Knowing how to use Google Analytics is the #1 tool any content marketer needs to have in their arsenal. The best part about Google Analytics is that it shows us everything we need to know about our websites and then some.
Unfortunately, it throws a lot of data at us and sometimes it can be overwhelming and difficult to interpret.
The good news is you don’t need to follow all of this data closely. There are a handful of metrics you can use to get an idea about whether or not your content marketing strategy is working. Here are the top 4 content marketing metrics to follow.
Average Session Duration
The best way to tell if your readers are looking at your posts and reading them is by analyzing Average Session Duration. Avg. Session Duration is a metric describing how long an average person spends on your site during a single session. This value should increase with better content as more people spend more time reading a whole post and hopefully moving to another.
Where do you find Average Session Duration?
You can find Average Session Duration on your Google Analytics “All Website Data” dashboard on the “Overview” tab.
How do you Improve Average Session Duration?
Unfortunately, there is no quick fix to improving your average session duration. To increase the amount of time each person spends on your page, you’ll want to:
a) Create compelling content that people want to continue reading, and
b) Include links to relevant content within the body of your posts
With both better content and links that will keep readers on your website and moving from post to post, your Average Session Duration should improve.
The bounce rate on your site is the percentage of users that visit just one page before leaving your site. You want your bounce rate to be as low as possible because visitors that spend more time on your site and visit more pages tend to be better leads and will be more interested in what your business has to offer.
How do you find your Bounce Rate?
You can find your bounce rate on your Google Analytics “All Website Data” dashboard on the “Overview” tab. It will be just below Average Session Duration.
How Do You Improve Bounce Rate?
Again, your bounce rate is largely dependent upon the quality of your content, but there are many ways to improve. You can:
a) include links in your content to relevant content on your site as often as possible.
b) make sure every landing page and content post has a compelling call to action, or
c) create individual landing pages for any advertising or PPC campaign that directs back to your homepage
Users – New and Returning
There is no point spending the time to create good content if you don’t know how many people are seeing it. Users is the number of people viewing your website. New Users are the number of people viewing the site for the first time (or for the first time on their particular IP address) while returning users are returning to view your content again. Each new visitor represents a new sales lead for your business, while each returning visitor may trust you and your content even more.
If your new users is greater than 50%, you’re doing a great job of drawing in new prospects. If you’re returning users is greater than 50%, you’re doing a great job of retaining prospects and gaining their trust.
How do you find your New and Returning Users?
You can find the total users on the “All Website Data” dashboard under sessions. This is the total number of unique IP Addresses that have accessed your site in the filter window. Directly to the right, there will be a pie chart depicting the percentage of new and returning users.
How Do You Increase Your Number of Users?
You can always draw new users to your site through any number of promotions including PPC campaigns, offline promotions such as mailers and traditional advertising, and including links on your social media posts. Another great way to get new users from outside your traditional audience is to write a guest post on a relevant blog and include a link back to your site.
To increase your percentage of your returning users, I would suggest consistently posting compelling new content to your site and promoting on your social networks. Most of the people that follow you on social media will visit your site, so target them with new content and keep drawing them back.
Organic Search Sessions
Organic Search Sessions are your leads generated through organic search traffic. These are the folks you draw in without any PPC advertising. In other words, these are the people that are already looking for the content that your site provides.
Where do You Find Your Organic Search Sessions?
On you Google Analytics Dashboard, you can find your organic sessions on the “Acquisition” page. Here you can compare organic search to leads that are drawn in through PPC campaigns, social links, and referral traffic.
How Do You Improve Your Organic Search Sessions?
The bottom line here is you want to create content people are looking for. This means you want to take a strategic approach to your content creation. Begin by taking a look at the Google Keyword tool to see search volumes on terms relevant to your business. Then create content based on highly searched terms.
You can also increase the effectiveness of your content by using tools like the Yoast SEO Plugin for your WordPress site. With this tool, you can identify your focus keyword and analyze your content for SEO compatibility. With better SEO, your content will show up higher in search engine results and eventually draw in more organic search sessions.
Google analytics does not have to be overwhelming. If you know what metrics to follow, you’ll know what to do to improve your content marketing strategy.
Alex Boyer is a Community Manager and Content Ninja for Duct Tape Marketing. You can connect with him on Twitter @AlexBoyerKC