If you’ve followed all of the steps in this guide, the good news is that all of the hard work is done. You now have a blog that has huge potential to become a leader in your category, and a plan to make it happen! However, like any journey, there will be opportunities that arise along the way that can propel you forward at at even greater velocity (and others that may stunt your growth) – the trick is in spotting them! In this section I will outline the tips and tricks that will help you to confidently steer you along the most favourable path for your blog’s long-term success.
Find what works and do more of it
Finding out what ‘works’ on your blog is vital. If your readers aren’t consuming your blog content in the way that you intend, you could end up wasting hours upon hours of your time.
The most effective way of seeing what’s working on your blog is to install Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a free tool that, once installed on your blog, allows you to monitor user behaviours including:
- Where your visitors are coming from (for example, search engines, social media posts or via links from other websites)
- Your blog’s most popular pages
- What types of devices your readers are using when they visit your blog
- The most common search queries being used to find your blog
- How long a user is spending on your blog, how many pages they visit …. and much, much more
Hard to believe that such a valuable tool can even be free, huh? Thanks team Google!
So how do you set up Google Analytics on your blog? Simply visit google.com/analytics and sign up for a free account. Once you have a free account setup, you’ll then need to create your first ‘Property’ , which is really just a fancy name for your blog.
Once you are on the ‘New Property ‘page in Google Analytics:
- In the ‘Website Name’ field enter your blog’s name (in my case this would be ‘The Freedom Chaser’)
- Enter your domain in the ‘Website URL’, for example www.thefreedomchaser.com
- Select an ‘Industry Category’ that is as closely matched to your blog’s niche as possible (setting this accurately allows you to see how you compare to the rest of your industry for certain metrics)
- Set your Time Zone (this is important, as there are some reports that are broken down by hour of day, so if you are targeting a specific country I’d suggest you set the Time Zone accordingly so you can accurately measure user behaviour for that specific region)
- Click the magic blue ‘Get Tracking ID’ button
Now you just need add the Google Analytics tracking code to your blog. There are two ways to achieve this:
- Manually, by editing your WordPress theme code (you’ll need to be confident modifying HTML)
- Using a WordPress plugin (there are plenty to choose from in the Plugin directory; choose one with good ratings and follow their instructions to install)
Once installed, I highly recommend that you login to Google Analytics on a weekly basis to track the behaviour of visitors on your blog. Use GA to discover which of your blog posts that are attracting the most visitors and are resulting in higher engagement; keep these learning in mind for future content planning.
For more resources and free training modules to help you get up and running with Google Analytics visit Google’s free Analytics Academy.
Track mentions and links to your blog
It’s a very good thing when your blog is mentioned by other websites and bloggers! Not only are links and mentions a great for promoting your blog to new audiences, but they are also critical for a solid search engine optimisation strategy. In other words; the more natural links you acquire to your blog over time, the more visibility your blog will be in search results.
The question is; how do you know when other online authors are mentioning you?
Fear not, my friend, for I have just two tools that will make the task of tracking online mentions and backlinks a breeze.
I’ve mentioned this nifty app plenty of times before and because it’s so good, I’m going to mention it again! Visit google.com/alerts to set up alerts whenever your blog’s name (or even your own name) is mentioned. Automatic email notifications can either occur daily, weekly or even as it happens.
Once you’ve set up your alerts, you will receive an email straight to your inbox whenever your blog is mentioned anywhere on the world wide web. Glorious, free technology!
Google Search Console
Another amazingly free tool provided by our friends at the Google towers is Search Console. Once installed, this applications allows you monitor incoming links as well as the most frequent queries your visitors are typing into Google to discover your blog.
If you are yet to setup Google Search Console, please read the earlier section of this guide which outlines how to do this. Once setup and running for a few weeks, log into Search Console and navigate to the ‘Links’ section. You will notice that this section is divided into two areas;
- External Links – which describes links coming from other websites or blogs to yours
- Internal Links – which describes the links from your blog to other pages within your blog.
The part that is of most interest right now, are the Top Linking sites in the ‘External Links’ portion of the report.
To view these, scroll down to the ‘Top linking sites’ section and choose the ‘More >’ option to view all of the websites that are linking to your content.
Be curious; visit the websites that you haven’t heard of before and if they look like viable partners for future collaborations drop them a note to introduce yourself and to say thanks for linking to you. You never know where the relationship could lead to for future blogging collaborations.
