One thing I learned about cars a long time ago is the value of a service check. Fix all the minor problems now, before they become big problems later.
Same with your blog.
A blog audit is a great way to get the best performance out of your blog (and avoid pain later). A small investment in time now will pay big dividends down the road.
In this article, I’ll take you through the basics. What to look for, tweak, and what to do to get the most performance out of your business asset.
Before we get to that…
Let’s start with a bit of a reminder of how a blog (should) fit into your sales process.
NOTE: This blog post is over 2,000 words(!) The good news is you can scan for the areas you most need to learn about. If you find just one place you can improve, it will be a success!
First, the traffic
If you have a blog on your business website, it should attract new leads and build your network of prospects.
Here’s how that works.
Your site will get traffic from your emails, social media, and “backlinks” – other sites that link to yours.
And then there is “organic” traffic.
When your site or blog articles are discovered by search engines and “indexed” (like a book inventory in a library) you attract what’s called “organic traffic”.
In fact, over half the traffic to most BlogWorks clients’ sites is organic—people searching for an answer and finding you for the first time.
The next obvious question is, what are search engines looking for?
What search engines EAT
Every second the big search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) are scouring the web for content. That’s called “indexing”.Every second, the big search engines are scouring the web for content. That’s called “indexing”. Click To Tweet
Search engines are looking for three things – which spells EAT; according to ahrefs you can break that down into:
Expertise – Expertise means to have a high level of knowledge or skill in a particular field.
Authority – Authority is about reputation, particularly among other experts and influencers in the industry.
Trustworthy – Trust is about the legitimacy, transparency, and accuracy of the website and its content.
Now that we know what search engines want and how that can translate into organic traffic, the next question should be: how does that end up in sales?
Your sales funnel
A blog post that performs well attracts new traffic daily and moves readers to take the next action closer to a sale.A blog post that performs well attracts new traffic daily and moves readers to take the next action closer to a sale. Click To Tweet
For example, a reader could go from your blog article to a related blog article and then join your mailing list. Or maybe they go from blog articles to an inquiry or to see your products (see our list below “Internal linking”).
The beauty of blog content is that you create it once, and it keeps working for you… forever.
Now, let’s move to your blog audit, beginning with one of the often-overlooked first steps.
Google Analytics installed
Google Analytics is like the dashboard in your car – without it, you have no way of knowing what’s really happening with your website.Google Analytics is like the dashboard in your car - without it, you have no way of knowing what’s really happening with your website. Click To Tweet
Google Analytics is free, easy to install, and starts capturing data as soon as it’s installed. In addition, platforms like Wix, WordPress, and Squarespace make it easy to add your tracking ID.
Where’s the traffic?
Think of your website as a trade show.
People arrive through many different doors (blog articles), have a look, and then either leave or move to another booth. With Google Analytics installed, you’re able to see these traffic patterns on your site.
Your goal is to keep people on your site and getting closer to a sale. Here’s what to look at.
Once you’ve logged in to Google Analytics, go to Behaviour > Overview and then look in the bottom-right corner to click Full Report. This post walks you through the steps we take.
Presto! Now you have a full view of where people go, how long they stay, and what percent goes to a next page. Tip: we usually change the date range (top-right corner of the complete dashboard) to the last 3 months to get a better picture of trends.
Just like advertisements, readers scan your headline before deciding if they will read the article. Therefore, a provocative, compelling, and keyword-rich headline is the start to your blog’s success.A provocative, compelling, and keyword-rich headline is the start to your blog success. Click To Tweet
Here’s a couple of quick tips to help make your headline more compelling:
- Numbers – list articles are always popular. Readers like the promise of solutions they can take action to. Here are some examples from our site:
- Keywords – a keyword is a word or phrase popular in search engines (many people are looking for a solution related to this word or phrase) and relevant to your business. (See “SEO Keywords” below for how keywords work in your blog.)
- Emotion – adding emotion to your headline is like adding icing on a cake. The cake might be delicious, but it’s the icing that makes us want to eat it. So when I’m writing a headline, I start with what I want to say and then add emotion to make it more appealing.
Compare headlines I started with for this post:
- Why everyone needs to do a blog audit (ugh)
- 11 simple steps to completing your first performance blog audit (long, boring, and well, just bad)
- Improve blog performance: A simple step-by-step guide
Like the opening of a YouTube video or chapter in a book, your blog needs to start by grabbing the reader’s attention. As one blogger put it, the first sentence’s job is to get you to read the second sentence (and so on).The job of the first sentence in your blog is to get you to read the second sentence (and so on). Click To Tweet
A simple rule to follow is always to start your blog with a problem you know your reader has. You can state a fact, quote a statistic, or ask a question. Your job is to make your reader hungry to discover the solution to this problem.
