Today I spent a couple of hours doing my monthly deep dive into Google Analytics.
While hardly a day goes by that I don’t check my blogs stats (usually just to see traffic levels and sources of traffic etc) I try to set aside a longer period of time, at the start of each month, to do a little more in depth analysis.
I find these deep dives are always insightful, and they often shape the coming month’s blogging.
So here’s a little exercise for you to do today.
It will require you to have an analytics program. If you don’t yet have one, installing one is your first exercise for the day. I recommend Google Analytics.
If you already have some analytics installed, look at your stats for the last month. Looks at which blog posts were the most popular, with the objective of learning something to inform your next month’s publishing.
There’s any number of things you can do this analysis including looking at:
- What was the post about – can you do a followup post?
- Was there something about the content that made it attractive to readers? A provocative title, a great image, the voice/style of the post?
- Where did the traffic come from? Is there an opportunity to build relationships with other sites to see this happen again?
- Did traffic come from a social media site? What made the post shareable? Can you replicate this in future posts?
- What kind of comments were left on the post? Were their questions you could follow up on in a new post?
I did this same exercise earlier today with content on Digital Photography School. Here’s just a taste of some of the observations I made on my top 5 most visited posts on the site last month:
This was an older post I updated and reposted on the site.
- The lesson: sometimes posts from years ago can be given a new lease of life.
- I suspect the title on this post had a ‘curiosity factor’ that intrigued people into clicking to see if they made the mistakes being talked about in the post.
- The post had a strong call to comment with directions on the type of comments I was looking for. The result – loads of comments.
- The post was not advanced reading – it was 3 simple ideas/tips that many people could relate to. Sometimes simple posts perform the best.
- Traffic came from a spread of sources but it did particularly well on Facebook with little more than a link on our Facebook page. We also saw 2000 visits from a photography forum that I’d not heard of before that I’ll go exploring in.
- There were 30+ comments with questions asked – I’ve made a list of these to consider for future articles.
This one was a bit of a surprise for me when I saw it ranking as the #2 most visited post in the last month because ‘Focus Stacking’ is a topic that is a little more nichey/specialised than many of the posts we cover.
- My suspicion is that the title probably saved the day on this one as it states a clear benefit of reading the post in ‘getting landscapes sharp’. Benefits in titles often work well!
- When I looked at the stats, I noticed it had two quite distinct spikes in traffic coming into it. This is unusual. Digging deeper it seems that the first spike was due to our newsletter being sent and the second spike, almost a week later, was when it saw a rush of traffic from StumbleUpon.
- A few of the comments on the post ask for tips on the same technique in other types of post production software – these could make good followup posts.
- People reading this post stayed on the site about 40% longer than the average visitor to the site – it seemed to get people reading through the post at a deeper level.
I had a feeling when we published this post that it would do well.
- The reason being… the posts about the mistakes I make seem to draw readers into the blog.
- This post did pretty well on Facebook. I’m not exactly sure why but I suspect it was shared by someone with a good following as Facebook sent quite a bit higher numbers of traffic than a typical post.
- The idea of ‘mistakes’ posts has given me ideas for a series like this but with some of our other regular writers.
This post succeeded for a number of reasons.
- Firstly – Travel photography is a hot topic for us on the site. We try to slip in a travel related post every couple of weeks.
- The title was another reason this post did so well. It signals a ’20 tips’ post, which sounds comprehensive and it makes a claim of everyone needing to know what it contains. These kind of claims always makes people come to see if they know all 20 (you need to be able to back up the claim though with solid content).
- This post also had some strong imagery, which always enhances the post and helps make it more shareable.
- Traffic sources were pretty typical on this one (Newsletter and Facebook were most) although it also did quite well with Google+. I managed to track down who shared it and have followed up with that person to thank them.
- Traffic was also strong because another travel related blog linked to it. I contacted that blogger to see if they might be interested in us writing a guest post for them – it could be a good relationship to have for both sites.
- These ‘image collections’ always do quite well on dPS so I’m not surprised to see it in the top 5. Our readers love inspirational photos.
- Having said that, I am a little surprised it didn’t do even better. We often see quite good traffic on these types of posts from Pinterest and traffic from that site was next to nothing. I guess freckles don’t hit the spot over there!
- Again, this post saw some nice traffic from another blog that I’ve not heard of before which gives me a great opportunity to get to know that blogger and explore how we can work together in the future.
- Interestingly the ‘time on site’ for those viewing this post was about half an average viewer. Obviously people just scan the post and then move on so while they can be good for traffic they don’t stick around as long as a text heavy post.
That’s just one of the areas that I dig into when I deep dive into Google Analytics. I’d love to hear what you do when you look at your stats and to hear what you’ve found today by doing a similar content related deep dive.