Gini Dietrich

Three Data Points to Measure Your Blog Efforts

By: Gini Dietrich | May 28, 2013 | 

Three Data Points to Measure Your Blog EffortsA few months ago, I decided to spend some time inside the Spin Sucks analytics to see if we could track and measure our blog efforts, other than the typical visitor and unique visitor increases.

What I found was something surprising. Not only can we track the normal stats, we can also pay attention to how engaged the readers are (even if they don’t comment), whether or not they’re big readers, and increases in subscribers (hi Feedblitz!).

The way to track those things are to set up goals in your analytics by time spent on site, pages visited by engaged users (in other words, not everyone, which is what Google gives you automatically), and a destination URL for your RSS and email feed.

Measure Your Blog Efforts

Are you thoroughly confused?! Don’t worry! I’m going to show you how to do it.

First, open Google analytics and make sure you have administrative rights or you won’t be able to do this.

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Then change the date to January 1 through the date you’re doing this. I used January 1-May 20.

Jot down the average visit duration (ours is 1:46) and pages per visit (ours is 2.37).

Now click on the bright orange “admin” tab in the right-hand corner. Click on the website name, which comes up under profile automatically. Then click on “goals,” which is the third tab in the next screen.

Engaged Users

Now you’re going to click “create a goal” and name the first one “engaged users.” Then click “duration” and click “next step.”

You want the duration to be greater than the average time spent – in our case it would be greater than 1:46 – then click “on” for value and add $1 (this will just give you a baseline).

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Then click “save goal” and it will begin tracking for you.

What you’re tracking is the number of people who visit your website or blog every day that spend more time with your content than the average person. It’ll take a few weeks for it to begin giving you data, but we now know about 10 percent of our visitors are highly engaged.

We can talk later about what that means and how to create specific content for those people.


Next you’ll set up a goal to track the number of visitors who review more pages than the average person.

Click “create a goal” again and name this goal “reader.” Then click “pages/screens per visit” and click “next step.”

On this page, you want your goal to be greater than the average so, in our case, we’d say greater than 2.37, but it only lets you add round numbers so we did two here. We add $1 in the value and click “create goal.”

Screen Shot 2013-05-20 at 5.56.43 PM

This tells you how many of your engaged readers are going to multiple pages. This is pretty important if you have a website that drives people through a decision-making funnel of content.

For instance, we have a client whose end goal is to get someone to request a quote. The funnel we push visitors through gets them to that page and, with this Reader goal, we can track who is abandoning the process before we want them to do that.


The last goal we recommend is tracking how many people are subscribing to your content via email and/or your RSS feed through the site.

Of course, you can get these stats in your Feedblitz account, but why not have it set up in Google analytics so you have it all in one spot?

Click “create a goal” again and name this goal “subscriptions.” Then click “destination” and click “next step.”

In the destination box, paste your Feedblitz feed URL (without the http://www.), add $1 for the value, and keep the funnel turned off. Create the goal and voila!

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Of course, a destination goal could be set up for nearly any URL on your site: A request-a-quote, a download, a subscription, a purchase, a shopping cart, or more. Once you’ve gone through the process, it’s pretty easy to see what others you can set up and track.

Once everything is set up, you’ll access the data by going back into your analytics and clicking “conversions” in the left-hand sidebar, “goals,” and then “overview.” All of the information is tracked there and you can view all goals together or by themselves.

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Give it a week or so (it’ll happen as quickly as a day, but you want to have a few days of tracking) and come back to see what it tells you.

It’s pretty exciting and soon you’ll have smarter data that will help you make decisions specifically for your visitors and not what some blogger told you to do.

For all you PR people who say you’re not good at math? This is the data, analytics, and math you should be tracking and analyzing to measure your blog efforts. Way more fun than calculus, right?

A version of this first appeared on the Feedblitz blog.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • Math!! Ack!!

    • belllindsay Don’t worry. Ours is already set up. All you have to do is open it.

