Why You Need to Study Your Web Analytics Before You Start Writing

Writers are creative professionals, and as such, they can have a reputation for shooting from the hip and going in whichever direction inspiration pulls them. But having a successful blog takes more than that. When we talk about reimagining your content, one of the things we’re really talking about is taking the time to really think analytically about the content you produce, in order to gain valuable insights into your creative process. Studying your website’s analytics can shed a significant amount of light on what your readers are interested in, on the strengths you should play up, and on the weaknesses you may want to address.
If you’re not a Google Analytics buff, we don’t blame you. The interface can be intimidating, and is not 100% intuitive. For those of you who are just getting started with the platform, here is just a small sample of the types of information your Google Analytics account can provide:

  • Number of unique visits to different pages on your site for a specific time period. You can also compare predetermined page “groups”, such as different post categories to see how one category fares against another, and so, which content categories you should focus on.
  • Navigation summaries. These can provide an overview of which pages lead to which other pages on your site. For each page on your site, you can see a ranking of the top pages users came from and top pages users went to, giving you some perspective on how users move through the site.
  • Bounce rates (shown as a percentage) and average time on page, two metrics that are helpful for gauging engagement. The bounce rate will tell you what percentage of users left your site from a particular page—a low bounce rate on a particular post signifies that it compelled visitors to continue exploring your site. The average time on page is also helpful, as it will tell you exactly how much time your audience is ready to give you (when evaluating this, before you beat yourself up too much, keep in mind that the majority of Internet users spend only 15 seconds on the average page).
  • Geographic information, which shows you where your visitors are located. Want to see what percentage of your online visitors originated within a 5 mile radius of your business location? Or how many visitors you got from China? This category of data can help.
  • Main referral sources, showing you the main channels directing traffic to your site. These could be social media, search engines, or other websites, and knowing what they are will tell you which channels to focus on when the time comes to promote your posts.
  • Browsing platforms. Curious about exactly what percentage of users are reading your blog from a mobile phone? Knowing that a large portion of your audience is on the go, for example, may lead to you make your posts more mobile-friendly.
  • Goal completions, which can tell you if you’re succeeding at what’s important. Any milestone can be turned into a “goal” in Analytics, from a completed shopping cart purchase, to a click on a particular page, to simply staying on a page for a particular length of time. Viewing your goal completions makes these milestones more tangible. You can gain valuable insights, like, for instance, that 2 out of 100 visits result in a completed purchase, and then compare that number across time periods and across different demographics.

The best part about all these bits of info is that they’re all stackable. Want to see what the bounce rate for a particular category of posts is…but only for mobile users…in China? Google Analytics lets you do exactly that, and that’s why content marketers everywhere can benefit from a closer look at their analytics in 2016.
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