How to Use Google Analytics to Guide Your Content Strategy

How to Use Google Analytics to Guide Your Content Strategy

Google Analytics (GA) is definitely not the end-all be-all, but it should be a large part of your life as a blogger. Google Analytics tells you so many key insights about what your audience is doing. It can be really confusing, but I’m going to simplify it into a few main elements that can really really add value to your content strategy.

Specifically, Google Analytics should be guiding your content strategy. I’m all for writing the fun posts just because we want to, a.k.a. my “9 Marketing Lessons from Jurassic World,” but if you’re trying to be strategic about your blogging and turn it into a real side income or even possibly full-time, you should be looking at your user behavior in Google Analytics to guide your content.  

When I hit 200 pages views total today, I was super excited. I know that if some of you looked and saw your blog was at 200 page views total, you would break down and cry. We’re just at different stages, and I am very much just beginning to focus on this with strategy. But I work in advertising, so I have a lot of experience with ignoring a lot of the nonsense in GA and focusing on the stuff I can actually bring me value and drive content.

1. What pages are getting the most views?

Audience –> Overview

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy

The basic view of your Google Analytics.

The goal is to keep readers on-site and engaging with your pages. This means you need enough content to keep them interested, and you need to be building on that content every week to keep them coming back.

Behavior –> Overview

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy

Now, you can drill down to exactly how many pageviews individual pieces of content are getting. Basically, your top performing content.

Probably the most important – what is your highest performing content on site?

Mine is easily health, wellness, beauty related. Super important to know what niche of content is resonating with your audience.

2. What pages are readers spending the most time on?

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy

The above screenshot is breaking down where readers are on Slightly Savvy – basically, my top performing content.

my takeaways

1. Almost 80% of my blog traffic is from Pinterest – Pinterest has been AMAZING for growing my blog from 0 pageviews to the 300ish you can see right there.

2. People were loving my 10 Ways to Stay Healthy Working at a Desk All Day

3. Coming in 2nd and 3rd for page views were 2 other long beauty posts – my Ultimate Guide to Cool Blonde Hair and my Monthly Beauty Breakdown: How Much it Costs to be a Girl

4. Minus How to Succeed in Your First Job Out of College, the majority of career-related posts weren’t even showing up in the top 10

my action items

1. Bump up the # of beauty content

2. Build related content –> my thought process looked like this (the pink bubbles are content I wrote and/or am planning to write)

my experimentslightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy (2)

My “10 Ways I Stay Healthy Working at a Desk All Day” is my best performing piece of content on Slightly Savvy and my highest performing pin on Pinterest.

So I build a strategy around this little guy to your right -> 

I did a whole case study (Blogging Checklist: Questions to Ask Before Hitting Publish) around how I fixed that specific post – got 20x the outbound link clicks in one day, doubled the time on post, and decreased the exit rate by about 20%.

3. What pages are they exiting quickly?

Behavior –> Site Content –> All Pages

Exit values are on the far right of this screenshot.

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy

my takeaways

1. My highest exit rate – 7 Wellness Tips for Work Life Balance

2. Best post that kept readers on site – Must Have Accessories for Post Grad Life. interesting.

my action items 

1. lengthen 7 Wellness Tips for Work Life Balance – I know for a fact it hasn’t been edited since my “1,000 words or I don’t publish it” rule

2. Make sure every single post on my blog is over 1,000 words. However, if it just 100% is not making sense for that post, stop. Nothing more I hate than reading a blog post that has repeated itself 10 times.

This goes back to my blogging checklist –> read here

Making Sense of Cents is absolutely one of the highest paid bloggers out there (pretty sure she made $1M last year). I was reading this post last night, and she said she aims to make all of her posts 1300 words to 1500 words. When the Queen of Blogging says something you were already thinking, you follow your gut and do it.

4. What does your bounce rate look like overall?

Audience –> Overview

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy (2)

If it’s high, be aware of where you’re promoting your content. It might not be the right place to reach your target audience.

For example, let’s talk interest group boards. I’m a huge fan of them. However, I think it’s important to be careful.

my example problem

When I was just putting on my pins on two very generic group boards, such as Female Bloggers Free for All or Top Viral Pins, my bounce rate was over 90%, which is pretty terrible.

my solution

When I started targeting more millennial-focused, and healthy and wellness blogging boards, even though the boards are typically smaller, my bounce rate dropped almost immediately to around 80%.

I consistently see great engagement from the below boards.

♡ great millennial lifestyle blogs

top millennial blogs –> shameless self promo –> here

The Lady Blog Project –> here

Millennial Mindset Group Board –> here

THESE GOLD BLOGGERS –> here

// Surviving Twenty – Something –> here

5. What does your user flow look like?

Behavior –> Behavior Flow

What are your users doing when they finish a blog post?

Are they leaving your blog?

Are they clicking on another page?

Are they going to your homepage?

