie at Bramham CCI3* in 2017


A few years ago now, I watch a beautifully modest dressage test at Bramham Horse Trials. I didn't recognise the rider, nor the horse. It was a very harmonious test, showing a very real & working partnership. I thoroughly enjoyed the test & it has stuck in my mind ever since...

Glancing at my programme, I discovered it was a Swedish young rider, called Ludwig Svennerstal & a horse called King Bob. That was back in 2011...

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Glow Means Slow

Many of you will have heard of the campaign GLOW MEANS SLOW currently running to help with educating motorists about the safe way to pass a horse while out on the roads.It also has a little added extra & helps riders to understand why it is sort important to be seen, both on & off the road.



We asked Sarah Johnson from the campaign to tell us a little bit more about it!

Let's start at the beginning...

What is Glow Means Slow?

Monday, 26 June 2017

Qualifying for the Northern Regional Championships!

As most of you know from last week's competition report, we're members of the Newcastle riding club, and have been for a little over a year. It's a club that I used to be a member of with Buddy five or so years ago too.



Anyway, I put Louie & I forward for the summer area 2 qualifiers, very last minute on the entries closing date! There were also three other members interested, so we created a team and looked forward to the competition. The qualifiers were being held at Richmond Equestrian Centre, North Yorkshire, on Saturday 24th June. The day is run by volunteers from all the clubs in area 2 and they did a really great job, helping to point people in the right direction, rounding up from the warm up arenas and getting people out into the main arenas and into the correct test arena... If we didn't have volunteers in this sport, nothing would run, so it's always important to appreciate them.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Blogger's Corner: Increasing Site Engagement


Are you interested in trying to get your blog visitors to read multiple posts once they are on your site? If not, you should be - you made all that effort to get them there so it's good to get them to see as much of your content as possible...

However, it is important to identify what content they want to see through presenting content options to them that are related to what made them click through to your blog in the first place.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Fun in the Sun



This weekend, we headed out to Todburn Equestrian Centre to enjoy some riding club dressage and combined training. After our dressage disaster at Benridge at the end of May, our sole aim was to go & have an enjoyable day, with a less dramatic test from both Louie & I!!

Mission accomplished!!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Welcome to the World of Blogging

Many of you reading this will already be bloggers in some guise - you may not even realise you are!

Regular & long standing readers will know why I started my blog, but in a nutshell, it was to create a space to look back at competition reports to see our improvements as we progressed across the seasons & throughout the winter.


Team Tunnah Eventing launched on 9th October 2012. I had my digital marketing knowledge & experience in my back pocket, but really blogging back then was nowhere near as popular as it is today, especially in our equestrian niche. I've just taken a few minutes to read back through my first ever post - I thought I would be severely shocked & a tad embarrassed. I'm not at all.

My blog has always truly been in my own personality, my own style and about me & my horse. This is one thing that looking back, I'm quite proud that I have maintained throughout. My visitors like my posts & I've had good feedback on my style from industry experts.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Summer Coolers

Image credit: Hannah Russell

Every month I post for Totally Horse & Pony magazine, usually covering Fashion & Style. I've now completed three posts.

  • Spring Greens, Gorgeous Greys... & A Hint of Pink in Between
    Looking a colourful spring items for you & your horse to brighten your day & blow away those winter cobwebs!
  • Too Hot to Trot
    What to wear (& what not to wear) when visiting Badminton horse trials at the start of May. The post also looked into what should be popular in the all important & eagerly anticipated trot-up outfits!
  • Summer Cooler Ideas for You and Your Horse!
    Our latest post, inspire by a lovely long burst of summer weather... Sadly, the warmer temperatures seemed to disappear, and be exchanged for rain, no sooner had the post gone live...

Monday, 12 June 2017

Bramham Horse Trials 2017

We've just come back from enjoying another fantastic weekend at Bramham horse trials... OK, so we only go to Friday's dressage & Saturday's cross country, but coming from around the Bramham area, I make sure we always make a weekend of the trip away. Take a read through our 2016 Bramham Horse Trials post to see what we thought last year too!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Blogger's Corner: Picking Your Social Media Platform



Our latest Blogger's Corner top tip comes from Ruby Butchers, author of Equipepper. Equipepper started out as a blog documenting the journey of retraining her ex-racehorse, Highland Rain. In November 2016, Ruby was named as Haynet's Rising Star in the equestrian blog awards.

Equipepper logo


Ruby has chosen to cover social media platforms & how we should go about choosing what platforms our blogs should be present on.

What Social Media platforms should you use for blogging?

