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<strong>These Big Data Analytics Reports Can Change the Game of Your Site</strong>

These Big Data Analytics Reports Can Change the Game of Your Site

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When I first started blogging seriously, it took me years to pay attention to any other metric besides views.

Views were all I cared about. If I had more views, great! I was doing something right. If I had less views, damn; that meant I was doing something wrong.

This isn’t an uncommon line of thinking. Most bloggers are told page views is the most important metric (Dreamhost, Hubspot, Databox, and countless other marketing groups agree with this idea). More views = good, less views = bad. It can make sense, to a point; your revenue typically aligns with your page views. More views means more money, right? What else is there to say?

That may be true, but if you don’t use analytics tools like Ezoic’s Big Data Analytics to understand how to get more page views, or why some content performs better than others, you likely won’t experience the kind of success you want. 

Over time, I realized just how oversimplified and even inaccurate focusing on solely page views really was. Page views simply didn’t tell me the whole story. If they did, they wouldn’t tell me enough of a story except “this article was popular for some reason.” I couldn’t replicate success. I’d post an article that would get 50,000+ views in 48 hours, then get under 5,000+ views each for the next ten articles. I wasn’t learning anything. That meant every time I published an article, I was rolling dice hoping I’d strike gold. I had no strategy or data I was relying on.

But if you can find the right data, the right reports, and the right metrics to inform your decisions, you’ll not only experience more success, you’ll not only get more page views, but more importantly, you’ll develop a true understanding of how marketing, SEO, and content works in an ever-changing digital publishing landscape. Here are several key metrics besides “page views” you can use in Ezoic’s Big Data Analytics tool to make informed, knowledgeable content decisions about your site.

1. Return Visitor Frequency

I once heard a story of a fellow publisher who wrote a truly viral article. He had gained nearly 20 million views within one month after posting his article. It was getting picked up by all sorts of new sources like news sites, search engines, journals, social media, and more.

The problem was, this was all unique traffic  —  once these visitors finished reading his article, they were gone. There were almost no return visitors. The spike was almost over. It was only towards the end of his traffic spike that he started collecting emails and encouraging readers to become subscribers. He got a decent number of subscribers from it, but he completely missed the vast majority of his traffic spike.

Using Ezoic’s BDA report on Return Visitor Frequency, you can see how many of your site visitors are returning vs. readers who are seeing your site for the first time. Simply go to BDA > Behavior > Return Visitor Frequency, and you can see a detailed report of this data:

Big Data Analytics

In the words of digital agency Klipfolio, “The Returning Visitors Metric tracks what happens when someone returns to your website multiple times. This metric allows digital marketers to see how effective they are at building and retaining an audience online. This is particularly important to demonstrate the value of content marketing efforts.” Perhaps the most important lesson you can learn from Return Visitor Frequency reports is if what you’re doing is actually working.

Here in the Ezoic marketing department, we’re always thinking of new ways to serve our audience and help publishers like you. Not every idea is a winner, and there are plenty of projects and strategies we change and adapt because they weren’t working the way we’d hoped. We try and experiment until we find something that works.

The same is true for the content strategy of your site. Not every idea will work, and it’s better to find out sooner rather than later that what you’re doing is viable (or not). Return Visitor Frequency can immediately shine a light on your efforts, and reveal whether what you’re doing is enough to get readers to come back.

A good returning visitor rate is 30% on average; you’re not a failure if your entire audience doesn’t keep coming back every day! But shooting for 30–40% Return Visitor Frequency is a healthy mark for any great site. 

2. Traffic Sources 

When I first started publishing, I wasn’t using social media. I wasn’t on any social media platform and didn’t really know how to excel on any social media site; I was too busy writing content for my site!

But I was surprised to see that I was getting hundreds, and eventually thousands of social media shares to my articles, even though I wasn’t even on those platforms!

If I didn’t check my traffic sources, I would’ve never known that a huge chunk of my most active readers were on Facebook, and that they were clamoring for me to get on Facebook too. Each article I wrote was getting enormous traffic through social media, and I didn’t even have a Facebook profile!

Thanks to the data, I decided to strategically pick Facebook as my primary social media platform, and it worked great — I was able to build a completely different executive coaching business 100% through Facebook as well as see far more traffic on Facebook return to my site.

A savvy site owner will know the largest and most important traffic sources coming to their site, and maximize them accordingly. It’s no use continuing to publish content or implement strategies that have an extremely low chance of succeeding, especially when there could be low-hanging fruit staring right at you in the Traffic Sources report if you just take a few minutes to look.

To see this for your site, simply go to BDA > Traffic Sources, and you’ll be able to get detailed insights into your referrals, major traffic sources, from sites to social media platforms to email to organic search, and more.

3. Content Categories 

Like many publishers first starting out, I was writing content about a dozen different topics; if you took a look at the first years of my site, you’d see articles written about career growth, spirituality, personal growth, finances, relationships, even some reviews of restaurants and movies. I had no idea what would work, so I tried it all.

Eventually, I began seeing that my content about self-improvement and personal growth was performing 5–10x better than any other content category. So that’s what I committed to; in a few years I was getting millions of views a year about those topics. I found the right content categories, and stuck with it!

