5 Quick Ways to Measure Your Blog’s Performance

5 Quick Ways to Measure Your Blog’s Performance

Let me ask you a question:

Would you drive a car without a dashboard or put your money in a bank if you couldn’t see your balance?

Not likely – right?

So why are you investing in a website, but not measuring results?

Of course, if you are measuring your results, please pat yourself on the back and go back to your spreadsheets.

If not…you really need to take 5 minutes and read this article.

Every day at BlogWorks we speak with wonderful, hard working business owners who have a website and a blog. Almost all fail to measure results.

No numbers, no comparison of this month to last month—no way of knowing what’s working.

Meanwhile 78% (I just made that up) want to invest more money into their website so it will “perform better”!!

What if you could get basic feedback on your blog’s performance – without having to hire a pimply 21 year old or having to learn SEO?

What if you could get basic feedback on your blog’s performance - without having to hire a pimply 21 year old or having to learn SEO? Click To Tweet

Great, right?

Well, it is possible to measure your blog’s performance and do it quickly and easily.

Here’s 5 ways to get you started…

1. Dollars in the Bank

The most basic question to ask yourself is: does your blog put money in the bank? After all, you should be getting a return on your the investment you put into your blog.

The most obvious return on that investment is enquiries from prospects who read your blog:

    • a prospect replies directly to the email you sent announcing your latest blog post.
    • prospects are responding to an offer in your blog announcement.

When you email your blog to your list do you get a spike in traffic to your site (see Google Analytics below)? That spike in traffic can drive more attention to your product and services pages. This article will show you 7 ways to include a Call-To-Action in your blog posts.

2. Comments and Shares

This isn’t the most scientific measure, but reader engagement is a sign of your blog’s performance. On the most simplest level, more comments and social shares equates to performance of that post.

Let’s face it, we all have blog posts that miss the mark and complete winners that haul in half your traffic. More comments on one post is a positive sign, just as posts that get shared more mean your readers found value in your content.

We wrote about social sharing plugins that are free and easy to use in this article.

3. Growing your list

Your mailing list is one of the most powerful ways to reach your audience. Even with the incredible power of social media, emails have more shelf life—an email might be opened, read and responded to days – even a week – after you send it.

So consider your list growing strategy. Do you have obvious opt-in invitations on your blog? Is the incentive to join your list working? Do you have a simple email sequence that is sent out automatically when someone joins your list? This article is all about adding call-to-actions to your blog.

As a speaker, I invite my audience to sign up for my blog. At a typical presentation 50-80% of the room complete a simple form to sign up. My blog becomes a way into those businesses. That’s a value I can measure.

4. Check your Numbers

analytics overview to measure your blog performance

The real data behind your blog performance comes from Google Analytics.

Once you know Google Analytics is installed, you can dive into the data as simply or as deeply as you are comfortable. Learn more about using the data in this article.

Once you log-in, set the date range for the last 30 days (top-right hand corner of display). The basic 3 numbers to pay attention to are:

  1. Users – this is the number of unique visitors (each person is counted once).
  2. Pages/Session – average number of pages per visit (session) indicates if readers are exploring your site.
  3. Avg. Session Duration – the higher this number, the better – you want readers to spend enough time to go from reading your blog to your “revenue pages.”

If you want  to go a bit deeper (and impress your friends), set your dates to the last 30 days and then click “compare.” Now you can see how your site performance compares to the past 30 days.

Google Analytics comparison to measure your blog's performance

Dashboard Delivery

It’s unlikely you’ll log into Analytics very often which is why we recommend it comes to you! In one minute you can set up Analytics to send you a simple dashboard report every month:

  1. Click “Share” (top right corner)
  2. In the pop-up window, enter your email address.
  3. Choose “Attachments” – PDF
  4. Choose “Frequency” – Monthly
  5. Click “I’m not a robot” > Send

gif showing how to use google analytics compare to measure your blog's success

5. Think long term

You have lots of marketing choices – always will. And one of the best marketing strategies is to  create relevant, valuable unique content to attract prospects. That takes time.

With a little planning, some consistent effort and by checking your results you can outdistance your competitors.

