In 2016, having a successful blog can be one of the most important things for your business’ online presence. It can establish you as a trusted authority in your field, drive extra traffic to your website, and enable you to connect with your customers on another level. But just how do you measure the success of your blog?
The answer can be found in blog metrics.
The whys and whats of blog metrics
Your blog is not a static thing. It is a fluid entity comprised of the many posts that you upload. So to judge its success overall, you must analyse and measure the success of your blog posts. There are a variety of ways of doing so, and in this post we’re going to be taking at those which are most useful and relevant to businesses.
First, let’s take a look at some of the key metrics that you can use to measure the success of your blog:
- Page views – The number of page views can reveal how attractive your post is as a clickable item, but it doesn’t reveal the full picture…
- Time on page – The average time spent on your page shows how compelling and successful it is in holding attention
- Bounce rate – Conversely, a high number of bounces, in which people immediately desert your post, should tell you that something’s wrong
- Pages per visit – If people are reading your blog but then clicking off-site, how successful is your post really?
- External links – If people are linking to your site from elsewhere on the web, that’s a good sign that you’re doing something right, and is certainly successful in regards to providing additional traffic opportunities
- Referred visits – When you know that people are actually clicking on those links to access your site, that’s even better
- Audience growth – If more people are accessing and reading your blog than before, that’s a pretty good sign
- Social shares – People share what they like, and if they like it then that’s an important kind of success. Social shares are also a good indicator of your exposure levels
- Comments – A high number of comments on your blog means that it’s engaging people and provoking a response. It’s important to note the nature of that response though, and whether it’s positive and actually beneficial to your business
- RSS Subscribers – If the number of people subscribing to your blog increases between blog posts, that’s a good sign
- Conversions/ click-throughs – What are people actually doing once they’ve read your blog post? If their clicking through to other relevant areas of your site or actually making a purchase/enquiry that’s a very positive sign of success.
How to decide which metrics you should be tracking?
All businesses are different, and the metrics that are important for one may be of little consequence to others.
When deciding what metrics represent success to you and your business, you should first ask yourself what actually matters to you at this point in time. Is your immediate goal to increase your brand exposure? To achieve a high number of sales? To create a dialogue between you and your customers?
Once you know what’s important, you should be able to easily decide what blog metrics you should be paying attention to. If for example, you’re trying to increase your exposure, then page views, referred visits, audience growth and social shares will be of particular interest to you. If on the other hand you have already grown your audience and wish to increase sales, look to time spent on page, bounce rate, conversions and click-throughs.
What tools can be used to track metrics
Once you’ve decided which metrics you’re going to follow, you need to figure out the how. There are quite a few different tools that you can use to track blog metrics, but here we’ll take a look at some of the most effective.
Google Analytics – Google’s tool is one of the most widely-used, and the budget-conscious will be pleased to know that it’s free. While it’s not specifically designed for tracking blog metrics, it has many features which can be used for this purpose, including the ability to investigate individual stats for each of your blog posts, such as visits, conversions and traffic referral sources. It will also tell you where each of the visits to your post is coming from geographically, which can help you to check that you are reaching your core audience.
Hubspot Analytics – Hubspot’s tool is a slightly meatier option, but it will cost you (a free trial is however provided). With it, you can track all important blog metrics like how much revenue has been generated by a specific post, click-through conversion rates and which pages have been the most influential.
Kissmetrics – This is another paid tool which will give you greater insight into metrics relating to the people that visit your blog. With its ‘path report’ feature you can find out what people are doing after they’ve visited your blog post, for example checking out your prices or viewing specific product pages. With this information, you can adjust your approach accordingly.
Buffer – Not strictly a tool for tracking your blog itself, but Buffer can be used to manage your social media presence and will provide you with valuable data on when people are clicking on or sharing your content. This can be a particularly useful tool for exploring whether you’re blog concepts and titles are compelling enough to bring you greater exposure.
How to analyse your data
To analyse your data you need to ask the right questions. For example:
- What does this mean?
- Why is this the case?
- What can be done to improve this?
The effective blog metric analysis comes down to making informed assumptions based on the data you have to hand, and then taking action based on those assumptions. The guys at Hubspot have given a good example of such an assumption in their post ‘How to Analyse your blog posts: A beginner’s Guide’:
“If you’re not getting a lot of traffic to your blog but your conversion rate is high, it’s a good indication that the traffic you’re getting is high quality. But in order to grow your blog, you’ll need to work on increasing traffic to your blog while still maintaining that high conversion rate.”
The natural follow on from this is that you would then look at ways of increasing your traffic.
Likewise, if you have a high number of page views but your bounce rate is high or people are only staying on your post a short time, you should look at whether the quality or the relevance of your posts are putting people off. If quality is high, then you should consider whether your titles are misleading.
To give another example, if some of your blog posts are gaining a particularly high number of social shares or conversions, you should consider what specifically is making them so successful, and seek to replicate that in future posts. Were your titles particularly compelling/ short/ descriptive? Was the topic timely? Were your popular blog posts of a certain length?
Heed the words of Jeff Sauer over at Moz: “Paying attention to which of your content efforts are working well is the cornerstone of data-driven marketing.”
Applying your findings to future posts
There’s no point in spending hours poring over metrics and agonising over data unless you’re going to actually act upon your findings. Whenever you draw a conclusion from a particular metric or from an overview of the data available, you should ask yourself, ‘What changes can I make to improve this?’
For example, if you find that your posts are suffering from a high bounce rate or that people aren’t reading to the end, you should identify why this may be (too hard to read? Too boring?) and then resolve to rectify it (eg. use simpler language/ pick more interesting topics/ adjust your tone). You might also try making sure that you include at least one intriguing fact or question in your opening paragraph.
To give another example, if you find that your posts are generating plenty of social shares but not many click-throughs then you might want to take a look at your titles. The title of your blog post is the first thing that people will see, and will set the tone for the rest of the piece. If it’s not engaging then it’s unlikely people will opt to read your post, regardless of who shared it with them.
There are many other ways in which you can apply the findings of your metric analysis to the constant improvement of your blog. By doing so, you turn otherwise dull statistics into powerful tools for generating online business success.
As a general rule and ethos when analysing blog metrics, keep in mind the following quote from management consultant and author Peter F. Drucker: “What’s measured improves.”
If you’d like to find out more about how you can optimise your blog for success or are simply seeking top-notch content, feel free to get in touch with us today.