I think most bloggers would agree that blogging is a big old learning curve. Most bloggers aim to continue growing their audience, increasing their exposure and altogether improving their blog strategy.
Sure, we can all read articles telling us what we should and shouldn’t be doing. But the problem is that what works for one person may not work for the next. There’s no one-size-fits-all blogging strategy and it is important to tailor your strategy to your own personal blog and goals.
It’s all very well plodding along nicely with your blogging output but how do you make significant progress? In order to really nail down what you should be doing to improve, you can’t just rely on the minefield of general information out there. You need to get personal.
This is where Google Analytics comes in. A treasure trove of handy, insightful data, you need to start paying attention to this if you haven’t already. In this post, I explain how to use Google Analytics to improve your blog strategy. I share the different types of data and corresponding learning outcomes which you can find just by logging in to your Google Analytics.
Okay full disclaimer: this is an unexciting blog topic. But it’s important if you want to improve, so buckle up and listen in!
Go to Acquisition > Overview
Understanding exactly where your traffic is coming from is essential in identifying the channels which need more work. If the vast majority of your traffic is funnelled via organic search but only a small percentage is via social media then perhaps you need to work on bolstering your social channels. You may even consider deploying a spot of social advertising.
Alternatively, if the amount of traffic you receive from search engines is extremely low then you may need to work on your SEO efforts. This can seem like a bit of a minefield but never underestimate the power of being found on Google (other search engines available). Get into Google’s good books and you’ll see your traffic escalate fast. For some starter points on SEO, check out my post on 10 quick SEO tips you can implement now, or try my SEO basis for bloggers series.
Go to Behaviour > Site Content > Landing Pages
A landing page is the first page a user lands on when they visit your site. The majority of the time, your homepage will be the most popular landing page. However, it is useful to see which other pieces of content are popular landing pages, particularly from an SEO perspective.
Finding out which pages your users land on when they visit via a search engine provides a valuable indication as to which pages are performing well in the search engine results pages. From this you can then try to understand why certain pages are performing better – perhaps they have an enticing meta description or the keyword is particularly popular. Those which aren’t featuring at all may need a little SEO tender love and care.
Go to Behaviour > Site Content > Exit Pages
An exit page is the last page a user visits before leaving the site. If there is a particular page on which people persistently leave your site, then it may be an indication that the page needs a little work in order to keep people on your site. Think about including a call-to-action or some internal anchor text at the end of the article so people have somewhere to go.
However, do take this data with a pinch of salt. This is because a high exit rate on a page could actually indicate that the content has completely fulfilled the user’s objective and they have no need to keep exploring your site. For this reason, it is a good idea to keep an eye on your exit pages data but don’t get hung up on it. You’ve got more important things to do.
Go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages
How are you going to know which content your users are lapping up and which content…well, not so much? Make sure you are constantly aware of which blog posts are killing it with the traffic and which are dying a slow death of invisibility.
Of course don’t just rely on this data to determine which content is working for you. By far the best way to really find out what your readers want is simply to ask them. Use social media to learn more about your readers and the kind of content they want to see more of. If you don’t ask you don’t get!
Go to Audience > Overview (for overall bounce rate / session duration)
Go to Behaviour > Site Content > All pages (for page breakdown of bounce rate / session duration)
It’s all very well looking at which pages are the most visited but to get a true indication of which pages your readers are lapping up, you need to consider the bounce rate and time spent on the page. You may find that readers love the title of a post, but when they start reading the content, it’s not what they expected and so they leave without reading the whole post.
This is bad news because you don’t want to be failing to deliver on your reader’s expectations. If your bounce rate is 100% then it means people only visit one page on your site and then leave straight away. It’s a brutal sign that your content just isn’t quite cutting it and is not enticing enough to keep people hanging around for more. The lower the bounce rate, the better. Also, if the duration on page is only a few seconds then you need to consider whether the content is really delivering.
Go to Behaviour > Behaviour Flow
All these numbers making your cringe and cry? No matter. For a more visual representation of how people are using your website, visit the ‘Behaviour Flow’ section of your Analytics. This shows where users start, where they go next and where they drop-off.
Don’t be put off by the ugly graphics. It’s all green gradient boxes and unsightly lines but it’s good fun to see exactly how your valued readers are getting around. Your website, that is.
There’s so much more to Google Analytics to this list but the above gives a good starting point for bloggers looking to bolster their strategy and up their blogging game. It’s not a glamorous topic but then any serious blogger knows that 97% of blogging is far from glamorous.
If you have any questions about Google Analytics or other aspects of digital marketing then get in touch in the comments, via email or on social media.