Tag Archives: blog tracking

SEO: Tracking your results

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Marketing: SEO
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In marketing, we have to focus on delivering results. It can be very difficult to prove your return on your marketing time investment with SEO, especially for books, when you probably can’t point to the data to say “This person searched for [jelly beans], found our landing page and bought $67,028.26 of jelly beans.”

Google Analytics, which we covered a little while ago, does offer a little of that kind of information (though if you have a store on your site, be sure to read up on using Google Analytics for tracking). As you can see at right (click to expand), it does tell you what search queries people are using to find your site*.

But there’s something this report can’t tell you: how well you rank for those words. It can’t tell you if you got only 5 hits for “i lurve orange soda sumpin fierce” because only 5 people searched for it, or if it’s because your link is buried on the 57th page of results.

Google has another free product that can help you find out. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Jordan, can’t I just Google my own keywords and see how I’m doing?” Yes. And no. Mostly no.

Google instituted personalized search five years ago. If you’re signed into your Google account, Google keeps track of a lot of things, possibly including what sites are yours (especially if you’ve ever claimed them), what sites you click on in search results, what subjects you search for, even who your friends are and what they like and recommend. It factors that information to the best of its ability in delivering your results. So your results and my results could be very different—including your ranking, or even appearing on the page at all. (Additionally, some more random variation occurs due to geography, what data centers you’re hitting, etc.)

However, being Google, they do keep track of your average ranking position on search pages, and they’ll share that with you through Google Webmaster Tools. If you’re on Blogger, you’re already signed up! If not, the sign up process is fairly easy. Visit the Google Webmaster Tools site (and create or sign into your Google account, if necessary), and click on the red “Add A Site” Button.

Enter the URL.

And use one of their verification methods.

Voila! It will take some time for them to build up a good set of data (a month, for the standard view), but they’ll start collecting data on what queries people are using to find your site. Here’s what you see when you sign in:

Note that it also gives you a list of URLs that aren’t working in the first column. These might be missing posts on your blog that you pulled down, or mistyped links from other blogs. (If it’s the latter, go to Blogger’s Settings > Custom Redirects. Click Edit and add a permanent redirect from the mistyped link to the correct one.)

For our purposes today, we’re going to focus on the queries report. Click on Queries and you’ll see something like this:

Or for a closeup:

This report (sorted by clicks) shows us impressions, clicks, CTR and Avg. position.

Impressions tells us how many times your link appeared on an actual search results page for that query. Clicks tells us . . . how many times someone clicked on your link. Duh. Clearly, the numbers for Impressions and Clicks are rounded, and numbers below 10 are not displayed. CTR stands for Clickthrough Rate (or Choose the Right, but come on, one of those makes more sense than the other here). This is basically clicks/impressions, telling us what percent of people who saw your link actually clicked on it. Finally, Avg. position tells you your average ranking.

In general, a higher clickthrough rate is better. Years ago, the industry standard for the paid ad links on the top and sides of a search engine results page (SERP) hovered around 2%. Organic results like these generally have better click through rates, but once you get out of the prime positioning on the first screen of results (“above the fold”), those CTRs tend to fall off.

If your CTR is lower than you’d like, take a look at what “snippet” Google displays for those keywords. Can you try to work in some sentences using those keywords that would be more enticing to your potential readers? Maybe make your title more engaging (while still using the keyword)?

In general, CTR is correlated with your ranking—sort by CTR and you’ll probably see this as a general trend—so improving your ranking can also help your CTR. Probably the easiest (ha) way to work on your rankings are to get more links. You might need to go link hunting! (As always, guest posts are my favorite way to come get links, sometimes with an anchor text that you specify.)

Another important aspect of the Queries page is the Top Pages tab at the top. It sorts all the same information as the Top Queries tab, but this time the info is grouped by the landing page on your site instead of the keyword people type in. (People can find the same page using different keywords, and if you’ve got multiple search engine results, they might look at the different pages for the same keyword.) (To get to the similar report in Google Analytics, go to Traffic Sources > Search > Organic. Just below the graph and big data chart, you’ll see a line that says Primary Dimension. Select Landing Page.)

If you want to get a little more advanced in your tracking, you can also go back to Google Analytics for Goal Tracking. My goals include having someone download one of my PDF guides or subscribe to my blog, so I’ve added special Google Analytics Event Tracking code into my links for those actions. I put an arbitrary monetary value on those goals (like $10 or something, but if it makes you feel good, say $1,000,000 or something 😉 ), and occasionally take a peek at my goals to see how I’m doing.

It’s also good to look at your “funnels” or paths in Google Analytics to see how people find your site and if they’re following the route you’d like them to.

Not comfortable sharing all this information with Google? I understand. I really do.

What do you think? How would you use all this cool information?

*Except when the searcher is signed in to Google, when Google Analytics reports the keyword as (not provided). Up to 40% of my search queries are (not provided) in GA. This is not my happy face. As you were.

