Despite what surface-level wisdom might lead you to believe, operating and maintaining a blog is much more a science than an art.
While there’s certainly a creative aspect to writing blog posts, content marketers know the many metrics that need to be considered in order to give their audience what it wants based on empirical evidence — not educated guesses.
That’s where Google Analytics comes in.
In order to truly optimize your blog for a target audience, you need understand the key metrics that can turn it into a success. This means digging deep into Google Analytics and extracting the right information and avoiding arbitrary data that won’t help your blog reach its goals.
Understand Your Audience’s Interests
Having a strong grasp of your audience composition will help inform the content you create, the kind of media buys to make, and the audiences you should be leveraging for marketing and remarketing campaigns.
You can get to know your audience better by building Segments, which include demographics such as Age, Gender, Affinity Categories, and In-Market Segments.
Affinity Categories refer to the top-level interests that make-up someone’s overall online identity while In-Market Segments describes people who are actively searching and comparing products or services.
After logging into your Google Analytics account, click the Interests subsection that is located within the Audiences section. From here, you can analyze your blog’s audience by knowing what categories they fall into.
This will help you narrow down the tone and topics of your blog posts. Are you writing for Value Shoppers with an interest in Arts & Entertainment? Perhaps it’s a category of online users that Google refers to as “Technophiles,” or an in-market segment of people who are always on the lookout for Consumer Electronics / Mobile Phones.
Know the Age and Gender of Your Audience
This information will reinforce the tone, topics and voice of your blog by understanding the predominant age groups and genders that visit it.
The dynamics of your blog will likely shift depending who your biggest age and gender groups are. Is it males between 25-34 or females between 55-64? Knowing this information will allow you to create content better suited to those specific age and gender groups.
To find these dimensions go to Audience, then click on the Demographics tab for a full overview.
Analyze the “Average Time on Page”
One of the key metrics to decipher if people are actively reading your blog is the Average Time on Page.
To see this, go to Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages. This will show you data for the specific pages of your website.
Average Time on Page essentially highlights what your most engaging content is — it can also be referred to as “dwell time.” The idea is pretty simple. This metric allows you to see, down to the second, how much time a person has spent on a particular blog post you’ve published.
For example, if someone is spending less than 30 seconds on your blog post then you need to troubleshoot why you’re losing your reader’s interest so quickly.
You can sort the results by Average Time on Page, either ascending or descending, by clicking on the column. You’ll be able to see the blog posts or topics that have achieved the most value by getting people to read them in full.
Investigate How People Are Finding Your Blog
Now that we’ve taken a deep dive into the demographics of your website’s audience and if they’re taking the time to read your content, it’s time to analyze the sources of traffic to your blog.
Is Facebook working to bring people to the blog? Are there any sources you didn’t consider before, such as Reddit, that are bringing in substantial traffic?
To find the sources that people arrive to your blog from, go to Behaviour > Site Content > Pages. From there, you’ll see a small dropdown button called Secondary Dimension. Click this button and add “Source / Medium” into the blank field.
This will show you the traffic sources such as “google / organic,” “facebook.com / referral,” email newsletters sent through MailChimp, or websites linking back to your blog.
Find Out Who Is Reading Your Blog and Exiting
At their core, blogs serve a fundamental purpose in the sales funnel.
Whether you’re trying to establish yourself as an industry authority in order to achieve credibility for your company services, or comparing products on the market to explain the advantages of your particular product, this research plays a pivotal step.
If someone is reading your blog then immediately leaving the site without engaging with any website pages afterwards then that blog is unsuccessful in carving a path to a conversion — or even just a conversation.
While looking at your Behaviour > Site Content > All Pages, go ahead and re-order the results based on Exit Rate Percentage. This will show the pages with the highest Exit Rate Percentage.
To narrow this down to just your blog pages, go to the Advanced dropdown button.
If your website is set up so the blog pages live under “/blog/” then enter it here to only show the results for blog pages. From there, just click the Exit Rate Percentage column to order the Pages based on highest to lowest exiting users.
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