Something you don’t want to do in business is to launch any type of effort and then simply forget about it. If you do, you may as well be throwing that money out the window. Metrics need to be created and constantly monitored so that, as a business owner, you know what tools you’re seeing value from and which simply become a time suck and drain resources. You want to make sure you’re getting that ROI.
And lack of metrics, or at least a perceived lack, is why so many SMB owners are hesitant to get involved with things like blogging or social media. They think there’s no way to measure it or to know it’s “working”. How do you know if people are reading your blog or if you’re just out there talking to yourself? How do you know if those readers are engaged? If they’re talking about you elsewhere? You need to create feedback metrics to help you focus your blogging, to find your weak points and to make sure that you’re getting out what you put in.
If you’re in the dark about whether or not your blog is successful, here are some factors to look at to help switch the light on.
- Links: Links are King on the Web. They are what everyone is after and one of the more obvious ways that others will show support to your blog. If someone is linking to your blog, it means that they value it enough to vouch for you. They’re sending their readers your way, giving you increased exposure and telling the search engines that your blog can be trusted. It’s a clear sign that you’re doing something right. Watching how many links you’re getting and who you’re getting links from is a good way to see who finds your blog to be valuable and what circles you’re part of. You may also want to look at what types of anchor text other bloggers are using when they link to you. What types of words are they associating with your blog? [ie “good marketing blog”, “shoe retailer”, “this is really horrible”. It’s a very basic way to determine sentiment.
- Unlinked mentions on other blogs: So, not everyone on the Web remembers to link. However, they may still be talking about you. Set up Google Alerts to track mentions of your company or blog name in order to pick up these unlinked Web citation. This is another good way to find out what others in your industry are saying about you and how they associate you or your blog.
- Comments: Comments are one of the best ways to judge engagement on your blog. Basically, you want to ask yourself if you’re getting any. Are people investing time on your blog and making themselves part of the conversation? What types of comments are you getting? Is the same four people who always comment or is the community growing? If you’re not receiving any comments, you may need to experiments with the type of content you’re creating or start reaching out more to others in your niche. Keep an eye on your comment levels to see if your average number of comments per post increases or decreases, which type of posts get the most comments, and who is doing the commenting. It’s a very powerful blog metric.
- Subscribers: Are people discovering your blog, finding the content valuable and then subscribing to your RSS feed? If you allow people to receive content via email, are they subscribing that way? I’m always skeptical to much too much weight on things like Feedburner counts simply because they fluctuate so much, but it can help you get (at least) a ballpark figure of how many subscribers you have. And really, all you’re interested in is whether or not that number is going up, down or remaining the same. You want to make sure everything is going in the right direction.
- Tweets: For some people, tweets are today’s equivalent of links. They are short communication that allows people to pass on something they like and get on with their life. Tweets and Twitter are how people are sharing your content. Do a search for your company, the title of your blog post, etc, on Twitter and see if people are passing it around. What are saying when they do? What kind of recommendations do they give? How big is their network? Are their tweets retweeted?
- Traffic/Time on page: Check your analytics (I recommend Google Analytics if you don’t yet have a provider) and see whether or not traffic to your blog is on the rise and how long people are staying on the page. That last metric is a really good way to determine engagement. Are people clicking through, reading your headline and then abandoning? Or are they reading your first entry and then clicking through to other posts?
You’re not blogging in a bubble. Or at least, you shouldn’t be. Use the metrics above to determine whether or not you’re connecting with your audience. If you’re not and you fear your blog is broken, it may be time to try and fix it.
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