Planning a Content Marketing with In-Page Analytics?

With the launch of a new city in the Neighborhood projectLos AngelesAirbnb just launched the largest number of city Neighborhoods so far, 61. I really enjoyed day dreaming with the great pictures of Neighborhoods like MalibuSanta MonicaVenice or Hollywood. Maybe one day we will have the chance to move and live in Los Angeles, which has always been a secret dream for me. But then again, San Francisco is also not too shabby! I love walking around in the Richmond District, and get a sense of the Asian, Russian mixture of the Neighborhood and make great street pictures.

Another dream home town for me has been New York. Maybe a little bid too much out of our league, as living in a Neighborhood like TribecaSoHo or West Village with 3 kids is just very difficult. Let alone we would ever be able to afford a Townhouse at the Upper West Side! Brooklyn seems to become the new hot spot in New York, especially as the New York Times just published an article on how Hispters are taking over Neighborhoods like Williamsburg, or how they call it Will.I.Amsburg. But enough for the dreams I might have when winning the lottery, what I thought would be interesting to talk about what to search for or to look at for you as a marketeer to plan a content calendar for the pages you have on your site. To conduct this research, I'm using the following tool:

  • Google Analytics; with the in-page analytics reporting

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How To Use In-Page Analytics To Direct Your Content Marketing

In page analytics are an often overlooked tool for conducting user research, and a great way to get new topics to write more on. And the best thing is, your users already told you those topics are the ones they are interested in! From the Google help document (underline and red mine)

In-Page Analytics is available under the Content section on the Standard Reporting tab. It lets you make a visual assessment of how users interact with your web pages

So looking at which Neighborhoods  in New York we would need to write more about, I pulled up the In-Page analytics on the New York Neighborhood page, and used the Color bubbles to showcase popular Neighborhoods based on what the users have clicked on.

Neighborhood heatmap

Where the colors give the scale of popularity relative to each other. This means, the warmer the color, the more clicks the link got in the time period I checked (data was for the month of April).

What stands out, is that there is one Neighborhood in particular popular, and the only one which gets a red color: Upper East Side. Some Neighborhoods didn't even got a color, so it's safe to say, these are the least well known, or not so popular neighborhoods in New York; these are:

Honestly, I never heard of these either, except for the name civic center, which we have here Civic Center in San Francisco as well.

Popular New York Neighborhoods Stacked Up

So pulling all the New York Neighborhoods in a spreadsheet, and making a bar chart of the results, it shows how all the Neighborhoods stack up on popularity:

Popular New York City Neighborhoods stacked up

 

Now it's only a matter of creating a massage map per Neighborhood and research the topics before the editor can start writing.

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You can access the report in Google Analytics in two ways:

  • In Standard Reporting > Content, click In-Page Analytics.
    This option opens the report on the page you identified in your profile settings.
  • In the Pages report (Standard Reporting > Content > Site Content > Pages), when you drill in to a specific page, click the In-Page tab.
    This option opens the report for that page.

SEO Seasonal Analytics Like the Ancient Maya’s

Imagine if you can estimate seasonal predictions as the Maya's could! When will Spring begin, when it's time for the harvest as fall starts? The Maya's were so good at math, astrology and architecture, that the pyramids in Chitchen Itza can predict the beginning of spring and fall to the day exact! Every year, I get confronted with the accuracy of the Maya calendar by the way of the recurring seasonal traffic to a post I wrote back in 2008. The post where I describe my visit to the March Equinox in Chichen Itza Mexico.

Like clockwork the traffic returns a couple of days in advance of the date the spectacle is taking place, either March 20/21 or September 22/23.

Recurring traffic for Equinox Chichen Itza twice a year

Click on image for large version

With the tools of today, I wonder how good the old ancient Maya's would have been to predict the expected results for the harvest, putting the corn into the ground right after March 21, the sign of the beginning of spring! More important, what can we, the analytics SEO junkies of today, learn from the old ways of predicting the seasonal coming of spring, or in our case, user search behavior!

Sometimes, ancient traditions of predicting the future are not that far of now days profession. Where the Maya's used Pyramids and astrology to secure their future, we use cookies as tracking beacons instead of the stars.

I see a great series in historical research and analytics ahead of me for the coming summer! With the spring starting today, just like the pyramids in Chichen Itza show in the form of a wonderful show of sunlight and the main Pyramid; El Castillo, I found myself a new Summer Project!

If you ever get the chance to visit Chichen Itza during the Equinox, don't hesitate, go!

Using Analytics to Improve Your Writing

Using Google Analytics can be a real time saver if you would like to do some advanced research on your website traffic or how you can expand the number of visitors. I will explain a number ways how I use Google Analytics to research next steps on how to grow the traffic to my websites by writing better content.

For the research cases below and in later posts, I’m using Google Analytics with specific advanced segments set up. In the examples I’m not only explaining how to use the advanced segments to do the analysis, but I will also show you how to set these up.

Old posts can drive a lot of traffic

Do you have some great ranking posts which drive most of your traffic. You either spent a lot of time researching a specific subject and wrote a valuable post on it, or you just got lucky hitting an interesting point which resonated with a lot of people. Now, think about when did you write this great piece or lucky shot of content? Wouldn’t you want to know which posts over the year are driving the most people to your site, and more importantly, are you improving in the quality you publish?

The advanced segment setup I’m about to show you is only possible when you have date based URL structure. On my Dutch blog TheNextCorner.com I have such a URL structure, which I at first thought was a big pain in the ass, now I wished I had it setup like that on this site! 

Below you see a 3 year graph of the visitors to my Dutch blog on a monthly basis. As you can see, I have a steady growth of visits to my site, with here and there some peaks or decline.

