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EXERCISE: Deep Dive into Your Content Analytics

Posted By Darren Rowse 4th of June 2013 Other Income Streams 0 Comments

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:

1. 3 Stupidly Simple Reasons Why Most People’s Photography Does Not Improve

EXERCISE: Deep Dive into Your Content Analytics

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.


2. Getting Landscapes Sharp: Focus Stacking

EXERCISE: Deep Dive into Your Content Analytics

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.

3. My Most Common Portrait Mistake

EXERCISE: Deep Dive into Your Content Analytics

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.

4. 20 Photography Tips Every Travel Photographer Must Know

EXERCISE: Deep Dive into Your Content Analytics

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.

5. 15 Fantastic Freckle Photos

EXERCISE: Deep Dive into Your Content Analytics

  • 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.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  1. I think it’s great that your share the fact that you are willing to work with other people, it gives the readers something to think about.

    Never done anything like this, not as deep I guess. But I enjoy watching where the visitors are coming from, it’s always nice to know that your word is being shared elsewhere.

  2. I love this post not only from the blogging perspective but because I am planning for my first DSLR camera this year and have been digging through the photography site more often.
    Bottom line, that site is extremely helpful so I am not one bit surprised it is so popular but the analysis you just did proves how invested you are in the site. Well, what I want to say is that any topic can be made into a popular site but a lot of people say “well, I can’t get my site out there because it isn’t in the blogging niche”. This proves them wrong and gives more hope to those who are blogging about other topics, how to improve their sites. I know I just picked up a tip or two that I am going to implement on a niche blog of mine. Thanks.

  3. Since my blog just completed its first month just over a week ago, I too jumped into the analytics and did an article of it. It was a simple post with a pie-chart for where my traffic comes from. So I hope to use that as a learning tool to improve next months article, where a better analysis should be offered.

  4. I just started blogging on my site. Thanks for the post. Google Analytics here I come!

  5. Great idea as always. I do spend time digging deeper through my analytics although not necessarily on a set schedule. I see what has been doing well and have updated a few old posts. I also pay attention as you said to new referrers. I take time to go visit them, especially if it’s another blog, and I interact with them.

  6. Yes there is always some great gems to be found, you can also look into Google Webmaster Tools to see what search terms have decent search volume but you might not have demonstrated to Google that you have enough authority content about those terms yet. These are a great place to look to find what topics you can write about a drive a bucket load of traffic.

    You can also use platforms like OpenSiteExplorer to see what fresh links you have recently built based on your posts so you know what content is going to benefit you SEO in the long term http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/just-discovered?site=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.problogger.net%2Farchives%2F2013%2F06%2F04%2Fexercise-deep-dive-into-your-content-analytics%2F

    Also consider using HitTail I have found it’s a bit more user friendly for generating content topic ideas automatically http://www.hittail.com/

    I have also found “Network referrals” under social in the traffic sources report shows you what content is attracting social traffic as you have produced that are doing well across social media. If you are able to focus on a handful of topics that do well in social media you can be sure to grow your audience beyond Google.

    You can also tag up your posts with event tracking so you can understand what images people are choosing to view in your top 20 posts, and refine future posts based on images that get a higher level of engagement.

  7. Thanks for the insight and also for making me aware of those blog posts you link to. I’m going to read them more thoroughly later tonight.

  8. Great post! Like you said, it’s extremely important to look at what content is ranking well and why. Google Analytics is a must (Google Webmaster Tools is awesome too). Was it the title that was intriguing? Did your audience stay on the page awhile or leave quickly? It’s important to analyze what’s working well and continue posting on that track. Great idea about follow-up posts on successful content (or perhaps other mediums like videos, infographics, etc)

    Bravo!! Thanks again!

  9. hi darren, I just started working on my new site and really thanks for this article.

  10. I just started my website. Thanks for the post.

  11. Very useful post. Thanks

  12. Another useful post full of useful tips. I am surely gonna implement them

  13. content analytics is very important part to get any site rank in google. Thanks for this awesome tutorial.

  14. It’s a great idea to write follow up post for you blog after analyzing which post got the most traffic and most importantly the less bounce rate.

    Thanks for Sharing

  15. This post is really great It reminds me to take sometime to look at my stats. most specially on the traffic side and which article drives people to read and comment on. Its been a while that I have not check on it.

    Thanks for reminding me

  16. I really like the idea of attempting to build relationships with the sites that are referring you traffic. Especially since the analytics sort of naturally prove that there is some overlap in audience interest, it’s an easy lead into a great relationship. Thanks for a great post!

  17. hmm. This can help me. I will try this Deep Dive process on my Google analytics. Lets see.. Hope i can find some active post in my blog and will do the follow ups of them.

    Thank you for this tip.

    You are really very creative.

  18. Personally, analytic diving is one of my favorite things about being a webmaster. I run around 6-7 websites (each very different in nature) and check the stats for each of them everyday.

    One area that interests me the most, like many others, is the traffic sources page. Just gives you a very good idea how far your content has reached.

    Just a quick question, how many of you trust AWstats for your website analytics?

  19. Thanks mate. All your posts are very useful. I really like your blog and will follow it for my future progress. Thanks

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