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? You can determine whether your content marketing strategy is failing or succeeding with a few simple steps.
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.
Use Google Analytics for Fundamental User Metrics
Analyzing Google Analytics (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 obtain 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 the following 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 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.
Layer in Social Sharing Behavior
Next, you’ll want to understand the virality (defined as “the tendency of an image, video, or piece of information to be circulated rapidly and widely from one Internet user to another”) of your content. 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 on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Share count alone won’t tell you much, however, without factoring in the number of page views. The not-so-obvious key metric that is truly indicative of content virality is Share-to-Pageview ratio.This metric indicates if 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.
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. 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 page views 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 a straightforward title, while others may prefer a listicle format, like top 10 lists, and others 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 merely 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 discover-ability are meeting your expectations.