It may not seem like content writing and data analysis would work well together. Blogging and analytics both require a completely different set of tools, skillsets and approaches. However, in the context of driving visitors to your website and engaging them with your content, the two are inevitably codependent.
The traffic performance of your blog posts and site pages can be greatly enhanced by data and analytics. At each step in the content creation process, there are clear and measurable benefits to incorporating data into the planning, writing and evaluation of published content.
Below we will explore the use of analytics ‘checkpoints’ throughout the content creation process, from idea generation to successful post.
The Three R’s of Online Content Strategy
There are three stages of content development where analytics can guide you through the process.
1. Research: Keyword and Subtopic Research for Blog Strategy
Before even writing a single word of your website page or blog post, you should have a good idea of who will be reading your post, and how they will be getting there. More specifically, you should have a firm grasp of which organic keywords the page will rank for.
Before even selecting a topic, try using a keyword tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs to generate long-tail-keywords or niche topics that relate the overall idea of your website. These are both great options that can help generate ideas for subtopics related to the main idea of your website or even a specific blog posts.
For example, if you manage a blog about dog walking and are ready for a new post, enter something like ‘how to walk your dog’ as a parent topic into Ahrefs keyword tool, and you’ll get a list of keywords that you could also rank for, if you were to write a successful post that ranks for ‘how to walk your dog’. These topic ideas can become <h> tags in your new blog posts, or even entire posts themselves.
2. Recap: Tracking Content Performance with Google Sheets and the Google Analytics Add-On
Once your post is published, you will want to track its performance weekly or monthly. I like having a site’s entire collection of published blog posts or content articles in a single place, so I use Google Sheets to automatically pull their data using the Google Analytics add on.
As a shortcut, if your site has a sitemap specifically for blog posts, you can even use the =IMPORTXML function in Google Sheets to automatically populate the sheet with your complete list of blog posts. The full function will end up looking like this:
=IMPORTXML(“http://www.example.com/post-sitemap.xml”, “//*[local-name() =’url’]/*[local-name() =’loc’]”)
Simply paste this into the A1 cell of your sheet, and all of the blog posts URLs will be populated below. If you run a separate Google Analytics add on report listing traffic for all site pages, you can use a simple vlookup formula or the merge sheets add on to match the blog pages from the site map with their traffic data from the GA report.
Automatically pulling a list of your blog posts along with their data will give you an informative and up-to-date recap of blog performance each time your Analytics reports are run. In Google Sheets, you can manually run reports as needed or schedule them to run on a particular day of the week and time.
This document will be helpful going into the next phase of content development: repurposing.
3. Repurpose: Rapidly Boost SEO Traffic by Refreshing Past Content with New Keywords in Mind
Many content marketers omit this step in the process, and by doing so they potentially lose the opportunity to gain site traffic for new keywords without having to create and entirely new post. For developed sites that have a sizable library of already written content, this is an extremely efficient way to boost traffic without having to devote tons to time to new content creation.
Basically, this step involves identifying top performing blog posts in terms of traffic, and expanding their content and keyword focus. The pages you choose should be moderate to highly visited blog posts, and have a decent amount of keyword visibility already.
In my experience, you do not want to choose your very best pages, if you have a handful of posts that perform head and shoulders above the rest, and are a huge draw for your site. In this case, doing any sort of rewrites might not be worth the risk of losing top ranks for searches that are driving tons of visitors to your site. Proceed with caution before choosing content to rewrite. Even if the page you choose to rewrite doesn’t get a ton of visits, you don’t want to lose your top keyword positions for desirable keywords and topic areas. Search volumes can change over time.
Once a page is selected, use a keyword tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs Keyword Explorer to find some related topic areas that are not currently addressed in the post. These tools are great at identifying subtopics and keyword ideas related to a broader content area. After picking out the new keywords you want to target, create a few more <h> tags focusing on those keywords, and build post sections around them.
If you reread the piece and find that certain parts of the content are not serving a purpose and aren’t related to currently held any keyword rankings, consider rewriting it with more keyword-focused content.