How to Use Data To Write Better Content
Ah, content. That pesky thing your marketing person is always harassing you about, saying you need more of it. What exactly is content? Content is everything you see on a web page. All the letters, sentences, lists and drop-downs are content. And content matters.
So how do I use data to write better content?
Think of your web pages like individual football players. All the pages together make your team, your website, and the way the players on the team perform produces your stats, your data. Your content is what makes each page, each player, what it is. Each one has a specific purpose to help the team win the game. So how do you win the game? You have good players. How do you know if your players are good? You look at the data, you watch how they perform in the game.
Make sense? Good.
A business owner using data like Google Analytics to write better content is like a football coach re-watching a game in slow-mo to make better plays in future games.
It just seems like the obvious thing to do if you want to win. Content is the bread and butter of your website. Google Analytics isn’t something you become a pro in overnight, but if you’re familiar with the program, you can use the data you have about your website to form it into a cohesive plan for future content. Ben (the guy in charge around here) can give you a pretty comprehensive guide to using Analytics for your business if you read through his blogs.
Content and Behavior Reports
One of the most useful reports for coming up with good content are the behavior reports. The behavior reports show you what your visitors are doing on your website. They tell you where they are entering and what actions they are taking while on your site. When you look at the All Pages report under Behavior you can see what content on your site is the most popular, and how long visitors are spending on each page.
This is key data you need to know in order to make better content decisions. If you don’t know what people like on your site and what they don’t like, you can’t make better decisions in the future. Use behavior to come up with topics for blogs or to determine which pages should have more information on them.
Landing Pages and Exit Pages
The landing page and exit page are two reports that are useful for generating content. The landing page is where you can see the top pages people enter your site. This is helpful because it shows you what people are interested in, what’s getting their attention.
The Exit page is one you want to pay close attention to, because it might be where you can tweak or improve content in order to keep people on your site longer. If a large majority of site visitors are getting to a certain page and then leaving your site, there’s something you might want to change on your page.
Better Decision Hint:
Under Behavior, go to Site Content –> All Pages. Look at the number of pageviews of a page, then look at the number of entrances. If the pageviews are high and the entrances are low you might have a problem. High pageviews means a lot of people are looking at a page. Low entrances mean they aren’t landing there directly. If a lot of people are looking at a page, you should give them direct access to it through a search engine. How do you make search engines link directly to a page? Write better content.
Content and Acquisition Reports
While the Behavior Reports tell you about your website visitors’ behavior once on the site, the Acquisition reports tell you how they got there.Did they come from a search engine like Google or Bing? Did they type your www directly into their web browser? Did they click on a link from another site that raved about you in a review or blog post? Acquisition reports have the answers.
Let’s say your website is a restaurant. In order for people to eat your food they first have to get there somehow. What we call “channels” is what you might think of as streets, and everyone takes different streets to get to the restaurant. By closely watching these channels, or streets, to see how people are getting to your site you can gauge which areas you need to focus more on.
If you want more people coming through Referrals, you may want to invest in outreach and guest-blogging. If you want more traffic coming in through Paid Search, then beef up your PPC campaign. If you want more traffic coming through Organic, work on your SEO campaigns and re-optimize your website to be more search-engine friendly.
Better Decision Hint:
Go to Acquisition –> Keywords –> Organic, and set your primary dimension to landing page. Look for pages that should have the same metrics, like geo-targeted pages, or the same general type of content, like blog posts, and see how different they are. Use the bounce rate as a key indicator, if one page has a higher bounce rate than the other that may be an indicator you need to change something about the content on the page.
Going back to our football team, once you use these content metrics and data to pinpoint the weak spots on your pages- the weaknesses of your players- you’ll be able to know which areas need more attention, and tweak your content strategy in order to win the game.
But how do I actually write better content?
Unfortunately, spinning magical webs of words is not something Google Analytics does for you. What you can do, however, is run over to the nearest university and nab a journalism degree like I did (Rock Chalk Jayhawk!), or you can leave it to the pros like us at Blue Corona.
Give us a call, and ask for me if you want to talk football (unless you’re a Missouri fan).
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