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The Simple Truth Behind Measuring Content Effectiveness

How to Find Your Most Popular Content…. So You Can Create More!

How to find your most popular blog postOne simple task that significantly improves the success of your content marketing is the ability to identify what pieces of content are driving results and which are not.

Once you know which ones are resonating, you can CREATE MORE content centered around high-interest topics.

How can you do this? GOOGLE ANALYTICS. It’s free, and it’s the single most effective way to measure effectiveness of any content you create, assuming the goal is either to (1) drive traffic to your website, or (2) drive traffic to your website.

Yup, that’s included twice on purpose. No matter what your secondary goal might be – email subscribers, sales, customer service forums, eBook downloads, conversion of any kind – it’s a pretty safe assumption that you need them on your website before it can happen.

If your online marketing isn’t designed to drive traffic, you have a problem.

Even your social media activity should be designed to drive traffic to your website. (Hopefully you aren’t focused on vanity metrics (likes, comments, shares, etc.), but instead are using engagement to drive clicks. Otherwise, you are creating audience in a vacuum that may not convert into a reasonable ROI.) You want to know which platform is working well for you, and what kind of posts on that platform are driving the most clicks. That’s what your audience wants. It’s also what Google Analytics can tell you.

If you are a search engine optimization professional, you know this. You also know that most paid SEO tracking systems pull in Google Analytics data. However, it’s something most small business owners, entrepreneurs and public relations professionals don’t know, and it’s career-changing.

Ironically, some of the most expensive SEO software providers just offer prettied up Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools data poured into a different looking interface. Most of it is the exact same data you can get for free, and sometimes the reporting is LESS attractive. Why pay for that!?!

Understanding Google Analytics – or at least how to ask for the right REPORTS to be pulled from it – can transform you from a writer or content developer to a big picture strategist who makes a huge impact on overall company/agency success. It takes you from an average marketer to a GREAT one. (HINT: You need this to charge more money for your services.)  

If your team is large, you don’t have to understand it, you just need to know what to ask for. If you are an agency or independent contractor, you need to ask your client for it. It’s probably already set up.

Google Analytics is a must-use tool for tracking metrics. If you are creating content of any kind without metrics, without goals for what that content should accomplish, then you aren’t being nearly as effective as you could be. You might even be wasting your time and/or your client’s budget.

You should also be creating content that integrates basic SEO, you’ll drive results that are powered far beyond what most are doing. The smaller the company, the less likely it is they are doing this.

Are you also creating content that resides OFF your website – such as original LinkedIn long-form posts, video, podcasts, SlideShare decks, infographics or other forms?

You can measure views, reach, engagement, embeds or downloads – but it’s also important to connect it to your website.

It should be driving traffic to your website, or creating some kind of conversion.

So What Do You Ask For?

If Google Analytics is already set up on your site but it’s managed by someone else, you need to ask for two basic reports: Top Landing Pages and Traffic Acquisition.  This tells you what content on your website is bringing in traffic, and what sources off your website are bringing in traffic.

You’ll see which posts are being read the most, which guest posts or pieces of content on other websites, blogs and social media platforms are driving clicks. Want to know whether Facebook or LinkedIn shares are converting into website visitors? This is where you see it.

Once you have the site set up with Google Analytics and it’s been live long enough to collect a reasonable amount of data, the reports are invaluable.

If asking someone else to pull the reports for you, they can be found here:
1. Top Landing Pages: Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages.
2. Traffic Acquisition: Acquisition > All Traffic > Source/Medium.

Have the report pulled for a specific timeframe to make it valuable. Using twelve months of data is useful. You can also look at the entire time period your site or blog has been live, if Google Analytics has been installed the entire time or, if Google Analytics is newly installed, a quarterly report.

Reporting on longer time periods will provide more useful data – especially if your content covers a broad range of topics within an industry.

How Can I Do This Myself?

If you haven’t already set up Google Analytics on your website, you need to do it.

For bloggers using WordPress, it’s especially easy. Add the free “Google Analytics” plug-in to your blog (download it here). The Yoast website has quite a bit of helpful detail on how to set it up, but once it’s installed on your site, it’s a pretty intuitive process for most people. It takes just minutes. (12/28/16 update: Yoast sold this plugin to MonsterInsights.)

Yoast Google Analytics Plugin

Before You Can Finish Set-up…

You’ll also need to set up Google Analytics using your Google account (also free, if you don’t have one.). It will give you an embed code or UA number that you need for the plug-in.

Head over to to set up your website. If you find it via a Google search, click on “Get Started with Analytics.”

Google Analytics


Google also has great directions, so I don’t think I need to do a total walk-through of how to set it up here. I’ll do a post soon on how to USE Google Analytics, so stay tuned!


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