Imagine getting 100k pageviews a month. Yay, right?!
But what if you dig deeper and found out that 95% of those visitors leave right after they land on your blog? Not so yay, right?
So, if the number of hits your blog is getting isn’t the number to focus on, what are the blog metrics that matter?
Let me start by saying that you need data to measure your success as a blogger. Data that go beyond pageviews. So, let’s have a look at how to measure the success of your blog and how to analyze your blog’s performance.
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What are KPIs?
You’re going to hear the abbreviation KPI a lot in regard to blog growth KPI stands for key performance indicators and they are the measurable metrics that indicate the performance of your blog.
How to measure the success of your blog
As a blogger, you need to keep track of several areas. Blogging isn’t only about driving traffic to your blog.
That’s why we’ll be talking about the traffic coming to your blog, your SEO, your social media, the revenue of your blog, and the success indicators of your content. So, let’s have a look at some of the most important blog KPIs.
There are several analytics services that measure your traffic. The single most widely used is Google Analytics, just because it offers a lot of metrics to measure and is accurate. So, how do we measure traffic?
To measure your blog traffic accurately, you need to keep in mind that there are quantitative and qualitative metrics.
There isn’t just one particular metric to focus on. You need to keep an eye on all of them to get a better idea of the quantity and quality of your traffic.
Pageviews represent the number of times a specific page was viewed. This is a good metric to keep an eye on, but as I said, it doesn’t give you much value without knowing some other data.
Sessions is the number of visits to your website. A session can include more than one pageview since some of your visitors will visit more than one page on your blog. On Google Analytics, sessions are represented as unique visits.
1.3 Bounce rate
The bounce rate is a percentage of people who “bounce” off your blog.
What does that mean?
Essentially, it’s the percentage of users who reach your site, view one page, don’t interact with your content and leave. But there are a few scenarios as to what might have happened:
- The user leaves before the link even loads
- The user lands on the page and leaves straight away
- The user lands on the page, scrolls through the article and leaves
- The user lands on the page, stays there for over 10 minutes without clicking anything, the session times out, which is when the session starts counting as a bounce
A bounce is represented as 100% in Google Analytics.
What can cause a high bounce rate?
- Your website loads slow
- The article wasn’t what the user was expecting
- There’s something about your web design that puts your visitors off
- Too many opt-ins
- The content isn’t skimmable
- Your content contains all the answers the visitor was looking for
NOTE: Some pages will naturally have higher bounce rates. Those are your landing pages where the visitor just fills a form or your contact page.
1.4 Time spent on page
You might have heard about dwell time and average time spent on page. Both of them are different.
As the name suggests, the average time on page is the average of the time Google Analytics collected.
Dwell time is the actual amount of time a visitor spent your blog.
In my opinion, time spent on page is the metric that tells you the most about the behavior of your visitors and the quality of your traffic.
The issue is that it’s a difficult one to track.
The reason is that Google Analytics needs the second click to estimate the time spent on page. If the visitor clicks on something, let’s say a link to another page, then the session is tracked.
Also, by default, the last page the user visits is measured as 0 seconds.
1.5 Pages per visit
As the name suggests, pages per visit are the number of pages a single visitor views per visit. As you can probably tell by what I’ve mentioned above, pages per visit are directly correlated with the bounce rate and time spent on page.
1.6 Returning visitors
Returning visitors is the percentage of people who have viewed your blog before and came back.
Obviously, if your blog is new, you won’t have a lot of returning visitors. But over time, the number is going to increase.
Returning visitor rate is a great indication of how successful your blog is.
According to Monster Insights, a good returning visitor rate is 30% on average.
1.7 Traffic sources
You’re most likely using more than one way to drive traffic to your blog. You need to keep track of which sources bring you the most traffic. Those are most likely the ones to focus on.
It goes without saying that if you want your blog to be successful, you need to learn SEO.
Although it takes time to see some traction from your SEO attempts, there is a way to track it.
We’re going to use mostly the Google Search Console for that.
2.1 Ranking keywords
The first thing to track in the Google Search Console are ranking keywords. You not only need to keep track of what those keywords are but also your average position.
2.2 Impressions and clicks
Impressions are the number of times someone saw your link.
Obviously, clicks are the number of times a user clicked on your link.
If you want to increase the number of clicks, you need to work on your titles.
DA stands for domain authority and is used to determine where your website can appear in the search.
This metric isn’t an official metric from Google, and apparently, Google doesn’t use it to determine your position in search.
This metric was created by Moz, although there are now quite a few companies that have created their own similar metrics.
You can track your domain authority in Moz.
2.4 Linking domains
They are important for Google as they tell the search engine how authoritative your site is. If you have a lot of sites linking to your blog, your content must be of good quality, right?
You can track your backlinks, the dofollow/nofollow ratio, and where they come from in Moz.
2.5 Site speed
Site speed isn’t an indicator of the success of your blog. But it is an important metric to keep an eye on.
That’s why I’m including this metric here.
Here’s a video from Google Webmasters on site speed myth-busting. They talk about the importance of good loading speed and that if there are two similar pages competing for a spot on Google, the one that’s loading faster will win.
3. Social media
On social media, it’s a bit more difficult. Each channel works differently and wants users to do something different. That’s why I’ll go through some of the most popular platforms where bloggers promote their blogs and focus on the most popular metrics.
I feel like a lot of people are focusing on the vanity metrics on social media. Think likes and followers. But those are certainly not the metrics to focus on.
Before we get any further, you have to understand that the main goals of each of those platforms is to retain users for as long as possible.
3.1 Instagram, Facebook, Twitter
I spent two years posting on Instagram every single day promoting my previous blog. I grew the account to over 6.5k followers until I stopped posting and the number started dropping.
