Imagine for a second that you simply showed up to your desk one day without a plan. No real idea of where you were taking your business, no thought as to how you were going to make money, and no playbook on how you would measure success. Although it sounds like a recipe for disaster, it's how most people approach content for their blog.
Establishing content goals is what keeps you focused on results, motivated to achieve them, and hungry to break through them. Without goals, you're inching, crawling, creeping your way through a labyrinth with a blindfold — arms outstretched with no idea where where the finish line resides.
It's time to rip that blindfold off and get a damned map.
To do this, you'll need to do two things: set solid goals and monitor your site traffic to ensure you meet them. Learn how (and why) you should be doing both of these things below.
Setting Goals For the Future
In order for you to achieve greater pageviews, visits, leads, and sales, you'll need to set goals. But these shouldn't be giant, unattainable, and pie-in-the-sky goals. They should be small. Achievable. Wimpy even. Why? For one, it will keep you motivated. If you're just starting a blog, it's not unreasonable to set a goal for 500 pageviews in the first month. It may seem like very little, but you have to start somewhere. If you find you're absolutely rocking it, blasting through that goal in a few weeks or days, then quickly reassess and set your target a bit higher. You wouldn't vow to lose 30 pounds in 30 days, so you shouldn't aim to hit 5,000 views in the first month of blogging, either. It's unhealthy.
Metrics to Monitor
How will you know you're hitting your targets (or falling short)? Monitoring. Keeping an eye on what content does well, where your traffic is coming from, and how long visitors are staying on your site can help you craft content that resonates and attracts new readers, which drives up your pageviews and helps you hit those goals. Here's a few metrics you should be monitoring:
- Unique visitors — This is a measurement of new visitors to your site that have not logged any of your sites cookies or registration IDs during a certain time frame.
- Pageviews — This is how many times your blog pages have been viewed over a period of time.
- Bounce rate — If someone clicks over to your site and then leaves, rather than continuing to look at other content, this percentage is the "bounce" rate. You want this number to be low.
- Referrers/Traffic sources — Whether your traffic is coming from search, direct, a Twitter link, or from another website, you'll see those represented here.
- Keywords — How are people finding your site? These keywords are important so you know what kinds of content you might want to consider expanding on or generating more often.
- Time on site — How long do visitors stay on your site? Your goal should be to raise that number as high as possible since it usually means you have an engaged audience.
- New vs returning visitor — Who's new and who's coming back for another dose of awesome.
Tools to Help You Track
I use the following three tools to help me track and monitor my traffic goals. All three have a simple set-up — just create an account and install a code into your website or blog (instructions are included upon registration).
- Google Analytics — The one-stop shop for traffic monitoring, Google Analytics gives you all of the above metrics and more. So much more, in fact, that you might want to look into Google Analytics training so you can get a handle on what you're dealing with. Though, the metrics listed above are easily found and easily measurable.
- Statcounter — Statcounter provides real-time traffic updates from your site. It shows where your inbound links are coming from, where they go after they leave your site, and popular pages. It even shows you the path visitors take around your site, so you can see where they're clicking, the content they're reading, and how long they stay on each page. It really is a must-have addition to your analytics arsenal.
- Excel/Google Docs — Keep track of everything with a simple spreadsheet. Write down the above metrics on a weekly basis (I do weekly reports from Monday to Sunday) so you can visualize how your traffic is growing or falling, and match that to which types of posts do best so you can up the ante and create more content in the vein of your most popular posts.
The Secret to Staying Focused
Don't just say you want to reach a certain goal — write it down. But don't just write it down — post the number you want to hit in front of you on your desk, a wall, in lipstick on your mirror, whatever. Then break that goal down into daily increments. Say you want to hit 1,000 pageviews this month (pageviews are a simple metric to start with). That means you have to get at least 32 pageviews a day. Doesn't sound too bad, right? Once you have your marketing plan in place — sharing on social channels, blogger outreach, or link partnerships, perhaps? — you can bob, weave, and adjust to hit that daily goal and increase or decrease your efforts as the needs arise.
Have you set goals for your blog? Any points I missed? Share your methods and metrics you monitor in the comments and help other beginner bloggers get on the right path!
Source: Flickr user