Google Analytics: Measuring your blog’s performance

by Victoria Marsh
on 5 Oct, 2017
Victoria Marsh

“Marketers who have prioritized blogging are 13X more likely to enjoy positive ROI” – Hubspot

There’s no denying that having a blog for your business is a powerful method for boosting your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) strategy, building your brand authority and increasing the quantity and quality of your business leads. With all these promises and more from this marketing tactic, it’s no wonder that most organisations have incorporated blogging as part of their integrated marketing mix.

Achieve more: How to perfect your marketing mix

 

The formula for running a successful blog

There is a formula behind getting a high return and reaping all the benefits a blog can bring. Two common mistakes businesses make when it comes to blogging are:

1. Pushing out content, for content’s sake (with no strategy at hand).
2. Not evaluating if the content is actually making an impact with your audience.

Both of these mistakes often results in a low performing blog, that is not giving back an adequate ROI for your business.

The key for running a successful blog is having a content strategy that helps you understand your target audience and the topics they want to read more about. Your content strategy should not be left static.

It needs to be constantly evolving and fine tuned. You need to be pushing out content, measuring its success, monitoring your audience’s response and revising your approach. This mindset of continuous improvement, is the best way to ensure your content strategy is on track and your blog is kicking goals for your business.

 

Show me the data

“In God we trust, All others must bring data” – W. Edwards Deming, Statistician

When it comes to evaluating and measuring your blogs performance, having the data is vital.

We all have a natural tendency to trust our gut when it comes to decision making, especially when it comes to your content. However, if you want to optimise your blog, nothing beats a data-driven approach.

Turning to your Google Analytics and listening to the story that the numbers are telling you will ultimately ensure you can make a more accurate and effective decision about what you’re publishing, when you’re publishing it and how you go about promoting it.

 

How to setup your Google Analytics account

If you’re not using Google Analytics already, get ready to discover a gold mine. It is one of the most sophisticated FREE analytics tools out there. It will provide you with the means to better understand your visitors, evaluate the performance of your content and measure your impact.

Get started: Set up a Google Analytics account

If you have just set up an account, bookmark this blog and come back to it in approximately one month’s time. This is how long it will take to gather enough data to shape a clear and accurate picture of how your blog is performing online.

Learn how Google Analytics can inform the performance of your entire site? Read our related blog.

 

The latest Google Analytics update just made evaluating your blog easier

Google is on a quest to make our lives simple. Recently they updated their Google Analytics software and launched the Analytics Intelligence feature – which means you no longer have to be an analytics wizard to find your way around the mountain of data.

With Analytics Intelligence you can simply ask a question like:

  • “Which landing pages with over 500 sessions have the highest bounce rates?”
  • “How many visitors came to my page titled ‘101 ways to increase your revenue’ last month?”
  • “How many people dwelled on my page for longer than five minutes yesterday?”

Discover more insights: Google Analytics Intelligence

Google-Analytics-Intelligence-measuring-blogs-performance

 

How can Google Analytics help your blog?

The data Google Analytics provides can help you out enormously. By understanding how to interpret your data and by knowing exactly which metrics to focus on, you can make more informed decisions about your content strategy. This involves creating more engaging content, identify which topics your audience is most interested in and discover what formats work best.

There are two primary ways you can find and gather the data on your blogs performance:

1. Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages, then filter your search for the specific blog page you want to look at.
2. Behaviour > Landing pages – this works well if you are promoting your blogs as a landing page via your channels.

 

The best metrics for evaluating your blog’s performance

When it comes to measuring your blogs performance there are 2 primary categories of metrics you should be monitoring, benchmarking and aiming to improve. These include:

1. Traffic metrics
2. User experience metrics

Traffic Metrics

It is important to gain information about the amount and type of traffic coming to your site. This gives you a picture of your blog’s popularity. The most important traffic metrics you need to focus on include:

1/ New and Returning Visitors:

Whilst this metric may sound a little self explanatory, what you may not realise is that Google defines New and Returning visitors a little differently to what we might assume.

