If you want to gauge the 'health' and success of your blog, take a look at your analytics. Your analytics help you dig deeper and figure out exactly what's happening on your blog - how many people are visiting, how long they're staying on the page, which pages they click on, etc. There is a lot of information that can be gained from studying your analytics. Jake has been very interested in not only checking the analytics, but trying to read into them to determine what they mean for this site.
So today, Jake is offering some suggestions about where to start looking when your analytics are indicating less-than-ideal results. While these analytics issues may not be a direct result from the problems he's suggested, we hope that this will give you a starting point as you look to improve your blog and earn more traffic.
1. Your blog is poorly designed
If you're losing page views, visitors, have a high bounce rate, and people aren't spending very much time on your site, it may be time for a website redesign. Believe it or not, the design of your website determines whether or not people take your content seriously. Although we have all been told not to judge a book by its cover, we all do it anyway. Whenever you end up on a website that seems spammy or sketchy, you try to leave as quickly as possible.
And there are studies that confirm this. One study was conducted by Elizabeth Sillence in order to determine why people trusted the information on certain medical websites. 94% of the people in the study cited design related issues when determining whether or not a website was trustworthy despite the quality of it's information. Crazy, right?
2. Your content needs help
If you'e confident in the design of your website but you are still experiencing decreasing page views and visitors, this may be a result from poor content. Think about this: You go to Fox News to see what's happening in the world. You go to Buzzfeed to be entertained. You go to ESPN to learn who won last night's game. So why should people go to your website? Consider writing about your area of expertise and don't be afraid to give away your secrets. (Honestly, giving away your secrets is probably one of the best things you could do for your blog; radical transparency is a great content strategy.) Think about the content you're offering your audience and the manner in which you are delivering it. Is it something you would want to read? Decide whether your content is sustainable or whether it is time for a change.
3. You need to publish posts earlier
When you're looking at the number of visitors to your blog, pay attention to your audience's location and their peak time. This is very useful information for tailoring the time that you're posting so that your audience sees your most recent content. After looking back at the peak time of Elle & Company's visitors, we realized that Lauren needed to be posting earlier because there are a number of you reading this in the UK (we're chuffed to bits that you're here!). For those of you who are unfamiliar with that timezone, the UK is in the GMT timezone, 5 hours ahead of EST. Lauren now aims to have every post up by 6am EST (11am GMT). Posting early in the morning exposes the most people to your newest content and gives them ample time to share it.
4. You need to publish posts that are similar to your popular content
Look at your popular content in your analytics. It's popular for a reason - it isn't happenstance. Figure out what you did that made those posts significant. Reread your posts and look for things that are different from what you're doing now. Usually, your popular content is shared the most. Tailor your content so that it can be easily shared. Make sure that it's scannable by using subheadlines to break them up and make them easier to read. By consistently posting content that your audience enjoys reading, you are sure to gain new visitors and increase your pageviews.
5. You need to consistently create more content
If your analytics show a low number of pages per session, it may be a result of not having very many posts available for your audience to read. Rarely posting could be frustrating for your readers and they will quickly bounce off of your site. If you don't post daily, give your readers an expectation by sharing how often you post new content (this also holds you accountable). At the end of the day, content creation is critical to the health of your blog. No one will read your blog if you are not posting to it on a regular basis.
6. Your posts are too short
If your audience is spending a short amount of time on your blog, it might be that your posts are too short. Keep in mind, most blog readers are scanning your posts; they typically don't read every single word (leave a comment if you actually read this). According to Buffer's blog, the ideal post length is approximately a 7 minute read. If you break that down to words per second, that's about 1,600 words. That sounds like a lot, but if you are willing to put in the time, you have the potential to see a huge return. It's a widely accepted fact that longer posts are all around better for your blog. Also, longer posts will require your audience to stick around longer and convince them to read more of your other posts.
7. You need to create more backlinks to your blog
Creating backlinks for your blog is one of the quickest and easiest ways for your blog to gain exposure. The analytic that directly correlates to your number of backlinks is the number of referrals; the more referrals your blog has, the more backlinks are being created for your website. There are several simple ways to create backlinks for your blog.
- Guest posting. Guest posting on other blogs gives you the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise to a bigger blog audience and drive traffic back to your website.
- Social media. Pins on Pinterest, Facebook shares, Google+ posts - all create backlinks to your blog.
- Mentions on other blogs and websites. When you're creating high quality content, people will inevitably share your posts.
Backlinks also improve your SEO. But we'll touch on that in another post soon.
8. Your site needs to be optimized for mobile traffic
Mobile traffic is growing by leaps and bounds; everywhere you look, someone is on their smartphone. In fact, 52% of online traffic is mobile. Is your website optimized for mobile traffic? This is probably one of the bigger benefits of using the Squarespace platform; they do a fantastic job of automatically optimizing your site for mobile traffic. As mobile traffic continues to grow, websites that aren't geared for mobile traffic will not only lose out on a significant amount of traffic, but they'll become obsolete.
Sometimes its painfully obvious and very easy to diagnose the problem when you look at your blog's analytics, and other times it's not. Our hope is that this post will give you a starting point for diagnosing some of the more difficult problems your blog is facing. We believe that having a great website and solid content will always be enough to have a successful blog. Everything else is secondary.
What analytic reports and tools do you use to help improve your blog?