      • ginidietrich belllindsay Lower the barriers to entry. Good move. 🙂

  • Very cool! Just set it up. YAY!

    • katskrieger I hope it helps!

      • ginidietrich katskrieger Worked like a charm on the blog. The verify goal button is cool. I also did it for our main site, and analytics gives you many more options for the goal in the first step. They didn’t seem to apply to me though, so I went custom. Maybe those are more for ecommerce.

        • katskrieger They are…and the best part is you can customize to whatever you’re doing.

  • I had goals set up for my forms… but didn’t think about setting up a goal for my RSS feed. Thanks for the tip!

  • Wow, Gini, this is very helpful. I had been meaning to look into setting Google Analytics goals but now I don’t have to. You explained this clearly and I followed you every step of the way, setting up the three goals. I look forward to seeing the analytics tracking results.
    Do you assign a $1 value to the goal to see instantly whether a goal has been reached?
    Thanks so much for this, Gini.

    • wonderoftech Yeah…because we don’t have any ecommerce here, I just gave it a value. Doesn’t mean much, but it’ll show you how much it grows.

  • Already printed this out and made a to-do list out of it for today. I never thought about just assigning a $1 value to get data…I always got wrapped around the axle trying to figure out a real value. Thank you!

    • rosemaryoneill Ha! You’re welcome! And I just finished reading your blog post that runs today. VERY good!

  • Ok, that was the tipping point, I quit. Sounds like work to me…
    Of course, I knew you would be the one to figure it out and make sense of all this. 
    The Shark was nails last night, why can’t the rest of the Cubs play that well?

  • John_Trader1

    Important information and helpful step by step instructions GD. Appreciate the morning analytics fun! Anxious to see some of my results, the blog I run has been picking up in traffic but I want to drive more people to the Contact Us form — this is a good step in that direction.

    • John_Trader1 You can set up a goal to funnel them to the form. Do you know how to do that? If not, I’ll show you.

      • John_Trader1

        ginidietrich John_Trader1 I’ll see if I can experiment with it to create that goal. If I can’t figure it out I’ll let you know — thank you!

  • rdopping

    Ok, ok. I’ll set it up but I only have 2 visitors per month so the tracking is real easy. I guess I can see how long they spend reading my stuff. Hmmmm……

  • Well this is just fantastic!! It makes me wanna dust off my keyboard, write a new post, want have an analytics party!! But no, I’m gonna go edit some pictures and feed into my obsession of everyone telling me how wonderful I am 😉

  • Thank you for this. As soon as my coffee kicks in I am going to be all over it.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes It hasn’t kicked in yet? You’re behind for you. Perhaps the time change with going back to Texas?

      • ginidietrich Could be. DFW was all sorts of fun last night. Landed at 8:30 but by the time I got my bags and got home it was 11.
        I appreciate the tutorial here. I am usually pretty good with this stuff, but Google Analytics has so much in it I haven’t dug in the way I should. But I am starting now.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Check and see if you have Universal Analytics available yet. If you do, install it and give it a week. Some VERY cool things in there.

  • This makes me want to spend all day learning Google Analytics!

    • dwaynealicie I freaking love analytics! Makes my team crazy. See belllindsay’s comment as an example.

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich dwaynealicie belllindsay I think I would love the math and analytics more if people weren’t constantly skewing the numbers for pre-conceived notions and their own personal bend. Five should be a unit of 5 things no matter which way you write it….so says the English nerd.

      • ginidietrich dwaynealicie belllindsay what she means is she works her staff overtime to send me hundreds of crazy data spread sheets with all sorts of numbers from retweets to increase in parking tickets seems to coincide with readership bump ups in a geographical areas. Often with pie charts. And I have to look at these hundreds of files and respond with ‘business looks up’ ‘business looks down’ or ‘treading water’
        Then I think she sells my response for 80 million dollars.

        • Howie Goldfarb ginidietrich dwaynealicie belllindsay “Business looks up!” HA!!! I admit I had to read this out loud and enjoyed every second of it.

