When I set business goals, I always try and make them data-based. I believe I have pretty good instincts, but I trust data. Numbers give me direct feedback on the effectiveness of my tactics. So, when it comes to my blog, one of the places I look for feedback is Google Analytics. There is a wealth of information there, so I am looking for specific analytics that match my goals. Here are three key stats I am following.
1. Traffic Source: Referral Traffic
Bloggers want to be read, want to be seen, and want to drive people to their website. For those of us whose websites showcase our blogs, getting more people to the website is key. Even though guest posting and syndication are great exposure, they don't necessarily get people to my website. Succinct calls to actions in a guest blog post (link to another related article on your website) can help, but nothing beats direct traffic.
Where is my traffic coming from? For me, it's Twitter first at 42 percent, and then it drops off drastically to a number of sources under ten percent with LinkedIn high on the list and Google lower. So, I continue to strengthen my Twitter presence. One way is leaving my Twitter footprint on the web wherever I go, like commenting on other blog pieces using my Twitter login. Also, I will be using LinkedIn and Google+ more this year to promote my blog. But that low Google referral number is troubling to me, which leads to my second stat.
I admit that I have neglected keywords in the past-mostly due to a misunderstanding of how they are used. Last summer I hired a web developer to redesign my website and part of the redesign was an in-depth lesson in SEO. Now, I have five checkpoints for every blog piece that help insure that I am taking full advantage of good search practices. The developer installed a handy application on my Wordpress dashboard called Yoast that helps me "check off" SEO priorities before I post. The biggest change: blog titles. I paid absolutely zero attention the SEO value of blog titles in the past-now I know better.
3. Page Goals
This is my project for early 2013. My blog doubles as my website. In order to get people past the initial blog entry to my business pages, I am devising strategies to get more visitors to click through to a business page. One way to help measure their effectiveness and then tweak the strategies is to set up custom page goals. Also, page goals will help me measure landing page effectiveness like free download offers, referral traffic from LinkedIn offers, and newsletter sign-ups. This is new terrain for me, but I need to be more strategic in measuring returns on my efforts.
What analytics do you use to measure success on your blog or website? I'm interested in getting your ideas and input in the comments.