Blogging is the beating heart of content marketing. It allows you the creative freedom to publish what you like when you want to. More importantly for small businesses, it allows you to share your brand message with the world.
For all your efforts crafting interesting articles and publishing engaging content, you want to know that your blog is being read and responded to, but how do you know if your blog is successful?
Before asking that question it’s important to identify what you deem as blogging success. This should ultimately stem back to your objective for starting a business blog in the first place. Was it to share stories about your organization? To send video content viral? To boost your SEO? Blogging strategies differ from company to company and it’s important to ensure that you and your team are always clear on what your core business rationale is for maintaining a blog.
Once you’ve recapped what your blogging goal is, it’s time to look at the statistics. Your website should have Google Analytics configured so that you can review your visitor counts, bounce rates and where your web traffic is coming from; and monitor goals you’ve set for your in-page calls to action.
Here are the key stats to pay attention to:
Site Traffic – Sessions and Users
The landing page of your Google Analytics report is an overview of your audience which lists the number of sessions and users for a particular date range (by default this is the last 30 days). It’s important to note here the number of returning visitors as this can be a clear indication of how people are responding to your content. If the percentage of returning visitors is high, you clearly have them hooked – keep it up!
The page view count indicates the number of times visitors have looked at a particular page or blog post on your website and Google Analytics allows you to easily search for specific pages to see their relevant data. Inspecting your page views also gives you vital insight into which articles and topics are most popular with your audience and you can then fine-tune your content going forward.
The average time spent on each page will also give you a clear indication of whether your visitors have actually read your blog post or simply skimmed it and moved on.
Acquisition and Referrals
Knowing where your website traffic is coming from is key to building up your digital marketing strategy and increasing your reach. Are people linking to your site from search engines? From Twitter? Other blogs? If, for example, you have a high volume of traffic from organic search it is a sign that your content is good and ranking well. This is why the use of focused keywords boosts SEO and makes for a successful blog.
Bounce rate is defined as the percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page. If this page is a particular blog post and the bounce rate is abnormally high it can usually be deduced that the content isn’t interesting, useful or relevant to the reader. However, it could also mean the wrong audience for your brand was reached when the post was shared; so it’s not as telling as the other more reliable stats above.
Bounce rates for blog posts will usually be higher than other web pages. If you consider that most people discover a blog through search engines or a social media share, if they click through and find that your article isn’t relevant to them they’ll bounce on out of there!
While the world of social media can be fickle at best, we often look to it for validation. To keep tabs on how many times your blog is shared across social platforms, you can use social share buttons with a counter appended to the bottom of your blog posts. There are also online tools like Muck Rack’s Who Shared My Link which tell you much the same thing at the click of a search button. If it’s only Facebook you’re interested in, there’s a nifty way of reaching the figures. Simply copy the below into your browser’s address bar, substituting [YOUR-URL] for your blog address (don’t forget to include http://www…):
Another way of determining if your blog is successful is to add an RSS feed option to your posts; you can view the subscriber count at any time, although you can’t be sure that all these followers are actually reading your content.
While all these statistics are at our fingertips, there is often no better way to be sure of the success of your blog than through old school sales and lead generation insight. Talking to your customers face to face to discover what led them to purchase your products or make use of your services is the most accurate data you’ll ever come by.
This article first appeared on Ignite Media.