The amount of data that is possible to glean from your blog readers (from analytics, social media and A/B testing) is pretty substantial; in fact, those in the know are calling it “Big Data.” A pretty underwhelming word, considering 2.5 quintillion bytes of data were created every day in 2012, with an astonishing 90% of the world’s data collected in the last two years.
Big data is defined by Gartner as “high-volume, high-velocity and high-variety information assets that demand cost effective, innovative forms of information processing for insight and decision making.”
In other words, there’s an insane quantity of useful data being generated every day by our online activities, and it’d be stupid not to use it.
It’s not going away. This deluge of information is set to create 4.4 million IT jobs globally by 2015, so understanding it is essential for the success of your blog.
But how? All of this data can be messy and confusing, but if you look at it as ‘insight’ instead of just figures, storage and processing, then you’re halfway there.
Big data analytics is all about asking the right questions of your data, in order to gain actionable knowledge and insight that will help you improve your content delivery, and therefore the amount of traffic your blog receives.
Web Traffic Analytics
Web analytics (tracked using a tool such as Google Analytics or Omniture) allow you to see which pieces of content are most popular on your blog, so that you can recreate them for future success.
For your top ten posts (those which had the most pageviews), be sure to note:
- The type of content
- The topic
By finding out what your readers actually want to see on your blog, you can save yourself from wasting precious time creating content that they’re simply not interested in, or passing up on the opportunity to feature something that you should have jumped on.
Search Terms and Backlinks
Tracking the search terms and backlinks that are driving traffic to your site is helpful in improving your traffic.
By discovering which keywords are frequently appearing in the searches that bring people to your site, and then checking out the competition for these phrases, you can decide which are best to integrate into your content (without making it keyword heavy).
Tracking backlinks is another way of indicating who is interested in your content, and give you an idea of how to further target this particular audience.
Also, if you were interested in improving your search engine ranking by going on an SEO spree, then these metrics are going to become pretty important to you.
Social Media Metrics
Similar information to your traffic analytics should be noted from your social media metrics. So using tools such as HootSuite, Mention or Google Alerts, as well as in-platform analytics, find out which pieces of your content have been shared by your readers, and pay attention to:
• The headline or message
• Its creator
• Whether any influencers were mentioned
• Who/how many people shared the content
If your readers are interested in a particular topic, keep writing about it. If they like a particular contributor, use them again. If you’ve mentioned a social media influencer (someone who will share your content), reach out to them. And finally, identify those who have been sharing your content, and assess their potential as influencers, too.
Analytics to A/B Test Images and Content
An A/B testing tool lets developers (and bloggers!) test their site’s content by showing their visitors two versions of the same page (say, with two different images) and letting them decide which is most effective. It works by funneling visitors into two different versions of a web page, and then tracking the success of each version (using click through, bounce rates, etc.).
Using A/B testing to assess the preferred visual style of your readers is a great way to improve your blog. Do they like photos or illustrations? What color schemes work best? Does changing the layout of your blog have a significant effect?
Remember, it’s not just your sparkling content that matters. If your blog looks bad, your readers are unlikely to hang around. In a nutshell, design matters.
To conclude, all of the above data can help you gain valuable insight into what your audience wants from you. Consistently analyzing it and acting upon what you learn will help you reach your blogging goals, and improve your blog exponentially. Give the people what they want, and you’ll be bound for blogging success.