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.
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.
Next, go to your website’s Google Analytics profile. Click on the +Add Segment link above your Audience Overview data.
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.
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.
Here are some sections and metrics you’ll want to review.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After you set up segments for several of your popular posts, you can choose to compare the metrics for up to four posts simultaneously.
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 comparisons using segments comes in handy especially when looking at traffic sources as you can see which post generates more traffic from specific referrers.
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.
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.
You can also visit the Goals Overview to see how traffic from your offsite content converts.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Unlike other sources that give readers the option of previewing a summary, image, or video with your content, email gives them only the title.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Click the View Sharers button next to any of your posts to see the most influential people that share your content.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It will show you how your content spreads from one person to the next, helping you identify influential Google+ users who like your content.
When content goes viral, you’ll get even more data.
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.
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.
Majestic SEO offers a free account for those who want to analyze their own website’s SEO, including backlinks by top pages.
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.
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.
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.
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.