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7 Simple Ways to Track The Health of Your Blog

I want you to be honest with yourself.

Let’s call the next 12 months The Year of Accountability.  Instead of “hoping” for a successful blog, website or business, I want you to go out there and make it happen.

Today, I’m going to give you a powerful tool for staying accountable and systematically improving your blogs performance.

But first, you need to understand –

Your Blog’s  Arch Nemesis

I’ve met many people who failed at blogging.  These people didn’t fail because they didn’t have a great idea for their blog.  They didn’t fail because they were poor writers or didn’t commit to creating awesome content.

The failed because they were ambushed by a crafty villain.  This trickster whispered a lie in their ears that went something like this…

  • “Ignore the numbers.  They don’t matter”
  • “Focusing on numbers will turn you into a robot”
  • “Numbers aren’t authentic”
  • “You aren’t good at numbers so just focus on writing great content and the numbers will take care of themselves”

Imagine me looking you directly in the eye and saying…

The Numbers Matter…Big Time.  Anyone who tells you different is a liar, an idiot, or misled.

You absolutely need the numbers. My position isn’t extreme it good ole midwestern common sense.  I live in Michigan.  If I want to drive to San Diego California in three days, I need numbers to tell me how much fuel I need, and how much time I have.  Good intentions will barely get me across the state line.

So let’s agree that we will recognize the “forget the numbers’ mantra for what it is – nonsense.

Here Are The Blog Numbers You Need To Watch

1. Conversions measures how well your blog converts readers into action-takers.  This is the most important number to keep track of. A high conversion blog works harder and makes the most of every visitor.

In Google Analytics you’ll need to set up Goals for your conversion tasks.  This usually means setting up a goal for blog update subscribers and any products or service transactions.

2. Time on Page shows if your blog posts are being read.  Most people read 450 word per minute so  a 700 word post take a bit less than 2 minutes to read.  If your average Time on Page is less than 30 seconds then you have a problem.

The best way to boost your Time on Page number is by working on your topic selection and blog post template.  For example, using a Problem – Solution – Application structure helps readers understand what they are reading and will hold their attention longer.

3. Blog Update Unsubscribe Rate reflects your attrition rate.  People will unsubscribe from your blog update list so expect anywhere from .5 to 1% unsubscribe rate every time you send a new email.  An unsubscribe rate higher than 1% starts to raise a red flag.

Don’t panic.  You can lower the rate by giving readers the option to receive a weekly digest of posts versus a post-by-post email update.  If your Time on Page is low then you should rethink your topics to make sure they are a match with your audience.

4. Social Sharing (retweets, Facebook likes, etc.) tracks your credibility. Basically are your readers impressed enough with your content to share it with their audience?  This number isn’t the best but it is a decent indicator of popular posts.

Bonus: You can use Google Analytics Assisted Conversions Report to see which social networks are sending readers who take action.

5. Links to Your Blog (Backlinks). When another website links to your posts, search engines factor in the link as one sign that your blog has quality content.

I recommend using Majestic SEO’s free tool to see how many backlinks your blog is getting.  Generally, you want this number to go up over time.  Check this number once enough.

More importantly, check your backlinks to find sites actively promoting your content.  These sites are good candidates for guest posts and joint content development partnerships.

6. Pages Per Visit shows how well you holding your reader’s attention.  Most blogs do poorly here because they are designed to show one post and send the reader on their way.  However, you want to readers to spend time on your blog to give your more opportunities to convert them to a subscriber, sharer, commenter, or buyer.

Installing a “Relevant Posts” plugin is an  easy way to boost your Pages Per Visit number.  These plugins show 3 or more relevant posts at the end of your blog post.

Linking to other posts while writing also prompts readers to check out other posts that might interest them.  This is called interlinking and that last link is an example of how they naturally lead readers to other info they will find helpful .

7. Engaged Users.  Google Analytics has a library of pre-configured reports that automatically pull in your numbers and puts them in the right place.  These reports are extremely helpful.  My favorite one is the Really Engaged Users report. This report tells you how many of your readers have visited more than 3 pages and spend more than 3 minutes on your site every time they visit.  These are your super users.

Click here to automatically import this report into your Google Analytics Account.

Once you’ve found your super users, identify which blog posts they like and brainstorm additional topics they would like.

I like to increase my month to month super user count by 10% every month. This is a number that feels right for me you will need to select the right goal for your blog.  The goal is to watch and try to improve this number.

About Stan

Stan Smith is the CEO of Pushing Social a content marketing consultancy for aggressive, results-focused organizations.

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