Analytics to track and test your blogging strategy.
I have been publishing blogs on our site since 2011, so I have a lot of material. In 2018, as SEO strategy was changing, the tactic of removing old content became popular. The idea was that each site has a crawl budget. This is a set number of pages that search engines would visit on a regular basis. You want the crawlers to see all your high performing or most up-to-date content first. So we began the process of reviewing blog posts on a regular basis.
Start With an Inventory of Blog Posts
I started by getting a complete list of all the blog posts published on our site. I am not going to lie, getting this list is not an easy task. There are several methods you could use. I have detailed the process in a previous blog post.
Reviewing Published Blog Posts
The first step in my review was to find out how well my blog posts were performing. To do my analysis I pulled in data from several sources. If you use my methods to pull your inventory of posts, most of this data should come right along with it. I would review the analytics from the past year. I would not go back farther than 2 years, even if the blog post is older. You are trying to find content that is performing well now. Past performance won’t help your website today.
Here is a short list of some of the analytics that I looked at:
- Pageviews – (Find in Google Analytics.) This number tells us that visitors are still looking at our blogs.
- Average Time on Page – (Find in Google Analytics.) We need visitors to stay on the page long enough to read the blog. The longer your posts, the higher this number should be.
- Entrances or New Users – (Find in Google Analytics.) When new people come to our website to read a blog first, this is a sign that our blogs are generating traffic.
- Bounce Rate – (Find in Google Analytics.) If your bounce rate on your blogs are high, users take one look at your post and leave. This is not a good sign.
- Publish Date – (Find in your website dashboard or blog editor.) How old is your post? Old posts with a lot of visitors are high performing. Newer blogs with minimal traffic could need more time to reach high performance.
- Word Count – (Find in your website dashboard or blog editor.) Do my visitors like longer posts or shorter posts? What is the average length of a high performing blog? Use this to help your efforts in the future. Also note if there is a trend between word count and bounce rate.
- Index Status – (Find in Google Search Console.) In Search Console, under “Index”, look for the report “Coverage”. Click on the button at the top “Valid”. Look for the line in the report on that page called “Submitted and Indexed”. Click on that row. This will show you the list of pages Google is currently including in search results. Check to see if your blog posts appear here. If not, they are no longer able to generate search traffic.
- Search Impressions, Click-Through Rate, Average Position– (Find in Google Search Console.) Note each of these for each blog post. They provide evidence that your post can generate search traffic.
One thing I did not get into here is whether or not the blog post is linked to by another site. You could find this out with search console if you wanted to check. My theory is if the post is not getting visitors, the link is not doing you much good.
I took my list of blog posts and created a spreadsheet. Then created a column for each of these statistics. To help, I sorted the data by each column. One at a time. Then I highlighted the low performers in each column by adding a cell color in the spreadsheet. When I resorted by list by blog title, I marked any posts that had multiple highlights. They required action.
What are the low performers? Here is a quick chart.
- Pageviews – Less than 1% of Pageviews for the entire site.
- Average Time on Page – 1 minute or less. Especially on longer posts.
- Entrances or New Users – Less than 1% of New Users for the entire site.
- Bounce Rate – 50% or higher.
- Index Status – No data found.
- Search Impressions, Click-Through Rate, Average Position- No data found.
What do you do with all this data?
You will use this data to decide what to do with your blog posts. There is no strategic advantage to keeping posts that are not performing. Quantity is not a sign of a good blog. Cleaning out old posts will help the performance of your website.
Posts that I would seriously think about deleting:
- Past News/Past Events – If the content is not relevant, don’t keep it.
- Post not found in the Index Report in Search Console – You can’t get search traffic from it. Check to see if it shows up on the other lists with a technical issue. But its not getting love from the search crawlers.
- Low quality posts – Every website has them. You needed a place to post a link to a video. You posted an old press release. The post was about another website that talked about your company, and the link is no good. Clean all this up.
- Repetitive Posts – Have been blogging for a while? You may have used an old SEO technique where you created posts for each variation of the same keyword. That’s not best practice now. Pick the best performer and delete the duplicates.
On the other hand, you spent a lot of time writing these blogs. Do you really have to delete them? Before you do, here are some ideas.
- Re-circulate your posts – If you have a post that you feel the content is still good, post about it on your social media accounts. Send an email blast highlight your content. Try one more time to drive traffic to the post and see if you can improve results.
- Combine for one great post – Blogging requirements have changed. One thing that has changed is the length of a post. Used to be shorter blogs were better. But if search traffic is what you want, you need longer posts. Could a couple of small posts make one great post?
- Update the Post – The idea is still good, but the specifics are out of date. Try a re-write and then re-circulate.
- Fix a Dead-End – Does your post just end or do you give the reader a next step? If your current next step isn’t working, try a new one.
- Check the display – Is the post formatting OK? Check it on a mobile device too. It may not be your content, it could be a technical issue.
Monitoring Success Going Forward – New Blog Posts
Just as you do with any marketing tactic, you need to monitor and measure the performance of your blogs. Here are some key analytics that you can use to help. I would use these numbers to track content going forward. All of these numbers can easily be found in Google Analytics.
- Organic Search Traffic– You want to see traffic from searches increase.
- Blog Posts as Top Landing Pages– There is a report in Google Analytics under Behavior. Click on Site Content. Click on Landing Pages. You want to see your blog posts show up as landing pages. That means they are creating traffic to your site.
- Visitor Growth – As you continue to blog, traffic to your site should increase overall.
- Bounce Rate/Exit Rate of Posts – You will want to keep an eye on the Bounce Rate and Exit rate for your posts. Under Behavior then Site Content, look at the All Pages report and find the addresses of your blog posts. If you Bounce and Exit percentages start to climb over 50%, you will need to review what you are writing. Remember a visitor needs to stay on your site long enough to read the blog post. If they are bouncing, its not possible to read the post completely.
- Conversion Rate – It would be nice to see visitors convert from blog posts. Convert means a visitor becomes a lead. You know how this happens on your site. You get an email, a sign-up or even a sale. Track this using Goals in Google Analytics. This requires some setup if you haven’t used this before.
- Google Analytics also has tools that will show you the path a user took before converting. This is easy to see once Goals are setup. Check for traffic that landed on a blog post then converts on another page.
More Blogging Resources.
For more information on blogging strategy, visit our Webinar Archives. Two we would suggest to start:
Here are two more articles to help with cleaning up your blogs.