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy

♡ my takeawaysslightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy

1. No matter where the user came from, after landing on a page, my next top visited page was “The Blog.”

2. Not many people were going to my “The Girl” page

3. I wasn’t seeing a clear flow between users going between content

♡ my action items

1. Make sure my “The Blog” page is 100%

2. Give clear directions on “The Blog” page on what to do next –> clearly laid out my blog categories

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy (2)

3. Meshed some content between “The Girl and “The Blog” –> on my The Girl page, I had a lot more info about me personally. My blog page was laying out specifics for Slightly Savvy – I added some personal info + social media handles to “The Blog” page

6. Are your outbound links being clicked?

WordPress admin page –> Jetpack –> Site Stats –> Clicks (bottom right)

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy (2)

This is a great way to tell if your readers are really interested and if they see you as an authority on the subject. You can use bit.ly links to track clicks on your outbound links, or there’s a widget through WordPress that shows you. 

Especially if you are using affiliate links to monetize your blog, you need to know if they’re working or not.

♡ my takeaways

1. People were definitely clicking the 3rd party, organic advice I was linking to – other fave bloggers, other posts on the topic, etc. – not only does this bring value to your readers, but it helps your own SEO ranking

2. Affiliate links were being clicked

♡ my action items

1. Keep adding those 3rd party outbound links in posts

2. For those outbound posts I was linking to, I decided to let the other bloggers know I was linking to their content….a quick email or twitter DM with the below message never hurts. 80% of the time, people are more happy to give you a quick retweet or shout out – especially if you are driving more traffic to THEIR blog (give them value FIRST, ask for something SECOND)

Hey girl! Loved your post on 25 smart ways to drive traffic via Pinterest – I tried out tip #3 and it really helped! I wrote a blog post about building your Pinterest following, and I linked out to your post. Would love if you wanted to share/retweet! <3 [link to your blog post]

7. Where are your users coming from?

Acquisition –> Overview 

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy (2)

♡ your to do

1. Get down into your traffic acquisition – are users coming from Pinterest staying on site longer? Do people coming from Facebook bounce?

2. This can tell you how to allocate your time + energy as a blogger…

Is your Facebook traffic low-quality? Then, make your FB posting automated via Hootsuite or Buffer, and spend time on your Pinterest traffic – following people, joining group boards, pinning from those boards, leaving comments on pins, etc.

As you can see below, for me this is very much the case. I have a Goal set up in GA for people who spend more than 5 min on site. Readers coming from Pinterest were 9X more likely to spend more than 5 minutes on Slightly Savvy.

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy (2)

 

Other Key Stats From Google Analytics 

mobile vs desktop – Audience –> Mobile –> Overview 

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy (2)

I believe in mobile-only, especially once I actually looked at my actual traffic breakdown.

♡ your to do

1. Pay attention to formatting – use bold, use big headers, short paragraphs, center text…make it easier for people to read on mobile.

2. Pay attention to photos – are most of your photos horizontal? If so, then you’re already putting yourself at a disadvantage. Those photos are probably going to take up a ton of space on mobile and create a lot of white space for your reader

3. End of content – what is at the end of your blog post? On mobile, readers aren’t going to have a sidebar to look at. Make an incredibly clear call to action + bold it in the center.

check out my Blogging Checklist to grow your traffic and monetize your blog

 

♡ goals – Conversions –> Goals –> Overview

Goals are one of the best things on Google Analytics. You can set up events you WANT people to do and track how many of them do it.

For me, my goal is longevity – I want people staying and engaging on my site for longer than average.

I can see what posts are encouraging people to spend that 4+ minutes on my blog. For me, it’s my Blogging Rules I’m Ignoring, 10 Ways to Stay Healthy Working at a Desk All Day, and my The Blog page.

♡ your to do

1. Set up a goal (5 min on site, sign up for a newsletter, follow you on Instagram, etc)

2. See exactly what posts are encouraging people to complete that goal – rinse and repeat on your other posts

slightly savvy google analytics to guide content strategy (2)

Final Thoughts on Using Google Analytics to Guide Your Content

Sooo let’s wrap it up. Basically, peep your Google Analytics and focus on these categories.

behavior

acquisition

Google Analytics can be overwhelming, but if you focus on HOW you are getting readers and WHAT they’re doing once they arrive, you can dumb it down.

For more blogging advice, check out my blogging checklist and the blogging rules I’m ignoring.

  • Girl, I love this post! I don’t really refer to Google Analytics all too often because I do notttt understand it (haha). But you broke down its features so well that I’m going to go through and use it to assess my future blog strategy.

    BTW I love love love how you are so aware of the mobile viewers’ experience. I didn’t really think about it until I started reading articles on your blog.

    xoxo,
    Krista

    • Katherine

      Ah love that you loved it! It’s super hard to understand at first. But if you can just focus on some basics, it’s really handy. And you’re 100% right about mobile – I wasn’t paying attention to it really either until I saw at least 60% of traffic was consistently from mobile AND that traffic was bouncing higher than normal!

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