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From the image above I can not see which posts of which year are driving the most traffic. I would like to know specifically what the posts from 2007, 2008 and 2009 contributed to the overall traffic on the site.

After setting up some advanced segments that will apply certain filters based on the year in the URL, I can look at the contribution of the individual posts from each year as part of the total traffic.

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Setting Up Year Specific Post Reporting

Having the year and month as part of your URL structure is, like I said earlier, a must have or the set up of the advanced segments for this reporting. Currently my Dutch blog has this URL structure set up for a long period of time already.

i.e. http://www.thenextcorner.com/2010/01/el-nino-klopt-aan-de-deur.html

For some tips on how to set up custom advanced segments in Google Analytics, I posted a number of relevant resources at the bottom of this post.

If you would like to set up an advanced segment which tracks all the traffic for posts which were submitted in the year 2007, I would go into the Advanced segment editor, and click on the link, create new segment. Here I choose from the menu on the left side: Dimensions> Content> Page. I drag the Page box to the dimensions or metric box in the middle.

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After this, all you have to do is make sure the condition mapping is on Matches exactly. To determine your new advanced segment will only report the metrics for the posts that have the year 2007 in the URL, you input the following into the value box: /2007/

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Give your segment a name, and your done.

Pulling reports on year of post

Now that you have set up a couple of advanced segments, you can actually drill down in every report you have in the standard view of Analytics on those advanced segments you have set up; in this case the posts written in a certain year.

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Just use your pull down menu above the dates to check the segment you would like to include in the report.  In a next posts I will go deeper into the neat things you can do using these yearly posts segments setup.

Resources

If you don’t have experience setting up advanced segments in Google Analytics, I can recommend you read the following posts:

Some real advanced set up with Advanced segments by André Scholten (sorry in Dutch):

Popular Day of the Week

Building on my post on the seasonal traffic I get on my San Francisco Tips website (the site is in Dutch), where I concluded most of Dutch folks are looking for their summer holiday in January!Today I just took a look at the day of the week that is driving most traffic, which most interesting implies the Dutch are blocking their Sunday for summer holiday research!

Below you can see the traffic on my San Francisco Tips website from December 1st, until January 24th on a daily basis. All the Sundays are highlighted, where these Sundays represent the day with highest number of visits of the week.

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Apart from Christmas or New Year, it’s a pretty consistent picture!

Analytics 101 – Best Post Per Year

The Permalink structure from your blog does matter as it can help you making your life easier pulling the right stats out of Google Analytics using the Advanced segments functionality. Let me explain with the example of my Dutch blog: The Next Corner.

The URL structure of my blog, which is still running on typepad where I have plans for a long time already to migrate to WordPress, has the year and month in the URL structure as directories. Just check out one or two of the URL’s of my site:

  1. http://www.thenextcorner.com/2007/01/trojan_horse_ve.html
  2. http://www.thenextcorner.com/2009/09/gratis-virus-verwijderen.html

The two URL’s displayed above give the year and month in which these were published.

Not coincidence I use these two, as these will be used in further analysis in some later posts. Just make sure you either sign up for the RSS feed to follow the posts here, or follow me on @Thenextcorner.

The year which is displayed in the URL can be used for advanced reporting. If you have this kind of URL setup, I will show you in this post how to set up custom segments to report on exactly the traffic which came from which year/month using advanced segments in Google Analytics.

More insights from Analytics

To track which posts are delivering the most traffic to your site, you can use the advanced segments function to drill down even further down. By splitting up the total traffic reported into the years it was created, you can gain insightful knowledge and learning's how your writing and choice of subjects have evolved.

All we be more clear as soon as i show you the results of the advanced segments I have set up. First, let me show you the total visitors numbers graphs on my Dutch blog sine Jan 1st 2007, until Dec 31st 2009, which is three years. Graph is by month:

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Wouldn’t you like to see in one graph which posts are delivering the most traffic? Wouldn’t you like to know if your writing is improving through engaging your readers more? Wouldn’t you like to know how much traffic content can drive if it matures? Just keep on reading and you will see…

Setting up Advanced Segments

First step is to set up the advanced segments in Google Analytics to report on. This relies off course on the right URL structure for your site, as you will need to have the year/month displayed in your URL!

Navigate to the Advanced Segments link in the left side navigation menu in your Google Analytics account. Click on the link at the right top, +Create new custom segment.

Here you drag the dimension Page into the first box. After that you choose from the drop down the  Matches regular expression choice. The last set up is to type the year you would like to report on in the value box, as shown here in the picture below /2007/, which will report all posts from the year 2007, as these have the /2007/ in the URL defined as a directory.

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The longer your blog is in business, the more years you would have to set up as user custom segments.

Reporting on Year posts

The reporting on posts per year becomes very easy after you have set up all the custom segments. All you have to do is click the drop down of the segments, and check the boxes of those years you would like the posts to be reporting on:

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After you have clicked the years, you can now see which year you have been cranking out the most interesting blog posts, or which content has matured in a nice SEO friendly way that drives traffic. Here is my graph for the last three years:

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Cleary, my best posts are from 2007.

Now, I just have one post from 2007 that is bringing in most of the traffic on my Dutch blog, but I’m sure you can see the value of playing around with the Advanced Segments in Google Analytics to find new ways of slicing and dicing the data which is available.

It makes me wonder how my 2008 & 2009 content will do in a couple of years, as it matures the way the 2007 content has matured. I still doubt that the 2008 nor the 2009 will bring in the same amount of traffic as 2007 posts are doing at the moment. I just had some lucky shots in 2007 which are still ranking #1 for reasonable popular keywords.

More on Analytics later!