December 07, 2015

Blog Goals: How to Determine Whether Your Blog Is Working

Blog Goals: How to Determine Whether Your Blog is Working

After putting hours upon hours into idea generation, writing, editing and online promotion, do you ever stop and ask yourself: Is my blog working?

As we all know, having a blog with informative, captivating content can be one of the best ways to attract visitors — and, by extension, leads — to your site. In fact, B2B marketers who have blogs receive 67 percent more leads than those who don’t, according to HubSpot.

While the quality of the content in the blog post itself is important, making sure your blog is attracting (and retaining) readers is equally important. But measuring the success of a blog can be both difficult and confusing. What metrics should you consider? Which numbers are most important? Discerning which measurements are most important and prioritizing them can help you ensure your blog is performing at the top of industry standards.

Whether you’re launching a new blog or making sure your current blog performs well, there are a handful of things you can look at to measure your success.

Prioritize Certain MetricsPrioritize Certain Metrics

The most important metrics to look at are your blog's visitors, leads and subscribers. The number of visitors to your blog and the number of people who subscribe to it should steadily increase when you first launch your blog. In addition, you should check your metrics regularly to see how many blog readers are converting into leads. While you want people to read and enjoy your blog, you also want as many of them as possible to convert. (This is why each blog post should have a call to action at the end; more on this later.)

Other metrics — average session duration, unique visitors and pages per session — are important too. If you have additional time to analyze other metrics, take a look at these after you evaluate visitors, leads and subscribers.

Measure Social Media EngagementMeasure Social Media Engagement 

As you're probably aware, you should always be promoting your blog posts on social media — Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, in particular. Be sure to look at the amount of shares and likes each post gets. This is another effective way to measure success, especially in industries that have particularly shareable content. Time permitting, you should do some digging to see how the shares perform. For example, if an industry influencer shared your post with his Twitter followers and got 10 favorites, you’d want to know this.

Evaluating social media performance is also a great way to figure out what to blog about in the future. If a blog post you wrote about a niche topic performed unexpectedly well, you know that topic is something worth writing about again in the future.

Set Goals and Measure GrowthSet a Goal for (and Measure) Overall Growth

You should be tracking the growth of your blog over time. And for those of you who are launching a blog, set appropriate blog goals for growth as well, such as a 10% increase in visitors in the first three months, or twice as many visitors each month.

Getting incremental (or, better yet, drastic) growth post-launch is one of the best tests of your blog’s success.

If your metrics and engagement are the same month after month (or even year after year), it’s likely you’re doing something wrong. While it’s possible that eventually your blog will level off and stay at a consistent number of visits and subscribers, you should always see a fair amount of growth in the early stages of the blog (i.e. the first year).

Keyword RankingCheck Out Your Keyword Ranking

If you’re not incorporating carefully selected keywords into your blog posts, you should be. All bloggers should be choosing keywords that have a relatively high monthly search volume and low difficulty rating. Don't worry, it's OK to rank for low search volume keywords at first. This will help you move on up so you're able to rank for keywords with higher search volumes. 

Google AnalyticsHubSpot and other similar programs can help you figure out which keywords you should be using in your blog posts. And remember, you should always aim for long-tail keywords in order to have a better chance at ranking.

Assuming you are carefully selecting keywords for your blog posts, you should also be checking to make sure they perform well. The better your keywords rank, the more traffic your blog will get from search engines, and the more visitors your blog will have. A win-win-win, right?

CTA ClicksLook at Your CTA Clicks

As I mentioned above, most (if not all) of your blog posts should have calls to action on the bottom. By looking at the number of views your CTA gets, you can better determine how many views your blog is getting, as well as how engaged readers are. In addition, you should be looking at the conversion rate from views-to-clicks, as well as the conversion rate for clicks-to-submissions to get an even better idea of the CTA's performance. 

If your view-to-click and click-to-submission ratios are both high, bravo! This means the CTAs on your blog are effective and your blog is most likely attracting and converting leads.

Read and Interact With CommentsCheck Out the Comments Section

Sometimes, it’s wise to take a step away from the metrics and data and take a look at the ways in which people are engaging with your blog posts. Maybe a particular post didn’t get many social shares or lead conversions, but got several astute, relevant comments. I would count this as a success, even though there is no “hard data” to support it. And interacting with commenters can be a great way to convert visitors to leads as well. Get conversations going in order to build relationships that can help your company grow in the future.

Referral TrafficLook at Referral Traffic 

Looking at how many blog visitors ultimately spend time on your website is a critical way to measure your blog's success. After all, the point of your blog is to draw people to your website, right? If you use HubSpot or a similar program to host your blog, you should be looking at what blog readers are doing. For example, if a reader clicks on your company’s “About Me” section after reading a blog post, this means they’re interested in what you’re doing and could be converting from visitors to leads.

Now, next time you ask yourself, “Is my blog working?” you’ll have a much better answer, and one that can hopefully help your blog perform even better.

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Jamie Friedlander

Jamie Friedlander is a writer and editor with experience working for magazines, newspapers, websites and custom content publishing companies. She recently received her master’s degree from Northwestern University and relocated from Chicago, her hometown, to Dallas. When she’s not working or traveling, she can usually be found drinking coffee into excess, reading a novel or surfing Etsy late into the night.