Join Virginia O'Connor for an in-depth discussion in this video What's the status of your blog now?, part of Creating Better Blog Content.
- To measure your blog's contribution to your goals, whatever those goals are, you have to take a look at some metrics and Google Analytics. You'll need to have Google Analytics installed before continuing with this movie. Google Analytics is a 100 percent free tool that helps you track what visitors to your site do when they arrive. There's a great Lynda.com course called, "Google Analytics Essential Training" by Corey Koberg to check out if you need some instruction. Through Google Analytics you can find clues about how your blog is working. Including where your audience comes from, how long they stay, where they go after reading your posts, and so forth.
If this is the first time you're taking a good look at your analytics, it can be a little scary, but it does get easier over time. The longer you've been looking at the metrics associated with your blog, the easier it is to see some patterns and trends. So it's important to build this effort into your regular blogging routine. I usually look at my analytics about once a month. So what are some of the blog-related metrics you should be paying attention to? We've opened up Google Analytics on the Wisdom Pets website, and we use this to demonstrate which metrics are useful. Let's start with the "Audience Overview." These metrics give you some basic information about the number of visitors that are coming to your site.
When you notice a particular spike either up or down, you can use it to determine what might be the reason for those changes. Let's take a look at the "Acquisition." This tab shows you where the visitors to Wisdom Pets are coming from. In this case it's a blend of organic search. These are the people typing phrases into the search engines, and direct and referral traffic. Let's take a look at the "Referrals" too. In this case, Wisdom Pets is a Lynda.com branded site, so the traffic comes largely from there. But your site traffic will come from a wide variety of places, such as your newsletters, and other websites for example.
Next, let's take a look at the pages your visitors like to see the most. This is in the "Behavior" tab. You can click any of these tiny arrow icons at the end of the link to open that page on your site. If a particular post on the Wisdom Pets website was very popular, it would list here. Analytics will also show you where visitors go after they read a blog post. Click the "Behavior Flow" to see those details. This is an example from a different website's analytics. And you can see that a blog post from 2010 is driving traffic to a number of different pages on that website.
You've probably noticed a few common terms as we've flipped through the analytics. Like bounce rate, average time on page, and more. Let's talk a little bit about the bounce rate. The official definition for bounce rate from Google is the percentage of single-page visits in which the visitor left your site after landing on it. Essentially they didn't stick around. And if visitors are leaving the site quickly, it's usually assumed that they decided your site didn't meet their needs at the time. You've probably experienced this yourself. You typed a search phrase into a search engine, clicked a link, and the page that appeared didn't really answer the question you had in mind.
So you click the back button and move on down the list. Most site owners strive to lower their bounce rate. No matter what the initial number is, and increase the average time a visitor stays on the website in the hopes that they're reading and engaging with the content. KISSmetrics published an infographic that analyzed average bounce rates by industry. You can compare your bounce rate with these metrics, but remember that this is just one clue. Don't worry if your bounce rate is higher than others, because you can improve it. Let's talk about some of the things that you can do with your blog posts to improve that bounce rate.
First you can take a look at your headlines. They have to be intriguing. Copyblogger has some very specific advice for writing juicy headlines. Another thing that you can do to improve your bounce rate is to keep the landing pages relevant. A landing page is any page that your visitor lands on, based on some other marketing effort you're doing, such as a Facebook ad, or an interview, for example. A landing page can also be a blog post. When a visitor lands on a page, it's important that it match the reason they got there. Otherwise, they leave quickly. One mistake that lots of people make when running a marketing campaign is they run an ad that sends visitors to their homepage.
This requires the visitors to work to find what they originally wanted, and so they usually leave and go elsewhere. You can do a lot to improve the visitor experience to your blog. If you're talking about a particular service you offer, for example, provide a link from that blog post to the page that describes the service. Try not to require your visitors to hunt for things, because they just won't do it. They'll leave and get what they need somewhere else.