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One of the best ways to improve any blog is to analyze what works and what doesn’t by looking at critical blog metrics.

When it comes to content, there are lots of different data sources you can tap into to determine whether you are creating the right type of content for your target audience and getting the results you desire.

What You Will Learn

In this post, you will learn how to determine the success of your on-site and off-site content by measuring critical blog metrics.

  • How to understand which blog metrics to track
  • How to analyse blog engagement metrics to learn about the traffic coming to your site
  • Email marketing metrics that will help you better optimize your content
  • Social media metrics to determine content popularity and influencer reach
  • Backlinks to increase your website’s authority in search

Website Analytics Provide Important Blog Metrics

Google Analytics can offer you an abundance of data about the success of your on-site and off-site content. One of the key things to set up is Google Analytics goals.

This Google Analytics feature will allow you to link things such as your email list sign ups and product sales to a specific piece of content and blog engagement metrics.

On-Site Content

First, let’s look at the data you can analyze about your on-site content using Google Analytics. To isolate data about your post, you’ll want to create a segment for it. First, copy everything after the domain.com of your content’s URL.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Next, go to your website’s Google Analytics profile. Click on the +Add Segment link above your Audience Overview data.

Content Analysis and Blog Metrics

Click on the +New Segment button. Name your segment something you’ll recognize. You can use [POST] followed by a shortened version of your post name to ensure you’ll be able to find the segment again later.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Click on Conditions in the left side menu of the segment setup and change the filter dropdowns to Page and Contains, as shown in the image above. Paste in the partial URL that you copied previously for your content.

Once you’re finished setting up the segment and save it, you’ll be able to view all of the Google Analytics data for visitors who came to that post.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Here are some sections and metrics you’ll want to review.

Behavior Overview

The Behavior section analyzes how people interact with your content. The overview will show you key metrics including pageviews, unique pageviews, average time on page, bounce rate, and exit rate.

Content Analysis and Metrics

These metrics are defined by Google Analytics as follows.

* Pageviews is the total number of pages viewed. Repeated views of a single page are counted.

* Unique Pageviews is the number of visits during which the specified page was viewed at least once. A unique pageview is counted for each page URL + page Title combination.

* Average time on page is the average amount of time users spent viewing a specified page or screen, or set of pages or screens.

* Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits (i.e. visits in which the person left your site from the entrance page without interacting with the page).

* % Exit is (number of exits) / (number of pageviews) for the page or set of pages. It indicates how often users exit from that page or set of pages when they view the page(s).

A high average time on page with a low bounce rate and exit rate is the ideal combination for your content.

It means that people read your content, did something on your page (such as joined your list or shared your content), and continued to visit more pages on your website.

Outgoing Link Clicks

If you add this piece of code to your website, you can get Google Analytics to track all outgoing link clicks.

This tracking will allow you to see how many people are interested in the links you share within your content.

Content Analysis and Metrics

In the Events Overview in the Behavior section, you can see how many events happened in relation to your post.

If you are only tracking outgoing link clicks, you will see how many people click through on the links you share.

Beneath these metrics, you can click on the Event Action link to see the specific links people are clicking upon determine what resources are most popular amongst your readers.

It might also clue you into new affiliate products to promote or products to create.

Conversions

As mentioned earlier, if you have goals set up in Google Analytics, you can link your content to conversions such as mailing list signups, product purchases, contact form submissions, and other events.

When you view your conversion goals overview, you’ll see key metrics including completions, goal value, conversion rate, abandonment rate, and completions of specific goals.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Goal value is only revealed if you attributed a specific dollar value to a goal. Abandonment is only revealed if you are tracking a shopping cart with goal funnels.

The higher your goal completion rates are in relation to visitors who viewed your content, the better. It means that your content is generating more leads and more sales.

Content Comparisons

After you set up segments for several of your popular posts, you can choose to compare the metrics for up to four posts simultaneously.

