Marketing

Our Google Analytics Hack for Measuring Blog Post Performance Beyond Pageviews

Use these metrics to reveal the content that attracts, engages, converts and retains your readers.

Kevin Kononenko on June 27, 2017 • 8 minute read

If you are judging your blog posts solely on the traffic they produce, you are probably ignoring the real metrics that determine a great article. Instead, use this hack to measure your posts’ true impact.

Anyone who has read Buzzfeed or scanned a Facebook feed knows there are plenty of reasons why an article might receive traffic even if it’s not that helpful or well-written. Maybe it has an especially juicy headline that grabbed a lot of attention on social media. Maybe it’s controversial in some way. Or maybe it’s stuffed with all the right keywords so it ranks well on Google.

Whatever the reason your posts get clicked on, be careful not to rely on shortcuts to duplicate the results. You will probably get yourself more traffic. But, at what cost?

If you obsess over page views at the expense of everything else, you will most likely sacrifice conversion and retention rates and probably a large amount of good-will.  In some cases, your soul.

Don’t. Do. That.

Instead, focus on a variety of metrics that help you determine the quality of your posts. Attracting traffic is important. But, to get a fuller picture of your blogs impact on your business, measure the quality of your traffic too.

On the flip side, if you’re not generating a lot of traffic yet, tracking these metrics is a great way to show the benefits of blogging to your bosses or clients while you build a consistent stream of traffic.

In other words, focus on producing high value content using the following process.

Track These 5 Metrics For Every Post

At Databox, we track five metrics to determine the success of blog posts:

  1. Pageviews: Number of times each blog post has been viewed.
  2. Average pages per session: Number of pages viewed during sessions when a specific blog post is viewed.
  3. Average dwell time: The amount of time spent reading a specific blog post, on average.
  4. Goal completion rate: The percentage of visitors who convert to a user when the first page they view is a specific blog post.
  5. Returning blog visitors: Number of people who returned to our site to read a specific blog post.

As you might imagine, we use our own product to track all of these metrics. In fact, we created one dashboard that you can use to do the same. In just 3 clicks, you can view your stats on our Blog Quality Metrics dashboard.

BlogQualityMetricsDB

With these metrics, we can answer more important questions that will create months of blog traffic and conversions into the future. These metrics help us with:

  • Which posts bring in qualified traffic?
  • Which posts encourage people to learn more about the Databox product?
  • Which posts do visitors actually read?
  • Which posts encourage visitors to continue to follow our brand and return to the site?

Here is a little more detail on each metric.

Use Average Pages/Session to See Which Content Encourages Curiosity

Your offer will not be suitable for most visitors that read your blog posts (unfortunately). But, a well-written post will still encourage users to read more posts or investigate your product’s functionality. The average pages per session metric lets you discover the number of pages that the average blog visitor visits after reading your article first.

Relevant terms

Page- A new page loaded by a site visitor

Session- Everything that a user does in one experience on your site until they close the window/tab.

Usually, this number will be between 1 and 5. You want to use relative comparisons to other posts on your site. If a post has a high pages/session, that could mean:

  • You successfully sparked some curiosity about your product
  • You provided relevant links within the post to other content on your site

Use Dwell Time To See If Visitors Actually Read Your Articles

Dwell time answers the immortal question, “Are visitors actually reading my post?” It is hard to present a call-to-action or build your company’s authority if visitors do not read the post in the first place.

Relevant terms

Time on page- the length of a session without counting the time spent on the exit page (i.e. the last page the user visited).

Average time on page, which is the KPI we use to determine dwell time, could be low because:

  • The introduction is not enticing
  • The headline was misleading
  • Writing quality is poor
  • There are too many distractions on the page

Once you identify the posts that lead to the highest time on page on average, you can search for trends. How long were these posts? What was the subject matter? How many graphics did they include? How did the majority of visitors find the article? You can use these rules to create more readable content in the future.

Use Goal Completion Rate To Discover the Posts Driving Qualified Traffic

You need to set up a goal in Google Analytics to make this one work. The goal depends on what you want users to accomplish after they read a blog post. Let’s assume you want them to sign up for an account.

Goal completion rate will tell you which blog posts lead to signups. Posts that receive plenty of traffic may still not lead to signups. The content may be boring or it may attract the wrong audience for your product.

Relevant terms

Goal– A custom event in Google Analytics that signifies a major milestone for the user, like signing up for your product.

This is perhaps the best indicator of which topics need more content. Once you can track post-by-post conversion rate, you will learn how to bring qualified traffic to your site. Write more about this topic or just drive more traffic to this post.

Measure Returning Users to Find The Posts That Build Loyalty

Writing consistent, strong content will help you create authority in your space and stay top of mind for prospects. They will be more likely to recommend your site to others in the industry, and when the need for your product arises, you will be an obvious solution. You will be able to develop more streams of traffic beyond first-time organic search visitors.

Using Databox’s Custom Query Builder, you can find the blog posts (using Landing Pages in Google Analytics) that bring visitors back to your site. This will tell you which posts lead to the expectation of more, similar content. For example, let’s say you have a personal finance product. If a blog on credit card debt attracts a high percentage of return visitors, you know that credit card debt is a major struggle for your readers.

Relevant terms

Returning user– a visitor who has already logged at least one session on your site.

Landing page- The first page that a user visited on their first session.

You can use a few factors to analyze the cause of returning visitors:

  • Length of post
  • Topic of post
  • Type of post (video, infographic, text-heavy)
  • Style of story (interview, list post, how-to guide etc.)

How We Use This Data

At Databox, we use all of these metrics to make informed decisions. Using this data, we have a clearer direction for future content and blog optimization opportunities too.

Combined, these metrics help us make editorial decisions based on how our current content impacts our entire sales and marketing funnel. They also help us make decisions about which posts to promote more heavily.

When we see a post performing across all metrics, we know we have a winner. When we see we have a few winners with common topics or formats, we know we have a system for producing better and better results into the future.

That doesn’t me we stop experimenting with new formats and topics. It just means we know what’s working and can do more of that to hit our growth goals.

Analyze Your Blog Data Right Now

If you are simply making editorial decisions based on the number of pageviews a blog post gets, this is your opportunity to become more data-driven.

As long as you already use Google Analytics on your site, you can do this analysis with just a few clicks. Grab the template here, where you’ll be prompted to sign up for a free Databox account and then login to your Google Analytics account to connect it.

As long as your blog posts have “blog” in the URL (i.e. http://blog.companyname.com or http://companyname.com/blog) or in the page title, this will work for you as soon as you set it up. (We did the hard work to set up custom queries for you.)

Alternatively, there are a number of articles that tell you how to get some of this data right inside Google Analytics:

  1. Tracking Blog Traffic Using Google Analytics by BlogMutt
  2. How to Use Google Analytics to Track Your Top Blog Posts by Wild Apricot

And if you still need to setup Google Analytics or haven’t set up conversion tracking, start here.

Has this post been helpful? Never mind. We’ll know. 🙂

About the author
Kevin Kononenko Growth Marketer @ Databox. Making it easy for marketers to tell the story of their success. Everton FC supporter. Startup guy.
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