In the race to pack the most information into a 60-minute talk, Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media Studios has a secret weapon: 183 slides and the fastest moving mouth in the business. You have to be a speed demon to cover as much territory as Andy had mapped out for his “Advanced Analytics and Optimization — How Writers Can Use Data and Research to Rank” session, and he did it while managing to make all the data points interesting. I thought my hand would fall off trying to keep up with my notes, but the cramp was worth it: I walked away with lots of actionable tips to make sense of Google Analytics.
To make data work for you, Andy recommended stepping away from the “data puke” of pure numbers, pie charts and spread sheets. Instead, you need to focus on analysis in the form of “actual English words,” as he put it. [Tweet This]
Analysis comes from asking questions — then knowing how to use your Google Analytics data to get the answer. So what’s your question?
Q: Which Social Network Drives the Most Traffic to Our Website?
A: In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels > Social. From there, you can click Social to see a breakdown by Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. This is a great way to see where your efforts are reaping the biggest return so you can focus your content promotion strategy.
To check on which social media networks are leading to conversions, choose a goal from the dropdown menu and take a look at which — if any — platform is actually getting results. Andy cautioned B2B marketers not to be too disappointed with these reports: “In general, social media conversions for B2B are very rare. Search is really where it’s at for leads.”
Q: What Phrases Are We Ranking for?
A: In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition > Search Console > Queries. Here you can see search phrases and how you rank for them. Andy suggests that you filter results to ones that are showing up above #10 in the rankings. If you’re close to making the first page of search results, focus your energy on improving those pages to push you over the line. “You can get way more traffic with just this one trick,” he enthused.
Q: What Topics Does Our Audience Care About?
A: In addition using the queries report outlined above, use Google Suggest to generate ideas. This is as easy as typing a search term into Google and letting the auto-complete show you what people are looking for. For a more streamlined approach, try Keyword Tool, Google Keyword Planner or Answer the Public.
In addition to using analytics and data tools to generate content, Andy reminded the audience that the best ideas come from within: Your sales and customer service teams are a valuable resource! You can also try checking your own outbox for content ideas: If you’re asking about it, your customers will be, too.
Q: What Are People Searching for Once They Get to Our Website?
A: In Google Analytics, go to Behavior > Site Search > Search Terms. Here you’ll be able to see the search terms potential buyers are using to get around your website. “The best insights are one level deeper than what you’re looking at,” Andy explained. To make the most of this valuable data, filter the results for your start page to see what’s missing that people are looking for — and add it! Andy said that this “report of broken dreams” was a great indicator of where you need to shore up your content and optimize for your high-value search terms.
Q: How Can I Measure Conversions for Our Content?
A: In Google Analytics, go to Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path > Subscribers. This handy hack lets you see which blog posts readers were on before subscribing to your newsletter. You can easily do the math to divide the number of subscribers on a given post by the number of total readers of that same post to get your conversion rate.
Once you know what your most powerful posts are, promote them! Andy recommended a two-pronged approach of driving viewers to your strongest posts while publishing similar content to hook more viewers through search. In the end, Andy said, it’s about putting the “best cheese on the best mousetrap.”
Closing Thoughts: Using Data to Drive Creativity
All of this data analysis is ultimately meaningless if you don’t actually do anything with it. Andy wrapped up his lightning-quick presentation by bringing all of thsee minute details back to writers. The end game in content writing is to get your content seen, and data is a major way to drive your thinking around which topics you should write about. Instead of guessing, harness what you know about your customers and the power of semantic search to create the best page on the internet for your topic. [Tweet This] When you cover it in extraordinary detail and make sure you include all the semantically linked phrases you found on Google Suggest, you’re guaranteed to get more hits.
“Never bring an opinion to a data fight,” Andy concluded. It’s the one-two punch of creativity plus analysis that leads to B2B marketing success in our era.
Ginna Hall is the Director of Marketing at WriterAccess. An experienced marketing writer and editor, Ginna has helped corporate, academic and non-profit organizations develop strategic messages and roll-out content that connects with audiences of all types.
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