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):