According to Google:

  • New Visitors are those visiting your site for the first time on a certain device (ie. if a singular user visits the site on the desktop computer at work and then again on their mobile device on their way home, Google Analytics records this as two new users). However, Google is getting better at this and is now able to track singular users across multiple devices if they are logged into the same Google Chrome account on each device.
  • Returning Visitors are those who have visited your site before. However, the one exception is that Google will not recognise a returning visitor if it has been more than two years since they last visited the site – this person will be recognised as a New Visitor instead.

Ideally, if we’re talking specifically about a blog page, you should always be looking to increase your number of returning visitors and aim to create content that keeps them coming back for more. However, attracting new traffic is important! New traffic can lead to new business opportunities, so think about how you can best attract new visitors and encourage returning visitors to share your blog. This can be done by using a strong Call to Action (CTA) that promotes sharing.

How to increase the number of new visitors to your blog:

  • Keep things simple. Make sure your site is easy to navigate and aims to lead new users straight to that content gold mine that you’ve got going on!
  • Be friendly – say hello! New users will appreciate the love. Give them the recognition they deserve with a lightbox/pop-up/overlay that displays a customised greeting as your web page loads.
  • Social media push outs. Social media can be a fabulous tool to encourage engagement. Make sure you are sharing your new blog post across multiple channels each time you publish and encourage others to get involved and share it to gain broader reach.

How to Increase the number of returning visitors to your blog:

  • Email marketing. Those who have subscribed to your email list clearly like you and should be considered a valuable consumer! Make sure that your subscribers are being notified when you have a new blog publication, ensure that you explain how it may be relevant to them and encourage them to have a read.
  • Create fresh content! If being a ‘thought leader’ is going to be an advantage in your industry, then ensure you are publishing content on a regular basis. Strive to be the first to post trending and current topics.
  • Don’t be afraid to recycle your content. Spinning new posts out of old ones could work to your advantage. If your posts have been popular in the past, think about how you might revitalise this information in a new blog so that you can share it with your readers in a fresh new way.

 

2/ Average Session Duration of each blog post:

The average session duration metric is calculated by – the total duration of all sessions (in seconds) / number of sessions. This metric can indicate which of your blog topics your audience are engaged and interested in.

To find the average session duration for each of your individual blog pages, go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages, then filter your search for the specific blog page you want to look at.

It is important to look at the average session duration for each of your blogs and compare them against each other to identify true patterns and trends in your data. From this, you can make more informed decisions about the content that you publish and identify topics that are most popular among your readers.

For example, a page that has a fairly long average session duration of 11 mins and 33 secs may indicate that your readers are interested in the topic of your blog and have actually read the full article (win!).

If you have a rather short average session time of 2 mins 10 secs for a page with a 4000 word blog on it, you could assume your users are not reading the full article, may not be interested in the topic of the blog or perhaps did not find what they expected.

How to increase the average session duration of your blog:

  • Show credibility. Your users want to know that they can trust you. Ensure that you are providing them with photos of the author, bios and testimonials where appropriate.
  • Re-think the format and design of your page. According to Tony Haile, the CEO of content software Chartbeat, you have around 15 seconds to grab your viewers attention. If your blog is messy, lacks visuals and is poorly designed, you’re not likely to entice your readers to stay.
  • Make it visual! As humans, we are drawn to images far more than we are to text. In fact, 70% of people are visual learners, so it pays to incorporate visuals or infographics to get across your key points. Think creatively about how you can incorporate images and/or videos into your blog to create more engaging content.
  • Improve your blog’s readability. If your blog is too wordy and difficult to read then you’ll lose your reader’s interest before you have the chance to give them some valuable insights. Break your content up into ‘snackable’ chunks for them – include headings, paragraphs, bullet pointed lists and space.
  • Include plenty of internal links. Not only will this potentially boost your site’s SEO, it will also direct your readers to other pages of your site and encourage them to view more of your content.