Ezoic’s BDA report on Content Categories can help reveal this data to you, and more. If you take a look at our post about 5 more reports in BDA you need to grow your site, you can see a more detailed breakdown of a particular site’s Content Categories data. From the article: 

For example: This publisher in the biking niche has their website’s content categories set up properly. We can see that the “clothing/gear” category has the highest page RPM by a margin of nearly 2 dollars higher compared to the second-highest-earning category. This gives the publisher insight that they might want to produce more content around clothing and gear, since even though it only represents 17.46% of the total content, it accounts for 27.39% of their website’s total revenue. In theory, if they produce more content within that category, they will earn more revenue.” This report is great for finding out this specific data.

I once went to a restaurant that “specialized” in hamburgers, Chinese food, and pizza. I ordered some pizza; it was alright. Nothing special. Apparently, reviewers felt the same towards the hamburgers and Chinese food.

The same is often true for sites trying to talk about too many topics. Use the Content Categories to find the topics your audience loves.

4. Page Details Report

Going through Content > Page Details in BDA is another great report because it shows word count and UX metrics. This report is a great visual to help you steer towards a certain word count on your blog posts that yield higher UX performance metrics, etc.

Here’s a real-life example: I was writing a lot of content, and experimenting with a lot of different variables. One of them was article length; should I write two 1000-word posts, or one long 2000-word post? What works best for me and my audience?

Turns out, articles around the range of 1500–2000 words seemed to perform best in my niche. It was long enough to be a juicy read, but short enough that it could be read in one or two sittings. Shorter articles around 500–700 words didn’t perform well, and articles around the 2500 to 3000-word mark seemed to perform about as well as my 1500 articles, meaning I could just split up longer articles in half and have more content.

Take a look at this real Ezoic publisher’s Page Details report. As you can see, articles in the 1000–2500 word count range performed 5–10x better than both shorter articles (500ish words) and very long articles (5000+ words). This means that this publisher should absolutely prioritize writing these 1000–2500 word articles over every other length; the data is all there:

The Page Details report tells you all this instantly. You can take a look at your site pages and articles and see what top-performing articles have in common so you can begin to develop a better content identity for your site. If your audience knows what to expect and you give it to them, it’ll provide an enormous boost in user experience.

This can also help you become a stronger creator. If you know your best-performing articles are longer, more researched, or more in-depth, you’ll automatically become a stronger writer and creator in the process as you hone your skills and challenge yourself.

5. Technology Reports

One of the most important lessons I learned as a new publisher was that the majority of my audience was reading on a mobile device.

It’s not unfair to say this revelation changed my entire content strategy. Whenever I wrote something, whenever I edited and tweaked the article, I always had the same thought going through my mind:

How will this look on a phone?

I had realized my best-performing articles were around 1500–2000 words long, but that didn’t mean I should put all those words in massive paragraph chunks. Most smartphone screens are a mere 6 inches big or less. How could I make my content shine on that kind of device?

I made sure none of my paragraphs exceed 4–5 lines on my desktop computer, which would take up the whole screen of a smartphone. That way, when someone would open up my article on their phone, they weren’t blasted with a massive wall of text. Same for correctly-sized pictures, headline sizes, changing the format to include italics, bold text, ALL CAPS, just to make sure it popped on a smartphone.

You can see this data yourself in the technology reports. Some audiences consume almost all their content on desktop (think big reports, data, case studies, etc.) while others are almost exclusively consumed on smartphones (social media, news, etc.). This report even tells you which device type earns more by looking at EPMV differences. This is true data-driven content marketing.

Here’s another real Ezoic publisher example. This report is from a site that serves a research/student audience, creating content for university and graduate students. The vast majority of these students and researchers consume this content seriously, usually on a desktop. Less than 1% of this site’s readership is on a tablet; as such, this site would do well to create longer form content that can be easily scrolled through and skimmed on a desktop.

How does your audience consume your content? Once you know this, ask yourself: can you update or edit your content to serve that audience even more? Can you improve their experience by adding/changing features to your content?

In Conclusion

In a recent interview, professional poker player and sports analyst Haralabos Voulgaris was discussing his recent purchase of a professional Spanish soccer team, and his strategy that helped the franchise transform from a bankrupt losing team to currently first place in their league:

My secret sauce has been exploiting lots of small edges. And I think our best moves have been a lot of small moves around the edges, nothing spectacular.

In sports, business, investing, marketing, publishing, and countless other industries, the most successful leaders usually aren’t the ones with crazy, never-before-seen ideas that completely disrupt the industry. Instead, the most profitable and successful winners usually stick with doing a lot of little things really well.

This is where Ezoic’s BDA reports come in. Take some time to really analyze how your site is performing. Then, serve your specific audience and their specific interests. That success can easily snowball and attract more audiences as Google and other search engines see how well your site is performing.

Anthony Moore is a writer, speaker, and coach. He's helped hundreds of entrepreneurs create successful businesses, and has gained over 7 million views for his work on entrepreneurship, personal growth, and productivity.

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