Use site analytics to understand what interests your audience (and then create compelling content about it!)

Triana Jarman

As a digital publisher we’re very familiar with the types of analytics you can use to not only gain content ideas, but also determine the best length, time and date to post, and of course, where to promote your content.

Regardless of the product or service you offer, if your website contains content (ie blogs, videos, podcasts, etc.) and you have a web tracker like Google Analytics set up, then you’ve already got some  insight into what interests your audience. The trick is how you leverage that insight and knowledge to create a killer content strategy that keeps your audience engaged and loyal.

Here we look at how you can do this for your business too.

Finding topics that interest your audience

Back in the day, Google allowed users to track what search terms people were using which could then be analysed in Google Analytics (GA); what a gold mine that was for content topic inspiration! Sadly this no longer exists, although GA does still display search terms from other search engines and internal search, if applicable.

The best way now to see what topics interest your audience, and what you should be writing about, is through content tags. When you write an article you should tag it with relevant keywords – this not only makes sense from an SEO point-of-view, but (with the right tech) will allow you to track and analyse trends across sections and subject types on your site.

At Sift we use a data-management platform (DMP) called Cxense. One of the great things that Cxense offers is an in-depth insights suite that gives us a huge amount of information on what tags are popular at any given time. If you’re using a CMS such as WordPress or Drupal, you should be able to find plug-ins that will do something similar in GA and allow you to run analytics against them. However, it should be noted that you may need a little technical knowledge / assistance to implement this. An example of WordPress implementation can be found here.

Length of posts

A clear, though slightly trickier, way to assess the optimum length of your posts is by tagging up your short-form and long-form content. It can be set up in Google Analytics, but does require some development work.

An alternative is to monitor the dwell time (the amount of time people spend on a page). This is an obvious and important metric to track as it gives you a good idea if people are engaging with your content. To get a more holistic view, the dwell time can be assessed in conjunction with the amount of visitors going to the page, and also the bounce rate (people who read a single page on the website and then leave). When these three metrics are looked at together a picture is built detailing:

a) How many people viewed the page.

b) What length of time people spent on the page.

c) Were people engaged enough with the content to visit other pages of your site.

When combined, what can we learn from these stats?:

a) A high dwell time with few visitors can mean that there is niche interest in the post.

b) A low dwell time with high bounce rate and a lot of visitors might point to the page doing well on search engines but not engaging visitors once they hit the site.

c) High dwell time and low bounce rate can mean the piece is highly engaging and could indicate visitors want more content like this!

Where to share your content

As much as you may think your social media efforts are playing a huge role in promoting your content, how much traffic is it really referring to your site? By looking at the “acquisition” of your website traffic in Google Analytics, it will give you a clear-cut answer of which channels are the most effective.

Here’s a quick breakdown of what each different acquisition channel means for your content-sharing strategy:

  • Organic search: If this is high that means your site and its content are tagged up correctly, although as we mentioned before be sure to monitor dwell time and bounce rates to determine if the people coming to your site are actually staying. Don’t forget to ensure your content is tagged properly so it can be easily found.
  • Direct: These are your loyal, bookmarked users. They are the people who remember your site and are happy to start typing it into their browser and get straight to you. On occasion this is traffic from people who’ve referred your site via their own email or word-of-mouth. The best way for you to influence this percentage of site visitors is to build up your brand awareness.
  • Referral: This is probably one of the most interesting areas because you can glimpse what other sites are driving traffic to yours, and we’ll bet that most of them are ones you’ve never thought of, or considered as a content-sharing resource. A potential opportunity to explore!
  • Email: Sharing content through email is a marketer’s bread-and-butter. Whichever email client you are using, it’s hopefully telling you already what Google Analytics is (which pieces of content people are clicking on, time of day traffic is being drive, etc). Use this to compare the amount of email traffic to your other inbound activity.
  • Social: See which social networks are driving the most traffic to your site, and see which social network you need to spend more time on (but only if you think your audience are there). You’re likely to also discover additional social networks that aren’t part of your content sharing strategy (, Tumblr, Pinterest for example) which you can experiment with.

When to post

An overview of your site traffic can give you a quick indication of which days, and even which times of day, your site has the most people on it. Remember though that these metrics will work better if your site has a decent amount of content. When analysing your site traffic disregard anything that may skew results, such as a product launch day (when your traffic would increase) and also national holidays (when you may experience unusually lower traffic).

With our new publishing platform, we’re able to serve content not only at the optimum time, but to the most relevant audience based on their behaviours on our sites. This enables us to give our audience a continually beneficial experience, and for our clients the assurance that their content is read by in-target users.

By spending a little time each week looking at these website stats for your site, you’ll be in a better position to create and share content which will engage your audience and have them coming back for more.

Want to reach one of our audiences through content? Get in touch to speak with one of our team about your content goals and how we can help.