5 Simple Steps to Learning from Your Blogs Top 10 Traffic Referral Posts

nate-riggsHave you ever done a Top 10 Posts post on your blog?

Don’t feel bad if you haven’t. I’ve never haven’t either … until now, that is.

I see lots of bloggers do this, and aside from getting your more popular work out in front of your readers, I think there’s some good learning that comes from making it a point to do this once every few months.

For one, it gives you (as the blogger) an idea of what other people are reading and getting the most value from in your content. You can drill down to what type of styles work for your audience, what information seems to resonate with them and what keywords are drawing the most traffic for you. It’s also a chance for you to go back and reflect on some of the ideas you’ve written to see if there’s new angles that you can take on covering topics that are already popular with your readers.

There are much more sophisticated ways to approach looking at your top posts, but you don’t always need to drill that deep. As a simple exercise, here’s how I’m approaching it. You can use these 5 easy steps if you’d like to try this on your own blog, if you like.

  1. Go into Google analytics or any other program you use and click through to your Top Content tab.
  2. Choose the time period you wish to report on. As a quick gut check, I’m looking at July 1st through August 1st.
  3. Pay attention to things like the number of visits versus visitor time spent on post. Do you notice any differences or similarities? Does anything pop out to you as interesting?
  4. Build the list with links in your Top 10 post.
  5. Now dig back into your content too look at the differences between the high ranked posts and lower ranked posts. Look at the style of post you wrote, the length, topics, titles and keywords you optimized for.  Try and look for what factors might have boosted the performance of that particular post.

Top 10 Posts on nateriggs.com from July 1st – August 1st, 2010

  1. How To Use Google Plus Sparks as an Internet Listening Post
  2. Google Plus: 5 Point Framework for Organizing your G+ Circles
  3. nateriggs.com (homepage)
  4. Experiencing Aloha Culture: The Hawaii Social Media Summit
  5. 3 Google Plus Updates That You Need To Know About + 1 More
  6. Why Mac OSX Lion is So Cool – And Why You Shouldn’t Install It Just Yet
  7. HOW TO Grow Your Google Plus Network in 5 Easy Steps
  8. 7 Tips You Can Use to Improve Your Klout Score
  9. 7 Tips You Can Use to Improve Your Klout Score (with a different subdomain)
  10. Google Plus Will Own the Future of Business Collaboration

Leanings I’m Taking Away From This Exercise

For starters, I feel like all that time spent lurking around inside Google Plus and then writing about it was time well spent. With some of the most explosive growth a social network has seen, it’s no wonder that a lot of people have been searching for terms and phrases like “how to Google Plus” or “Google Plus Sparks”. I was fortunate to hit the nail on the head this month with decent enough optimization and enough frequency to get a few of the Google Plus posts ranked. It will be interesting to see how those posts fair next month and if they hold their spots.

Bullets 8 and 9 are a bit concerning to me as it seems that that one post somehow ended up with two different domains. I may need to look into what that is to make sure it’s not showing up as duplicate content to search engines. The 7 Tips on Klout post has been in my top 10 referrals for a few months now, and I’d like to make sure it holds it’s spot.

Number 4 baffles me. I wrote that post back in October of last year before heading out to the Hawaii Social Media Summit as a way of introducing myself and my talk. It’s been a top referrer since. Either way, I’m glad to have lots of friends on the islands.

Notice that three of ten posts in the top contain numbers in the titles. For some reason, we humans love when we can see a finite list or series of steps. Two of ten posts fell into the more narrative posts styles with a one how to post and one post that told the story of an experience. Knowing that these types of posts are resonating with you and a good portion of folks who read here makes me want to explore what other topics might exist where I can apply those styles.

For Now, Keep It Simple

Like I said — there are much more sophisticated ways to go about this. If you’re looking for more info on that, read blogs from folks like Mike Whaling and Chris Penn. If you need some help on building up your optimization skills, Study up by reading the handy SEO guides that Jake Stoops has put together for you over at Agent SEO. And, if you blog on WordPress, get subscribed to a tool called SEO Scribe.

You in?