If you're a blogger, you know the feeling of joy when someone comes along and leaves a comment on one of your posts. You helped someone or started a conversation that was compelling enough to warrant a response. Your post mattered to someone. But beyond the happiness comments provide bloggers, is there a larger message your comments are trying to tell you? That's where blog measurement comes in. Using web analytics tools, today we'll learn how to track blog comments on your blog or website.
We use Google Analytics here on Big Picture Web (along with Quantcast, 4Q and Get Satisfaction) to measure things that happen on our blog. You may be using a different tool. That's fine. Just be sure you're using something to measure and track your site. You can track pretty much everything that matters on your site... for free. Ok, I'm done with my measurement rant. Moving on.
In order to track blog comments, you must first set them up as a goal in Google Analytics. Once you've logged in, access your Analytics Settings, then your Profile Settings. You'll then see a section on goals. You can set up to 20 goals for each Google Analytics profile. Some goals can be specific events such as submitting a contact form. These goals are reached when a visitor arrives at a very specific URL on your site. Some goals can measure broader engagement metrics, such as the number of page views each visit yields. We're going to set up a goal that will allow us to track blog comments.
This next part promises to get just a bit technical but it's worth it to continue on. There are three basic steps to setting up a new goal in Google Analytics to track your blog comments:
- Goal Information
- Goal Details
- Goal Funnel
The first step in setting up a new goal is to define it. Provide a name and select the type of goal you're going to measure. Provide a name, control whether your goal is active and select the positioning of your goal in Google Analytics' reports. To track blog comments, select a URL Destination goal type.
Now it's time to define the point at which a visitor has reached a goal and identify the corresponding URL. For example, when someone posts a comment on your blog, they'll land on a distinct web page immediately after hitting the "Submit" button. That's the URL you're after. Select a Match Type (a whole other topic, but see here and here for help) and Goal URL. Then enter a Goal Value. Enter a specific dollar amount if one exists for your goal. Otherwise, you may be able to estimate an approximate value.
The last step is to define the goal funnel. A goal funnel represents the multiple paths people can take to complete your goal. For example, your visitors can most likely "Add a Comment" to a blog post from either the post itself or the home page if that post is featured there. Goal funnels are optional to set up but can provide some really neat blog measurement insights so it's usually best to define your funnel.
The really gratifying part comes when you look at your goal funnels in Google Analytics reports. From your dashboard, you can select Goals, then Funnel Visualization to see your goal funnel. For example, you can see that 45 folks reached my blog post for the time frame I selected. Two of them went on to fill out the comment form. Both of them ended up submitting the comments they created. I know that 4.4% of my blog readers end up leaving comments.
That wasn't so hard, right? Just a few minutes' worth of work and you just learned the basics of blog measurement and how to track blog comments. But now it's your turn. What are you trying to measure? Feel free to connect with me on Twitter or become a fan on Facebook. I'd be happy to help you with any specific questions you have about measuring your blog or website. Or you can simply leave a comment below and make my day.