At last count, there were more than 600 million blogs in the world, and the number of bloggers in the U.S. was expected to grow to nearly 32 million in 2020. Despite being around since the mid-1990s, blogs continue to survive and thrive.
Informative blog posts remain one of the best ways to attract readers and visitors. Websites featuring a blog have more than 400% more pages indexed by Google for search, and U.S. Internet users spend more time reading blogs than emails.
You may have many goals and objectives for your blog: the accumulation of first-party data, newsletter sign-ups, and page views to monetize with advertising or even product sales/affiliate link clicks. The key to success is to align your strategy and tactics so your content and media deliver the best return on investment.
This article will describe some key website and content metrics, what they tell you, and how to improve them. Most of these metrics refer to Google Analytics (GA), but they apply to other systems, including Adobe Analytics, Taboola Newsroom, Clicky, FoxMetrics, Kissmetrics, Matomo, and Woopra.
Taboola Newsroom offers insights into article engagement.
Table of Contents
- How to Improve Your Metrics
Check these insights regularly to find out how many people are seeing and experiencing your content.
- Pageviews: A pageview (or pageview hit, page tracking hit) is an instance of a page being loaded (or reloaded) into a browser, according to Google. Within GA, you can also slice and dice to see where people are coming from geographically and what days and times they are consuming your content. This will give you a small window into the profile of your readers.
- Unique Sessions: This metric is similar to page views, but it tells you how many unique readers you had, shedding some light on the actual size of your blog’s audience.
- Average Pages per Session: Sometimes called page depth, this metric lists how many different pages visitors looked at during one visit. It tells you how engaging your blog is and how well your site encourages visitors to check out multiple pages by digging deeper.
Google Analytics provides an overview of metrics to measure our blog’s content performance. (Image Source)
Keep track of these metrics to see how much of your content is read and how well the audience is consuming your content.
- Bounce Rate: As defined by Google, “A bounce is a single-page session on your site. In GA, a bounce is calculated specifically as a session that triggers only a single request to the Analytics server, such as when a user opens a single page on your site and then exits without triggering any other requests to the Analytics server during that session.” That means visitors left your blog after reading only one page or perhaps clicked away without reading anything. A high bounce rate is a red flag: the content may connect with the intended audience, or perhaps you do not reach the right audience for your content.
- Average Time on Page: As described, this number shows you how long a visitor stays on a page before moving on to another page on your site. It hints at the quality of the engagement with your content. The longer, the better, as it likely means they are actually reading it.
- Scroll Depth: This number shows you how far (25-50-75%) the reader scrolled down a page, which is important for today’s long scrolling sites and, of course, for mobile. This metric measures engagement and shows how interested readers are in your content.
- Return Visits: For a publisher, this one tells you what percentage of your traffic are returning visitors and how many are new to your site. Both are important for your audience development efforts, as you want to build up loyal and returning visitors while also bringing in fresh eyes.
Use these metrics to measure how often visitors take a desired action on your blog.
- Conversions Goals: Set goals to keep your audience engaged. Conversion goals are as varied as the types of blogs out there. The question is: what do you want your audience to do? Sign up for a newsletter? Click an affiliate or product link (e.g., Amazon links)? Sign up for a paid subscription? You can set conversion goals in GA and track them closely — especially what kind of traffic is more likely to convert.
Keep an eye on traffic sources to understand how people are finding your blog. You can find out which sources give you the best quality traffic and which provide an audience more likely to take a desired action.
- Keywords Used: These metrics show you which keywords visitors are using when they find your blog content with organic search engines such as Google or Bing. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a whole art in itself, but you can get a sense of what kind of keyword searches are triggering visits to your site. Based on that, you can add more content in areas where you see traction to generate more organic traffic. Publishers like organic traffic because it does not cost anything, but there is a limit to how many people will find your blog.
- Sources: This one is critical to understanding how people find your site – via social, Taboola links, paid display ads, etc. Not many sites can survive on just organic traffic — they need to amplify content and drive new visitors from paid tactics. By looking at where traffic is coming from, you can optimize your media plan to focus on the tactics that provide the highest engagement and conversions.
- Ad Unit Measurement: This is not something you would find in GA or one of the alternatives, but rather on your ad server or the platform/vendor you use to run your ads, like Taboola. Here you would see how many impressions you are getting and the click-through by ad unit. Best practices are running multiple creatives units or headlines and using the A/B testing that comes with these platforms to determine which works best driving traffic to your blog.
Visualizations like this one from Statcounter help you understand where your traffic comes from.
How to Improve Your Metrics:
Track your blog’s metrics regularly to understand your audience and your content’s performance — for example, devote some time each month to check on the most important numbers for your blog and try to identify patterns and areas that could benefit from changes.
How to Improve Reach:
Get more eyeballs on your blog by increasing and optimizing your paid media spend and watching it closely, so each dollar impacts growing your audience totals. Some outside help is available from companies like Taboola, who will optimize your headlines and images with A/B testing and provide intelligence from all of their customers in research, such as their publisher benchmark report.
How to Improve Your Engagement:
You can improve your content quality and write more based on what blog post topics are currently receiving the most engagement. You can also do things to increase page depth by providing more cross-links to other pages and content recommendations at the end of each blog — adding a tool like the Taboola Feed can help here. Rather than letting a blog post become a dead end on your site, provide a link and suggestion to go elsewhere (on your site) for related content.
Find out more about Taboola Feed in this free 5-minute webinar recording.
How to Optimize Your Traffic Sources:
You can look at your media tactics and how they perform by looking at how often someone takes an action – click-through rates (CTR) and how they translate into traffic and engagement.
That is why it is so important to look at all of the above metrics by traffic source. You get intelligence on the quality of the audience coming from your various media partners.
For example, if you are running ads and the people coming from those click-throughs have a high propensity to bounce or have a very low time on page, you can deduce this is not high-quality traffic. If so, you may want to redistribute that budget to media partners where you see a more quality audience engagement level. The same is true for your goals and conversions – put the dollars where they work hardest.
Start Using Website Metrics to Measure Success on Your Blog
Since (as the saying goes) “you can’t improve what you don’t measure”, monitoring and analyzing web metrics is paramount to understanding the nature of your traffic, where it comes from, and what topics are of interest to readers.
By tapping into these insights, you can get a quick gauge of your blog’s health, especially when you look at both reach and engagement metrics and how they contribute to your goals.
If the results are not to your liking, take steps to optimize and improve your blog — you can start by checking out Taboola’s Landing Page Optimization Tips, Tactics, Tools, and Examples. This is one of the real strengths of online media – you can make continual changes on the fly and iterate over and over again to boost results.