Blogging is not a bright-shiny-object you do for a week. It’s about thinking long-term and committing. The good news is, measuring your performance results not only will let you know what’s working and what needs attention, but you’ll also get to enjoy watching your investment payoff.

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more articles all about blog performance:

51 ways to get more business from your blog in the New Year
90 seconds to becoming a better writer
5 steps to writing an awesome blog post in less than 60 minutes

 

How to never run out of blog ideas ever again

Never run out of blog ideas ever again

This post was originally published in July, 2016 and has been updated and re-loved for you. Enjoy.

The biggest mistake bloggers make is, well, they don’t blog.

Those gaping holes between posts make everything on your site look a little suspect – like going into a grocery store and seeing food past its due date. How long before you question everything in the store?

The bottom line is you can’t attract new prospects and build loyalty if you don’t consistently work to attract them. That’s why content marketing (sharing valuable, problem-solving resources) is still the best way to grow your business. And this is true whether you’re a food blogger or a baker, a keynote speaker or you teach online – it’s all about sharing your best content AND proving you are the best choice.

To avoid running out of ideas for your blog you have to have lots of ideas for your blog.

In this post, I’ll walk you through 5 ways to keep great blog ideas rolling in. Let’s jump in with reading…

1. Read blogs

Nothing beats reading other people’s blogs to stimulate ideas for your own future posts. I use feedly to pull my favourite blogs into one location where I can read them while I’m eating lunch. I also make it a habit to write comments on blogs I’ve read (hint, hint) to show my appreciation.

But, reading blogs is only the start—you need to think about your market. What problems need solving? What questions are they asking you? What has worked in the past?

Feedly is a super easy tool to quickly organize all your favourite blogs into one place.

For example, I got the idea to write posts about Google Analytics because I was searching for answers for my clients. I found a lot of articles answering my questions, but they were either too long or too technical. So I wrote this one and this one.

Now that you’re reading great content, you need to organize the best blog ideas…

2. Build an Inventory

In the old days (like 10 years ago) you might have saved magazines or used sticky notes to mark ideas in a book you’re reading. Those systems can’t keep up with our online world where a great idea might be in a blog post you read, an online magazine, a Tweet – even an Instagram post.

You need one place to collect, organize and retrieve your best blog ideas.

Evernote is a brilliant (free) online tool that allows you to easily grab articles off the web, store images, record audio or even accept pictures of hand-scribbled notes from your phone. It syncs in seconds on all your devices and, with the paid account, you can even search off-line as you head to the grocery store to collect ingredients for your favourite Thai salad with peanut sauce recipe.

To fully unleash the power of Evernote, install the Webclipper (I remember it as the Elephant head) extension on your favourite browser. That will allow you to quickly grab the article you found, strip it of advertising, tag it and store it for future reference.

find blog ideas

And here’s my favourite trick with Evernote (h/t to Michael Hyatt):

Instead of creating lots of Notebooks in Evernote, which can get messy and confusing, I have all my notes in one Notebook and use tags to search for what I want. And I tag all future blog ideas (including articles I saved using the Evernote extension) with the tag “unused blog post”. The tag allows me to easily pull up all my unused ideas and choose the one I want to work on. As soon as I use that note I delete it.

evernote
I use the tag “unused blog topics” to easily organize all my future blog ideas into one search.

Okay, you’ve collected lots of blog ideas, now it’s time to organize them on a calendar…

3. Build your Editorial Calendar

A simple way to organized future blog ideas is using a spreadsheet, like Excel or Google Sheets. Or you could use planning tools like Asana or Trello. That’s great, but I’m a visual person and prefer seeing future projects in a calendar format.

If you have a WordPress site, you can organize all your blog ideas with a clever (and free) plugin called Editorial Calendar (watch our quick video to learn how this works).

Editorial calendar
The Editorial calendar plugin makes it easy to schedule posts and to see your draft posts in one place.

When you start putting dates to topics, think about seasons and buyer behaviour. What seasons do your customers respond to (like winter, summer, Christmas, etc.)? When are your customers more likely to buy? When does your customer have certain problems (like Spring cleaning, budgeting, staff hiring, etc.)?

