on December 6, 2019 • 10 minute read
In my experience, most older blog posts see big traffic and ranking increases after they’re updated—most, but not all. There have been instances where I’ve seen traffic and rankings decline after an update.
But because I monitor the results of each updated post very closely, I’m always able to identify those issues quickly and make the necessary changes to recover any lost traffic/rankings.
Monitoring traffic and ranking changes after updating old blog posts teaches you what works and what doesn’t. What types of changes improve your rankings? What changes cause your rankings to decline? What similarities are there in posts where you’ve earned featured snippets?
In my last tutorial, I wrote about how to find blog posts that need to be updated using Databox. In this guide, I’m going to go over the other data-related portion of any blog update project: how to use Databox to measure the performance of updated blog posts.
As a first step, you’ll need a Databox account. If you don’t already have one, you can sign up here for the free-forever plan which will let you do everything you need to do to measure the performance of your updated blog posts.
Next, it’s important to decide which performance metrics you want to measure. Traffic and search rankings are pretty standard metrics to measure, but depending on your goals, you may also want to track click-through rates, backlinks, time on page, bounce rate, goal completions, etc.
For my part, I typically track four metrics for updated blog posts:
I’ll go over how to create datablocks for each of these metrics below and explain why I believe each of these metrics is particularly important to track.
Editor’s note: Want a quicker way to create your dashboard? Grab this free Blog Post Performance After SEO Update dashboard that will save you from having to complete step one of the process below. Then, after you add it to your account, you can jump forward to step two.
Sessions from organic search is an important metric to measure for updated blog posts because it gives you a high-level view of how your updated post is performing in search.
You probably won’t be able to monitor rankings for every single keyword you rank for. But if you’re measuring organic search sessions, you don’t necessarily need to know every single keyword you rank for. You’ll know you’re doing something right as long as organic search sessions are increasing.
To track organic search sessions for individual blog posts in Databox, you’ll need to connect Google Analytics to your Databox account. If you don’t already have that set up, follow these instructions. Then, create a new dashboard.
In the edit view for your new dashboard, select the “Visualization types” icon in the left navigation bar, then drag and drop the “Line” option onto your dashboard.
Click on the line datablock to open the settings panel. In the settings panel, give your datablock a name (I usually use the title of the blog post) and select Google Analytics as your data source.
Click in the field next to “Metric” and select “Custom” > “+ New Custom Metric.”
Now we’re going to set up the custom metric that we’ll use to track sessions from organic search for all of our updated blog posts. In the custom metric creation screen, make these selections:
Once you’ve made all of these changes, click “Run query” so Databox can validate that the data you’re requesting exists and can be pulled. When it’s satisfied, you’ll see a “Save” button. Click it to save your metric and populate your datablock with the requested data.
Once you’re back to the main dashboard editing view, click in the field next to “Dimension” and start typing in some portion of the URL for the post you’ve updated and want to monitor. When you see the URL for that post, click it to update the line graph to only show traffic data for that post.
Finally, click in the “Date ranges” field and select “Last 90 Days” and “Last 12 Months.”
Now your datablock will update to show only sessions for organic search for the specific blog post you updated.
And you’ll not only see a line graph showing traffic trends, but you’ll also see a percentage increase indicator that will tell you how much traffic has increased or decreased over the last 30 days, 90 days, or 12 months, depending on which timeframe option you select.
For example, below I’ve selected “Last 30 Days, so the graph and percentage change indicator is showing how traffic in the last 30 days compared to traffic in the 30 days prior to that.
And if I switch the timeframe to “Last 90 Days,” it will show how traffic over the last 90 days compared to the 90 days prior to that.
When you’re updating an old blog post, most of the time, you’ll be optimizing it for a target keyword and, potentially, a few secondary keywords. But a single post can potentially rank for hundreds of terms. For that reason, I like to track rankings for both my target keyword and the average ranking for the updated page overall.
To track these metrics, you’ll first need to connect Google Search Console to Databox.
When you’re ready, return to your dashboard and drag two “Number” visualization types onto your dashboard:
Click the first number datablock to open the settings panel, give your block a descriptive title (e.g. Target Keyword Ranking), and select Google Search Console as your data source.
Click on the field next to metric, then select “Positon by Queries.” In the “Dimension” field, find your target keyword for the post.
Now, update your “Date ranges” to match what you selected for your organic search sessions datablock: “Last 30 Days,” “Last 90 Days,” and “Last 12 Months.”
When you’re finished, your datablock will refresh to show what position that keyword ranks in, as well as how that ranking has increased or decreased in the last 30 days/90 days/12 months (depending on the timeframe you select).
Now, you want to create the datablock showing the average ranking position for that page, which will include the rankings for every keyword you rank for. This will give you an idea of how your updated post is performing in search overall.
Click your second number datablock to open the settings panel, give your datablock a title (e.g. Average Overall Rankings), and select Google Search Console as your data source.
Click in the field next to “Metric” and select “Position by Pages.” In the field next to “Dimension,” find the URL of your updated blog post.
When you’re finished, your datablock will refresh to show the average position for the page overall, as well as how that ranking has increased or decreased in the last 30 days/90 days/12 months (depending on the timeframe you select).
Note: I’ve found that position data from Google Search Console is great for seeing overall trends, but it’s not always as accurate as I’d like it to be. If you want to monitor your exact keyword rankings for multiple keywords daily, I’d recommend monitoring your performance using Databox and a keyword tracking tool.
While it feels great and makes for a nice chart to update old blog posts and see improved traffic and rankings, the goal of most content marketing is to encourage people to convert—or at least to make progress toward converting. For this reason, I always track goal completions from updated blog posts.
To use this datablock, you’ll first need to have goals set up in Google Analytics for whatever conversions you want to measure (free trial signups, contact form completions, etc.). Once that’s complete, return to your dashboard, and drag a number block onto it.
Click the number block to open your setting panel, give your datablock a name (e.g. Free Trial Signups), and select Google Analytics as your data source.
For this one, we’re going to create a custom metric like we did for organic search sessions. Click in the “Metric” field and select “Custom” > “+ New Custom Metric.”
Now we’re going to set up the custom metric that we’ll use to track goal completions for all of our updated blog posts. In the custom metric creation screen, make these selections:
Finally, update your “Date ranges” to match what you selected for your organic search sessions datablock: “Last 30 Days,” “Last 90 Days,” and “Last 12 Months.”
Now your dashboard will show the number of goal completions from your updated blog post during the selected timeframe.
The final metric I like to track is click-through rates for updated blog posts. This is important because it’s possible to increase your ranking but actually get fewer clicks at the same time. A title change could reduce your CTR, as could a new featured snippet that completely answers a searcher’s question.
To monitor CTR for updated blog posts, drag the number block onto your dashboard. Then click it to open the settings panel, give your datablock a name (e.g. CTR), and select Google Search Console as your data source.
For “Metric,” select “CTR by Pages.” For “Dimension,” select the URL of your updated blog post.
The datablock will refresh to display the overall CTR for your updated blog post as well as a percentage showing how that CTR has changed over time.
One final step you may want to take is to link all of your updated post dashboards together into a carousel like the one shown above to share real-time performance data for all of the posts you’re updating as part of your content update project.
Then, you can just send your boss/clients the link to your carousel to share the results of your work—no screenshots or slideshows required!
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