- Seek presence (like impressions, clicks and click rate)
- Traffic performance (based on overall views and visits, individual post performance and by recommendation source)
- Authority in your online niche (based on the number of incoming links)
- Readership Engagement (by measuring the time on the page, the bounce rate, the social shares and comments, and the number of subscribers)
- Lead generation (by measuring the CTA click rate, the target conversion rate, the number of leads and the lead-to-customer conversion rate)
All of this data is used to prove the ROI of the blog and improve the performance of your blog content. You just have to know how to use it!
Let’s dwell on that …
Blog analytics metrics and insights
Let’s break down each blog metrics that you should be tracking so you can make incremental improvements and generate even more traffic and leads … based on data right under your nose.
1. Impressions of the organic search
An “impression” is the number of times your post or page was displayed on the search engine results pages (SERPs). The higher the rank of your blog posts in the SERPs, the more visibility (and therefore traffic) your blog can achieve through organic search.
If you have a low number of impressions, your search exposure may not be strong enough to get the organic traffic you’re looking for. You then need to implement SEO best practices and create content for search queries that are being searched for.
2. Organic clicks
It is not enough to just be present on the SERPs, which is what the impression data is measuring. Your content needs to be compelling enough to force the viewfinder to click. The more organic clicks your content gets, the more traffic your blog will get.
If you find that your clicks are low, check your impressions first. If impressions are also low, you need to work on increasing your impressions.
On the other hand, if your content is targeting a low volume query (i.e. you can’t change search behavior and get people to search for something more) your impressions can be lower.
However, if you find that your SERP positions and impressions are high and your clicks are low, you may need to work on your title (blog heading) and meta description to get attention and get more clicks.
3. Organic CTR
Comparing organic impressions to clicks can be tricky, but that’s where organic click-through rate comes in. This metric shows the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click.
The higher the percentage, the more bang you get for your impressions. You can even have low-traffic posts (due to low keyword volume) that rank high, get a lot of impressions, and get a high percentage of clicks from those impressions.
At the same time, you could rank lower on a high volume query and still get a lot of traffic with a low click-through rate.
4. Overall views and visits
A visit measures the number of times your website has been viewed by a user. Pageviews refer to the number of times a page has been viewed by a user. It is important to note that there can be multiple pageviews on each visit as users can browse multiple pages in a single session.
These general metrics can tell you:
- Whether blog traffic is trending up or down
- Average number of page views per visit (i.e. whether a user is engaging with multiple pieces of your content during the visit)
- Average views per post (how far your content goes on average)
5. Individual post-performance
The number of views for individual blog posts gives you more detailed data on how your target audience is reacting to the different topics that you blog about.
Do you find that posts on certain topics aren’t as good as others? This is likely an indication that these topics aren’t that important to your audience. If so, you may want to post less on these topics and more on topics that really appeal to your target audience.
You can also use blog post views to identify other patterns and clues in your blog content. Does a certain title structure work better than others? Do pontifying posts generate a better response than writing posts? Use all of these insights to inform your future posts and increase the value of your blog and get better results.
6. Traffic recommendation source
Your blog’s referral sources show you where (what websites) users are from and give you a sense of how people are finding your blog. Use this information to identify shortcomings in your blog’s visibility and to diagnose why your blog may be low on traffic.
Does the majority of your traffic come from social media websites as part of your heavy social media advertising, but few visitors come from organic search – or vice versa?
Make sure to optimize your blog content with the keywords your target audience is looking for so that it will be found in search engines and allocate some resources for promoting your blog on the websites your target audience tends to populate.
Keep tracking your referral sources as you ramp up advertisements on specific channels so you can determine the ROI of using one channel over another. A heavy focus on social media advertising that produces few visitors may not be the best use of your time if, for example, another channel is driving blog traffic better.
7. Number of incoming links
“Inbound Links” refers to the links your blog receives from other websites. Incoming links or links from other websites and blogs pointing to your blog content can indicate how authoritative your blog is.
Think of inbound links as a vote of confidence. If someone thinks your blog content is worth linking to within their own content, it is a good indicator that the content is an authoritative resource on the topic.
Inbound links can also show you how effectively your blog is contributing to the overall SEO of your website, as inbound links are one of the most powerful factors that affect search engine optimization. They can even help you generate blog traffic from the referring website and expose you to a brand new audience.
