A recent survey of 1,500 bloggers found nearly 90% of bloggers do not make enough money to meet their own needs. There are probably a few things that separate these bloggers from the rest, but a common theme with those bloggers who were surveyed was that almost none of them had any type of analytical tools implemented on their site, and the ones who did? Rarely looked at the data let alone made decisions based off of it.
Moral of the story? If you blog, its a good idea to use analytics because right now it will give you an edge over almost all your competition. Also keep in mind that this advice can work for any type of website, not just bloggers.
Now before we get into what data to use and how to find it, we have to decide on what types of analytics to use and how to install it.
The most obvious and recommend for the average blogger is Google Analytics. First off, its free and installation isn’t to hard. If you are having a hard time Google has great tutorials to help you get started. Generally you just need to paste in googles code into the headers of your website and verify you own the site. If you have a WordPress site this plugin makes it a breeze.
Now if you are in charge of a blog for a bigger company, or you want more in-depth analytics I recommend using Google analytics in tandem with a type of seo analytic platform. The two main choices are going to be Bright Edge’s SEO competitive analysis tools or Moz.com’s premium membership.
Both are similar, with Bright Edge being a tad more robust. When used with Google analytics the amount of insight-able data you can hoard is astounding. Speaking of…
The Big Mistake Most Bloggers (And Small Businesses) Make With Analytics
Out of the bloggers who used analytics and actually looked at the data, most only looked at general traffic. Thats it. Analytics is absolutely good for looking at traffic, but there is a lot more different types of actionable data that analytics can provide. Remember traffic isn’t always the most important metric to track. Its a great broad value to track while measuring how effective your work is, but there are so many variables that effect traffic, it doesn’t really give you much actionable insight for specific efforts.
How Smart Bloggers Use Data to Get Ahead of the Competition
Right, so how do we actually use analytics to get ahead? Here are a few tips to start you out.
- Track user flow – Google states user flow as ” Visitors Flow is a graphical representation of the paths users took through your site, from the source, through the various pages, and where along their paths they exited your site.” By watching this you will learn how people generally interact with your site. For example, this Australian camera hire site has a ton of products for rent. By tracking user flow they realized that most of their users were bouncing back on certain page only if they had come from another certain page. Thats a weird trend, page A normally has a good bounce rate (bounce rate definition) unless the user comes from page B , then page A’s bounce rate is horrible. Turns out that Page B linked to Page A with a misguided anchor text and users would get frustrated being taken to the wrong page and then move onto to a competitors site. Turns out Page B was also blog post that was ranking well for KW’s the site was targeting. Needless to say converting traffic increased after fixing the issue.
- Demographics – Knowing your audience, most bloggers may scoff at this thinking “I know who I am writing for.” But do you really? You may be surprised on who is reading your blog. For example, Glasses.com’s oakley sunglasses page strictly focused on selling product to males, all of their blog posts internally linking to that page were also targeted to males. Glasses thought that generally only males wanted Oakley sunglasses, but it turns out after checking out the user demographics and referral traffic almost all of the traffic was female coming from fashion blogs. They changed their landing page and added women’s style frames high up on the page. Furthermore they adjusted their blogging approach and oakley glasses sales increased 15% the following month, further proof was 90% of the 15% increase were female style frames.
- Acquisition – Organic vs Paid – Knowing what type of traffic is converting is essential. Using these data sets you can see which keywords and search queries are driving traffic. Coupled with some SEO analytical tools you can parse them down to which KW’s have the most value, where you rank for them and which ones to target. Essentially you can find the low hanging fruit you are not capitalizing on and move up from there. For example DAMN SON! a music blog/label was paying for ppc and social ads to supplement traffic and exposure. When they peeked into analytics turns out they were already getting traffic and ranking for a few KW’s organically, and that traffic stayed on the site longer and interacted more than the traffic driven by paid ads. They threw all that data into a visual excel dashboard and pinpointed where the exact breaking point for cost to income ratio was and re-adjusted their ads and organic SEO efforts for great success. Basically cutting down on PPC and increasing organic SEO efforts and the exact amount of adjustment was calculated with cold hard data.
- Conversions – This is more for PPC or if you have a consumer mailing list campaign, but conversion tracking can be used for Adsense and blog traffic. Digging into googles analytics you can set a conversion for just about anything, so if a user enters your site from an organic query and goes to a deeper post then clicks an add on that page, you can set up a conversion for that. Then you can start seeing what pages tend to get the most clicks from your Adsense, or if your using an email campaign which email templates drive the most converting traffic.
Those are just 4 ideas that I have used or seen personally in my consulting of effective use of analytics. But that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to capitalizing on data. If you want more ideas here is a big resource to get you excited about what data can do for your site.