Google Analytics is a big tool with tons of reports. It can be intimidating. It can also be a huge waste of time. Too many marketers just browse through charts and graphs, without gaining any insights, without making a decision.
So rather than jumping into a ocean of data and swimming around aimlessly, let’s use Analytics to do analysis. Here’s what we’re going to do…
- Ask a question about our website or visitors
- Log into Analytics and find the answer
- Make a decision and take action!
This action-oriented approach to Analytics is the key to blog optimization. If you’re part of a big team, this approach will help build support. If you’re a service provider, this approach may help prove conversion rates. Either way, it’s the key to making good decisions.
Here are two examples of how to ask nicely so Analytics will tell us exactly what to do…
Which posts are most popular?
A study by InboundWriter shows that 20% of web pages drive 90% traffic. For most sites, these are the pages that rank in Google, but they may also be the pages that are getting shared. Regardless, let’s ask Analytics and find which of our blog posts are traffic magnets.
Note: This example uses the Orbit blog, which is in a directory, orbitmedia.com/blog/. If you’re blog is in a separate directory or subdomain, filtering to see just the blog posts is a bit easier.
1. Go to Behavior > Site Content > All Pages
2. Set the filter to show only blog posts (pages that start with /blog/)
3. Set the secondary dimension to Traffic Source > Medium
Note: This step is optional, but it will show you if visitors came from search engines (organic), other sites (referral), email campaigns, etc.
4. Sort by Unique Pageviews
The report you’re looking at may confirm the findings of the InboundWriter study. A few posts are likely driving a ton of your traffic.
If you’re going to spend 10 minutes working on your website today, work on the pages that are getting seen. Here are five ways to give these pages some love.
- Make it more interesting with a great image, quotes, formatting and concise writing
- Make it more informative with evidence, statistics, details and examples
- Add a compelling call-to-action
- Add “related links” to other posts on similar topics to the bottom of the page
- Add internal links within the body copy to other pages.
Now we can gently guide visitors from these pages to our most effective pages. But which pages are the most effective? Let’s ask our Analytics…
Which posts convert visitors into subscribers?
The posts that bring in the visits aren’t always the pages that convert visitors into leads, subscribers and customers. In other words, traffic magnets aren’t usually conversion magnets.
As long as your goals are set up properly, you can check this for any type of conversion: lead generation, ecommerce customers, event registrants, job candidates. Here’s an example of how to use it to find which blog posts are turning visitors into newsletter subscribers.
1. Set the date range for one year. Especially for lower traffic sites, we’ll need a lot of data for this one.
2. Go to Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path
3. Set the Goal Option dropdown menu to “Newsletter Subscriber,” or whatever you have named the goal for email subscriptions.
4. Set an “advanced” filter to show only blog posts as “Goal Previous Step – 1”
5. Sort by Goal Completions
Note: The Orbit blog has a signup option on every post. This is important because it allows me to set “goal previous step” to be just blog posts. In other words, I can ask Analytics which post visitors were reading just before they arrived at the email subscribe thank you page…
Now you’re looking at a list of blog posts along with the number of newsletter subscribers each has generated. But remember, the most compelling aren’t always the most visited. So really, we’re looking for the conversion rate for each post, not the total conversions. So there’s one more step…
6. Go to Behavior > Site Content > All Content
7. Filter this report so only blog posts appear
8. Sort by Unique Pageviews
9. Create a spreadsheet of these blog posts, with one column for Conversions and another for Unique Pageviews
10. In the spreadsheet, divide the Conversions by Unique Pageviews…
Now you’re looking at the visitor to newsletter subscriber for each of your blog posts. In this example, you can see that some posts on the Orbit blog are far more compelling than others. 1.5% compared the .3%. That a big difference. Some posts are literally five times as compelling as others.
If you’re going to spend 10 minutes driving traffic today, drive traffic to these posts, since these are the posts that are most engaging. Here are five ways to drive a little traffic.
- Share them again on social networks
- Add a link to these posts in your email signature
- Write a roundup of your top posts and put these at the top
- Write a guest post on a similar topic and link back to the post
- Make links to these post more prominent in your navigation
Analytics is More Than a Scoreboard…
Sadly, many content marketers don’t use Analytics do analysis. They just check traffic, smile or frown, then move on with their day. But great content marketers are curious. They ask questions, form a hypothesis, test it, then act on the evidence. Here are some other questions we might ask:
- Did simplifying our contact form increase leads?
- Does our new responsive website connect better with mobile visitors?
- Which social network is driving the most leads?
- Which guest bloggers are creating content that get shared the most?
- Which of our blog categories or website sections are most popular with visitors?
That last question is really interesting. Many content marketers produce content within categories and sections without knowledge of what visitors are reading. The gap between “percent created vs. percent consumed” is easy to find and easy to fill. Perhaps that will be a follow up post!
What questions is Analytics answering for you?
This is an updated version of a post that originally appeared on Content Marketing Institute.
About the Author
As Strategic Director for Chicago-based Orbit Media, Andy has provided web strategy advice to more than 1000 businesses over the last 12 years. Andy loves to teach web marketing, both as a public speaker and on the Orbit blog. He has written more than 170 articles on content marketing topics including SEO, email marketing, social media, and analytics. He is the author of “Content Chemistry: The Illustrated Handbook for Content Marketing”. Andy graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Asian Language and Literature and a certificate to teach Chinese.