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Tracking your blog: Using Google Analytics

This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Marketing: blogging
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If you’re serious about blogging, it’s important to focus on your visitors. How much do you really know about your visitors? Do you know where they come from? Why they came to your site? How long they stayed? How many pages they looked at? How many came and immediately left?

Last week we looked at a very basic solution for finding this web analytic information: Blogger or WordPress.com’s built-in stats packages. There are many free web analytics packages out there. In my opinion, Google Analytics offers the most comprehensive solution. It may be a little overwhelming for someone just starting out, but it’s really not hard to find the most important numbers you need to be keeping track of. Click on the picture at right to enlarge it to see a sample of some of the important, but easy to read, reports that Google Analytics generates.

Before you say, “Oh, numbers; I can’t deal with numbers!” or “Oh, coding; I can’t deal with coding!”, let me tell you that these numbers are good to know—and very useful in growing your blog readership. And let me tell you that these numbers are easy to find, use and understand with a free web analytics package (software installed on your site that tracks what visitors do on your site)—no coding, just cut and paste.

Here’s some of the information you can see in a single report, from one of my actual sites (not this one, though):

This report is the dashboard, a customizable overview of several reports. There are dozens of more in-depth reports available in Google Analytics, and even I only scratch the surface of this awesome web analytics program. I have a basic overview of how to install Google Analytics in my free PDF The Quick Guide to Google Analytics for Bloggers. I originally wrote it in 2007, but updated it with newer, easier installation procedures today. Check it out!

Next week, we’ll take a look at some of my favorite reports, and how to put all this data to use.

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Tracking your blog: using Blogger or WordPress.com stats

This entry is part 5 of 8 in the series Marketing: blogging
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One of the most important things you can do with your blog or website is to track it. You need to understand where your blog or site visitors are going on your site, what they’re reading, and what they like if you’re going to keep them coming back for more.

Free blog platforms like Blogger and WordPress.com include some basic blog stats, and that’s a good place to start. Next week we’ll look at a more thorough and flexible way of tracking your site, and then we’ll move on to what we should do with all this information.

Blogger

In Blogger, go to your blog and find “Stats” in the left-hand navigation. In the Overview, you’ll find info on your pageviews, audience map, top posts and referring sites. (Click on any image for a closer look!)

What are pageviews? Pageviews indicate the number of times a single page on your site—your About page, your main page, a blog post, etc.—is loaded on someone’s computer (including your own, unless you click on “Don’t track your own pageviews”; always a good idea). Your pageviews are probably higher than your visitor numbers, because most visitors will view more than one page on your site (we hope, anyway!).

Below the pageview information, you can find the Posts list, showing your post popular posts and how many views they have. Traffic Sources tells you what websites are sending you visitors, and Audience shows you where those visitors life. Each of these reports have their own pages, as well.

The Posts page gives you a longer list of your most popular posts, listed by most pageviews. This also includes the date and number of comments for your information, too. This is one of the two most important report pages you’ll want to focus on.

The other page to keep an eye on, the Traffic Sources page, shows you where your traffic is coming from. The Referring URLs report shows what exact web addresses are sending visitors to your blog. (If you see a blog post in there, click through and say thank you!) The Referring Sites report aggregates the data from the URLs report. For example, the URLs report will show each individual Google search URL, but the Sites report adds all the Google searches together to show how influential Google really is in people finding your site.

Scroll down further to find the Search Keywords report. This report tells you what words people are typing into search engines and ending up on your site. (It’s important to note that this report does not necessarily mean you rank well for those words, but tells you how many people arrive on your site after typing them in.)

Finally, you have the Audience page. This page gives you a little information about your visitors—what countries they come from, what web browser they use and what operating system their computer/phone runs on. This information is largely fun, but it’s important to remember to check your blog in the top browsers to be sure it displays well.

WordPress.com

Self-hosted WordPress doesn’t come with a stats package onboard (though you can certainly add one with a plugin), but WordPress.com features a stats report under the My Stats tab. The reports are largely the same kind: the top chart shows your traffic. Views by Country is like the audience report above. Top Posts & Pages is like the Posts report for Blogger. Referrers show sites that sent visitors to your site.

The Clicks report shows what links to pages off your blog visitors click from your site. Search Engine Terms is the Search Keywords report from above. Tags & Categories shows you what tags or categories on your posts are most popular with your visitors. It’s like the Top Posts & Pages report, but it aggregates those posts by their tag or category.

Finally, the Totals, Followers and Shares report shows you how many posts, comments, categories and tags you have, as well as your followers. The Shares sub-tab gives you a count of how many times your posts have been shared.

I wish I could give you more information and better examples here, but I don’t really use WordPress.com much (obviously) so I have no data to dig into.

What do you think? What do you see here you can use? We’ll talk more about a more in-depth tracking package next week, and then we’ll follow up with how to use this information!

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