Google Analytics is a powerful tool for content marketers, but it can be confusing.

Here are my 5 favourite reports to help you get more traction and a higher ROI from your content.

Before we get started – it’s absolutely critical that you have the Google Analytics tracking code installed. It’s also essential for you to have an email optin goal defined to get value out of these reports.

I will talk about conversions a lot in this post… because an engaged audience is your biggest asset. The fastest way to build an engaged audience is to build an email list who share your content organically.

Let’s get into it!

1. What are your most powerful posts?

Behaviour / Content / Landing pages / Goal Set 1

The landing page report shows where people first arrive on your site. The report shown above and others shown in this post are for my business, WP Curve which offers 24/7 WordPress support. We have 1 goal for email optin and another for a customer sign up.

There’s a lot you can learn from the landing pages report. For example, now that the keyword report doesn’t tell you how much traffic you are getting for certain keywords, this report can help you understand it.

In the post above, our post on WordPress Landing Pages had a huge surge in traffic, eclipsing the homepage. When we recognized we were getting a lot of traffic to the post, we could see where it was coming from. We discovered it was from Google, so we optimized the page and increased our rank in Google.

A high % of ‘new visits’ may indicate that your post is ranking well in Google. This report reveals some surprising content that is ‘evergreen’ too. We can tell from looking at the report above that our guides are very popular, with 3 of those 10 pages being from guides we’ve written months ago. The new visitor % is high which tells us we are most likely ranking in Google for these guides.

You can also see which types of content attracts which type of audience. Our post on hacked sites has a horrible time on site of 16 seconds, while our detailed guides are closer to 2 minutes.

The most valuable info however, is the conversions. It’s worth noting that the conversions shown on this report aren’t only conversions that happened directly on the pages mentioned – they include when a person converted on another page of the site. When someone lands on our Beginners Guide to Google Adwords, looks around for a while and opts in to our free content marketing course – that’s a conversion! And it’s attributed to the Adwords post. With this report, you can clearly see which content attracts people who have the intent to opt in.

The hacked site post does not attract an engaged audience, it has a 0% conversion rate. The more practical and interesting articles like ‘influencer marketing’ and ‘white label failure’ bring in engaged users and convert them.

2. Which content converts?

Behaviour / Content / Landing pages / Goal Set 1 / Advanced / Exclude / Visits less than 10

You can use the landing page report to find even more useful information, but first you need to make sure the data is meaningful:

  1. Click on the conversion rate column to sort by conversion rate

  2. Click ‘Advanced’

  3. Change ‘Include’ to ‘Exclude’

  4. From the next drop down type ‘Visits’

  5. Under ‘Site Usage’ click ‘Visits’

  6. Choose ‘Less than’ and enter in 10

  7. Click ‘Apply’.

This gives you a list of the pages on your site that are most likely to convert people. Here are some observations from the report from our WP Curve site above:

  • Pages that we’ve used our ConvertPress landing pages plugin convert extremely well! 51% for our ‘Learn Content Marketing’ page – nice.

  • Plugins convert very well when compared to normal content. People have no problem entering their email address to receive a free plugin.

  • Marketing guides also convert very well.

  • The New Here page is converting quite well, but may need an update.

  • The About page converts higher than most of our content – this is a good reminder to keep your About page is up to date.

This report allows you to zero in on the content that people are engaging with. This helps you create more content and find opportunities for improving conversions on existing content.

3. Who refers your most engaged readers?

Acquisition / All referrals / Goal set 1

The Goal Referrals report is the best way to 80 / 20 your off-page efforts. It tells you which off page traffic you should spend your time on.

Here’s what we learned from our report above:

  • Facebook traffic is a lot more engaged than Twitter traffic.

  • John Lee Dumas and Chris Ducker refer us a lot of highly engaged traffic. John and Chris serve markets that align well with our service.

  • Reddit traffic is worthless – this is confirmed by the summary referral report which shows a very low time spent on site.

  • Quora traffic is engaged – this is confirmed by their time on site in the summary version of the report.

  • The Disqus traffic is people coming back after someone replied to their comment. The lesson here is that people who comment also convert, so the content that encourages people to comment is great for conversions. This is a good reason to have comments on your blog and to actively encourage comments with calls to action in the post. And also a good reason to use Disqus since commenters are emailed when you reply to their comment and they come back!

4. Which content attracts visitors?

Behaviour / Site Content / All pages

While total traffic is a vanity metric, it can be useful if you intend on changing what is on those pages. If I wanted to boost conversions on my site, a smart thing to do would be to optimize the pages where most people go. Here are a few ways to do that based on the report above:

  • We could change the WordPress landing page to a landing page designed for email opt ins and explode the conversions.

  • We could experiment with a homepage designed for email optin (instead of purchase) or more aggressive strategies like a Welcome Gate.

  • For popular pieces of content, we could create a dedicated opt in bribe. A downloadable Adwords cheat sheet for the Adwords post or a podcasting cheat preparation guide would do the trick for the podcasting guide post.

These small changes can make a big impact on your conversions.

5. Can your overall conversion rate improve?

Conversions / Goals / Overview

I’m not generally a fan of overall metrics like this one, however the overall site conversion rate can be useful. Blogs that don’t employ conversion strategies generally convert at less than 1% – ones that do, convert at 5% or higher.

If you are converting less than 1%, here are some easy wins to improve your conversion rate:

  • Use opt in forms on the site that give your audience a piece of useful and relevant content.

  • Use landing pages for both on and off site content. You can use them for email courses, ebook download pages and Slideshare presentations.

  • Create specific opt ins for your top 10 posts.

  • Add some more aggressive lead capture forms like a scrolling opt in or a pop up.

  • Add an optin at the top of your blog homepage giving away something useful.

Is this post useful to you?

Please share 1 thing you learned from this post in the comments. Bonus points if you take action on these tips and share those as well. Feel free to ask questions too :)