Ultimately, the point of setting up Google Analytics to track blog performance is to create a direct link between blog content and your business goals. Of course, this involves first having set business goals, be they increased sales, engaged users, or leads. You can then use Google Analytics to track how your blog is or isn’t helping to achieve those goals. If your blog posts are falling flat, you can track the trends in your posts to see which ones are hitting with visitors and cater your future posts to this. The data this can provide can also help you see which of your marketing funnels is succeeding and which need work, so you can rework your marketing strategy to better achieve your business goals.

In a previous article we discussed that one of the core aspects of executing a content marketing strategy is adding fresh content to your blog on a weekly basis. This can help increase site views and establish your business as an authority or thought-leader in your industry. It can also help get visitors into your sales funnel. Despite these positive effects, clients are often unsure whether their blog is helping them achieve their overall business goals.

In this article, we want to show you how to configure Google Analytics to track blog performance. This involves tracking blog KPIs (key performance indicators) to see whether you are achieving your business goals. If you are missing the mark, you can gain insight into how to use your blog with greater success.

6 Steps to Track Blog Performance

Set Up a Google Analytics Account

The first thing you’ll need to do is setup a Google Analytics account. We’re going to assume you have one, but if you don’t you can see this help page on how to set one up. If you’re using WordPress, you can integrate your blog manually. However, we find it’s much easier with a plugin like Google Site Kit, GA Google Analytics, or MonsterInsights.

Define Your Business Goals According to Your Sales and Marketing Funnel

Remember the old cliché: it’s important not to put the cart before the horse. Starting with metrics for metrics’ sake doesn’t allow you to understand how, or even if, your articles are helping your business. For instance, your blog might be getting tons of views. While this sounds great in theory, if the average view for a 2000-word blog lasts less than 10 seconds it means nobody is bothering to read it. This defeats the purpose of blog posts and is a big content marketing fail.

In order to properly set up Google Analytics to track blog performance, you need to start with your business goals and map them into Google Analytics. How you do this depends on the type of business you run. Strategies and goals will be significantly different depending on whether you are business-to-consumer (B2C) or business-to-business (B2B).

If you’re a B2C company, you likely evaluate success by ecommerce sales. If you’re a B2B company that sells to businesses, or if you have a longer sales process, you likely evaluate performance according to leads that produce sales call. B2B KPIs would be web-forms submitted, phone calls, emails, etc. You need to find a way to tie the metrics you’re seeing to your end goal via Google Analytics. Start with the end in mind and define your business goals first.

Setting Up Google Analytics Goals

Once you are clear on the business goals you want to measure, you need to map them into Google Analytics to track blog performance. The first step is to use Source/Medium reports in Acquisition to track your blog traffic. This will give you accurate information on where your traffic is coming from. You will be able to see session duration and pages per session broken down by traffic source and medium. You will quickly find out what is working and what needs improvement.

At the absolute minimum, you should also be setting up two key goals. (1) The first is web form submissions. In order to track this, you’ll need to have a “contact us” page or button setup on your webpage. (2) The second key goal is engaged users. As we suggested above, visits that last 10 seconds or less are not engaged users. As a baseline, you should define engaged users as those who visit your site for more than 30 seconds. However, depending on a number of factors you may increase this baseline.

Example 1: Setting Up a Web Form Submissions Goal

  1. Navigate to Admin at the bottom of the page.
  2. Select Goals.
  3. Click the +New Goal button.
  4. Selet Custom goal setup. Click Continue.
  5. Under Goal Description, name your goal (something obvious like “Contact Form Submission”) and select Event*. Alternatively, if you display a thank you page after submission you can select Destination. Click Continue. *Note that you will need to set up events in Google Tag Manager, or, if you’re using WordPress you can install a plugin like MonsterInsights, for successful tracking.
  6. Set the conditions for a successful event trigger. Below you’ll see we use Gravity Forms for our Contact Us form, so we use the Label gform_1. You will have to find your form name for the Label. You can also track submit button clicks if this is more convenient for you, but it requires knowing the button label.
  7. Don’t forget to hit Save!
set up Google Analytics goals