Your Editorial Calendar doesn’t have to be perfect. The idea is to promote the writing and publishing by planning ahead and avoiding writer’s block.

Now you have lots of blog ideas collected in Evernote and you’ve started to plan future posts in your Editorial Calendar. Great! This next strategy is a way to boost traffic without writing a new post…

4. Repurpose old content

This strategy will save you time and could get you a big traffic boost. Here’s how it works…

Start by making a list of posts that are pulling in strong traffic but are over a year old. These are gems that could be working harder if they were “re-loved” and republished.

To get to your analytics, first, log in, then navigate to Behaviour > Overview.

best blog ideas
To get to your analytics, first, log in, then navigate to Behaviour > Overview

This part is a little technical, but hang in there – you only need to do this research a few times a year to get the full benefit.

There are at least 3 metrics you can use to choose the blog article to republish:

  1. old posts – if your post is older than one year there’s a good chance you need to update the images, and facts in the article and maybe add more detail to the content.
  2. low Bounce rate – “Bounce rate” is the per cent of people who left your site after one page (they didn’t explore the rest of your site). A lower bounce rate (like 60-70%) can be a good sign. Think of it this way: out of all your published blog posts, there are some that keep readers on your site longer. Those posts could be worth updating and republishing.
  3. high time on page – “Time on site” is the minutes a reader spent on that page. The higher the time, the more likely the reader is to share the article and spend more time on your site.

You can combine the metrics. In other words, look for blog posts older than a year, with low bounce rate and high time on site. Find 3-5 of those posts and start with them.

Here’s another example:

We republished our post “Facebook Page vs Profile: Everything You Need To Know” and within 10 days our traffic increased by 229%!

blog ideas
In just 10 days traffic to this post increased by over 200%!

The blog post you’re reading is another good example. It was originally published in July 2016 and I added more content and images and republished it in February 2019. It only took about an hour’s worth of chopping, adding, and changes to turn it into the post you’re reading – much easier than starting from scratch!

Whew! You’ve collected amazing ideas into Evernote, organized them with Editorial Calendar, planned a post you will refresh and republish. Now it’s time for a bit of psychology…

5. Give ‘em more of what they love

It might be tempting to pour a cup of coffee and just start writing your next blog post. But what about what your market wants?

Every day your readers are leaving bread crumbs – clues – about what they want. It could be a comment on a post, social shares or an email that asks a question about a recent post. You need to watch for these clues.

A simple first step is to check what posts are most popular (see #4 above). You can also think about the psychology of your reader. What keeps a person on your blog for more than a quick glance?

It’s about solving a problem.

Readers, don’t announce this – but they are looking for a solution to something. It could be a great travel destination or how to save for their retirement.

If you provide that solution that gets them from where they are now to where they want to be, faster or cheaper, they will come back for more. But, there’s more…

If you provide that solution that gets them from where they are now to where they want to be, faster or cheaper, they will come back for more. Click To Tweet

The trick is to always give’em more of what they love. Blogs that wander off down rabbit holes about unrelated topics might work if you are already a celebrity off-line, but don’t work if you are trying to build a business online.

Stick to what your readers want and you will build valuable traffic that will come back for more.

 

How the Pros Run Their Blogs

You know the worst feeling in the world?

Seeing other blogs take off while yours stays stagnant.

Trust me, I know how crushing this feeling can be. However, there’s a simple way to get more shares and better rankings. In fact, the pros know how to use these strategies well.

And you’re about to learn them.

The Pros Use Google Analytics

Measure your blog's effectiveness with Google Analytics

When you install Google Analytics, you can see which of your blog posts are doing well and which aren’t, based off their traffic. Then, you can base your next blog post off the information you get from these stats.

You don’t want to waste time writing articles that aren’t bringing traffic to your blog. Basing your post topics off what’s already done well will ensure that doesn’t happen.

As content marketing expert Andy Crestodina explains,

“The more you’re aware of how things are connected and the deeper you look down the funnel, the more equipped you’ll be to make better decisions. It’s just like the dashboard of a car.”

The Pros Write Consistently and Schedule Their Content

In order to get more traffic to your blog, you have to get into the habit of writing content consistently. Without posting on a schedule, you’ll have a hard time building a following.

