When starting a new blog or trying to improve an existing one, it is often difficult to gage the success of your posts. The most obvious indicator would be traffic, but often even that can be misleading. I've put together some of the ways I measure post success here for you. The best part about these measurements is they work for blogs with smaller amounts of traffic. Not only that but they can be applied to competitors blogs to see how they are doing as well, without seeing their Analytics. Or to gage how your guest post stacked up against other posts on a site.
First things first. You need to be running Google Analytics. You also need a way to measure social sharing, or at least the services you care about. The easiest way to do with is to use the share button these service provides, which comes with a counter.
Here are the primary ways of measuring a posts success. I like to use a one week window to measure a post but you could choose to wait a full month to get more accurate information or measure by the first day the post went live. And there is nothing stopping you from doing these measurements after a year or longer when that time comes. Just make sure to keep in consistent for all posts.
We’ll start off with the most obvious one. This number is found in Google Analytics under: Content > Site Content > Pages. Pretty simple, the amount of people who viewed the post.
The problem with going off this measure solely is there are so many factors that can alter it. The time and day a post is published has an effect on the traffic it can receive. Other factors can increase or decrease a posts views like a lucky Retweet or Digg that brings tons of readers. Or maybe some event is going on like the Super Bowl, so no one is reading blog posts that day about anything but football. And of course some of this traffic could be accidental or very low quality (high bounce rate, low time-on-page.)
Basically, there are tons of factors that influence page views. Yes, you should definitely watch this measure but make sure to check the other ones as well.
Page Views to ReTweets
I’m using Twitter as an examples but you can create a ratio for social shares to any social site that allows for easy tracking.
Retweets are important for two reasons:
- If someone likes your content enough to share it, than it is probably pretty good content.
- Retweets and other shares translate into increased traffic.
Page Views to RSS Subscribers
Unlike Retweets and other shares, gaining Subscribers (or social media followers) does not have an immediate effect on a blogs page views but it has potential to increase traffic every day going forward. So these are even more important in the long run. And to get someone to retweet is good but to get someone to subscribe means your content is really good.
It is pretty hard to nail down new subscribers to any one post because typically these people have read at least a handful before deciding to do so. So this will never be a totally accurate measurement, but take it for what it is worth. Subscribers are what makes a blog thrive and posts that create them are ones you should try to duplicate.
Page Views to Comments
Another very important measurement. For new blogs, comments are very hard to come by. But they are pretty valuable. When a person leaves a comment you know they probably took the time to actually read the post. That and it caused some reaction (good or bad) that was strong enough to get them to write something. Even comments disagreeing with you good for your blog.
Time on Page
Another pretty important measurement, but this one too can be misleading. Obviously the long the time the better but many things can effect this time. If you post gets indexed for something not really related to the post subject matter you could get a lot of search traffic hitting the post and immediately leaving upon realizing this wasn’t want they were looking for. Or perhaps the reader finds exactly what they needed in the first paragraph and bounces. Doesn’t mean the post wasn’t useful to them but you might get a short time-on-page because of it.
Analyzing Your Post Success
I suggest creating a spreadsheet to measure your post performance. Add the measurements across the top and the posts down the page. Perhaps in the future I’ll share mine for this site.
If you have any questions or other methods for measuring post performance please let me know in the comments below.