You've crafted your blog strategy, painstakingly laid out an editorial calendar, and spent countless hours (and perhaps precious cash) creating blog posts for your business. How do you know if your effort is paying off?
Determining whether your blog strategy is failing or succeeding can be achieved with a few simple steps.
1. Start by Understanding Your Goals
First and most importantly, understand the goal of your blog. Is it designed to establish thought leadership for your brand, generate leads, build up your social following, better understand your audience, etc.? It may sound obvious, but specifying your goals is a necessary first step prior to analyzing whether you're achieving them. (Tweet This!)
2. Use Google Analytics for Fundamental User Metrics
Analyzing GA trends is a good place to start when monitoring your content quality (GA is a free, richly featured, powerful analytics tool provided by Google). Setup is as simple as installing a snippet of code in your global site header. Once installed, GA will provide a wealth of information on user behavior on each page of your blog. You can access this information by navigating to "Content" and then "User Behavior", and then filtering by "/blog".
There are a few key stats to pay attention to in GA. You'll want to monitor these across all posts and for individual posts:
- Pageviews indicate whether your topics and headlines are interesting and SEO friendly, and whether your blog posts are being shared socially. Pageviews are affected by a variety of factors such as content quantity, content quality, and promotion on social platforms and in email newsletters.
- Bounce Rate & Exit Rate help you to understand whether users are proceeding to other posts after reading a given article. A Bounce occurs when a user's first page view on your site was also their last. An Exit indicates that a user left your site after viewing a given page. These metrics tend to be a measure of your content quality, and also how well you are cross-promoting your other blog or site content.
3. Layer in Social Sharing Behavior
Next, you'll want to understand the virality of your content. Use a tool such as Linktally.com to gather total social shares for your blog posts. The primary reason for this is to understand overall sharing behavior, but a close second is to understand how your content is shared on various social platforms. You might be surprised to find, for example, that your content is more likely to be shared on Facebook than Twitter or LinkedIn.
Share count alone won't tell you much, however, without factoring in the number of pageviews. The not-so-obvious key metric that is truly indicative of content virality is Share-to-Pageview ratio.
Tip: I recommend building a dashboard spreadsheet by exporting all of your "/blog" GA data for a given date range, and then adding social sharing data for each post. You can then add a Share-to-Pageview column that simply calculates total shares over total pageviews for each blog post. Or you can download our easy-to-use Blog Dashboard Template with all the important KPIs already created for you to use immediately.
Share-to-Pageview ratio indicates whether your content topic was interesting and the quality was good; or to put it another way, whether the content delivered value based on the expectations set by the title of the post.
4. Look for trends in the data
Now that you've created a content dashboard, you can analyze the overall effectiveness of your blog, and more importantly the effectiveness of individual posts. I recommend updating and reviewing the dashboard once per week. In a short period of time, you will be able to identify trends that will inform your future content creation and allow you to understand the impact of factors such as content quality, quantity, and promotion on your content pageviews and shares.
Examples of content trends in the dashboard:
- Topics - Which topics or themes tend to resonate with your audience? You'll likely want to create more content on these topics or themes in the future. Conversely, content that seems to be of little interest to your audience can be removed from your future editorial calendar.
- Titles - Do certain title styles resonate more with your audience? Some audiences may prefer straightforward title, while others may prefer a listicle format (for example, Top 10 lists), and other may prefer teaser-style headlines. Identifying title trends will help you make sure future content is more likely to be read by your audience.
- Authors - Perhaps certain authors have higher pageview and shares than others. When that happens, make sure you are maintaining a good relationship with the successful authors, and consider increasing the frequency of their posts.
These are just a few examples of trends to illustrate the power of maintaining a blog dashboard. You will likely identify other trends relevant to your specific business and blog.
Following these straightforward steps, you should be able to move forward on your blog strategy with confidence. Updating and review the dashboard with your content team once per week will ensure that your blog is tailored for your audience and that your content's quality, quantity, and discoverability are meeting your expectations.
Get our Blog Dashboard Template to help you determine the success (or failure) of your blog strategy.
(Image via freedigitalphotos.net)