The other area of Google Search Console you should be monitoring regularly is the ‘Queries’ reportm as it reveals the search queries that are exposing your blog in search results. In other words, Queries report details the phrases that regular people are typing into Google to discover your blog.
To access the Queries report, once you are in Search Console simply visit the ‘Performance’ tab. Queries will be the default report displayed, with the highest volume search terms (‘Queries’) for your blog being broken down by ‘Impressions’ (that are most frequently being used to display your blog in search engines and ‘Clicks’ which are the ultimately impressions that result in visits to your blog.
Another figure worth monitoring is Clickthrough Rate (CTR). This metric provides you with insights into how many people are actually clicking on your website relative to the number of times it appears in search results.
The way to add the CTR for each query to the tabulated report in Search Console is by clicking on the ‘Average CTR’ widget (the green rectangle circled in the below screenshot).
A high click-through rate is good; it means that users see your blog as highly relevant to their search and are therefore feeling compelled to click. Look for queries that have a much higher CTR than average, as these are your strong performing pieces of content and you should try and mimic their success in future articles.
A low click-through rate is a sign that your blog isn’t as attractive as others for specific search queries and may therefore require some minor adjustments. For any high volume search queries exhibiting a low click-through rate, I suggest you Google the term yourself and see what you are up against – you may need to update the article title and description to stand out from the competition.
Competitor Analysis see what works and replicate it
The general idea behind effective competitor analysis for bloggers, is to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing, to see what works (and what doesn’t) so that you can do it even better.
There are a variety of methods available to monitor your peers and competitor activity.
The first of these is mentioned in the previous section, utilising Google Alerts. Simply add your competitors name as a search phrase in your Google Alerts and you’ll be notified every time their blog gets a mention anywhere on the web. This is a great way to uncover competitors’ linking strategies and partnerships, as over time you’ll see some of the same website and blogs sharing the backlink love. At the same time you will also uncover new opportunities for outreach; if a website is willing to link to your competitor they are probably interested in linking to your content too!
The second is to signup to your competitors email newsletters. Despite sounding completely logical, you’d be surprised how many bloggers turn a blind eye to their competitors most valuable source of direct communication with their fans. Register to receive emails from your competitors and peers and keep a close eye on the content they are promoting most heavily. No one promotes content simply for the sake of it, so pay attention to the content being prioritised and start to pick it apart…you may uncover new ideas and monetization opportunities by doing so.
The third and final method is to use an online competitor monitoring tool such as Similarweb. The Similarweb platform offers free and paid versions, but the free version should offer you enough insights to keep you busy for now!
Once you’ve signed up for a Similarweb account, simply navigate to the ‘Referral Traffic > Incoming Traffic‘ section to discover domains that are regularly linking to your competitors’ blogs.
TIP: To bookmark specific reports in Similarweb, simply click on the star button to Save
Once you have identified referral links, take a look at what they are linking to specifically, and then factor these news insights into your blog’s content plan.
You now have a range of free tools and techniques at your disposal which will assist you tremendously in monitoring the popularity of your blog’s content. By getting into a regular routine of monitoring consumption of your blog through Google Analytics and competitors’ blogs Similarweb, and by checking your inbox regularly for Google Alerts and competitor eNewsletters, you’ll have all the insights you will ever need to have a confidently know what’s working well in your blogging niche. Use this knowledge to your advantage; fine tune your content plans accordingly and you’ll be in good stead to rapidly become a leading authority in your niche (and of course, make a good income in the process).
Summary of guide
If you’ve read every chapter of this guide, you now have an almost unfair advantage over all of the other bloggers out there. Using the techniques in Blog Life, you can create a blog that can generate a long term income for you.
By selecting the right niche for your blog, choosing a revenue model that works for you and setting up a WordPress blog the right way you’ll launch your blog with a massive headstart over your competitors.
Using my WISPR method for content ideation and my free content planning calendar you’ll be creating amazing content that will consistently generate traffic to your blog, plus a swag of loyal fans that will grow incrementally over time.
And finally, by using the best monitoring and analytics tools available (most of them free) you can remove the guesswork and find out precisely what is working for you and your competitors.
The final section of this book contains links to all of the resources mentioned throughout, as well as some other handy tools I thought you might find useful.
I hope you have enjoyed this guide as much as I have enjoyed writing it. Don’t be a stranger, drop me a line and share your blogging progress with me…I’d love to hear from you.
‘Til then, all the best with your new blog life.