 

User Experience Metrics

To evaluate how your blog is being received on the other end, you need to evaluate how your users are experiencing your blog. The best way to do this is by monitoring important user experience (UX) metrics.

The most important UX metrics you need to focus on if you hope to gain insight into the degree of engagement your blog is receiving, include:

1/ Bounce rate:

Your bounce rate highlights the percentage of visitors who land on your blog page and leave straight away. Bounce rate is a criteria Google look at to establish whether you are relevant to those searching, and a high bounce rate indicates that you are not. A high bounce rate on your blog page may indicate that your blog is not relevant or that your title was misleading or that your page wasn’t engaging. Generally speaking, a bounce rate over 40.5% tells you action is necessary.

How to lower your blog’s bounce rate:

  • Understand and target your audience and relevant topics
  • Use catchy but truthful titles
  • Always include a meta description
  • Publish high quality content
  • Speed up your website’s loading speed
  • Make sure your site is mobile responsive

 

2/ Dwell time:

Dwell time represents the amount of time a viewer spends on a particular page before returning to a Search Engine Results Page (SERP). The longer the dwell time the better, as this suggests that your visitor has spent a significant amount of time reading your content.

Your main aim for optimisation should be to increase the dwell time spent on your page. There may be many different reasons for the length of your dwell time (i.e. your content may pack a punch to start with but struggle to keep their interest, your article may not have met their expectations or you lack engaging content to keep them hanging around etc). One thing is certain though… dwell time is something Google looks at and, as a result, it has a significant impact upon your search engine ranking. The main point here is. the longer someone stays, the higher Google will rank your page as relevant.

How to improve your blog’s dwell time:

There is no magic solution to dramatically increasing your visitors dwell time, but there are some techniques you can use to help create content that will grab and hold people’s attention.

  • Get rid of the ads!
  • Re-think the format of your content – Headings and subtitles.
  • Use internal links and/or CTAs
  • Add in dynamic content such as images and videos to engage your audience for longer.
  • Ask your audience what topics they’d like to read more about – cut to the chase and hold a survey.
  • Use honest titles and meta-descriptions – make sure you’re attracting relevant traffic that want to read.

 

3/ Conversion rate:

Your blog’s conversion rate tells you how much traffic your site is getting and how much of that traffic takes a desired action (i.e. clicking a ‘subscribe to our blog’ or ‘download your free guide’ button etc.).

If your conversion rate is low, this could be an indicator that your CTA is not clear enough. It also may mean that your CTA is in the wrong spot.

For example, have you ever driven along a motorway and been unsure which exit to take because it was poorly marked? This is how your readers will feel if your CTA is not where it should be.

How to improve your blog’s conversion rate:

Improving your conversion rate is going to involve some trial and error.

  • Include CTAs throughout your content, not just at the bottom.
  • Use actionable language such as “take” “reserve” “download” on your CTA.
  • Give your readers a reason to want to be a part of your list or take a certain action. An example of this is offering a free download of value on the blog topic.
  • Include links to share frequently throughout your blog. Such as a “TWEET THIS STAT” CTA.

Learn more: Powerful ways to boost your online conversions

 

Ready to take the next step?

When it comes to blogging, it’s important you have a content strategy to ensure that you are not just pushing content out for content’s sake. This is the first step to understanding your audience, setting your benchmarks and creating valuable content that will naturally perform well.

Realise more: Content marketing: how to make publishing easy

If you want to supercharge the ROI of your content strategy and you know your audience, understand their interests and are ready to target with greater sophistication, marketing automation software may be something to consider. In short, marketing automation refers to software that allows you to automate targeted/ personalised marketing actions. If your goal is to draw readers back, provide them with the individual answers they are looking for and turn them into paying customers- then marketing automation is for you.

Discover more: Marketing Automation: How to find your perfect fit

If you don’t know where to start when it comes to your marketing mix or content strategy, our team of strategist are here to offer you sound advice and assistance. We are happy to help. Contact us today.

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