By creating S.M.A.R.T goals, you’ll find it easier to write noteworthy content. These goals will keep you focused (even when all you want to do is procrastinate).

Try out different S.M.A.R.T goals to see what works best for you. For example, if you say you’re going to stick to writing three blog posts weekly, but can’t come up with the time to do so, shorten the goal to once per week.

Another great way to keep up with these goals is to create a content calendar (also known as an editorial calendar). This will ensure that you’re staying on top of your blog posts daily.

Content Calendar

By creating a content calendar, you’re able to determine your publishing schedule and set up recurring events. The point is to come up with topic ideas ahead of time so you aren’t scrounging for ideas at the last minute.

The Pros Write Great Content

After a while, you may feel like you’ve written all you have to say. When you start to feel like you’ve hit writer’s block, use this time to gather topic ideas from blogs that you follow yourself.

If anything, you could always repurpose some of your old content that has done well in the past. Include new case studies that back up points you’ve made in the past and spruce up your old post.

Conclusion

Finding the time to write a great post can be a challenge. A good way to power through your work daily is to use the Pomodoro Technique (which helps you power through distractions using 25 minute intervals).

 

Google Analytics for non-analytical people

Google Analytics Basics

For a long time I resisted Google Analytics. Just the word “analytics” conjured up images of unwashed twenty-somethings ogling Excel spreadsheets while sipping Red Bull and mumbling about decimal points of Pi.

No thanks.

It was only when I realized that without Google Analytics (GA) I didn’t know a damn thing about my blog I was converted.

“The oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown” — H.P. Lovecraft Click To Tweet

In my most recent post I showed you how to know if Google Analytics is installed and collecting data on your site. Now it’s time to look beneath the hood and see what we can learn from the data.

When you first log into your Google Analytics (GA) account it might look a bit overwhelming – lots of graphs, numbers and menus. Don’t worry – most of it you can ignore.

First, it’s helpful to remember that GA only records what people do on your site. Every time someone arrives, clicks, leaves, returns, clicks again is all recorded. It even tracks where they came from, what device they were using and what they had for breakfast (kidding).

With Google Analytics, your job is to decide the minimum data that is meaningful to your business. Here’s where I get started.

With Google Analytics, your job is to decide the minimum data that is meaningful to your business. Click To Tweet

Just the facts, ma’am

When you sign into Google Analytics (if you have multiple websites, like I do, use the same Gmail account to access them all) you get the main dashboard.

main dashboard

Let’s jump into the main dashboard results you should know about. Note, you can change the time frame in the top-right corner. Default will be the last 30 days.

Sessions – total visitors

Users – total unique visitors (each person is counted once). This is sometimes called “uniques”

Pageviews – total pages viewed

Pages/Session – average number of pages each person viewed

Avg. Session Duration – average time on site

Bounce Rate – percent of people who left after one page (lower is better)

% New Sessions – estimate of first time visitors out of total visitors

You can easily get GA to email you on a regular basis this dashboard, or a custom dashboard. Before I started using www.cyfe.com as my main dashboard, I received a monthly custom dashboard from GA and it was a quick way to see what was going on.

via GIPHY

Alrighty. Now that you’re educated on the basics, let’s look at some deeper data you can dive into (not to mention a few more alliterations).

Your top blog posts

One of my favourite stops is Behaviour > Overview this chart shows me my top traffic blog posts. The idea is to monitor what posts are going viral (you might be surprised at how old your top posts are) and then to write more on those topics.

Behaviour report

For example, I know if I write about mistakes speakers make or how to make money as a speaker, those posts will always do very well.

Traffic sources

Head over to Acquisition > Overview to see where your visitors are coming from. Once there, click on “Organic Search” to see the keywords they are typing in their browser to find you.

Acquisition > Social > Overview will give you a snapshot of what social channels are are driving traffic (maybe all the time on Pinterest is paying off).

Going mobile?

If you’re interested to know what percent of your audience visits your site (In my case it’s 36%) on a mobile device, head to Audience > Mobile > Overview. There are a number of free sites where you can see how you site displays on mobile devices.

