With a free tool like Google Analytics, I don't see why people wouldn't just use it. It can track and measure many valuable metrics and can help drastically increase the efficiency of your content marketing. To put it simply, this tool can basically tell you exactly what your next piece of content should be.
See, Google Analytics tells you basically everything. Things like:
- Where your visitors come from
- How long they stay on a page
- Which of your posts are the most read and shared
- How many of your visitors are converting to leads
- What operating system they use, what device they are using, and who their ISP is
- And more!
While most people don't need ALL the data they provide, a few of these metrics can really give you a key advantage when it comes to publishing content that your audience actively seeks from you. This post is just about that; the metrics you need to pay special attention to.
Note: This is not a guide on how to set up Google Analytics. If you want to learn how to do that, Google has a page that explains it all here: http://www.google.com/analytics/learn/index.html
Metric #1: Behavior (To See What Your Audience Likes)
What performs better; a 2,000-word article or a 350-word one? Do people prefer list-based posts (ex. 10 Tips To) or how-to guides?
The answer: it depends! It varies based on the niche and audience. But you can easily find which of your posts are better performing. You can do this using the Behavior section of Google Analytics. The Overview will give you a pretty good idea if you have a small site, but if you want a full report of all your posts, go to Behavior (Overview), then click on Page Title (under Site Content), then scroll down and click on view full report.
Here are the steps shown on a clients test site (sensitive info blacked out):
From there, you will see your most viewed content in descending order. You are free to rearrange the order based on unique page views to have a better idea, but the order usually remains the same.
You can now see your top-performing pieces of content. Now, do you see what kind of posts get the most views? Maybe they are the titles that start with [Infographic]? Or maybe with a How To? Or maybe it's list-based posts that dominate the report? Whichever one it is, you can now make more of the same type of posts to please your audience!
If you have more than 5 different types of posts, I suggest picking the top 3 performing ones and focusing on them for future posts. That's a really smart way of capitalizing on the 80/20 rule!
Metric #2: Acquisition (To See Where Your Audience Is Coming From)
The use of this metric is simple: Focus on traffic sources that actually bring you quality visitors. More on that below.
To see the data for this metric, click on Audience and then All Traffic or All Referrals.
From there, you can see how many visitors come from where, and also for other details like:
- For how long they are staying on your page
- How many pages they are viewing per visit
From this data, you can choose on which channel to focus on. For example if Reddit brings you 1,000 visitors, but they all stay for 5 seconds and bounce, it might be a better idea to ask your team to focus on a certain forum, which is bringing 100 visitors who tend to stay for more than 1 minute and visit multiple pages per visit.
In terms of SEO, you can also see which search terms (keywords) are bringing you traffic kind of. Kind of.. For this data, go to Acquisition (Overview), and then click on Organic Search.
There you will see your top-converting keywords (keywords that are bringing traffic to your website).
I say kind of because webmasters are reporting that they are seeing less and less actual keywords; Google is showing (not provided) for most keywords instead. And according to this website, by August 2016 (at the time of writing this post), no keyword at all will be shown under this section (it will just show (not provided) as keyword for all search terms; they might eventually remove this section altogether.
Metric #3: Conversions (To See Your Conversion Rates)
This is useful if you want to track how many people download your app, sign up for your newsletter or perform basically any action you can think of. For that, you will have to set up a Goal in analytics first.
How does this metric help? Simply by allowing you to measure how well (or how badly) your content is performing, and enabling you to make the necessary changes to maximize its use and effectiveness.
For example, Bob spends hundreds of dollars on creating awesome videos. But when he starts tracking, he sees that people are not even clicking Play on some of his videos. Upon analysis of all his pages, he sees that videos that are down the fold tend to not get watched at all. From this metric, he can conclude that he needs to embed his videos on the very top of his pages from now onwards, and also possibly move the videos up on all his old pages.
Another example is to track social shares. Are people sharing more of your content if your social icons are right below your post titles or when they are below the entire post? Are the social icons converting more if they are floating on the right or left side? 1 simple change can mean 100s of social recommendations as opposed to just a couple.
Google Analytics provides several templates that would meet most businesses objectives. However, if you have a not-so-common goal you would like to measure, you can do that too, by creating a custom goal.
Talking in depth about conversions is beyond the scope of this post, as an entire article can be written about this metric: Google has 9 pages + about it! You can start here:
However, don't let this intimidate you. Its a fairly simple procedure that you are required to perform only once for each goal. You don't want to miss out in this important metric! This video explains in simple terms what it does, and how it does it.
If you are just starting out with tracking, these 3 metrics are enough to get you busy and excited (as well as make things more efficient and profitable). In my opinion, if you publish ANYTHING online, you SHOULD track it somehow. Else, you are just pouring time, money and resources in random jars that may or may not bring a return on your content marketing campaigns. Let me know what you think of this post in the comments section!
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