Google Analytics configurations can be a bear. I was surprised to see how difficult it is to add another user to a Google Analytics account — Google’s own Help files are terrible, and there aren’t any other videos that quickly explain how to do it. So, after figuring out on my own how to add another user in Google Analytics, I whipped up this video tonight. It’s a useful technique if you need to have someone else perform content audits or other tasks in Google Analytics, as outlined in Online Content Marketing In 30 Minutes.
When you want to know how your content marketing program is working, of course you turn to your trusty web analytics software. Omniture, Google Analytics and their ilk can tell you a lot about your content’s effectiveness and progress. Or lack thereof.
But you have to ask your software the right questions.
As a web content creator for 12 years, I have personally made a wide and creative variety of analytics mistakes. And my friends and associates on other sites have made the rest.
Here are three simple web analytics mistakes you can stop making today.
1. Focusing on the wrong view.
On a content-rich website, the Google Analytics view that you’ll use most consistently is
Content > Site Content > All Pages
That’s the RIGHT view.
Managing B2B media websites, I look at this view every day. That’s how I find out which content is resonating with the audience. Watching this page-by-page view shows you the story topics and types that work for your readers.
Other, higher-level metrics of website performance are important – of course they are! Bounce rate matters. Time on site matters. Pages per visit matters.
But as my colleague Art Jahnke and I used to say to each other (with mock exasperation), “Staring at the numbers doesn’t make them go up.”
You have to drill down to find actionable information, just as looking at the score of a football game doesn’t tell you what trades the Cowboys need to make.
So don’t burn too much time staring at the Google Analytics landing page for your site. That’s the WRONG view. Live in the content view, where the “actionable” is.
2. Never changing the timeframe.
True story: In the early days of the B2B security website CSOonline.com, I started a blog called Movers and Shakers. As you would guess, Movers covered career advancement and job changes by security department leaders.
Being in the pre-LinkedIn era, it took a surprising amount of time and a LOT of web searching to feed this blog.
Also being in the Pleistocene era with regards to analytics, we just got one report each month showing us the top twenty articles on the site. Movers always hung around the bottom of this list.
After a couple of years, with a site redesign impending, and the blog experiencing this persistently mediocre level of traffic, I gave it up. Left the blog to rot. Bigger fish to fry, had I.
Some while later I was given my own analytics account. I expanded the date setting and looked at all site traffic over the preceding three years.
Guess what blog was the #1 driver of web readership on the site?
Moral: Once in a while take the long-term view. It may change your understanding of the value of different pages and topics on your site.
3. Comparing last month against the ‘preceding six-month rolling average’ (and other Stupid Math Tricks).
Most sites generate traffic reports to show that they are headed in the right direction. Then most of those same sites compare this month’s traffic against last month’s traffic.
Most of the time, this comparison borders on being pointless. In most B2B sites, December stats are going to be worse than November, which will also be worse than October – which is longer and has fewer holiday disruptions. Conversely, there are lots of B2C sites that will spike upwards in November as the gift-shopping begins in earnest.
July is usually worse than June because summer vacations have started in earnest. And so on.
This-month-versus-last-month comparison has never interested me. And I’ve seen reports that attempt to “normalize” versus these seasonal variations by comparing one month to the average of the preceding six months.
These are stupid math tricks.
What I compare December 2013 against is the only timeframe that takes into account all those factors: December 2012. Year-over-year tells me whether I am growing my site or not – and I damn well better be, because I’ve spent a year’s worth of learning, sharpening, and creating additional content in between.
For a brand-new content operation, obviously you can’t do it. But starting in your 13th month, I highly recommend putting this comparison into your analytics and reporting mix. It’s the best indicator of whether you are making real progress on the traffic front.
StatCounter lets site owners monitor their Web traffic. It offers several benefits over Google Analytics, including ease of use, live visitor data, and automatic tracking of exit links. The following 6-minute video shows how to perform daily content marketing audits using StatCounter. It includes sections about monitoring basic traffic indicators, such as:
- Recent visitor traffic by country and company/IP address
- Source of traffic (i.e., search, visitors from external sites, etc.)
- Pages visited
- Popular pages
- Exit links
This data allows site owners to understand what types of content is attracting audiences and converting them to sales or some other desired action. In the video, the narrator explains how exit links to Amazon.com and other e-commerce sites can be used to determine sales conversion rates.
Using Web traffic software to measure the effectiveness of site content is a central part of the content marketing audit strategy outlined in “Online Content Marketing In 30 Minutes”, by author Derek Slater. The contents of the guide are described here, and purchase options are shown here.
To see the video in its full-screen glory, please click the icon in the lower right corner of the YouTube video player:
StatCounter offers a free service with limited features; to register go to this page. StatCounter and i30 Media (the publisher of “Online Content Marketing In 30 Minutes”) are not related.
If you use Google’s Blogger service and want to keep track of the visitors to your site, StatCounter is a great option. This short video shows how install the StatCounter script on Blogger. It can also be used for other blogging platforms or Web pages for which you have access to add HTML to the site.
Once StatCounter is installed, it lets you see the following data:
- Daily visits to your site
- Pages seen by each visitor
- Duration of visits
- Most popular pages
- How visitors found your site: Keywords/other websites
- The ISPs used by your visitors, even those located in foreign countries
- Browser versions and screen resolutions
- Exit pages and exit links
This data can be used to audit the performance of website content, as described in Chapter 2 of Derek Slater’s Online Content Marketing In 30 Minutes (for more information, see what’s inside the book and purchase options).
To watch the short video, start the player below.