Goals

If you want to measure the number of people who requested your free ebook, or choose to watch a video on your site, that’s called a goal. First copy the URL of the “success” page that appears when someone accepts your offer. Next, in GA, go to ADMIN > Goals > + New Goal > Custom.

 

Enter the name of your goal (like “opt-in pages”), choose “Destination” > Continue. Under “Destination” Choose “Equals to” in the drop down and then enter the URL of the “success” page and click Save.

To see your goals, return to the main dashboard and then go to Conversions (in the left-hand main menu – it has a flag beside it) > Goals > Overview.

Onward

Beyond these results you can get into much more sophisticated analysis, like what route people take through your site and…

That’s beyond the scope of this article and, besides, I don’t know how to do it 🙂

How to know if Google Analytics is installed on your blog

Let’s get one thing clear about Google Analytics – it’s not an option, or nice-to-do thing, like opening the door for grandmothers. If you’re serious about your blog you must track just a few basic results in Google Analytics. There, I’ve said it.

And to do that, you must first make sure that Google Analytics is installed.

I’m still amazed at how many beautifully designed sites don’t have Google Analytics installed. It’s like building a beautiful car with no dashboard (“I think I’m going pretty fast!”).

Sure, you can use tools like www.buzzsumo.com to measure social shares or SimilarWeb for rough estimates of traffic (or Tarot cards to predict the future), but only Google Analytics has accurate traffic data to understand what people actually are doing on your site.

In this post I’ll give you a quick test to know if Google Analytics (GA) is installed and, if it isn’t, how to get it installed.

In the next post we’ll go over the basic information you should be watching from Google Analytics.

How to know if Google Analytics is installed

When GA is properly installed there will be a Universal Analytics (UA) code snippet in your web site’s source code (the hidden information that runs your site). That code will look something like: UA-453782-0

Sample UA code

If that code is there, you’re gold. Google Analytics is recording every click, swipe, burp, and keystroke on your site. But if it’s not there, nothing is being collected. And even if you install Analytics today, it’s not retroactive—no code, no data.

Depending on the browser you use, there are different ways to show your source code:
On a MAC right-click directly on your web site home page and look for “View Page Source”. On a PC press CTRL + U on you computer’s keyboard.

If that doesn’t work, you can go through your browser menu:

Firefox:
In the “Tools” menu, click “Web Developer”, then click “Page Source”

Google Chrome:
In the “View” menu, click “Developer”, then click “View Source”

Safari:
In the “Safari” menu, click “Preferences”, choose “Advanced”
Click the checkbox “Show Develop menu in menu bar”, close window
Click “Show Page Source” in the “Develop” menu.

Internet Explorer:
In the “View” menu, click “Source”

Now that you have all that crazy code opened up, you want to search for the Google Analytics snippet.

On a PC use “Control+F” or for Macs use “Command+F”. Then type in “UA-” (without the quotes) in the “Find” text box. If Google Analytics is installed, you should see the snippet (like: UA-453782-0) highlighted. You might need to scroll down to find it.

If it’s not installed, you will see “UA-000000-0” or “UA-         “, either way, you need to go the next step and install Google Analytics.

How to get your Tracking Code

Step 1: First, you have to have a Gmail account (I know, I know, big brother has you now), you’ll see a sign-in page like below. If you don’t have an account yet, go to Google Analytics Signup Page.

Sign in to Gmail

Step 2: Once you sign in with your account, you’ll be prompted with this screen, you can select Google Analytics on the right-side drop-down.

Sign in to Google Analytics

Steps 3: Fill in the required information and then click on the Get Tracking ID button

Fill in form

Steps 4: Now you will be presented with Google Analytics tracking code. Copy this tracking code because you will need to enter it in your WordPress site.

Google Analytics tracking code

How to install Google Analytics

There are a number of non-technical and technical ways to install your tracking code on your site. I always recommend using the free plug-in from www.wpbeginner.com. It just takes a few minutes and then, presto! You’re all set.

Whew! Now that you are recording data (it will take a day or two before you can see results). It’s time to learn what to look for.

In the next post I’ll share how to use the Google Analytics numbers to make more intelligent decisions with your blog.