Don’t choose your next blog topic before checking this data

June 4, 2015 Asaf Rothem

With more than 40 agency partners, we have access to excellent writers and their new perspectives, and we are happy to share with this our readers! We are thrilled to kick this off with Valerie Levin – she is the Director of Inbound Marketing at Penguin Strategies, a B2B marketing agency focused on bridging the gap between sales and marketing, and leveraging inbound marketing to generate qualified leads for clients.

Truism of the day: blogs are written to be read.

This fact shouldn’t come as a revelation to anyone – or at least, any marketer. Still, it shouldn’t be taken for granted that choosing a blog topic at random and sending it out into the vast ocean of content will ensure your target audience will want to read it.

Before you write your next post, ask yourself: “What is my brand’s expertise?”

Answering that question should whittle the infinite pool of potential topics into a more manageable number. But what’s the next step?

The two most valuable resources for determining your next blog post are:

Your Content

Competitors’ Content

How do you analyze these resources? Below are a number of actionable tips on how to use 3 different tools (Google Analytics, BuzzSumo, and Twitter Lists) to help you adopt a data-driven approach to blog topic selection.

Learning What Works With Google Analytics

Examining your existing posts and their performance is the easiest way to quickly understand which topics, writing styles, or perspectives drive website traffic.

The most popular tool to track blog performance is Google Analytics (GA). Instead of examining all of the metrics offered by this tool, focus on the 4 highlighted below:

Top 4 Google Analytics Metrics to Track

First thing’s first, is your blog hosted on-site or off-site? If it’s off-site, you’ll have a much easier time checking blog post performance, since the entire site you’re checking is only the blog. If it’s on-site, you’ll have to wade through all the pages on your website.

Once you’re inside, on the left-side bar, click on ‘Behavior,’ and then on ‘All Pages.’

1. Pageviews

Pageviews are exactly what they sound like. This metric tells you the number of visits your webpage has generated, and is great for determining how well your posts are performing with your audience.

When examining pageviews, pay attention to two things: topic and content format.

For example, if you’re writing about B2B marketing, you might notice that blog posts on new features in LinkedIn outperform those on lead generation. In addition, it could be that your audience is more visual, and prefers content formats such as infograpics or Slideshares over text-based posts.

Depending on how long you’ve been blogging for, make a list of the top 10 blog posts over the past 3 months, and start comparing the subjects and formats to identify which ones resonated most with your audience – based on pageviews.

Quick Beginner Tip: To make sure your pageviews are “more accurate,” filter out your company’s IP address (as well as those of your developers/testers).

2. Average Time On Page

Basically, Average Time on Page is just that – it’s the average amount of time your website visitors are spending on a particular blog post page. Essentially it gauges your readers’ interest in a specific blog post. For example, if you see that the average time on certain blog post is under 10 seconds, chances are that no one is reading your post.

It’s hard to pinpoint a “good” average time on page, as this can vary based on length of post, subject matter, etc. However, if we take a logical approach, we can assume that if a reader spends approximately 30-45 seconds on a page, he or she is expressing at least a minimal level of interest in your content.

3. Entrances

Think of entrances as a type of “first click attribution.” The term refers to the percentage of visitors for whom a particular page was the first one they visited during their website visit. Think of this as the “landing page” that brings them to your website.

Just a quick clarification – the first blog post a reader reaches, whether from social, search or any other channel, is considered an entrance, as well as a Pageview. However, any additional blog posts, or web pages, that are viewed are only considered Pageviews.

Why does this matter? The blog post topic you choose needs to be based not just on what ultimately gets seen, but on the initial hook that reeled the visitor in. This could be the result of a catchy headline, a great visual, recent trend, or a high-demand subject.

4. % Exit

% Exit represents the percentage of visitors who leave your site via a certain page. Ultimately, this holds the same usefulness as Entrances. The difference being that very often it’s more instructive to know where you are going wrong than were you are going right. Initial adjustments away from bad practices can show great results for comparatively little effort.

Google Analytics

Listening For The Buzz With BuzzSumo

Though less nuanced in its metrics, BuzzSumo essentially does for other people’s webpages what Google Analytics does for your own. In their own words, “BuzzSumo provides insights into the most popular content online and the influencers sharing it.”

The platform instantly aggregates a list of widely shared pages relevant to the topics or keywords in your query. By searching topics close to your brand and reviewing popular articles, you can able to zero in on something resembling a recipe for popularity.

2 Quick Tips for Getting the Most Out of BuzzSumo

1. Find the Most Engaging Angle for Your Keyword

Have a great blog post topic in mind? Before you come up with the title, head over to BuzzSumo, type it into in the search box, and check which articles on similar keywords have the most shares on each social network.

If, for example, you’re targeting B2B readers, zero in on LinkedIn or Twitter social shares rather than Facebook or Pinterest. Another quick tip is to click on the ‘View Sharers’ button to see who shared this specific type of content and what their authority is. This is also a great way to check out who is sharing your own content, and engage with them. 

2. Find Inspiration in What Influencers are Sharing 

BuzzSumo boasts a feature that allows you to search by topic for influencers. This is a useful tool for following emerging trends and tracking the zeitgeist. Use the ‘Sort by’ filter at the top of the screen to filter by number of followers or page authority. Then, click on the ‘View Links Shared’ button to get an idea of what type of content each influencer is interested in.

Keep in mind that you can also click on the small profile icon to the right of each influencer to automatically add them to one of your Twitter Lists (more on that below).


Getting Organized With Twitter Lists

Once you start following hundreds – if not thousands, of handles on Twitter – how do you sort through all the noise? The easiest way to is create Twitter Lists, which help you track a specific group of handles that you’ve defined, such as competitors or customers.

You can either create your own Twitter Lists, and choose if they will be public or private, or monitor an existing public one by clicking on the ‘Lists’ icon under a handle’s profile. On a side note, you don’t actually need to follow a handle to add it to a Twitter List.

3 Key Twitter Lists To Create

1. Competitor List

Creating a Twitter List of competitors is the absolute easiest way to know what they’re writing about, their newest features, and learn about their marketing strategy. Use this list to monitor industry trends to write about, or just take a recent blog post they’ve shared, and create a stronger one for your audience.

2. Influencer List

Once you’ve identified who your influencers are using BuzzSumo, add them to a Twitter List and start learning from what they share. This is a helpful way to recognize industry trends before they mature. Another tip is to reach out to a relevant influencer, and offer to interview them for your new blog post!

3. Keyword List

Suppose, you own a boutique bakery and want to be on top of conversations in your network that mention “Petit fours.” You can either search for the hashtag, or the keyword itself for a broader scope.

Don’t forget to incorporate Boolean Operators such as AND or OR, so you can track multiple keywords, hashtags, or even a combination – in the same stream.

Twitter List

So there you have it; a brief overview of some crucial considerations and helpful habits to run through before choosing and composing the content for your new blog.

Now, get writing!

BTW, after putting so much effort into it, should it still be a blog post, an anchor for driving traffic, or should you lock it behind forms, and generate more leads? Read all about it here:

White paper locking forms2

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