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Is Your Business Blog Working? 10 Key Metrics to Measure

 You’ve published a piece of amazing content on your business blog. Hitting refresh every 5 minutes you watch the views creep upwards. “50 people!!” you scream, scaring the life out of your significant other. “50 people are reading my blog!!”

But what do these views really mean? Many businesses make blogging a core component of their marketing strategy without properly measuring its effectiveness. Starting a business blog is an exciting endeavour, but you need to take an analytical perspective rather than an emotional one. Here are 10 key blog metrics your company should be measuring.

P.S. If you don’t have a blog yet, check out our beginner’s guide to starting a business blog, or learn about your options when choosing a blogging platform.

1. Monthly Website Visitors

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Let’s start with a nice and simple metric. How many unique website visitors does your blog get per month? Unique means that each visitor is only counted once (based on their IP address), so a single stalker visiting your page hundreds of times doesn’t skew the data.

Measuring your monthly unique visitors allows you to measure general progress as well as seasonal changes. Your monthly visitors should gradually increase as you publish more content and your blog becomes more robust (although some bumps and dips in the road are normal).

For example, your readers might disappear over the Christmas and holiday break. Or if you’re a finance blogger they could be particularly active around tax return time. If you sell heatpumps you’d expect a surge of interest in winter. After the first year you should be able to note monthly patterns and fluctuations, and plan content and marketing strategies accordingly.

A sudden pause or dramatic drop in your overall website visitors may indicate a technical problem or an SEO ranking penalty, and should be investigated immediately.

Tips for Improvement:

2. Traffic Sources

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Awesome! Your business blog had 5,472 unique visitors last month. That’s up 10% from the month before. It’s exciting news but you can’t help wondering…who the heck are these people? It’s time to find out.

Measuring your traffic sources will help you to understand who your blog readers are and where they came from. Most blog analytics tools display this information. Here are the basic definitions of the four main traffic sources:

Direct traffic - Visitors who came to your site directly (not from another site). They may have manually entered your website URL, or have you bookmarked. Often your own employees can skew this figure.

Organic traffic - Visitors who found you with a search engine (like Google or Bing). This is what most businesses are striving to increase, but it's also the hardest to drive up.

Referral traffic - Visitors who came to your site from a link or referral on another website (that's good news because someone is recommending your blog, although tracking isn't 100% reliable).

Campaign traffic - Visitors who found you through your campaigns (e.g. AdWords, banner ads, social media advertising).

Traffic sources are important because they reveal how people are discovering your blog and let you strategize accordingly. For example, you might realise that your blog is thriving thanks to social media shares, but your paid AdWords campaigns are totally ineffective. You can optimise your budget based on these insights.

Tips for improvement:

  • Use paid social media posts to reach a wider audience
  • Some blogging platforms offer free AdWords credit, use it!
  • Strategic use of keywords can boost your organic traffic

3. Bounce Rate & Time on Site

“This party sucks, let’s bounce” is a pretty apt description of this metric. Bounce rate basically counts the number of people who click on your blog - think “meh” - and leave your website without visiting another page. 

Generally speaking, you want to keep your bounce rate as low as possible. The longer someone stays on your website the more engaged they are with your business. There’s also a theory that bad bounce rates have a negative impact on SEO rankings (although this is not 100% proven due to the secrecy around Google’s algorithms).

Another important metric is your visitors’ average time spent on each page. This will give you more clarity about your bounce rates. If a reader clicks on your blog post and leaves after 2 seconds this is a bad sign - there might be something fundamentally off-putting about your website. Or maybe the blog post title didn’t represent your content accurately.

On the other hand, a visitor might click on your blog post and stay for 15 minutes before bouncing. This implies they read the article but had nowhere interesting to go at the end.

Tips for improvement:

  • Write titles that honestly reflect the content of each article
  • Use effective CTAs on every page
  • Finish each article with links to other parts of your site
  • Minimise annoying pop-ups (or make them more discreet)

4. Views Per Post

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This is a fun one! Analysing the number of views per blog post tells you what type of content your readers enjoy. Your organic search rankings, layout, visual elements, tone and topic can all be factors in determining which posts are popular - and which ones crash and burn.

Perhaps your list posts with humorous GIFs perform better than your serious and informative ones…Or maybe you wrote a series of fashion-themed posts which skyrocketed to the top rankings. Whatever is working, use the common elements of your most viewed posts to create a winning style guide - and ditch the content that isn’t a proven success.

It’s worth noting that different types of post can do well on different channels. For example, light hearted, humorous and list-based posts do well on classic social media channels like Facebook. More business minded posts are more likely to be shared on LinkedIn. Keep this in mind when adjusting your content strategy, and keep an eye on your traffic sources.

Your winning style guide will also depend on your blog’s purpose - views are one metric, but which ones are generating leads and conversions? More on that later...

Tips for improvement:

  • Identify what resonates with your audience
  • Let winning formulas guide your content strategy

5. Reader Comments

In some ways comments are a vanity metric. They don’t directly reflect the success of your blog. Having said that, they do offer some valuable insights. Human beings are innately lazy with stuff like this, so if someone takes the time to comment it means your blog post has resonated with them on some level (unless it’s a spammer - which you need to watch out for). By analysing which blog posts receive the most engagement you can adjust your strategy to appeal to your audience.