If I learned anything in those two years, it’s that followers and likes aren’t that important. And also that Instagram isn’t the best platform to drive traffic to your blog.
Yes, Instagram can be a great tool to spread awareness of your brand, but you should rely on it as a traffic source.
Instagram is a classic example of what I mentioned above: Instagram wants to retain its users on the platform. You can’t add links to your captions. The only places where you can is your bio and stories (if you have over 10k followers).
So, what’s the most important metric on Instagram and any social platform?
The engagements. Specifically, the comments. And I don’t mean the “so cute!” type of comments. I’m talking about genuine comments from people who love your content.
So, what about followers? Why is everyone trying to reach the highest number of followers?
Well, because a higher number looks nicer.
But what sounds more appealing to you?
100k of uninterested followers who don’t engage with your content, or 1k followers who love your content and genuinely care about what you have to say?
With Facebook and Twitter, it’s essentially the same. All those platforms are driven by engagement. If your post gets genuine engagement such as likes, comments, and shares, your post is going to be pushed by the algorithm in front of the eyes of more people.
Pinterest is a little different from the other platforms.
It’s often labeled as social media. That’s why it’s here. But, it’s actually not. It’s a visual search engine.
It started out as an app for inspiration for recipes and DIYs. The app has grown over the years and is now one of the go-to places for bloggers to promote their blogs.
Of all the social media platforms mentioned here, Pinterest is the most friendly one for driving traffic to your blog.
- It rewards new fresh content
- It doesn’t mind users leaving the platform to visit your site (I mean, that’s what it’s for)
- The timespan of your post is way longer than on other social media platforms
So, what’s the metric to focus on Pinterest?
A lot of people focus on monthly unique visitors. That’s the number you see underneath your username on your profile.
But this is the number of the overall people who came across your content on the platform. The issue is that those people might not have even interacted with your content whatsoever.
The metric to focus on is link clicks!
After all, that’s why you’re promoting your blog, right?
The bottom line is: impressions and engagements are important metrics to focus on social media. But even more important are link clicks.
4. Email marketing
Collecting emails is essential to building a loyal readership of your blog.
It’s a great way of retaining visitors as you can notify them each time you publish a new post. It’s also a great way for your biggest fans to keep up with you.
I’m using ConvertKit to collect emails, so that’s where the screenshot is from. But really, the metrics are the same.
Obviously, the number one metric to focus on are subscribers. None of the metrics mentioned below will matter if you have no subscribers.
Don’t take it personally is people unsubscribe from your email list.
Some people realize they don’t want to be on your email list for various reasons and that’s fine. It’s also completely normal for some people to sign up for your email list to get your freebie and then unsubscribe right away.
But if you get a sudden spike of unsubscribers after you sent out an email, it’s an indication that the content didn’t resonate with them or that you might have said something offensive.
4.3 Open rates
The open rate is the percentage of people on your list who received your email and opened it.
This is an important metric to track.
If your numbers are low, your content probably isn’t what your subscribers are looking for, or you’re not using action-enticing subject lines.
According to Campaign Monitor, the average open rate is 17.8% for 2020.
4.4 Email CTRs
CTR, or click-through-rate, is the number of people who clicked on your link.
In email marketing, the CTR depends on whether the reader wants to know more about the subject. If the reader isn’t enticed by the email campaign, they won’t click through.
In the link above, you’ll notice that the average email CTR is 2.6%.
4.5 Conversion rates of your opt-ins
One thing you need to track are conversion rates of your opt-ins.
You need to get people on your email list somehow. You’re going to do that with opt-ins.
But don’t expect people to just give you their email address. You need to offer something in return.
If your forms are not performing, there might be several reasons behind it:
- Perhaps the offer isn’t enticing
- The opt-in copy doesn’t speak to the visitor
In marketing, how things look is very important. You can simply change the color of the button, and the conversion rate increases. It’s incredible.
Keeping track of how your content performs is crucial to you as a content creator. It tells you what kind of content resonates with your audience and what you should keep producing.
5.1 Most popular posts
This simple metric will tell you which content your audience likes seeing on your blog, and most likely wants more of.
Keeping track of your averages will tell you if a post is performing below or above average.
If your blog post performs below average, you might have been promoting it less than your other content. But it also might be a sign that this isn’t the content your audience is interested in.
5.3 Content rating
You might not have this feature, but I think it’s a great indicator as to whether your visitors like your content or not. Not all visitors will go into your comments and tell you their opinion.
I have a plugin called WP Discuzz and at the end of each post, there’s a content ranking, where my visitors can give the article a number of stars depending on their opinion on the article.
But then, of course, to see how your content is performing, head over to Google Analytics, and keep track of your bounce rate and average time on page.
Ideally, keep track of those on specific pages to see which content performs the best and which needs improvement.
Of course, there are some exceptions, such as your contact page, where your visitors most likely won’t be spending 4 minutes on average.
How often should you check your metrics?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. It depends on your traffic and how often you publish new content.
A good frequency would be once a day. But don’t get obsessed with it.
Why do you need to focus on one metric at a time?
Depending on where you are in your blogging journey, you’ll be focusing on a different metric.
If you already have some traffic coming to your blog, you have an overview as to which areas need improvement. By focusing on improving one metric at a time, you beat the overwhelm and you’ll improve the metric faster than if you tried improving all of them at once.
RECOMMENDED READING: 14 Essential Metrics Every Blogger Needs to Track
Tracking your web analytics and collecting data is crucial if you want to measure your blog performance.
You need to keep in mind that there are quantitative and qualitative analytics to measure that, when combined, will give you a well-rounded overview of the performance of your blog.
Don’t forget that if you want to improve your performance, focus on one area at a time.
Which metrics are you currently trying to improve? Let me know!