When you think about that secret ingredient to any blog’s success, what pops up to your mind? Looking at the first page of Google search for “blogging success” you will get tips and tricks on:
- Choosing blog topics
- Design and user experience
- Blog, posts and domain name
- Social Media presence
- Hosting platforms
And they are all important areas for sure. But few bloggers it seems are willing to give away one of the real success factors – DATA.
So what data is available for bloggers to learn from, how do we get it and what can we do with it? Before we answer it, remember the following:
Big data is not about the data!
It really is about analytics or how you interpret numbers and get insights – valuable pieces of information that tell you something new, something valuable, something that makes you smarter! It is also about USING THE DATA. Now that can be a big challenge!
Selecting right information from thousands of pieces and making sure it is easily accessible is very time-consuming task that sometimes requires a degree in computer science (yes, it does!). Fortunately, there is a solution for an average blogger.
We have a way to select useful data and give you access in just 1 minute.
Just remember this as you read this post. If you get to the very end you will have all the important data for your blog and in one place ready to access and learn from.
What data points should you look at? Where do you get them from?
There are a couple of areas that play a key role in your blog’s success:
- Analytics from the blog itself (audience, behaviour)
- Web Analytics (SEO)
- Engagement Signals
- Competitor Analysis
Let’s go through each of them.
Analytics from the Blog
Understand Your Audience
There’re so many bloggers out there, and the only way to stand out from the crowd is to add value through your blog! Adding value is the sole reason to start blogging in the first place. Otherwise, you are just adding to the noise. So know your audience, write for your audience, help your readers to fix problems or tell them something new and insightful (see, insights again!). These are preconditions for connecting with your readers with an added value.
How to get this data: WordPress and/or Google Analytics will display a sophisticated view of your readers: age, gender, location, time zones, interests and so on. Use Octoboard: we have selected these metrics for you, grouped them into templates and will keep updating them in real-time without the need to log in.
Use Engagement signals to make sure your blog is taking the right direction. Look at Engagement metrics. Yes, likes, comments and shares may be called vanity metrics, but these user actions are your first go-to place to measure your performance. If your content doesn’t resonate with your audience, there’s no point in doing it at all. Use Engagement signals to build and adjust your content strategy. Look at what resonates the most with your audience and take the direction your readers point to with Engagement. Do your readers react to a humorous tone better than serious content pieces? Go with humour then! Do your visitors engage with images as opposed to videos? And so on.
How to get this data: Social Media Engagement metrics (likes, comments, shares, repins, plus ones, reposts and so on). Use Octoboard: we monitor these metrics for you, arranged them into templates – set up a dashboard and track them in real-time without the need to log in.
There’s another thing to Engagement – your involvement with readers!
Always Engage back
If you are not getting traction from your audience, encourage discussions by covering controversial topics or asking your readers questions. But one thing is probably most important to Engagement – how quickly you engage back with your audience!
Blogging is all about building a strong relationship with your visitors and turning these visitors into friends. To build that relations – make sure you respond to feedback, comments, questions as quickly as possible, while your readers still remember you and your blog. This way you tell readers that there is a real person behind the blog that values their opinions.
The best way to do it is to centralise all communication channels such as blog comments, social accounts user actions and so on. And do yourself a favour – do not log in and out of different systems all the time. Instead, put it all on a dashboard and check it out from time to time (without logins) or have it constantly displayed.
How to get this data:: Disqus comments, WordPress comments and Social Media user actions. Try Octoboard and choose a template with all these metrics to monitor your Engagement without the need to log in.
Grow Your Traffic
Traffic is still the driving force behind your blog’s success. To increase the flow of traffic to your blog, find out where it comes from: Paid Advertising? Guest blogging? Social Media? Referrers? Make sure you know your traffic sources and put an emphasis on these channels.
How to get this data:: Social Media (clicks, downloads), Google Analytics and Yandex Metrica (traffic sources, landing, exit pages), Google Adwords, Facebook Ads (paid advertising), WordPress (referrers). All these metrics are available at Octoboard.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
You don’t have to be an SEO guru or hire an agency. The issue with SEO is that while there is A LOT of data available, it is time-consuming and somewhat tricky to pick the best metrics and use this information constantly. It is only by monitoring SEO over a period of time that you can learn from it and optimize your blog performance.
Look at basic SEO indicators: backlinks, external links, keywords and search terms (search queries that lead to your blog). Find out which pages perform best and which pages need further optimisation.
How to get this data: Google Analytics (keywords, landing and exit pages), WordPress (search terms), MOZ ( backlinks, external links). Monitor all these platforms with Octoboard: we have selected these metrics for you, grouped them into templates. Keep track of your numbers without the need to log in.
Promote, promote and promote!
If you build your blog, your visitors won’t come right away. Outreach is that extra pillar you need to gain readership. Use Social Media and other channels but always validate their effectiveness by monitoring Engagement! Focus on Social Networks that actually drive traffic to your blog and drop those that don’t. So be equipped with data to see which channel performs best. Don’t forget about Paid Advertising. Perform a couple of trial paid ads to test and experiment with your advertising strategy. Then check out your ads performance and choose the approach with the highest ROI. Larry Kim has great tips on paid promotion for your content.
You can also publish posts on external platforms. And while it can be quite honourable to be published at Entrepreneur, if it doesn’t bring in some substantial traffic, then probably it’s not worth the time and resources. So make sure you check your blog visits from your external publication, for instance, via UTM tags to your blog.
How to get this data:: Social Media (performance and engagement from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube, Google+), Facebook Ads and AdWords (conversion), Google Analytics (traffic sources, referrers). Use Octoboard: build your own dashboard or use one of our templates to keep track of all these metrics without the need to log in.
It’s not just your data you should look at and learn from. Your competitors can and should affect your blogging strategy as much as your own insights. There’s an in-depth post you can read on Competition Monitoring for Bloggers. But here are the highlights of what you can gather from your competitors:
Learning from where your competitors gain external links and backlinks from can make your link-building job a little easier.
Social Media Strategy:
While it is important to look at your competitor’s overall Social Media strategy (frequency of posting, performance and engagement numbers), it is of even greater value to see who is helping them boost their Social Media presence. Look at people who mention your competitors and try to establish relationships with them: after all, they are already interested in the niche you are in.
What matters to you when looking at your competitors’ content strategy is looking at Hashtags they are using (which ones perform best and attract the highest engagement) and Keywords they are optimising their content to.
Google News and Twitter Search will spot any mentions of your competitors, whether it’s them who are posting or someone posted about them. Look at people or media that talks about your competitors and see what you can do to be mentioned there too.
All these metrics and analytics above are already available to you at no cost for most data source. What you should do is monitor and track these numbers regularly. That’s really how you get to the core of blogging success. Simply: know what works for you and your audience! Once you establish certain trends, you’ll be able to repeat your success and even enhance it. Moreover, you can even learn from ups and downs of your competition.
You certainly can spend plenty of time tracking the metrics discussed above manually and jumping from platform to platform to check for data you need. But that’s not wise. Build a dashboard and include all the metrics you want to keep track of from various sources – be it, Google Analytics, Facebook Ads, Twitter and Disqus, or any other platform.
Ok, you have read the post and kept in mind our promise of giving you access to this data in a few minutes.
This is easy. We have collected all of this information, grouped it and provided templates for bloggers covering Engagement, Social Networks, SEO, Web Analytics, WordPress, Disqus, Alexa, Moz. Just log to OCTOBOARD in and pick information for your blog.
So start learning from data. It is actually your data. Why not use it?!