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Belsay Horse Trials


This weekend, we headed along to one of our local horse trial events, Belsay horse trials in Northumberland. Whether to spectate, or back when we competed, it is our favourite horse trials to go to in the county. It has always been super organised and tries hard to have something for everyone making it a great family day out.

The horse trials are set in the grounds of the Belsay estate, boasting a spectacular yet quaint castle, hall and beautiful gardens, and is just located north-west of Newcastle on the A696. It has good road access whether your in a big, bulky horsebox or heading along in your car.

Belsay horse trials run British Eventing classes from BE90 up to Intermediate, and this year included U18's, U21's as well as a Novice Region Final.

So why do we love this local event so much?

Thursday, 1 June 2017

May Round Up

Jumping. That’s what this month has been all about! Our last showjumping lesson feels like a lifetime ago, WAY back on 28th April, where we saw Louie show some real green mistakes - mistakes that we thought were behind him and took us by surprise.

We decided to build his confidence back up, starting with loose jumping him over various things (water trays, fillers, planks, ladders…) which highlighted that actually he didn’t seem to have a lot of his own confidence. I’m not really sure what’s caused the loss of confidence – perhaps his recent over-eagerness, but there’s certainly been no immediate trigger.

So, the task this month was to make jumping anything the norm for Louie, while still also working on our rhythm.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Meet Blue Chip All Star Academy Pupil, Tina Wallace!!

Last night (Sunday 28th May) saw the Blue Chip All Star Academy return to Horse & Country TV for its second series.

Series one was a great watch, covering all sorts from Rhi's first dressage lesson on her ex-racehorse & who had only been off the track three weeks, to seeing the pupils being put through their paces with Pammy & Charlie Hutton on some of Talland's top schoolmasters. The series also cover jumping session, as well as one-to-one interview and vlogging opportunities with some of the top stars of the equestrian world. But it wasn't all glam - veterinary care, bandaging, stable management and plaiting were amongst the non-ridden tasks that the series included.

Well, as the series launches, we've had the unique and privileged opportunity to speak with one of the stars of series two!!



Meet Tina Wallace and her horse Banksy in our quick fire Q&A!

Sunday, 28 May 2017

When it's just not your day...


I spotted a post a few weeks ago on the TwitterEventing Facebook group where someone raised a very valid point that I see across equestrian groups & communities all the time...
In a nutshell, people post their good times which when you're having not such a good time, can make you feel very negative. I see a few (not many) accounts that have multiple posts, photos, videos & excitement when the times are good, but go deadly silent when the times aren't so good.


Let me make it clear - I am not suggesting in any way that anyone should post up every single competition report, writing in detail about what a total crap day we've had. I'm not. I also don't think you should ever look at anyone else and compare yourself, especially to someone's social media!!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Blogger's Corner: Google Analytics & Google Search Console


Google Analytics

Many of us concentrate on our traffic volumes - & rightly so, if you're confident in your content, you want people to see it! However, not all blogger's take advantage of what I think it is the best FREE blogger analytical tool - Google Analytics.

Why is being interested in the analytical side to your blog important?

Simply because it enables you to see how you're doing, maximise your strength & support the weaknesses.

Getting Google Analytics (GA) set up on your site is really easy - there's no need to be a technical whizz kid!
  1. Head over to https://analytics.google.com & login with your Google account (you can set one up in a few minutes if you don't already have one) to set up your GA profile - make sure you select 'Website'
  2. Now, make a note of your unique tracking ID (or copy it)
  3. Depending on which platform you blog on, will depend how you need to implement it.

    For WordPress.com blogs, it's very easy and quick - just follow this quick guide
    For WordPress.org (self-hosted) blogs, you'll need to use a plug-in unless you're familiar with web coding. If the latter, you can drop the code into your blog's template. If not, You can use the Google Analytics for WP plugin - take a read.
    For blogger blogs, go to Settings > Other, & under Google Analytics, paste your ID
  4. It can take up to 24 hours for data to show in your GA account, so be patient! 
Once you're all set up,I prefer to log into GA directly, rather than viewing stats from the platform (not available in Blogger).

Google run a specific Google Analytics for Beginners as part of their free academy - even if you're familiar with GA, it's worth reviewing every once in a while to see any new features or tools.

Traffic Insight

We all want to know where our blog users are coming from, and understand how well our promotional activities are working.

GA allows you to look at precisely where your traffic is coming from, breaking it down into almost any secondary dimension.