At BlogWorks, we used a simple, 3-step template to open most of our blog posts:
- Problem – what is the problem you know your read has? Make it evident in your first sentence.
- Personal – what is your experience with this problem or a statistic or fact that proves its importance?
- Promise – what will the reader discover by continuing to read?
To use a corny fishing analogy, Search Engine Optimization is all about putting the right bait on the hook.
An SEO keyword is a word or expression that many people are searching for. When you put that keyword in your blog post, you have a chance that search engines see it, index that page, and present it to searching audiences.
Every second, millions of people are searching for solutions. Your job is to put the answer they want in your blog articles.Every second, millions of people are searching for solutions, your job is to put the answer they want in your blog articles. Click To Tweet
A simple workaround, without SEO tools, is to type versions of what you think customers search for and then use search terms that appear to be less competitive.
The objective of adding internal links in your article is to get your reader one step closer to a sale. Think of it this way…
A good salesperson always does one thing well – they get you to say “Yes”.
“Are you interested in a new car today?” “Yes!”
“I see you are looking at a 4-door sedan. Is that the kind of car you need? “Yes!”
Every time your reader says “Yes” by clicking on a link, they are one small step closer to a purchase. Your internal link options could be:
- Link to a related article. This is great for increasing time on site and keeping your reader looking at your content.
- Link to an opt-in offer. Entice more sales action with a simple email sequence that starts when readers join your list.
- Link to a quiz, survey, test, free course, or other online offer included on your website.
- Link to a contact page, order form, book offer page, online course landing page, or any other sales-related page.
When you link to other sites, you invite your reader to exit your site (and likely never come back). As much as you may want to recognize other experts online, you also want to keep your reader.
Here’s a solution:
If you are quoting a source, try to link to a reputable, non-competing site to add authority to your site. If you want to recognize an author or online expert, mention their name, but you don’t have to link to them (or link them in a footnote to your article).
Like any marketing effort, consistency is an essential ingredient for success. Your blog will attract more traffic and more loyal readers if you publish consistently.Your blog will attract more traffic and more loyal readers if you publish consistently. Click To Tweet
And here’s a trick.
The reality is most of us don’t have time to write a blog post and publish it every week or even every two weeks. So there are alternatives.
- Write a short thought. Sometimes, the most successful posts are no longer than 200-300 words but have a powerful message. Author Seth Godin’s blog is an excellent example of this.
- Share a podcast recording, YouTube video, or article.
- Update an old post and republish it. More than one-half of the clients at BlogWorks use our updating process. It’s a huge timesaver, and the boost in traffic is typically faster and larger than with new posts (see below for more details on how this works).
Updating old posts
A great strategy for maintaining a consistent publishing schedule (especially when you are too busy to write new content) is to update and republish old blog posts. For this process, we suggest you have at least 20-30 published blog posts, with some being at least one year old.
When you update your blog post, you follow a similar checklist to the one presented in this article. At BlogWorks, we use a 15-point checklist. Once updated, publish the article as a new post (so it rises to the top of your blog list), but with the same URL. We explain the process in this blog post.
Where do they go?
A good test of any blog article is bounce rate and navigation. Bounce rate is a measure of the percent of readers who left your website from that article. A bounce rate of over 90% is very high and means that less than 1 out of 10 readers went to a second page (the rest all left your site never to return).
Navigation is a look behind the curtain at where readers go from a blog article. At BlogWorks, we look at the navigation of the blog posts that get the most traffic. Typically, our clients will have 4-6 blog posts that get 70-80% of all the traffic on the site. Great! But we also want to make sure that traffic is going to a related blog post or “revenue” pages.
CTA – Call To Action
Imagine you need a new laptop.
It’s a lot of money, and you want to shop around. You drive to the store and park. You meet a salesperson, and they are very helpful. They ask lots of questions, and you answer.
After about 10 minutes of nice chatting, they still haven’t done the one thing they are paid for. Ask for the sale!
Your blog is like a salesperson – it needs to ask for the sale! That’s called a CTA, or Call-To-Action. We like to see a CTA in the first third of your post and 3-4 in the whole post (see the list in #6, above for types of call-to-action.) And here’s a tip…
Suggest why they should click and leave the post. In other words, instead of simply linking keywords in your article, include a small incentive, like:
Use this link to learn more about how amazing BlogWorks is.
There you have it – your receipt for a quick blog audit. Your goal should be to find one or two areas to tweak and improve on. Do that, and you will have ongoing success. Just like everything valuable, a little attention goes a long way!
Liked this post? Here are 3 more all about blog performance!