Google Analytics data provides priceless insight into the minds of our visitors—and we can use that insight to create content that is more helpful, effective and targeted to the needs of our audience.
All you need is some specific Google analytics data and your best brainstorming skills.
Look at your most popular content
The best place to start when using old content to brainstorm new content is to look at your most popular blog posts. Set your date range to the past six months or year, to ensure you are getting a good perspective. Then, think a little deeper about your most popular posts:
- Are there any commonalities between the crowd of posts voted most popular? Look at the overarching topics and the way the headlines are written, then write down the commonalities you find.
- Can you expand on or update your thoughts on the most popular topics you just wrote down? What other approaches can you take to the topic? Jot down your ideas.
- Can you apply the headline formulas that work best for you to the new topics you just generated—or to any others in your current editorial calendar? Take note of any headline formulas that seem to work best. You can’t use the same format every time (too repetitive) but understanding what works can help you create stronger headlines of all types.
Within the most popular content, look at bounce rates
Bounce rate indicates the percentage of people who came to your blog and visited just that one page, so a low bounce rate is a good thing. For the purposes of brainstorming new content ideas, we’ll look at bounce rates in two ways:
- Pages with the lowest bounce rate: Find commonalities between the topics, but also take the time to look at the blog posts themselves. Do you do anything differently within these posts? Perhaps you do a better job of linking to other related blog posts, or have a particularly strong call to action. If you can find any common characteristics, jot them down. Now spend a few minutes thinking about how you can apply these attributes to new content.
- Pages with the highest bounce rate: Again, we want to search for commonalities but this time we’ll be finding out what is not working. Can you find any reasons for the high bounce rate—are your headlines misleading? Is the topic too far outside your expertise? Are your intros boring? What ways can you make this topic—and how you write about it—more interesting and relevant? Write down some ideas for new directions.
Within the most popular content, look at average time on page
The longer a visitor spends on a page, the more likely it is that she actually read it. Take a look at the pages with the highest average time spent:
- Find commonalities between topics, then spend a few minutes brainstorming new ways you can approach that topic.
Within the most popular content, look at exit rates
Exit rate represents the percentage of people who left your blog from that page. Understanding where the high exit rates exist can help refine content to bring people deeper into the blog rather than exiting it.
- Look at the ten pages with the highest exit rate. Do the calls-to-action fall short? Do they share any other similarities?
- Compare the pages with the highest exit rate to those with the lowest exit rate. What do the pages with the lowest exit rate do better? Look specifically at the calls-to-action.
- Write down the insights you’ve gained on the do’s an don’ts for creating strong calls-to-action on your blog.
Within the most popular content, look at a combination of the above 4 factors
For a broader, more complete perspective, look at combinations of the above four factors. A post that performs really well within all four or even three of the factors can provide even stronger insight into what’s working and help you brainstorm.
Look at site search
When you site search is integrated with Google Analytics you can see the search terms people are looking for. Knowing exactly what people are searching for is a huge advantage. Again, let’s look at what is most popular and use the most common searches to:
- Brainstorm new content ideas on that topic
- Elevate popular content. For instance, if there is a search term that is more popular than others, it could mean that people are having a difficult time finding the page that speaks to the topic. To remedy that, you might want to:
- Create sidebar callout that features the post
- Add a new blog topic category search to the sidebar that compiles the posts within that topic category, making them all easily findable
Look at everything within the context of your business and content marketing goals
These analytics provide a starting point for great content brainstorming, but there are many factors that go into each piece of data. If you uncover popular topics that aren’t relevant to your business, or don’t align with your current content marketing goals, don’t continue to write about them. There’s no use in trying to reach an audience interested in a topic that you aren’t an expert in.
Instead, focus on the areas of your own expertise where your audience has shown interest. You already have the knowledge you need, and Google Analytics can help point you to what your audience wants.