in Web Analytics

Find the Content Your Readers Love with Analytics

This post originally appeared on SEOMoz.

google-analytics-top-contentReferenceable content is the holy grail of online communities. People talk about it, comment on it, link to it, tweet it and visit it over and over again. In a world full of chatter, it sets you apart as an authoritative voice.

Creating referenceable content is an art. Measuring it, however, can be more of a science.

Using the Google Analytics top content report, I’m going show you how two methods to identify content that your audience loves.


What Behaviors Matter?

Referenceable content is addictive and it drives audience loyalty. Metrics wise, this means people who:

  • Visit repeatedly
  • Bookmark your content

You can get a quick snapshot of the top content for your returning visitors by visiting the Top Content report in Google Analytics and selecting “Returning Visitors” from the Advanced Segments drop down in the top right:



Easier Analysis with Pivot Tables

It’s sometimes useful to compare how much a particular piece of content drives new vs. repeat visitation. You can do this by selecting the New Visitors segment as well, but this creates a difficult to read report.

Instead, try this:

  1. Go to Top Content
  2. Select the Pivot Table view (the last one on the right)
  3. Pivot by Visitor Type
  4. Pick “Unique Pageviews” from the “Showing” menu
  5. Sort by Unique Pageviews in the Returning Visitor Column

The result will look like this (click to enlarge):


You can now clearly see the overall top content for Repeat Visitors next to New Visitors.

Segmenting Content by Source

You can further pivot the data by traffic source or medium (use the drop down next to Page), but I find the result difficult to interpret.

Instead, I think it’s easier to drill down into Top Content reports for individual mediums, in particular Direct Traffic and Organic Search.

Let’s take Direct Traffic to start:

  1. Open Traffic Sources
  2. Click on Direct Traffic
  3. Select Landing Page from the drop down below the Site Usage tab
  4. Choose the Pivot View
  5. Pivot by Visitor Type

The report will look like this (click to enlarge):


You can follow the same steps to see the landing pages the drive repeat traffic from Organic Search. I recommend you also add the organic keyword into the mix. Pick the “Keyword” from the second drop down above the list of pages:



Promote The Content People Love!

Now that you have a list of content that drives repeat visitors, promote this “best of” content across your site, Facebook pages, Twitter, etc. Raise the profile of your most important content to increase loyalty and attract links.


A Note on Bookmark Tracking Google Analytics

Bookmarks are a common way for users to access your most useful content. Most people (myself included) think that Google Analytics tracks bookmark visits with Direct Traffic.

As Justin Cutroni points out in this video and companion post, they’re actually attributed to whatever traffic source is in the Google Analytics cookie (which I believe is always the last source).

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  1. awesome info! this is a surefire way to not only increase page views but also time on site (new visitors finding popular content), bounce rate, etc. should help with stats across the board!

    kind kind of analytics analysis combined with the longtail data mining = very inexpensive and practical ways to build more traffic without guesswork!

  2. It’s remarkable to visit this web site and reading
    the views of all mates concerning this article, while I am also keen of getting familiarity.

  3. Pivot tables would be great – if they didn’t crash the sehaedsrept.I created a sample pivot table – 6 columns of 7 rows of data, and when grouping/sub-grouping, if you try to collapse the groups with the onscreen -/+ block, you get Sever Error and you have to reload to get your screen back. Tried multiple times, but the app just freezes up each time. Others have reported this error as well, so it’s not just me. (using Chrome latest release).

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