You’re ready to show your expertise and let your voice be heard. You’ve been putting in the time and doing the work to build your blog, and now you’re ready to grow. But how do you measure performance of a blog? What analytics are worth paying attention to? And how do you know if you’re getting it right?
It’s helpful to think of your blog as a business. In order for businesses to measure performance and success, they establish Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to help them track their progress. KPIs are simply statistics that the business tracks to show how they are doing in certain areas.
It’s not uncommon for bloggers to get caught up in tracking what have become known as “vanity metrics” instead of the KPIs that truly reflect growth. Vanity metrics are the analytics or statistics that might make the blog look good, like page views, without really showing an accurate picture of what’s going on under the surface.
When you want to experience real growth in your blog, it’s important to track and measure the right areas. This allows you to see what’s working, what’s not, and what changes need to be made.
What are the right KPIs to track as a blogger?
If you’re new to tracking your blog metrics, Google Analytics is a tool that is free and easy to use. However, there is a lot of information available on the platform. That’s why it’s helpful to know which numbers to look at to get an accurate picture of how your blog is performing.
The best way to know what analytics to look at is to start by asking questions about what results you want to see on the blog. This will help you find the KPIs that will give an accurate picture of where your blog currently is.
Here are three of the most important questions to consider:
1. Is my blog audience growing?
If you want to know if your audience is growing, pay attention to the traffic on your site. The numbers of users can easily show there is an increase in traffic, but you want to dig even deeper. Here are some things to pay attention to:
Are there patterns or trends in the number of users?
This could look like having certain months or days of the week when your users spike or drop significantly. If you identify a pattern, you can explore other analytics to see what contributes to it.
How are people finding my blog?
When you understand the traffic source, how people arrive on the blog, it can help you know where to focus your efforts. You can see how many people are going directly to your website vs finding your through search. You can also see what social media platforms are working the best for you.
Is my email list growing?
An increase in email subscribers is a good indicator that you are getting the right traffic on your blog. The readers arriving on the blog are interested in your content enough to give you direct access to them through their email address.
2. Are people engaged on the blog?
The goal of blogging isn’t just to get people to show up on your blog. You want them to engage with the content that you’re sharing. There are several analytics you can track to help you see the quality of your readership:
- Average Session Duration – The longer readers are on your blog, the more likely they are to be engaged with the content.
- Pages / Session – Engaged readers are more likely to click through to read other posts and explore your blog. The higher the number of pages per session, the more engaged a reader is with your content.
- Social shares – Readers are more likely to share content when it really connects with them. Common reasons readers share blog posts with others is they were entertained by it, learned something from it, or it affirmed something they already believed.
- Returning Traffic vs New Visitors – If all your traffic is new, it shows you that people aren’t finding a reason to return to the blog later. Yes, you want new traffic to continue growing, but you also want to keep existing readers coming back for more.
- Comments – The number of comments on a blog can be referred to at times as a vanity metric. However, reading the comments can provide insight on what readers like, dislike, engage with, and want to see more of. So while the number of comments on your blog may not give you an accurate idea of how well your blog is doing, there’s still valuable information to be learned from them.
3. What content is working?
As a blogger, you want to know what content is performing well on your blog. That way you know what to create more of. This is part of digging a little deeper into your blog. While it helps to know if your pageviews are increasing, it’s even more helpful to know which pages and posts are getting the most attention.
Here are the analytics to keep an eye on:
- Page traffic – Which pages are people visiting the most?
- Average views by post – Tracking your blog’s average views per post helps you monitor the quality of your posts. It will also show you if you have a few posts that are out performing or underperforming others. When the average views per post starts to decline, even if your numbers overall are increasing, it spotlights an area to focus on improving.
- Traffic by landing pages – These numbers will help you see the effectiveness of your landing pages. If you’re not driving traffic to the page, it shows you an area you can focus on for growth.
- Traffic by exit page – The exit page is the last page that a viewer looks at before leaving your blog. If you notice many readers are dropping off your blog from the same page, it’s an indication that you might need to work on adjusting it. This can help readers continue to flow through the site.
- Backlinks by page – Backlinks are when other websites link to your web page or blog post. This helps to build the authority of your blog which can help you improve in the search rankings. You want to create content that others want to link to.
It’s OK to start small with measuring performance
If you were a little overwhelmed reading through the list of questions and KPIs to think about with your blog, don’t worry. If you’re just starting out, focus on just one or two areas. As your level of comfort and understanding with those analytics grows, it will allow you room to add in more.
As you begin to see the impact that the metrics have on your blog, you’ll be able to tailor your blogging efforts in the right areas to skyrocket growth. And if you want to continue to learn about what you can do to grow your audience to see the improvements in your analytics, read 5 Essential Steps To Grow Your Blog Audience.