If you're publishing a blog as a part of your digital marketing strategy, you're on a good path to building an online presence for your business and establishing your contributors as thought leaders in your field. These are desirable results, but may sound a little ambiguous, unless you track and measure how these things are a true benefit to your business. In this post, we'll discuss some of the basic blog KPIs to track that will show the progress and performance of your blog over time.
First, it's important to note that the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for your blog will look different from KPIs you may be tracking for your business in general — such as employee retention, financial performance and customer satisfaction. Blog KPIs to track should focus entirely on the success of your efforts to publish, optimize and promote your blog. Tracking KPIs is critical as a blog takes time and patience and doesn't always give the clearest indications that it is serving its purpose or bringing results.
Blog KPIs to TRAck in 2015
To avoid feeling like your blog efforts are for naught in the new year, make it a priority to track the performance of individual blog posts as well as your blog overall. The KPIs explained below are specific to your blog effort and should be monitored and evaluated by your content team or blog manager on a regular basis.
1) monthly blog traffic
How many readers visit your blog over the course of a month? In the beginning, it may understandably be quite low. Knowing the history of your monthly blog traffic is a valuable piece of information that can show the growth of your blog from the start. This KPI is one that should show steady increases over time if you are, in fact, committed to the work required by your blog.
The Hubspot blog dashboard gives you an ongoing look month-to-date at your blog performance, compared to the prior month's traffic. Additional reports can be generated in Hubspot's Sources tool or in Google Analytics.
Below is a look at the blog dashboard, showing total blog views, month to date for September. Also clearly visible is the comparison to the previous month.
2) publishing frequency.
Before tracking this KPI, decide what your expectations are of your blog contributors. This can be clearly and simply laid out in an editorial calendar. A few questions you'll want to ask yourself to gain insight to this KPI include:
- Are your contributors meeting their goals for publishing?
- Is your organization as a whole reaching its publishing goal?
- Do you need to ramp up publishing or recruit new writers/contributors to the blog this year?
Your blog author page should give a count of published articles by author. You can also keep track of publishing frequency on your editorial calendar.
Remember that the more often you publish, the more opportunities you have to reach and communicate with the people who are looking for your solutions. Having a regular schedule for publishing is essential to building a successful blog. If blog contributors can submit posts and be published at least once per week, you'll have a healthy and active blog, even if you have just a few contributors.
3) social shares per blog post.
Social proof or social sharing goes a long way toward giving you a good idea of how your blog content is being received on social networks. Not only will you be interested in how many times your posts are shared, but where the posts are being shared any by whom.
The tool below, LinkTally.com was created by Hubspot's Dan Zarrella. By simply typing in your blog post URL, you can quickly see the post's overall social shares. The tool also breaks down the data to show total shares among the top four social networks — Google+, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
Image credit: linktally
4) top viewed posts
Blog views can be tracked in a couple of places in Hubspot. On the Page Performance tool, like below, you can see page views for your posts in order of most recently published posts. Knowing which posts are attracting the most views may help you decide which topic areas to focus on with your future blog direction. By studying these posts in more detail, you may choose to model future posts after them in regards to SEO elements, images, keywords and/or offers.
5) Blog subscribers
One of your goals for your blog should be not only get people to read your blog posts, but to subscribe regularly to your blog so they automatically receive your great content directly in their inboxes.
The example below is from a very successful blog that we all know and love: Hubspot. The Page Performance tool under the Reports tab in Hubspot gives a quick look at current blog subscribers, both e-mail and RSS subscribers.
So, how do you increase the number of subscribers for your blog? You can experiment with different prompts or incentives for readers to become subscribers. Here are a few ideas:
- Be sure your subscribe button or CTA is prominently displayed on each blog post.
- Use social proof — show how many others are already subscribers to influence readers to join.
- Offer an incentive for subscribing — an exclusive guide, invitation or coupon.
Diving Deeper Into your Data
The good thing about your online blog is that everything about the blog is tracked, whether you're paying attention to it at this time or not. The blog KPIs above are some of the basic indicators of your blog's performance. It is possible and recommended that you analyze your data even deeper to find out which of your blog elements, including landing pages, CTAs, images and links are the most effective in getting conversions. A few of the more revealing and more in-depth blog KPIs you may want to track include:
- Ranking keywords: which keywords are searchers using to find your posts?
- Blog leads: which blog topics or blog/offer combinations have yielded leads for your business?
- CTA click-through: which CTAs are attracting searchers to learn more and click through?
- Inbound links: which websites are sharing your information with their communities and on their sites?
These indicators can give you even more valuable information about how your blog is contributing (or not) to your bottom line.
Most important will be what you do with the data that you track about your blog. Are your KPIs looking good? Great, but the numbers can always be better. What can you test and/or change with your landing pages, CTAs, blog format or design that would move the needle for your blog in 2015?
Our resource below gives helpful ideas for using Facebook as a tool for sharing your blog content and other content with the goal of gaining customers.
Image credit: spark