Using Google Analytics' Top Content Report to Grow Your Blog

Google Analytics graph of your blogAs a blogger, it's important to periodically review your greatest successes to understand what made them great. Insights from your top blog posts allow you to create even better content and grow your blog faster. This week's post reviews using the Google Analytics Top Content report to find and learn from your blogging victories.

At this point you are either in one of two groups. Some of you are thinking "Google Analytics? Awesome! I live for these types of posts!" To you folks I just ask for a moment of patience.

For those of you that have a website/blog and don't or rarely use Google Analytics (or an equivalent tool), I promise you that you'll be better off for reading this post. The best thing you can do to better understand Google Analytics is to dive right in. Ok I'm done preaching now. I promise.

The Google Analytics Top Content Report

The Google Analytics Top Content report is one of the best reports in GA. We often worry so much about our home page, but the Top Content report is famous for revealing the true main sources of traffic to your blog/website.

Navigating to the Google Analytics Top Content reportNavigating to the Top Content report is easy.Accessing the Top Content report is easy. Just log into Google Analytics and then select Content -> Top Content from the navigation menu on the left.

You don't want pages from your entire website to show in the Top Content report for this exercise. We only want your blog posts. Use the filter option at the bottom of the report to weed out the content we don't want. To determine what to filter, find the part of your blog posts' URL that is applicable to all blog posts. (e.g., Set the filter to include only pages with that value and you'll end up with a list of just your blog posts.

Filtering the Top Content reportUse the filter to report only on your blog posts.

Viewing the Top Content Report

Now we're ready to start looking for insights in our fully-configured Top Content report. As someone who admires others for opening their kimono a bit for the sake of educating the community, I invite you visual learners to take a gander at Big Picture Web's Top Content report:

Big Picture Web's Blog Top Content ReportBig Picture Web's top blog posts.

Gaining Insights From Your Top 10 Blog Posts

The Top Content report revealed my blog's most popular posts. Spending just a few minutes on this activity can lend great insights on what makes posts popular in the first place. Let's look at Big Picture Web's top 10 blog posts for some ideas:

  1. Could my review of the Squarespace blogging/web publishing platform be popular because Squarespace itself is growing like crazy? It  makes sense that people want to know what the buzz is about. Thought: Share your experiences in topics that are gaining in popularity to benefit from the conversations supporting trending topics.
  2. Squarespace vs. Wordpress articleSquarespace vs. Wordpress: Both Sides of the StoryThis article pits Wordpress vs. Squarespace in a comprehensive blog platform comparison (co-authored with Iowa Wordpress developer, Andy Brudtkuhl). Given that Wordpress is the biggest name in blogging, it makes sense that Squarespace prospects would want to know how the two blog platforms compare. Thought: It shouldn't always be about your personal opinion. It's good to promote an open dialog about a topic, too. Your visitors can read the facts, then decide what's best for themselves.
  3. A guide to measuring blog comments with Google Analytics. The popularity of this blog post was due almost entirely in thanks to a solitary tweet from Avinash. Thought: Write posts that the big players in your industry would want to pass along. Get traffic.Avinash sends traffic to Big Picture WebAvinash sent an army of over 300 people my way with 1 tweet.
  4. A calculator I made on estimating the ROI of banner advertising is one of the only resources on the web for figuring our what to charge for banner advertising on your site. Thought: People love simple tools that solve their problems. End of story.
  5. An opinion piece I did on Squarespace vs its competitors was popular because, again, people looking for information on blogging platforms like a lot of information that allows them to decide. Lesson: Again, try to be helpful and be honest.
  6. Examples of Good Web Design postInfographics and images generate page views.A post highlighting examples of great web design receives nearly all of its traffic from Google Images, showing the value optimizing your content for more than just the traditional search results. Lesson: Don't forget about vertical search engines. Make sure you use ALT tags on your images. Also, people LOVE infographics.
  7. A guide to the best Internet marketing podcasts shows again how your own personal knowledge can go a long way for those that haven't been there nor done that. Lesson: Leverage the heck out of the things you learn. Share it like crazy.
  8. This guide on web resources for Squarespace designers shows the value of curating content on the web. Lesson: Spreading the content of others can be just as important as creating it.
  9. This post on advanced search tips for Twitter was tweeted by a Twitter tip aggregator with over 200,000 followers. Lesson: There are social influencers other than just experts within your niche. Help them create value for their followers by creating useful content for them to promote.TweetSmarter promotes Big Picture WebPopular content hubs can spread your blog posts quickly.
  10. A post covering the launch of Squarespace's social widgets shows the value of covering trending topics within your niche. Lesson: Sharing your unique insights with a brand's community can help you find like-minded people in your niche.

Now it's your turn. Give it a shot and take a look at your top 10 blog posts. Why was your most popular post so popular? Was it picked up by social media? Are you seeing a lot of search traffic? Crack open your Google Analytics and let me know what you learn from your Top Content report in the comments below.