Google Analytics

How to Use Google Analytics to Improve Your Content Strategy

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So you’ve spent countless hours analyzing traffic, channels, and conversions on Google Analytics; well done. Now it’s time to take a step back from everything and take an objective look at your content and its audience to see where they find the most value.

Jay Castro, part of the Mobile Content Marketing team @ Google, has some great tips to get you started. Here’s what he says about refining up your content strategy with Google Analytics:

Understand Who Your Audience Is

If your website has been live long enough (without being de-indexed or blocked for malicious practices), you will have some visitors.

That’s your famous “15 minutes of fame” right there.

No matter how bad your content is, someone somewhere will be sifting through it for any reason under the sun (good or bad).

But do you know who that guy is?

Knowing who your audience is and what they like is key to creating better content that actually succeeds in converting visitors into loyal readers.

The first thing you see on Google Analytics is audience overview. If you take the time to dig a little deeper than the sessions, you can unearth some tasty bits of insights about your audience.

And I’m not talking about individual user reports in User Explorer. I am talking ‘broad spectrum’ audience analysis — age group, gender, and most importantly, interests based on browsing, search, and purchase activity.

Once enabled, Demographics and Interests reports are a goldmine of information about your audience.

In Audience reports, go to Interests (1) >> Other Categories (2) (yup, the very same used in AdWords targeting!). Select a goal (3) and get cracking. For instance, here’s Google Merchandise Store’s Audience Interest Report (Goal: Engaged Users):

Improve_Content_with_GA_Interests-1

The granular category (News > Business News > Company News > Company Earnings) has some good numbers! But there’s more to be found when you click on the category name. You’ll see the audience with this interest segmented by age…

Improve_Content_with_GA_Interests-2
Wait, 18-24 year-olds are into News?!

…followed by gender…

Oh. It’s just the men, apparently. (FML)
Oh. It’s just the men, apparently. (FML)

And if I add a primary dimension for affinity categories, I will get to the gold:

Ha! Paydirt!
Ha! Paydirt!

Credit for data goes to Google Analytics Demo Account (covered here).

From this series of (increasingly specific) reports, you can tell that 18-24-year-old males looking for Business News constitute a significant portion of Google Merchandise Store’s engaged audience.

The last report (affinity categories) can be used to identify what this audience segment likes and responds to in general. See what I mean about delving deep?

Publishers with better things to do with their time than know their audience can get a broader view with interests overview. Here’s one based on avg. session duration (poor man’s substitute for ‘Engaged Users’ goal).

Improve_Content_with_GA_Interests-5

What can you do with this information?

Why, find out ways to incorporate these interest categories within your content strategy to increase your reach and engagement. Obviously.

Analyze Your Content for Performance

Content Grouping is, by far, the best (and most underrated) Analytics feature for publishers and bloggers everywhere. It lets you divide and bundle your published content in ways that make sense to you.

Once you’ve bundled your content in groups, you get a simplified look at reports in every page and audience report, including Behaviour Flow (more on that in a moment). You can still drill down to individual pages (by page title or URL) for in-depth analysis.

Castro suggests you use this incredibly nifty feature to simplify content analysis so you can find, focus, and improve on:

> Identify slow loading web pages

Page speed == User Experience is practically indisputable. And some of your content (for instance, posts with more images than general, infographics, video content, etc.) may be lagging behind.

An easy way to identify these slow-pokes is: Group your content (here’s how) by type, author, topic/category, or any other parameter that seems logical to you. Then go to Behavior >> Site Speed >> Page Timings (1). You can segment the report by content groups as primary dimension (2).

Here’s an example from demo account that shows avg. page load time and bounce rate for content group: Product categories. Note how the group with highest avg. page load time (Brands) also has the highest bounce rate (16.07%):

Improve_Content_with_GA_content-group-1
You don’t say?

Hone in on these pages with everything you’ve got and improve their performance.

> Identify pages with low AdSense CTRs

Group content by topic (WordPress users can go with categories taxonomy) and use the AdSense Pages Report (here’s how you link AdSense with Google Analytics). Use the AdSense Pages metric to compare content groups with lowest click-through-rates.

Tip: Drill down to individual pages within lowest CTR pages. Focus on increasing acquisition with SEO and Social shares directed specifically to these pages.

We also suggest you find out and monetize upon content groups that have:

Learn How Visitors Navigate Your Site

Your visitors enter, navigate, and leave your site in ways you probably never thought about. Here’s how you can decode the navigation patterns on your site.

> Landing Page Report

To Google Analytics, ‘landing page’ means a visitor’s point of entry to your site. Go to Behaviour >> Site Content >> Landing Pages (1). Here’s what Demo Account landing page report says about Google Merchandise store (primary dimension — content group: clothing by gender(2))

Women’s clothing: Top conversion rate (purchase completion goal) but dismal number of sessions.
Women’s clothing: Top conversion rate (purchase completion goal) but dismal number of sessions.

You can see these divided by content groups and drill down further to individual pages…

Like so.
Like so.

Your aim: Identify content groups/ pages with highest bounce rates and fix them. Another aim: Identify pages that convert best and figure out why.

We also love the following GA features:

  • Reverse Goal Path: Analyse content that helps conversions (2nd and 3rd landing pages) and use it to funnel audience towards completion of primary website/blog goals with internal linking
  • Behaviour Flow: Find out how visitors arrive and move across your website.

Wrapping Up

The data in Google Analytics can give you some startling insight into the weaknesses and strengths of your current content strategy. The key, as Castro eloquently puts it, is “to jump into the data, have fun, and experiment”.

Good advice, all things considered.