      • ginidietrich dwaynealicie belllindsay You know, “I’m not good with numbers” was a story I told myself that delayed my returning to school. And then I went and found out I am actually good with them!

        • dwaynealicie ginidietrich belllindsay I failed college algebra and calculus had to take both a second time….and got a finance degree. Go figure lol

  • PattiRoseKnight1

    I have a question; what if a person opens the link and steps away; is that counted as time spent if they forget to close the link?

    • PattiRoseKnight1 Yep…it totally screws up “time spent on page” stats.

      • ginidietrich PattiRoseKnight1 I leave browsers open all the time, even though I may not actually be looking at the page.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes PattiRoseKnight1 I do the same…and then I feel badly I’m screwing up their numbers.

    • PattiRoseKnight1ep! That will show more time on page (read: more deeply engaged). It’s something to keep in mind when you’re reviewing the numbers.  
      A lot of companies will neglect to filter out their own internal IP addresses, too, which only further skews the data.

  • I love how thorough you are in this post, super super helpful!

    • yvettepistorio Now you can do it for clients!

  • LouHoffman

    Appreciate the pragmatic advice.
    And somewhat encouraged to see the average time on my own blog is similar to Spin Sucks (I thought readers were just “fast” with me).

    • LouHoffman That’s why I do lots of bullet points and images – makes it easier to scan…as much as I would love people to spend all day reading our stuff.

      • ginidietrich LouHoffman the real trick is having 2-10 extra laptops. Then you can have those two spending 24/7 on your blog pushing up the time spent per visitor numbers. Then you can write an article about your success to be published on mashable with your secret tips.

  • I am such an analytics nerd.

  • This is a fantastic post! Goals are pretty confusing for most folks, and these are simple to follow and simple to understand!

  • photo chris

    The blog “is coming” and I’ve been worried about how I will prove it’s “usefulness” and “engagement” if no one comments. *happy sigh*  Thank you!

    • photo chris You need to attend my keynote in Ottawa on Saturday. I talk about how to get people to comment!

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich photo chris Ottawa, IL? It’s my hubby’s b-day…will there be a re-cap somewhere? *big-eyed hopeful look*

        • photo chris Oh no. Ottawa, Canada. I’ll write about it next week. How’s that?

  • snouraini

    What a great article, thank you!

  • photo chris

    ROFLMAO! a Re-cap *HERE* would be awesome! I wonder if anyone but me (and maybe you, being from Chicago) know where Ottowa, IL IS? 🙂

    • photo chris I’m pretty sure you’re it. How far is it from Chicago?!

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich photo chris Too funny! Um, from Chicago “proper,” about an hour an a half. Near Starved Rock….home to SkyDive Chicago…..Bueller? Bueller?

  • I especially love the “how-to” stuff as related to analytics and most things-Google. Thanks for this handy step by step explanation. 
    Much appreciated. 🙂

    • allenmireles You will love this! It’ll tell you exactly who’s hanging out on your (newly revived, I hope!) blog.

  • great blog, and practical advice! But… 
    Im not a math nerd, but arent you talking about a power distribution curve? That is if you pivot your analysis around the mean (average) then you’ll effectively get to the 80:20 rule 
    Or more strictly around 75% of your pv will be provided by 10% of your audience? And so on 
    Which is why the individual pv are so important – the long tail? 
    Maybe Im being dumb! 
    enjoyed the post as always!

    • MrTonyDowling The reason I look at these stats is because less than one percent of our audience comments on a blog post. So what I get from this data is who the other 99 percent are.

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  • Nice Post! this can be used for setting KPIs for marketing staff
    Usman from

  • Very nice. aAs a data geek appreciate straight forward tutorials like this!

  • Finally had a few moments to set this up for my blog. I’m geeking out a little bit because it was fun to do—I’m not saying that’s always the case with numbers, but there’s something about Google Analytics data that is fun. Curious to see what information this yields. Thanks for the helpful how-to, ginidietrich

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