Happy New Year fellow IFB-ers! I hope you had a wonderful New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, and that 2014 brings you all the success you could hope for. The beginning of the year is a great time to check on your blog's process from the previous year, both to see how far you've come along and to help with setting goals for the current year. When you're “in the middle of things,” so to speak, it can be hard to get the kind of big picture perspective that's important to truly understand how well your blog is doing. If it's been a little while since you've checked your blog's stats (or if you're never checked them at all!), the following 3 metrics are a good place to start. And if you're a beginning blogger, don't worry; I promise nothing here is too complex. Please note, this blog post uses info from Google Analytics. Start by setting your date range to January 1, 2013 thru December 31, 2013.
Where is your traffic coming from? If you've implemented an SEO strategy or if you're utilizing social media in an effort to get more traffic, knowing who those top referrers are is critical to evaluating the success of your methods. In the sidebar of your Google Analytics Dashboard, go to Acquisition –> All Traffic. Google's default setting is to show you to the top 10 referrers, but I like to stretch that out to the top 25 or top 50. Does your referral profile line up with what you expect? Where is most of your traffic coming from? Do you have a diverse range of referring sites? Drilling down even deeper, which sites are sending the most new visitors your way and how long are those visitors staying? This can tell you where to focus your blog traffic efforts for the new year.
Most Popular Pages and/or Posts
Next, click on Behavior –> Site Content –> All Pages. You should see a list of url slugs. While you should be able to recognize which pages or posts you're looking at from just the slugs, clicking on “Page Title” can make this quite a bit easier. Again, you want to select 25-50 rows. Here, you can see which of your pages and posts were most popular last year. Are your most popular posts what you expected? Are most of your visitors landing on your homepage…or somewhere else? Are your most popular posts recent or are they from several years ago? What kind of content consistently shows up here (trends, evergreen articles, list posts, etc.)? This will tell you why people are coming to your blog and what you're becoming most known for, which is important for deciding what content to write in 2014.
Where are the people reading your blog located? For this section, you'll want to take a look at your top-referring countries and cities. This information is important for two reasons. One, you want to make sure that you're talking to the people you think you're talking to; for example, if you think you're writing for a London audience and it turns out most of your readers live in Los Angeles, that's good to know as you may want to adjust your content and the sorts of things you talk about. Two, if you're even thinking about offering advertising in the new year, potential advertisers will want to know that you're speaking to their potential customers, and location is a part of that (a brand trying to increase their reach in Canada, for example, will be very interested in how many Canadian visitors your blog receives).
In the sidebar, go to Audience –> Geo –> Location. Again, select 25-50 rows. Are you most popular countries and cities what you expected to see? Which percentage of your site's visitors comes from those top referring locales? Are you reaching the people you most want to reach? What's a “right” or “wrong” answer depends entirely on you and your site's goals, but it is important to be aware of and deliberate about where your site's traffic is coming from.
Which blog stats do you think are important to check? Have you learned anything unexpected from taking a look at your stats over the previous year? Please share in the comments!
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