Example 2: Setting Up the Engaged Users Goal

  1. Navigate to Admin at the bottom of the page.
  2. Select Goals.
  3. Click the +New Goal button.
  4. Selet Custom goal setup. Click Continue.
  5. Give the goal description the name “Engaged Users.”
  6. Select the Type as Duration. Click Continue.
  7. Using the drop menu, select “Greater than” and fill in your desired time. As mentioned above we use 30 seconds as a baseline.
  8. Click Save.

Once you’ve set these up, the Source/Medium report will cross-tabulate your website metrics with your newly established Google Analytics goals. You can select which goals to view in the drop menu.

As you can see, this provides a powerful way to understand how your blog increases organic site traffic. Organic site traffic refers to visitors who find your website through non-paid means, by searching for particular keywords on Google or other search engines. Harmonizing your goals with Google Analytics can often be tricky. But you can contact us for a free Google Analytics consultation if you need assistance.

See Data in Action & Learn How to Evaluate It

Analyzing how and why people make their way to your site can help you understand how to get more leads online or keep users engaged. However, you’ll need to do some more configuring in Google Analytics to track blog performance properly.

You’re now able to understand what digital marketing channels (e.g. google/organic) are helping you achieve your business goals (e.g. contact form submissions). However, you’re not yet seeing which specific articles are supporting your goals. In order to do this you need to select the Secondary Dimension drop down, choose “Commonly used” and select “Landing Page.”

This allows you to see the URLs of blog articles and measure their performance with established goals. Tracking landing pages is important. A landing page is the first page that a visitor views when they come to your website. It is not always the homepage; it could be a blog article. This means that someone who wasn’t aware of your company made their first visit to your website likely through a search engine using keywords that were in that page, or they found it through a shared social page or were referred by a friend via email. If a page is found through a search engine, it means that your page either was, or will now be, indexed by the search engine. Here, the value lies in tracking and understanding how you attract new visitors through methods other than brand recognition and specific product searches.

Once you have this setup, you’ll see a series of articles in your reports and you’ll have the ability to cross-reference the page visitors viewed, how they got there, in what time period, and for how long.

Comparative Time Period

Using comparative time periods is important when tracking blog performance. You can use a single time-period snapshot (i.e. a comparison of all of your blog posts over a single week or month). This allows you to see how your posts are tracking against each other. But you should also track them in relation to different time-periods to see changes in views and, thus, value. Basically, you want to track blog views this month vs. the previous month, as well as vs. the previous year. This allows you to track the value they are providing (or aren’t) in different time periods and across time periods. This can help to inform your future article choices.

Creating a Custom Blog Report

As a snapshot, all of this provides a good primer for how you can set up Google Analytics to better track blog performance. We advise clients to make a custom report rather than having to come in and set up the parameters of the Source/Medium report every time they want to check their analytics. Having to constantly reset the parameters just adds to the time that you’re trying to save by using Google Analytics in the first place.

With a custom report, you have all the data you need set up and tracked when you need it.  To do this, you’ll also need to make sure your blog posts have a parent URL link – i.e. they have separate web pages with a parent slug like /blog or /news. Then you can add advanced filters to track these individual pages. Once you have this set up, all you have to do is hit save at the top of the page and name it something like “Blog Report.” Your blog KPIs will only be a couple of clicks away under Customization > Saved Reports.

Leverage Your Data to Achieve Your Business Goals

One of the services RFDM Solutions offers our clients is a digital marketing audit. No matter how big or small a company is, and no matter what industry they are in, content marketing is a necessary part of a successful business plan. An audit reveals how successful your content marketing strategy is. Specifically, it helps to track blog performance to see if you are hitting the right notes with your site content.

For more on how RFDM Solutions can help with your marketing needs, or for a free Google Analytics consultation, contact us.

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