Individual inbound links will also help you identify some of the key pieces of content on your blog that you may use as fodder for social media updates, new blog posts, or e-books.
8. Time on hand
Page Time measures how long a user stayed to engage with the content once they hit the page. It can * be a good indicator of how engaging the content is to your blog visitors. The idea is that the longer you stay, the more time it took you to read the information, rather than skim it and jump away (more on that later).
* Take this metric with a grain of salt, however. Shorter posts take less time to read and therefore have a shorter time for page averages. Because of this, if you take the time to make it easier for the user to navigate and find your posts, shorter times may come up (and that’s fine!).
9. Bounce rate
The bounce rate is the number of times visitors leave your blog without visiting other pages on your blog. While this is a good indicator of the quality of your content and the overall stickiness of your blog, don’t be fooled by some of the bounce rate effects. While you probably want visitors to stick with you and read other articles on your blog, you probably wouldn’t consider it bad if a visitor clicked a CTA at the end of your post and went to one of your landing pages on a lead capture form fill in, right?
However, if people are quickly leaving your blog for a completely different website, there are a few things you should do to improve the quality of your content.
To reduce the bounce rate, consider adding a sidebar widget to your blog that contains your blog’s top performing posts and switching your blog home page to preview your 5 most recent posts instead of a full view of your most recent post. This gives visitors the opportunity to read more posts that suit their individual needs and entice them to stick with them.
10. Social shares and comments
Comments and social shares are good complementary metrics for indicating how much your content is liked and how your audience perceives it. In addition, comments and social networks can be a great way to identify strengths and weaknesses in your content and generate ideas for new content.
If you are experiencing only a few social shares of your content, make sure that social sharing buttons are installed on every blog article you post. Make sure you also spend time promoting on social media.
11. Number of participants
The number of RSS subscribers and email subscribers to your blog can indicate how much your blog’s stable community of readers will grow over time.
Visitors who sign up are likely to make up your blog’s solid readership. This usually indicates the true following of your content. These readers will most likely share your content with their own networks, thereby expanding the reach of your blog. As such, there is some work you should do to increase your subscriber number and track its growth over time.
Make sure that the email and RSS subscription buttons are clearly visible at the top of your blog’s sidebar to encourage new visitors to subscribe to your content.
12. CTA CTR
One look at your blog post or social share isn’t the be-all and end-all. You want your blog to have a meaningful impact on sales … and traffic is only part of that equation.
With that in mind, you will never generate leads if no one is clicking your landing pages from your blog. This is where the CTA click-through rate comes into play.
CTA click-through rate measures the percentage of visitors who clicked on your blog’s CTA.
The higher the click-through rate, the more effective your CTA will be on the traffic your blog is currently generating.
However, a low click-through rate can mean a few things:
- The offer in your call-to-action isn’t compelling or relevant enough (blog readers are there for a reason, and the offer doesn’t meet or excite their needs).
- The CTA was not placed in a sufficiently prominent place for visibility
- The CTA design is just not attractive or prominent enough to warrant a click (be it because of the aesthetic design or an ineffective keyboard copy).
To improve your blog’s click-through rate, make sure the offer you are presenting matches the content of your posts as closely as possible, using a compelling button copy that clearly demonstrates the value of the offer, creates a sense of urgency, and the Button has an eye-catching design. Running some A / B tests is a great way to tweak the best calls-to-action for your blog to improve click-through rate.
13. Number of leads
Of course, the number of leads generated shows you how effectively your blog supports lead generation. Is it trending up or down? Are They the Right Type of Leads?
To make sure your basics are covered here, be sure to let your readers know what action to take. Make sure that:
- Every post you post contains a call-to-action for a relevant offer
- On the homepage of your blog itself, you can find your best performing CTAs in the sidebar / top bar
- You add anchor text links to landing pages in the text of your blog posts
Knowing the number of leads assigned to your blog can help you diagnose other poor performance of your blog as well.
14. Target conversion rate
The target conversion rate measures whether your blog readers have completed the action they (the target) should convert from a visit to a lead. In contrast to the number of leads metric, which shows how much leads you are generating for your business, the conversion rate is how effectively you are doing it.
