I get asked a lot of questions on how to get started blogging. Guess what? Starting's not hard, continuing is. Blogging's not easy and if you want to succeed, it's important to set blogging goals at the start of the year just like you would for any other business. However I've noticed that most bloggers get a little stuck getting started. Here are my tips on how to start setting blogging goals.
Find out which posts got the most traffic– Sounds pretty basic, right? Believe it or not, many bloggers fail to look at blog traffic. Where can you find it? Google Analytics. If you don't have an account set up, you need one ASAP. If you do have one, access your account and set the date range for the data for the entire year. Then go to Behavior → Site Content → All Pages (you can drill down much further than this in your account if you choose). You'll be able to see which posts got the most traction in 2014 and there may be some surprises. My most popular post last year was actually evergreen content about short shorts. Here are my most popular posts of 2014!
Why look at old posts? You'll get a pretty good idea of what kind of content your readers liked and how to attract new ones. My most popular post last year was a cookie exchange round-up post. Guess what? That shocked me but if that's the kind of content that people like to see, I'm happy to oblige. It gives me the freedom to write more personal posts about what's going on in our lives so our family can get caught up and not have to worry about blog traffic. It also allows me to plan for the upcoming year based on popular content from the year's before.
I also pull up my content daily. Here's yesterday's view. This tells me which posts are getting the most traffic and I can figure out how much promotion I want to give the week's posts based on what I see. The Middle School love post? Once again, that's evergreen content. By looking at the dailies, I can get a pretty clear idea how people are finding me. The category link? It's up on our current Go Fund Me Campaign for our daughter's trip to the Mayo Clinic. I don't even have to look at another report to figure that out.
Figure out where the traffic came from– Once again, this golden nugget can be found in Google Analytics. Take a moment and look at the Overview section. You'll be able to see how people are finding you and whether they're going straight to your blog or coming from another source. Over half of my blog traffic comes from social media, but I promote my posts all over the place so that makes sense.
Here's where you're going to want to drill down a little. Go to: Acquisition → All Traffic . You'll be able to see how people found your posts through social media channels. While Facebook is still my largest referring social network for 2014, as they changed their algorithm during the year, I began to get less traffic from the social media site. If you think this is happening on your blog, you may want to look at the traffic report by quarter instead of the year.
Why look at where you're traffic's coming from? To stop wasting your time and get more eyes on your blog. Pinterest started to become a big referring source for me in 4th quarter so I'm pretty sure it will be in 2015. What does that mean? I need to have good, easy to pin content on my blog at all times. Stumble Upon has also been good to me- that's where I got the Cookie Exchange Traffic.
See what Keywords people searched– In order to do this, you need to link your Analytics and Ad Words account (if you don't, you'll have the problem I had for part of last year of seeing “not provided” as your most searched keyword). Then you'll need to go to Acquisition → Keywords → Organic. This will give you list of the words that readers searched to find your blog. My most popular search term yesterday (and the entire year)? Bullying.
Why's this important? If you want to build blog traffic then you need to know what people are searching on Google that leads them to your blog. If people are finding me accidentally by Googling bullying, then I need to write more posts using that keyword. Simple, right?
These three basic Google Analytics views can tell you a lot about your readers. If you want to get more complex you can, but this gives you a start setting blogging goals. To me, it all starts with content. If your readers enjoy the content, they'll come back- you'll grow your readership and ultimately make more money.
What's one of your content goals for the year?