What’s the easiest way to check which blog posts perform best in search and social referrals?

Estimated read time: 4 minutes

I wouldn’t call myself a data analyst by any means of the imagination. But here’s the thing: Writers, content creators, content marketing strategists or whatever else you might call them should indeed look at the metrics of how their content is performing. Not everyone needs to be able to dig deep into the numbers, but a basic knowledge can help us learn and improve our content the next time around. Sometimes we might go back and update existing content based on what we learned as well.

Of course, we should look at the following:

  • Is relevant traffic going up over time?
  • Are people sticking around and are they contacting us or subscribe to us or do whatever is the next likely step in their relationship with us?
  • What posts are performing well and what content resonates?
  • Where is traffic coming from?
  • What posts are performing especially well when it comes to the different channels of acquisition?

The last point is what I’ll focus on today. It’s actually quite easy to do, but maybe not as intuitive in Google Analytics as I would have liked when I first started looking at web metrics.

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By way of examples, here’s how you look up which blog posts or pages perform best via organic search and social media. Organic search traffic is important because it’s people who are looking specifically for the information that you are providing. Social media traffic also still is important because a lot of people spend a lot of time on social media and that’s a place to reach them.

Reviewing post-specific traffic by acquisition channel in Google Analytics

Of course, be sure Google Analytics is installed on your site and running. 🙂 To review results, go to your Google Analytics account and set a time period that you would like to review data for. That’s in the top right of your desktop browser once logged into a specific account. And I would highly recommend using a desktop browser for this. The Analytics app for iPhone is pretty great for checking some quick things here and there but I find the desktop interface much easier to work with.

referral traffic analysis 1

Then, navigate over to ACQUISITION and OVERVIEW on the left.

referral traffic analysis 2

Once there, scroll down to see all the different acquisition groupings – like Organic, Direct, Social, Referral.

referral traffic analysis 11

Let’s say you want to review the specifics for organic search, all you have to do is click on ORGANIC SEARCH. Once on the organic search specific page, click on SECONDARY DIMENSIONS (the drop down below the graphic). Select LANDING PAGE.

As you can see, there are many other options for analysis as well. Once you pick Landing Page for the Secondary Dimension Google Analytics shows the best performing posts for that specific channel – organic search in this case:

referral traffic analysis 31

To make this a bit more viewable, I transferred it into a Google Sheet and turned it into a chart:

referral traffic analysis for organic search

As you can see the top four posts this year are articles about Instagram and they make up around 70 percent of all organic search. Lesson: Write about Instagram! No. 5 was a post about how to thank people for wishing you a happy birthday on Facebook. All other posts (and there are over 700) make up just 25 percent of search traffic for the first five months of 2017. Very interesting

I repeated the same analysis for social media referral traffic and while social media referrals are under 4 percent of all site traffic versus 88 percent of organic search traffic the make-up looks much different:

referral traffic analysis 7 social

In social media referrals, a lot of posts make up a much larger percentage. So there were some organic search homerun articles, but in social media, most everything is a single.

Related: Content marketing is more about singles than homeruns

It was also interesting to see what networks most traffic was coming from:

  1. Twitter
  2. Facebook
  3. Quora (interesting to see this being lumped into social media)
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Instagram (people do click on links in the profile apparently!)

referral traffic analysis social media by network

So that’s how you can easily check what posts perform best per channel of acquisition. I use it to see where I should focus my content creation energy and distribution strategies.

If you need help or have questions on measuring your content marketing success, please use the contact form below to drop me a note or you can buy a 30-minute strategy call by clicking the buy button.