Note that the conversion rate depends heavily on your existing traffic. So if you have low traffic but an amazing conversion rate, you can generate leads at the same rate as high traffic but lower conversion rate. When coupled with knowing your blog’s CTA CTA, you can get some impressive insights.
For example, if you have a high CTR but a low conversion rate, it means that even though visitors click on your CTAs, they leave your landing pages before they fill out the form to convert to a lead. If so, you are likely having a conversion problem that could be due to a number of reasons: The messages in your CTAs do not match the messages on their landing pages, or you may have a number of very landing page-specific message issues . First, start by testing better alignment between your CTAs and their landing pages. If that’s not enough, check out the landing page optimization tests.
15. Lead-to-customer conversion rate
Your blog’s lead-to-customer conversion rate shows you how effective the leads generated by your blog became customers. This insight becomes valuable when you examine and compare the effectiveness of your various marketing channels. If your blog is one of your most important customer channels, it might make sense to allocate more time and staff to it. If not, the opposite might be a better approach.
Now, all of the above metrics are fantastic metrics to measure your blog’s performance. But how do you get the data? Below are blog analytics tools that you can use to collect and analyze blog data.
1. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free tool that website owners can use to measure and analyze their presence on Google. Using the data provided by Google itself, you can track the following:
- Organic impressions from Google
- Number of clicks from Google
- Click rate
- Positioning (the ranking on Google SERPs)
The Google Search Console also offers the option of segmenting on the basis of individual pages, individual queries, countries and devices. You can also compare date ranges to see changes over time.
The only thing you need to do to gain access to this data is activate and verify ownership of your website.
SEMrush is a third party tool for measuring the presence and ranking of search queries. You can use it to track changes in position over time, monitor your incoming link profile, and optimize content for SEO.
What’s special about it is that SEMrush goes beyond just providing the data and helps you gain actionable insights. You can do keyword research and uncover strategies to improve your blog’s performance. You can also run competitive analysis to understand what your competitors are looking for.
3. Arel = “noopener” target = “_ blank” hrefs
Arel = “noopener” target = “_ blank” hrefs is a similar tool to SEMrush for tracking search performance and performing keyword research and competition analysis. This all-in-one SEO tool gives you access to keyword data, website audits and rank tracking. What makes Arel = “noopener” target = “_ blank” hrefs special is SERP function tracking, which lets you understand exactly what your users are seeing when they run a particular query.
4. Google Analytics
While Google Search Console helps you understand and measure your position and performance on the SERPs before users get to your website, Google Analytics helps you understand what happens when they get to your website.
Google Analytics can help you understand:
- audience – Who came to your website? Where are you? What is your demographic like? Which device did you use?
- Acquisition – Where are you from? What referring websites did you send?
- behavior – Where did you end up (which page or which post)? What did you do when you got here? How long did you stay? How did you navigate the website? Which side did they leave from?
- Conversions – Did you do what you wanted?
There are many metrics to consider in these larger areas. Google Analytics also offers ways to filter, segment and compare different metrics. That way, you can tell if you are getting the right traffic, if that traffic is trending up or down, and if they are navigating and converting the way you want them to.
HubSpot is a CRM platform with marketing, CMS, sales and service tools to help your business grow better. The advantage of using HubSpot for blogging is that you can monitor the performance of your posts and pull that data into CRM records so your team can see all marketing interactions. This enables you to follow the entire customer lifecycle from first blog view to customer prospect and beyond.
StoryChief is a tool for centralized management of content, ranging from publishing to blog analytics and content. Use the analytics, reporting, and data management capabilities to analyze your data, track trends in top performing content, and gain insights into creating buzz-worthy content. The advantage over Google Analytics is the intuitive user interface. (Fun fact: it integrates with HubSpot too.)
Tableau is data management software that you can use to create data visualizations that can lead you to valuable insights. It works by integrating multiple data sources and allows you to drill down, filter, and create charts and dashboards to identify trends and forecast opportunities.
Whichever tools you use, when you focus on the metrics that are important to your blogging endeavors, keep in mind that data alone is not enough to create an actionable strategy. It’s important to understand the context of the data and interpret insights into the inbound marketing activities that are generating an ROI.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in January 2012 and has been updated for completeness.