The key to producing interesting content is knowing who your users are and what they are types of interests they have.
A simple way to get a broad understanding of your users is to analyze data for you blog from Google Analytics. For Umbel’s Truth in Data blog, we built a dashboard to learn about our readers and every Monday we look at the response to our past week’s content.
Here is a guide to building a similar dashboard for your own content, which focuses on who your users are, how they found your site and what they are interested in.
How are we doing?
First, we want an overall view of how our content is doing. Are we producing better content than we were last year? A view of number of users per month gives us a good idea of how many people are reading our articles, while exposing any monthly patterns. For example, in the chart below, there’s a clear drop in the number of readers over the holidays last year.
For a more granular view of content performance, we have a graph of users per week for the past three months. This should expose any upward or downwards trends in number of readers and highlights any abnormalites over the week. For example, we can see how popular our posts were leading up to South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive (March 13th).
Some weeks (2/22 – 2/28, 4/5 – 4/11) saw an increase in new visitor traffic, but not an increase in returning visitor traffic. To make this graph more informative, we could add the blog posts that were published within each week, and how much traffic they got individually. This would show that the increase in new readers from 4/5 – 4/11 was due to our Austin and SXSW guides.
Who are our readers?
Knowing who our users are is important for knowing who to write for and whether our past content is attracting the ideal audience. Here are a few lists to understand basic demographics of our readers.
One metric to keep in mind is the age of our readers. Note: this graphic is a little misleading, since the age buckets are irregular (there are 6 ages in the first bucket, and 10 in most of the others, causing some buckets to be under-represented.
What are our readers interested in?
Now that we know a little about our readers, we should learn about what they want to read about. Listing the top 15 interests of our blog readers gives us a general idea of what they might want to read about. As with every chart or list, it is important to know where the data is coming from – this exposes any biases and also tells us how reliable the data are. This third-party data is less reliable than, say, user traffic data, but it is definitely useful as long as keep that in mind.
What is the context?
An easily forgotten question to ask about your users is when and how they are reading your articles. A long article feels less overwhelming when viewed on a desktop, and pictures take longer to load on mobile. In the graph below, we expose weekly patterns in consumption per platform. The increase in mobile traffic during SXSW is particularly noticeable.
Is content read on weekends or weekdays? Our Truth in Data content is most popular on Wednesdays, and less read over the weekend (potentially because we usually publish new content during the week).
Is my content being read during the workday? Look for patterns in hourly data to see if your content is being read at work or at home.
To get this data for your own site, Google Analytics should be installed and you should have access. You can either make your own dashboard within Google Analytics or build your own dashboard using the Core Reporting API. We built our own in order to have more control over the graphs & styling, and to share with you. Authenticate here to see these metrics and more for your own data. These Google Analytics metrics are just the beginning to understanding your users – request a demo of Umbel today for a highly detailed and actionable view.