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What do you think of when you think of Google Analytics? Usually, it’s search engine optimization. But Analytics also holds a treasure trove of data and insights into how you can create better content.
There are a dozen ways to slice and dice the data in your Google Analytics account to come up with killer content ideas. For the sake of brevity, we’re going to focus on just three. These short-list tactics pack the most punch and are super-easy to implement. None of them takes more than 15 minutes to do.
Everything covered here is for Analytics newbies. You don’t need advanced Analytics skills to do any of this. Just being able to log into your account is enough.
Before we get too far ahead, let’s define “effective content.” It’s content that supports your business goals. Those goals might be building your email list, nurturing leads, and/or attracting new leads. Better content gets better results. Measurable results.
Because we’re focused on using Analytics to create content that gets results, the very first thing we should talk about are Google Analytics goals. So let’s roll right into Tactic #1.
If you haven’t set up at least a few Google Analytics goals (or set them up in another analytics platform), you’re basically flying blind. Without goal tracking in place, trying to figure out which pieces of content are supporting your business goals is like trying to braid spaghetti. It’s really frustrating, and you end up with a mushy mess.
You’ll need Edit permission at the View level to create a goal. Don’t have a clue what that means? No worries. Just follow along through the next item. If you don’t see a red “New Goal” button on the goals summary page, it’s likely a permissions issue.
Setting up a goal requires that you first choose a goal. Here are a few ideas for goals you might want to track:
Don’t go too crazy creating a lot of goals. Your account limits you to only 20. And for every goal you add, you’ll see an extra column in many reports. This is good information to have, but it can get unwieldy if there are more than a handful of active goals. Start off with one or two, get familiar with the reports you’re going to be generating, and go from there.
For this example, I’m going to set up one super-simple goal. All it does is track how many times a given page was viewed. Now, why would that be helpful? Because many sales funnels or lead nurturing campaigns work by bringing people through a series of pages until they reach a final confirmation page.
Maybe that’s the page they actually download the report from, maybe it’s the final “thanks for signing up for our email newsletters” page. Maybe it’s the webinar confirmation. Whatever the page is, or does, is the final step of what you want to track. And so that’s why views of this magic, final, confirmation page are so critical. You want to know how people found their way to this page, whether they started from a search engine or a Facebook ad or wherever.
Once you know which content marketing techniques are really getting people to this final magic confirmation page, you’ll have a better idea of which content marketing tactics work. That’s powerful. That’s why we’re doing this.
Here’s how to make it happen:
This is the page that often freaks people out. They don’t see an option for the goal they want to set up, and the custom option seems too scary to even try. But that custom option is that we want to click, so let’s walk through and de-mystify it.
This is what you’ll see next.
This is the last page of setup. Only four more settings to go, and two of them you can skip.
As soon as you’ve done that, you’ll probably notice the gray text under this field. It says, “For example, use My Screen for an app and /thankyou.html instead of www.example.com/thankyou.html for a web page.”
Here’s what mine looks like:
And my return on this effort? I’m tracking views to the index page of this “coaching tutorials” directory.
That’s a working Analytics goal. Yay! We could stop here and leave well enough alone, but often it’s nice to tie goals to monetary value. That way you can actually see what each visitor from a given traffic stream is worth to you. It’s pretty cool, and smack-your-forehead easy.
You’ll now be able to quantify what different kinds of visitors are worth to you. This is essential information if you do pay per click or other advertising.
Funnel tracking does just what it sounds like it does: lets you see at which points people fall out of your funnel. If you want to set up a funnel tracking system, there are a few more steps.
If you just want to skip funnels for today, that’s fine. It also means you’re done! Now you can sift through all your site’s traffic and see which content is actually getting people to this page. No more flying blind.
The “Average Time on Page” report holds important clues about which pieces of content your visitors really love. This is in some ways a purer measurement of interest than which pages get the most traffic. That’s especially true if you buy advertising, or if you did well with your search engine optimization and happen to have a nice high ranking for a couple of pages.
You can also sort by page value after your goals data has had some time to populate, or by any of the other columns in this report. This will give you insight into which pieces of your content hold visitors’ attention. It will also show which pieces get passed by like a blank road sign.
If you’re looking at these lists and seeing that certain kinds of content do well, ask yourself: What other similar topics could we cover? What format should those topics be created in? Sometimes even great content ideas fizzle if they’re not in the right format. For instance, should you do a new tutorial as a video, or as a blog post, or as a SlideShare?
Also consider which phase of the sales cycle people are in when they are drawn to a particular piece of content. Ask yourself:
Want more insight about how to nail these questions down? See our post on content that converts.
If you’ve set up a Google Search box on your site, you’ve got a goldmine of content ideas at your fingertips. You can see every search query visitors have entered on your site. It’s in the “Site Search” report. Find it by going to Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms.
My test site doesn’t have a search box set up, so I’m losing out on this tip. But here’s where you’d find the report in your own account.
I’m probably going to add a search box to this site, just to get the query information. Search data is especially valuable because it shows you what people want to find, but are currently not finding. That’s why they turn to the search box. The queries from those searches reveal where the content gaps are on a site and if the navigation serves users well enough.
So, those are the three easiest, most effective ways to use Google Analytics to see which content you could create that is most likely to foster engagement.
There are dozens of other Analytics tricks that can reveal which content you should be working on next. Do you need assistance creating reports for content ideas? Don't hesitate to contact us.
This article originally appeared on Act-On's Marketing Automation Blog.