Google Analytics Channel Traffic

In this example, you can see that most of the traffic is coming from social media channels - click into it, and you will see the networks that make up the 1,373 sessions. This is found under Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels

Further, you can change what you are viewing using the top navigation, as well as add in a secondary dimension to show data for.

Google Analytics Filtering

The best way to get to grips with this is to play with it - filter it multiple ways to show you just what each category can show you. 

TIP: When looking at organic traffic, there is no longer a way to see the keyword that users were searching for when they discovered your site. However using landing page as a secondary dimension after you click into 'Organic' can give you a good indication.

If you work with 3rd party sites, do collaborations or list your blog on other sites, Referral traffic is a good one to see how they are contributing towards your traffic levels.

Audience Insight

Not only can you see the volume of traffic that your site sees, you can gain a lot of insight into who it is that is viewing your site:
  • New v returning users
  • Locations & Languages
  • Age & Genders
  • Interests & Affinities
  • Engagement rates
  • & much more!
Google Analytics Audience Insight

All of this insight sits within the Audience section of the left-hand navigation. Take time to explore it.

On Site Behaviour

Google Analytics can also show you what content users like to consume on site, what they don't and how well you can cross-seed your content through sections of similar/popular posts.

Head over to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages to take a look at your individual posts and how they stack up against your site's averages.

Are there some posts or pages that see a much higher bounce rate than the average?

You can also start to think about increasing the time that your users are spending on your blog through longer posts and cross-promotion of posts within your blog's site.

Google Analytic Site Usage

Under the same section (Behaviour), there is another area that is dedicated to Site Speed - pay attention to this. Slow sites see higher bounce rates and overall offer poorer user experience. Within the area, there is a Speed Suggestion option - use it! 

Google Analytics Page Speed Suggestions

Most of us are likely to have image size issues - it is worth correcting these but it is a BIG task to do so if you're established. This is my weakest area - I need to go through and optimise all my images. 

If you're just starting out, do this from the start, believe me, it's A LOT easier!!

That leads us nicely into the technical health of your blog, & how Google Search Console can help you.

Google Search Console

OK, so setting this up is a bit more detailed, but it is definitely achievable. Rather than listing the step, take a look at this Setup Guide from Google to get going.

Search Console will send you Messages to alert you to recommended changes - there is a message centre within the tool, so don't worry about having them on email.

Site Errors

These are located in Crawl > Site Errors

Don't be put off by these - you do not need to be a technical genius, but they are worth being aware of. My blog currently has NO errors, and all the ones it has had, I've fixed with the help of my friend Google and a few searches! 


Sitemap

This just sounds technical - it really isn't. A sitemap basically allows Google to understand the relationships between all of the elements on your site. Don't worry, you don't need to create one. You can use a free tool (XML-Sitemaps.com).
  1. Enter your site's URL
  2. Change the frequency to roughly how often you post new content (I chose weekly)
  3. Leave Modification & Priority options set as they are
  4. Click Start
  5. You are redirected to a page where you download your generated sitemap
  6. Head back the Search Console & add it in (under Crawl > Sitemap - look for the red 'add/test' button near the top right)
It can take a little while so make sure you allow it sufficient time to run, both on the generator and in Search Console.

Content Links

If you navigate over to Search Traffic > Links to Your Site you'll be able to see a summary of the number of other sites that are linking back to you, as well as your most linked to content.

You can download either of these reports, with a date that they were added to help you keep a record of any link building activity that you do.

Take a look also at Search Traffic > Internal Links. This will allow you to see your content with the most links to it from your own content within the site. 

What's good about this? 

Well, check out your lowest linked to content and find opportunity in some of your more successful posts to link to it. It will help Google understand that the content is important.

TIP: don't link internally unless it is necessary, and certainly don't over internal link. Both of these can be seen negatively to Google.

Mobile Usability

In the GA step about Site Speed, you can toggle between desktop and mobile, so some issues for the mobile version of your site may be highlighted. It's worth fixing as many as you can if you see a typically strong percentage of traffic coming to your blog from mobile.

Google Analytics Device Usage

Search Console also has an area that you can quickly identify if your mobile version has any issues. Take a look under Search Traffic > Mobile Usability to see any issues listed.

If this is all new to you, there's a lot to take in, but fear not, if you set aside a few hours a week to go through, you'll soon be up to speed with both Google Analytics and Google Search Console. 

I hang a lot on understanding how your blog performs beyond just how many people visited, and a key area is technical soundness to assist with your organic traffic. Investing the time into improving your site early, will free up a lot of time further down the line to add in more of your effort with your proactive promotion, such as social media, community management & outreach.