Content Analysis and Metrics

This tactic will allow you to go through all of the above-mentioned metrics for behavior, outgoing link clicks, and conversions to see which pieces of content are performing best.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Content comparisons using segments comes in handy especially when looking at traffic sources as you can see which post generates more traffic from specific referrers.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Off-Site Content

Getting metrics for on-site content is relatively simple. But what about off-site content? Here are some metrics you’ll want to review.

For this exercise, you might want to group all of your guest posts into segments. There are several ways you can do it – you can have all of the sites you regularly contribute to in one segment.

You can have a segment with just one guest post. Or you can have a segment for each site you contribute to.

The setup is similar to the segment you created earlier for your top posts, but this time, instead of using Page in the dropdown, you’ll use Source.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Depending on the segments you set up, you can view one to four different off-site content sources for analysis. You can visit the Behavior Overview report to see how traffic from your offsite content spends time on your website.

Content Analysis and Metrics

You can also visit the Goals Overview to see how traffic from your offsite content converts.

Content Analysis and Metrics

As you continue to browse through your Google Analytics data, you should be able to determine which off-site content sources drive the best traffic to your website.

This analysis will help you be able to decide to which publications you should continue contributing to achieving your content goals.

Email Marketing Metrics

If you promote your content to your email subscribers, there are email marketing metrics and tools you can use to determine your content’s success.

The metrics you use will depend upon the way you promote your content to your list.

The two best ways to do it is through a weekly newsletter that highlights several pieces of content, or through an occasional emailing that highlights one piece of content.

Clicks

For those who promote several pieces of content in a newsletter, the number of clicks to your content will be the best metric to use to determine what topics your audience likes the most.

Content Analysis and Metrics

The reason this analysis is important is because people usually won’t know what publication they are going to when they click on a title (unless you tell them).

Therefore, only the titles and summaries that you give them will convince them to click – not the fact that it’s a Forbes article over an article on lesser known publications.

Opens

For those who promote each piece of content in an individual email, open rates can reveal how interested your subscribers are on a particular topic.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Unlike other sources that give readers the option of previewing a summary, image, or video with your content, email gives them only the title.

A/B Tests

Speaking of subject lines and content titles, A/B tests can help you find the best titles for content. For those who promote each piece of content in an individual email, you can use A/B testing to send different title options to your email list.

GetResponse, for example, offers an easy to configure A/B testing feature for subject lines.

Content Analysis and Metrics

After a couple of days, you can go into your email analytics and look at the open rates for each subject line tested to find the one that gets the most opens. You may want to take the winning title and update your content with it if possible.

Just don’t change the URL for the post if you do, as that will erase your social sharing statistics and break links that have already been created to your post.

Unsubscribes

It’s hard to tell when people go to a piece of content on your website and decide never to return again. You’ll never know if someone subscribes to your blog via RSS and decides to unsubscribe because of your latest post. With email marketing, however, you can find out which posts turn off your readers.

For those who promote each piece of content in an individual email, you will want to review the number of unsubscribes you get across multiple campaigns. For some email platforms, you may want to export your campaign data to Excel to sort your emails by unsubscribes for faster analysis.

Content Analysis and Metrics

As you are analyzing your unsubscribes, you may notice that there are an average number of unsubscribes from the emails you send out. What you are looking for are abnormally high numbers of unsubscribes and the topics that cause them, as these would be topics you may want to avoid sending to your list or writing about altogether.

Social Sharing Metrics

BuzzSumo is the content marketer’s best friend in a variety of ways. With a free account, you can determine the social sharing success and popularity of both your on-site and off-site content. Here are some reports you will want to run with BuzzSumo to find your most popular content.

Top Content on Your Website

Start by looking up your domain with BuzzSumo to see the most popular content based on social shares.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Top Content on Sites You Contribute To

If you write for other sites, look those domains up as well to see what topics do well and if any of your posts are in the top 20 for the last year.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Top Content by You

If you write for other sites, look up your posts by doing a search for author:Your Name to see the social popularity of your posts across all sites.

Include -yourdomain.com if you want to exclude posts on your site to just see your off-site content.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Sharers

Click the View Sharers button next to any of your posts to see the most influential people that share your content.

Content Analysis and Metrics

While not a metric, this can help you connect with influencers who like your content and open the door to more off-site content contribution opportunities on high authority domains.

