Recently, we decided to approach our blog analytics in a more data-driven manner. We’ve sure been using Google Analytics to measure page views for a long time, and yet we suspected there’s still room for improvement. After digging for a while on the web we soon realized that with a little effort, we can step up a gear. Here are the 3 straightforward things that streamlined our blog analytics.
Enable SPAM filters
Nowadays, referral spam is becoming more and more of a serious problem, doing needless damage to your statistics. In our case, it accounted for 20% of the traffic and that’s a magnitude that is hard to ignore. Insights that you take from such corrupted data will probably lead to counterproductive blog tactics.
How to find out if you’re affected? If you see things like ‘see-your-website-here.com’ or more cleverly disguised versions like ‘Lifehacкer.com’ (notice ‘к’ instead of ‘k’) in the referral section, you have a problem.
To fight against this, you can add filters that cut the unwanted traffic out. This is not a perfect solution, though. Spammers are coming up with new spam vectors, so you should update your filter list all the time.
Fortunately, the guys from Stijlbreuk have released a free tool - https://referrerspamblocker.com, which can help you out; within just a couple of minutes, it automatically adds over 400 spam filters. This is done only for the view you select, so you can be sure they don’t cut out more than is necessary.
The automation comes at a small price, though - you need to authorize the application to access your GA account. Here’s how it works:
(Hint: you should create a new view for any filters so that you always have an unfiltered base to compare to.)
Once applied, you should stop seeing the majority of spammers. But we’re not quite there yet: you should also filter language spam out, see this video tutorial:
And… the ghost referral spam too:
Filter yours and your team’s visits out
This might be a bit of a problem, especially when you’re starting off and your blog doesn’t have that many visitors. To do so, you can again leverage the power of filters. You can start with an IP filter but this can sometimes not be enough for some reason. Read Jon’s article to learn more ways about how to cope with the internal traffic.
Figure out what works
In fact, defining the key success metrics for your blog is your primary task and should be one of the first steps when creating a content strategy. Unfortunately, that’s a tricky one as there’s no silver bullet answer here. It always depends on your business goals and the development stage of your company. However, there’s a couple of supporting metrics that should be helpful for any type of blog.
- Top posts (pageviews) and top referrers / UTMs - to get a general overview of what kind of posts to spend time on and to learn what promotion channels work best for you.
- Conversions - which posts generated the most signups for your product (tracking pixel necessary, here’s the tutorial)
- Newsletter conversions - which posts generated the most signups for your newsletter (same as above with minor changes)
- Landing page conversions - how many readers went from a post to a particular landing page. This one can be measured by setting a custom goal in the admin panel. In the picture below, we create a goal for the post to home page flow. When applied, you can see the number of goal completions in the last column of the Behavior -> Site Content -> Landing Pages view.
- Finding high traffic - high bounce rate and high traffic - low conversion posts - This should allow you to turn on necessary remedial actions. Here’s a nice matrix from Hiten that suggests what to improve depending on the data you’re observing.
- Finding the posts with the highest returning visitors ratio - this metric lets you understand which topics yield the best engagement and, perhaps, which features you should iterate on.
Hint: you can create an additional view that includes only blog-related traffic. To do so:
- Create a new view
- Configure a filter similarly to the one you can see below
- Apply the filter to the blog view from the 1st point
What’s your tip?
That’s it. We hope you find these basic tweaks helpful. If you know any similar low-hanging fruit for helping to get better insights from blog data, don’t hesitate to share it in the comments below.