The final step in the process of creating a successful blog is measurement. You’re putting a lot of time and effort into your blog, so how do you know that your hard work is paying off. What is your return on investment (ROI)? The answer can be found by assessing and tracking your site statistics. This is where you will find key performance indicators (KPIs).
A key performance indicator (KPI) is a metric, or data point, that tells you how your content is performing. KPIs measure the size of your audience, how your audience engages with your content, how long they stay on your site per visit, if they shared your content on social media, how they came to be on your site, and more. Ultimately, these KPIs can tell you how effective your blog’s content is for the audience you’re hoping to attract.
To start a measurement program, and really this is something that you should be doing on an on-going basis once you’re up and running, first circle back to Step One: What is the big-picture purpose of your blog? What are you hoping to achieve in the long term and what do you need to achieve in the short-term to get there?
While your long-term goals may remain unchanged, your short-term goals will change as your blog grows and evolves, but you should establish SMART goals to guide your short-term planning efforts so they will successfully contribute to your ultimate goal of blogging.
Smart goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based.
<a title="U3187248, CC BY-SA 4.0 , via Wikimedia Commons” href=”https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SMART_goals_structure.jpg”>Wikimedia Commons
At first, your big-picture goals (long-term) may be to have a successful blog with thousands of subscribers. You may be trying to create a community to inspire action around a social issue. You may want to earn money through AdSense or affiliate links. You may be trying to grow as an influencer and want to post long-form content or sponsored-brand content.
Once you start posting regular content, you should establish short-term SMART Goals (STSG) that will help you see how you’re doing weekly/biweekly/monthly and how that performance is helping you to achieve your overall, big-picture goal in the long-term. Here are some examples of STSGs that you might have for a given month or period of time: Gain 300 new subscribers by May. Attract three new brands to work with you. Drive at least 500 followers to a brand’s or sponsor’s website. Sell 25 copies of your e-book. Increase post engagement by 10%. Earn $500 through affiliate links or advertising in the month of November.
Each of these goals meets the SMART criteria. When looking at your KPIs, you may discover that you exceeded your goal and earned $1000 in ad/affiliate revenue. Now you have a better benchmark and a realistic number to work with moving forward in establish your next STSG. Next month you might want to establish a goal to grow that revenue amount by 10%.
You can perform some very basic yet informative measurement through your built-in platform analytic tools that WordPress, Wix and other platforms offer. However, if you continue blogging, you are going to need to access more data and analytics to help you assess your performance and plan for the future.
When you’re ready, you can upgrade your account and then use a plugin, like the very popular MonsterInsights, to set up a Google Analytics (GA) dashboard for your site. Though there’s a learning curve, there are a ton of resources and YouTube videos to help you navigate GA. More on GA and a deeper dive into measurement in a future post. For now, here is some basic, but still very helpful, data you can see from WordPress:
#1 Traffic Numbers. The total number of visitors and subscribers which you can track over time.
#2 Views Per Post. Seeing which posts have the most views is important information. You won’t be able to assess how much time your readers spent on a post (or their overall time on your site (TOS) or how many people left your site without doing anything (Bounce Rate) without a GA upgrade, but seeing which posts are the most read and popular will obviously help you plan your content.
#3 Referring Sources. Through this metric you can see where people are learning about your blog, and how they are getting there. For example, they may be referred by Google or another search engine. You may see that some readers are finding this blog from where you or others are sharing them on social networks like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. So this is an important metric for your promotion strategy because you know where your promotion is working best. And if you see that Twitter and Facebook are your best performing referral sources, make sure that you’re posting more, and make sure that you’re putting some of that paid promotion behind some of your blog posts there.
#5 Social Shares. Another extremely important metric when it comes to your blog posts. Again, what you will see without an upgrade to GA is limited (for example, you can’t assess which post was shared on which social media platform), but you can at least see if your content is generally being shared by your readers on their social channels.
#6 Basic Engagement. Your basic post engagement is also an important thing to take a look at: Are people actually liking and commenting on your posts? Are you commenting back? Are they positive comments? Obviously the blogs that have a high engagement when it comes to commenting means that the readers are really interested in your content and they’re interested in giving you feedback and in you giving them feedback in the form of commenting.
I hope this information helps you understand the importance of measuring your blog’s performance and how to use SMART goals to help you do that. Please let me know if you have any questions by leaving me a comment below; I’m happy to answer. I will be posting more about Google Analytics, so stay tuned! As always I appreciate likes and shares!