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Additional Social Metrics

As an experienced marketer, you know that the number of tweets, likes, and shares are important. Most of those you can review quickly through BuzzSumo, as mentioned above.

But there are a few additional social metric sources that you can tap into for further analysis of your content.

Twitter Analytics

If you want to get some great data about your on-site content from Twitter Analytics, you will need to install Twitter Cards on your website. Twitter Cards simply improves the way that Twitter displays your blog post content when someone tweets it.

Content Analysis and Metrics

WordPress users can implement Twitter Cards onto their blogs using the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.

Non-WordPress users can view the Twitter Cards Developer Documentation to find the code needed to implement it on their sites.

Once implemented, you can begin to use Twitter Analytics to view data from your Twitter Cards.

Content Analysis and Metrics

In addition to your overall impressions and shares data, you can see your top on-site content URLs and the top influencers sharing your content on Twitter.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Facebook Insights

When you share your on-site and off-site content on your Facebook page, you can use Facebook Insights to determine how well your content draws engagement from your audience in the Posts section.

Content Analysis and Metrics

In addition to the positive feedback for your content, you need to use the dropdown to see the feedback analytics for your content. This includes when people hide your post in their newsfeed, mark it as spam, and unlike your page.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Similar to looking at the unsubscribes in your email metrics, the negative feedback in your Facebook Insights can reveal content that you may want to avoid sharing with your Facebook audience or writing about altogether.

Google+ Ripples

One of the most underutilized social data analysis provided by a network is Google+ Ripples. Ripples is a feature that you can access on any Google+ post.

Content Analysis and Metrics

It will show you how your content spreads from one person to the next, helping you identify influential Google+ users who like your content.

Content Analysis and Metrics

When content goes viral, you’ll get even more data.

Content Analysis and Metrics

SEO Metrics

If one of your primary goals for on-site content is SEO, then you will want to analyze the rankings and backlinks for your content.

Backlinks

Several tools will provide you a quick analysis of the top pages on your webiste based on number of backlinks, such as CognitiveSEO’s Free Site Explorer.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Majestic SEO offers a free account for those who want to analyze their own website’s SEO, including backlinks by top pages.

Content Analysis and Metrics

Monitor Backlinks is a premium tool you can use to get alerted to and analyze new links to your domain and to your on-site content.

Content Analysis and Metrics

By analyzing your top linked pages, you can determine what content is going to bring the most SEO value to your website.

By monitoring your backlinks on a regular basis, you can find out who is linking to your content, where it is getting bookmarked, and where it is getting shared.

Keyword Performance

If you optimized your post for specific keywords, you’ll likely want to know how much traffic they are receiving for those keywords.

For on-site content, you can use the Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries report to see the keywords your content ranks for in search. In that report, click on the Top Pages tab.

Then click on the arrow to the left of your post.

content-success-metrics-gwt-keyword-rankings

This report will show you many of the keywords that visitors search for in Google where your content appears in results.

Wrapping It Up

As you can see, there are many ways to determine the success of your content based on website analytics, blog metrics, email metrics, social media metrics, and SEO metrics.

By using all four types of data for analysis, you will be able to determine the best content marketing strategy for your business, from great topics to the best places to publish your content.

16 Responses

  1. Darius Gaynor
    2.19.2015

    Great Post. Analyzing your marketing strategy daily is important. I will definitely start using BuzzSumo.

    • February 20th, 2015 at 8:33 am

      I don’t know about daily but you should ceratinly be doing monthly, quarterly and annual reviews

  2. 2.19.2015

    Hi Matthew,

    you are truly leading by example.

    I followed your examples, even added the suggested code for outbound link clicks tracking.
    And even though my site is in its infancy the data provided an interesting read.
    Next step is to define some conversion goals.
    Your social metric suggestions will keep me busy tomorrow ;-)

    Just wanted to let you know always enjoy your tips.
    Cheers,
    Raymond

    • February 20th, 2015 at 8:33 am

      Good to hear your getting the foundations in place at the start, many people skip over this kind of thing.

