If you utilize guest posting as a part of your online marketing campaign, then you likely want to know how successful your content really is. Sure you can just check Google Analytics to see which sites you have written for are driving the most traffic to your website. That’s the simple way to go. But what about if you want to learn a few more things such as…
- What topics have performed the best on specific websites? This can be especially helpful if you want to write for the same site regularly and want to write posts that do well.
- What headlines received the most social shares and comments? This can help you determine what titles are most / least popular for the audience on specific websites. If the website you are writing for has a similar audience to yours, you can use this as a way to formulate future post titles.
- Is a correlation between higher social shares and/or comments to the number of referral visits you receive to your website? Maybe you will notice that posts with a lot of tweets send the most traffic to your website compared to posts with the a lot of likes.
- Is there a correlation to the subjects you write about and the number of referral visits you receive to your website? Maybe your posts on SEO, in combination with the text in your author bio, lead to the most traffic to your website.
If you want the answers to these and even more questions, then you’ll want to go beyond just your Google Analytics and see the results of your guest posting campaign in one place – a (somewhat) simplified spreadsheet. I decided to put together a spreadsheet and this is what I measured and what I learned.
First off, you need to record the basics about your guest posts include the website you publish them on, the main topic, the title, the date published, and the link for future reference. If nothing else, this a great way to keep your efforts organized for easy reference down the road. Imagine a year from now, you could always contact some of these sites and ask if they would like an updated version of a popular post you published on their blog.
Next, I like to track some of the main social engagement on the post including shares on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, StumbleUpon, and LinkedIn. I also like to look at the number of comments to see what topics get the most discussion. This can help you quickly see whether specific topics get a good amount of social engagement or if a blog simply gets a ton of social engagement due to their reputation in the industry, no matter what you write.
If you have different author bios that promote different websites, you should note which website you were linking to with each particular post. If you vary your anchor text from one author bio to the next, you may want to add a column in for that as well. It is also good to note where your author bio appears – at the top of the post, at the bottom, or on a separate profile page altogether.
For your referral visits, go into your Google Analytics and see how many visits you received from each particular post. You can do this by going to Traffic Sources > Sources > Referrals and then click on the blog URL to see stats for each post you have written for them. You may also want to add additional columns for time on site, bounce rate, and other stats about visitors from each of your posts.
I also included the date I took these measurements and subtracted the date the post was published from it. In this case, the formula was =O2-D2 with column O as the date I measured the post stats and column D as the date the post was published. This shows me how many days the post had been published. If you want to see your immediate and long term guest posting results, you can do measurements at 14 days, 30 days, 60 days, and other specific time frames after a post is published or choose to do your measurements at one specific time frame. You can always use the formula =D2+30 to calculate the date of 30 days after a post has been published (assuming that column D is the date the post was published).
You might also consider adding an additional column for comments about each post where you can note anything that might have helped it be successful such as using Facebook Promoted Posts, getting a social share from a major industry leader, or having it included in an industry recap like SearchCap or one on another major publication.
Conditional Formatting and Filtering
Once you have entered your data, you can use Conditional Formatting to highlight specific information by color. For example, I used Conditional Formatting > Color Scales and selected Green – Yellow – Red and applied it individually to the social engagement and referral traffic columns. This helps me easily identify the highest to lowest numbers in each column by color. I then added a filter to the top row so I could easily sort all of the data by publishing date, topics, posts with the most tweets (or other social engagement), and posts with the referral traffic from highest to lowest.
What I Learned
So what exactly did I learn from this analysis? Here are a few things… note they may be different based on your industry and the sites you write for.
- Sites where the author bio and link was on a separate page instead of on the post itself sent little to no traffic to my websites.
- Posts with a high volume of social sharing on Twitter and Facebook didn’t always translate to lots of visits to my website. Since social shares like tweets and likes don’t always mean that people have actually been to the post and read it, it makes sense that a high number of shares doesn’t always mean a high number of referrals.
- Posts with a high volume of social sharing on Google+ and LinkedIn seemed to always translate to a high number of referral visits. It could be assumed that people who share on those networks only do so after reading a post. These posts also tended to have a lot more comments.
- Posts with a high volume of comments did translate to lots of visits to my website. Since commenters have to actually be on the post itself to make a comment (and the comment form is typically right below the author bio), it can be assumed that writing posts that illicit comments can help you get more referral traffic to your website. This doesn’t count if your link is on a separate author bio page though.
- Posts that were 900+ words in length tended to have higher social engagement and comments compared to posts that were around 600 words.
Have you tracked your guest posting success using a spreadsheet or other tool? What other stats do you measure? Please share in the comments!