Thursday, May 6, 2010

ON BLOGGING ~ Content Rules...

This is the last in a series of Tech Tip posts centered around Google Analytics, which is where the above logo comes from. We have previously covered how to set up an Analytics account, how to find, interpret and use your Traffic Stats and how to learn what your Visitor stats have to say. This week I'm going to cover the Content segment. If you need instructions on or a refresher about getting in to your Analytics Dashboard, you can review this post.

From your Dashboard, select the Content category in the top left menu. The Content section is important to me because it tells me what items on our blog visitors are reading and what things are neglected. Selecting Content will open up a new Dashboard overview, specific to Content. The right hand section under the graph displays various Navigation and Landing Page tools which I am sure are very cool, but there has recently been a bug on the reporting accuracy in segments of Navigation so I haven't delved into these arenas. The tool I like in the section is the Click Overlay - Site Patterns.

I can't remember if you need to install or take any additional steps to allow for the Site Overlay tool to activate, but if you do - you should. It is super cool. Basically, by clicking on Site Overlay it will open up your blog in a new window. And the view will show little boxes over every link, tab or widget that your visitors have clicked on during the default prior month's timeline. It tells you the percentage that each click received. This was handy for me in learning what items on our sidebar drew attention and what items were just taking up space. This helped me to decide which to keep and which to ditch when trying to clean up our blog's visual lines. It also tells me which of our new tabs and page links are drawing attention and which are not. Those located in the center get more clicks, either because visitor's eyes are drawn naturally to that spot, the tab title is more interesting, or a combination of both. No one cares about our Travelogue tab except for us apparently. But it took a lot of time to put that information together and it serves mostly as a personal reference, so we don't mind it being overlooked.

Going back to the Content Overview dashboard view, the only other item of focus for me is the Top Content section. This tells you which pages, tabs or posts are garnering the most views. If you click on View Full Report underneath your top 5 list it will expand to a new page with a lot more detail. Right away I go over to the menu on the left side bar and select Content by Title so that the list displayed is in plain English and not url addresses that are incomplete and difficult to decipher.

This page will tell you which pages, tabs or posts were most viewed, how long people spent on them, and whether they continued to explore other posts or if they just left. It is helpful to see what topics were interesting to others and which weren't. Sometimes these kinds of things are difficult to know if you are only judging by the amount of comments your posts receive. But with the Top Content segment on Google Analytics, you may be surprised to see just how many people were interested in that post you wrote that had few comments. Or to see an older post resurfacing time and again.

Many of you have mentioned during this series that all of this info. is great but you don't care or it doesn't relate to you because you blog for you and you alone. Whether others find it interesting or not is of no matter. I have tried to show how these stats can help you to make personal decisions about which memes to keep or drop, how to discover visitors you have things in common with, and which types of bling are just taking up visual space. But the bottom line is, if your blog is not private requiring approval for people to see your posts, then you DO care what others think. You may produce content that serves your needs and enjoyment, but you do like it when others stop by to say hi. To let you know they can relate. That they have suffered through the same bad haircut, loved the same book and can't thank you enough for the camera tip. We blog for us, but we like the attention. And if Google Analytics helps you to recognize the attention you receive and introduces you to some new members of the blogosphere, all the better.

If you have tips, thoughts or requests about Google Analytics please share in the Comments. You can also join the discussion in our Bumble Town forum where we have been posting topics to match each Friday's blogging post to provide a place for more involved conversation. Hopefully, you'll find a way to use Google Analytics' information to make your blogging experience an even better one.


Beth F said...

I have bookmarked these posts and when I find that mysterious free time, I'm going to make sure I've set up my analytics correctly. I got it up and running almost from the start of my blogging, but I don't know if I am getting the most out of it.

kayerj said...

very helpful posts--and you are so right, I do care what others think. And thanks to you I have finally waded my way through the meme's and I am only playing my 4 favorite and only posting once a day. My stats have really dropped but my favorite people are still with me. I've also weeded through the reader--that was a big job and now I only read twice a week. The blog is not the big job it had turned into, but is now a pleasant break in the day.

Margot said...

I have been in and out of your blog for over a week now and haven't left one comment. I apologize. The reason I've been in and out is to work on my Google Analytics. For this series I must say a huge THANK YOU SO MUCH.

I can't believe all the information that is available there. I've been on Google Analytics for a year and all I did was gather the number of people who visited every day. I've now become a master of that left hand column. It was a lot of work to gather ALL the information but I feel a lot better about my blog. I'm excited about some changes I want to make based on my new analysis. Again, thank you for the series.

Jenners said...

Thanks so much for this. I'm at least tracking my stats in Google Analytics now but haven't really focused too much on actually USING this data ... thanks for giving me some starting point!

Wanda said...

I tried Google Analytics based on an earlier post in this series. I didn't have much luck getting answers I was seeking but may give it a go again when I'm feeling more techno brave.