  3. 2.19.2015

    Kristi – excellent article! It is more like an ebook or guide! I need to bookmark this and come back, especially for the recommended resources.

  4. 2.19.2015

    Excellent post! And, just in time For my Analytics experiment. The only thing I know how to do is find more readers to my posts :).

    The “Unsubscribe” Section has an interesting, albeit obvious, recommendation. But, it continues to surprise me how many marquee bloggers are oblivious to that. Your screenshot has a more or less uniform pattern. Be interesting to check out the same thing for me!

    • February 20th, 2015 at 8:30 am

      Feel free to post yours here to give people an extra edge of comparsion :)

  5. 2.19.2015

    Hi there Matthew,

    I’ve followed your blog for many months now. I’ve always enjoyed your blog because it was DIFFERENT from the other SEO bloggers. Everyone regurgitates the same BS over and over again, “content promotion”, “build relationships”, “make engaging content so people share”. We hear that all the time and we do understand that content is king.

    However, some people just aren’t that gifted in writing. We just gotta make do with medium quality content and somehow try to fit amongst the kingly content masters. That, or some just don’t have the time to write a 9-hour blog post.

    And that’s why I followed your blog religiously when I found out about it. It had a calling to me because it was so different than the other regurgitated s***. It was a safe haven for us bastardly blackhatters.

    Now you’re slowly succumbing to the regular ole’ “content is king” “aim for long term relationships”.

    Whatever happened to rank and banking a $4000 spam site? Or stealing your competitors ranking? Or tiered link building?

    Lets go back to the GLORY days man. Right now, the only blackhat bloggers are authoritywebsiteincome.com, ypick.me, and to some extent, Gotch SEO.

    I haven’t seen a good Amazon affilaites guide, or parasite SEO pages, or easy backlink sources post.

    Just a little plea. Please consider the dastardly black hatters who are just trying to make it.

    • February 20th, 2015 at 8:29 am

      Hi Charlie,

      Thanks for your feedback! I think a common misconeption about this blog is its centered around black hat SEO while in my mind its centered around internet marketing.

      I have a very diverse background with online marketing for some major international brands and although my first tutorials were link building focused I want to share my knowledge as a whole rather than just SEO.

      Also as you’ve probably seen this blog was born out of an SEO experiment http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/experiments/google-webmaster-guidelines-experiment/ and while you might think that building relationships/engaging people is BS those are the exact approaches I have used to build multiple succesful businesses so those experiences are reflected here.

      Whether you rank your site with pure spam or the whitest of white hats is irrelevant – if your not building relationships and engaging people once you are there. Your going to leave an awful lot of money on the table.

      It is also critical you pay attention to those relationships and engagement signals as we move into 2015 as they are baked into the algorithm now. Links will get you to the top spots, but if your engagement metrics are poor you won’t stay there.

      I will of course keep writing about black hat SEO and I have a few very interesting things to share (especially with the 3 new signals) but blackhat SEO’s aren’t my only audience. Plus the best black hat stuff I only share when I’m on stage at a conference ;)

  6. 2.24.2015

    For years I’ve been contented by just adding the Google Analytics code on my blogs and just check the traffic. I’ve never really tried to play around with the other configuration or reports.

    Thanks for this information you’ve shared. I think I really have to do this now so that I can really gauge which of my posts needs more attention and which of them I can improve.

    • February 24th, 2015 at 9:23 am

      I hope it helps take your business to the next level

  7. Varsha Singh
    2.24.2015

    Hi,

    Your post at “fast track your blogging success with these critical success metricsIt” is a wonderful.In this post you determine the success of our on-site and off-site content by measuring the points.You explain all points in good manner.My all doubts at On-site content and Off-site content are clear.Thank you so much.

    Have a nice day!

  8. 5.22.2016

    A very informative article , it helped me in clearing my doubts blog success formulas , seo tactics and web anaytics . Bloggers like you help hundreds of new and budding bloggers like me to understand things and move ahead . Thank you very much .You are an inspiration for us .

    • May 24th, 2016 at 10:52 am

      No problem Zeniwo, I wish you the greatest of success!

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