What to Write? How Metrics can Guide Your Online Content

What to Write? How Metrics can Guide Your Online Content
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Guest Contributor

Every writer’s ideation process should include a peek at analytics. Here’s why: Writing a regular blog is a lot of work. There are times when post topics come fast and furious, and times when you read, research, and scrape for inspiration. There are all kinds of ways to source content for your next post – or series of posts: we scan our RSS feeds, follow news about what’s hot in the industry, and share what we’ve learned in our day-to-day. We also log into analytics and use keyword tools to find out what topics our audience is asking for.

What? That’s not creative! Won’t that result in keyword-stuffed spam meant only for bots? I beg to differ. There are innovative ways to use metrics and search data to spark the creative process, resulting in posts that people actually read, enjoy and share. And if your audience likes your content, chances are Google will too. You’re a writer, right? Once you’ve been enlightened by the data, it’s your job to turn those metrics into something clever and engaging. I know you can do it.

Step one: Look at Your Site’s Analytics Once upon a time, creative types came up with great ideas on their own, and left readership calculations to the pointy-headed analysts. These days, every web writer’s ideation process should include a peek into your site’s web analytics. Those charts and numbers will guide you closer to writing content that is interesting and sharable. Don’t be scared. Ask your web developer to show you what’s where. Or watch a couple tutorials. Once you have analytics access and know your way around a little bit, look for data on:

  1. Which pages and blog posts garner the most views
  2. Which keywords visitors entered to find your site
  3. Which traffic sources (other websites) are driving traffic to your site
  4. Keywords people enter in your search box

Then ask yourself: who is coming to the site right now? What kind of information are visitors looking for? Does my post offer value? Which posts and topics do they enjoy and share? Which posts are not generating traffic?

Step two: Do Your Keyword Research Now that you’ve identified your site’s most popular and most searched content, take a step back to survey search interest in your market. This will help you map trends and audience interest in your space. Start with Google Trends, then branch out to any keyword research tools that are at your disposal. Enter keywords and buzzwords that are relevant to your market. Take note of the keywords and topics that are trending, and those that are declining. Put together everything you learned: the site analytics, the keywords, the trends. In there you will find revelation: content creation nuggets of goodness.

Step three: Write It Once you figure out the topic for your post or article, identify the most relevant, keyword-focused sub-topics and write your article around these. Structuring your work around sub topics will provide more useful content to your visitors, and will make you more relevant to Google’s Hummingbird algorithm. Google’s new context-oriented Hummingbird Algorithm favors content that answers varied and more complex search queries. So don’t be afraid to write in depth, informative articles if you feel inspired.

The bottom line: Google is getting better at identifying and promoting information rich content. Once you engage the feedback loop of creating more of what your readers enjoy, you will please your audience. And when you please your audience, you please the search engines. Everybody wins.