How to Use Google Analytics to Identify Top-Performing Content

If you're not measuring your content's performance, you're not marketing effectively. To measure the progress of what you post on your company's blog and social media channels, you need to use a reliable data analytics and reporting solution. Google Analytics is one of the many tools you can use to know whether your content strategy is successful or not. Whether you're just getting into marketing or are looking for ways to improve your online ranking, there are many ways you can easily and effectively use Google Analytics to identify your top-performing content. It's important to learn what you're doing right, what efforts you should amplify, and where you can improve, so you can continually hone your approach or market to even larger audiences. Consider this a beginner's guide to Google Analytics—your "digital marketing 101."

[bctt tweet="Not measuring your content's #performance? You're not marketing effectively, says @zimmerbugg" username="StartupInst"]

1. You need a written content strategy

Too many companies start blogs simply because they think they should. The motivation seems reasonable enough—blogging has the power to drive traffic to your website, convert that traffic into leads, fuel your social media presence, educate potential customers, and establish your authority and credibility within the industry. But content that isn't backed by a well-executed strategy is a massive waste of effort.

One key factor you don't want to overlook is the importance of having a well-documented content strategy. Don't fall into the trap of posting occasionally or, worse, publishing frequently but without clear direction. While you might see results on certain content, without written business, editorial, and performance goals, your content marketing efforts are not sustainable.[bctt tweet="#ContentMarketing w/out well-executed strategy is a massive waste of effort, says @zimmerbugg " username="StartupInst"]

For example, the Content Marketing Institute's B2B report for 2016 discovered that 88 percent of B2B companies set aside money for content marketing. Of those, 80 percent implement some sort of strategy for the content they post. Despite this, a mere 32 percent had actually documented their strategy.

Essentially, what this report found was that a large majority of businesses believe content marketing is beneficial for their organization, yet have no concrete proof as to whether they're actually seeing results for their efforts. Without this knowledge, you don't know if you need to spend more or less resources on your strategy for the next month or year.

Before you begin tracking content performance on a platform such as Google Analytics, get clear on your key metrics. Do you prioritize search traffic? New subscribers? Engagement? The main objectives of your content strategy should directly support the main objectives of your organization at large. Understanding these goals will allow you to focus your measurement and analysis on the insights that matter most.[bctt tweet="Your #contentstrategy goals should directly support your main business goals, says @zimmerbugg" username="StartupInst"]

2. Your most highly trafficked sites might not be your best performing

Just because your Google Analytics report shows 1,000 visitors saw your newest blog post or landing page, doesn't mean this is top-performing content. It doesn't matter how many people visit your website if they leave within the first couple of seconds. This is known as having a high "bounce rate."

Imagine you own a brick-and-mortar retail store. Would you rather have five customers visit your store, shop for 30 minutes, and engage with you? Or have a hundred customers walk in the door and then right out again?

When reading your analytics reports, focus on the content that gets the most engagement, such as likes, shares, or comments, or where visitors spend the most time. This is called an engagement report. However, just as you don't want highly trafficked pages with low engagement levels, you also don't want ones that have high engagement but extremely low traffic.

[bctt tweet="Don't be fooled—the most highly trafficked content might not be best performing, says @zimmerbugg" username="StartupInst"]

3. You want to measure traffic AND engagement to identify top-performing content

To discover which content is the best-performing on your site, go to your content menu and select the tab "Pages" under your "Site Content." This area of Google Analytics will allow you to pinpoint which pieces of content your visitors stay on the longest and which ones lead them to look at more content or pages on your website. This will help you measure high levels of traffic and engagement. Once you identify high-performing content, use this insight to determine what content to produce in the future.

Even more powerful and prescriptive is knowing which content is impacting the bottom line of your business. Take performance-tracking to the next level by tagging content with utm codes and setting up goals in Google Analytics to see what pieces of content are driving customers down the funnel.[bctt tweet="Insights that reveal how content impacts the #bottomline are powerful + prescriptive— @zimmerbugg" username="StartupInst"]

Whether you're interested in becoming a marketing manager or looking to improve your content strategy, using Google Analytics effectively will help you to identify your top-performing posts and prove the effectiveness of your efforts to stakeholders at your company. Develop a clear strategy, define your metrics, and use GA's reporting to inform your strategy moving forward. This way, you can continue to improve your online presence and generate more authentic leads.