Comments also function as social proof. Most people want to hang out with the cool kids, so if your blog looks popular this tends to attract more readers.

You can also use comments as a channel to engage with your blog readers directly. Did someone leave a message saying they hate your post? That it was painfully boring, uninformative or your jokes fell flat? Ok, great! Put aside your hurt feelings, and seize the opportunity to ask them what they’d like to read about in future. Readers are usually happy to give suggestions.

Tips for improvement:

  • Always respond to comments
  • Ask for your reader’s opinions
  • Reach out to other bloggers through comments (they might turn into guest post contacts, or at the very least reciprocate)
  • Watch out for ‘spam’ comments

6. Social Sharing

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Social media and blogging are a match made in heaven - they’re mutually supportive and each can be used to strategically promote the other. It’s also one of the easiest metrics to measure.

If people are sharing your blog posts on social media (especially on their personal page) this is a powerful endorsement. They feel comfortable being associated with your brand and think your content is awesome enough to appeal to their friends. Measuring which of your posts get the most social shares can be a strong indicator of your most popular writing.

Even better, each social share gets your blog posts in front of a new audience of potential leads or customers. Make sure you add social share buttons to each blog post (most platforms have widgets allowing you to easily do this). And share your blog on your own social media, while monitoring all shares, comments and engagement.

Tips for improvement:

  • Create a social media page for your business & share your posts
  • Experiment with content to appeal to different social platforms
  • Use paid social posts to extend your reach

7. Inbound Links / Backlinks

A backlink (or inbound link) is when another website has linked to yours. This is great news for a couple of reasons: 1) It means someone likes your content enough to share it on their own site - the most sincere form of flattery! 2) It can greatly improve your SEO rankings (particularly if the backlink is coming from another high authority site).

A high authority site is a website that provides quality content to its viewers and is deemed trustworthy by search engines. Whether Google ranks you as a high authority site depends on several hidden factors; the number of backlinks you get, the number of repeat visitors you have, and the actions of those visitors (do they share your posts on social media?).

Ultimately you want to gain the attention of high authority sites, because if they link to yours enough you might become a high authority site yourself. This system encourages bloggers to scratch each other’s backs with guest posts and link reciprocation. So get networking!

Tips for improvement:

  • Network with other high authority bloggers
  • Start guest blogging for them (and link back to your site)

8. Lead Generation

Lead generation is the process of soliciting contact information from your potential customers. Once you have their details you can push them through the marketing pipeline, and if all goes well they’ll eventually convert into a paying customer.

On business blogs lead generation often happens in the form of a newsletter sign up, downloadable content, or a CTA leading to a landing page.

Here at WorkflowMax we encourage people to sign up to our newsletter The Unconventional Guide to Work. We’ve received great feedback from our readers who love getting quirky business advice sent right to their inbox, plus it’s become a primary source of traffic for us while building a contact database. Everyone wins!

When you measure your lead generation numbers, make sure to compare types of content and see what’s working best. You should also run A/B testing on various CTAs and see how this impacts your results. Even the smallest change (e.g. the colour of a sign up button) can have a surprising impact on your lead generation statistics.

Tips for improvement:

  • Create awesome downloadable content (e.g. ebooks, checklists, whitepapers)
  • Have an email newsletter with easy sign-up button
  • Minimise the number of clicks needed to complete actions

9. Conversion Rate

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Now that you’re measuring lead generation and site traffic you can figure out your conversion rate. This is the percentage of site visitors who are taking your desired action (e.g. signing up for the newsletter, or completing a transaction). Depending on what blogging platform you’re using it may be displayed automatically.

But if you need to calculate your conversion rate manually, here’s the basic formula:

Total number of new leads / Total number of site visits x 100 = Conversion rate %

So if you had 12 new leads in a month, and 600 site visits, your conversion rate would be 2%

(12 / 600 x 100 = 2).

Now, you might have heard the conventional piece of wisdom that between 2% and 5% is a good range to aim for. But there’s really no point trying to hit some mythical average number. The definition of success will be different for every industry and blog - because it depends on the profits you make from each conversion, how much you invest into getting these conversions, and your overall business goals.

Tips for improvement:

  • Do A/B testing on all your CTAs and landing pages
  • Make sure your website appears trustworthy
  • Nurture people towards conversions

10. Return on Investment (ROI)

Finally, we get to the real big question.

Some business owners absolutely love blogging. For others it’s the bane of their existence. But regardless of how you feel, at the end of the day what matters is ROI.

Here are the questions you should be asking yourself objectively at the end of each quarter:

  • How much money are you spending on the blog (including your own time as a resource)?
  • How many of your blog leads turn into paying customers?
  • How much is each of these paying customers worth?
  • When you weigh up these numbers, are you actually getting a positive ROI from your blog?
  • If not, how long will it take to reach a point of positive ROI? What can you do to speed up the process?

As the business owner or manager, only you can answer these questions.

Remember that a business blog will never yield immediate results. Like aging a delicious Gruyère cheese or a bottle of scotch the secret is time. The more content you generate the more powerful your blog will become. But how long you wait will depend on your business budget, goals, timeline and patience. I’d love to hear how you’ve been getting on!

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